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07.02.2015 @ 15:00 Melbourne Park Attendance : 682
Chelmsford City 2 - 1 St Albans City
Referee : John O'Brien (London) Vanarama Conference South-Match

Goalscorers
Joe Ward (45)
Darren Locke (O.G. 56)
Darren Locke (66)
Starting Line-ups
Tom Lovelock
Robert Girdlestone
Michael Toner
Mark Hughes
Mark Haines
Harry Hickford
Lee Sawyer
Joe Ward
Jaanai Gordon
Michael Cheek
Jack Bridge
Joe Welch
Lee Chappell
Jamal Lowe
Howard Hall
James Kaloczi
Darren Locke
Ian Gayle
Omar Beckles
Charlie Smith
John Frendo
Michael Malcolm
Substitutes
Leon Redwood
Yado Mambo
Sam Gregory
Christian Smith
Rhodell Gordon
Charlie Gorman
Matt Taylor
Steve Wales
David Keenleyside
Manny Soetan
Substitutions
Yado Mambo -> Jaanai Gordon (70)
Rhodell Gordon -> Lee Sawyer (84)
Christian Smith -> Jack Bridge (88)
Manny Soetan -> Charlie Smith (61)
Steve Wales -> Jamal Lowe (70)
David Keenleyside -> Omar Beckles (80)
Yellow cards
Michael Toner (39)
Harry Hickford (65)
Mark Haines (70)
Omar Beckles (40)
Lee Chappell (89)
Red cards
None None.
Match report
St Albans City joint-manager James Gray conceded that City’s challenge for a place in the end of season promotion play-offs is over following a 2-1 Conference South defeat to Chelmsford City at a cold Melbourne Park on Saturday.

The Saints started slowly and could hardly complain when the Clarets secured a two-goal lead early in the second half.

But during a frantic final 25 minutes Mark Hawkes side had to survive several goalmouth scrimmages before ensuring that they remain unbeaten in all eight league games between the two clubs.


St Albans welcomed back Ian Gayle to join Darren Locke in the heart of the defence while Charlie Smith stepped in to cover for James Comley in midfield.

Remarkably, the Saints line up showed eight changes from the XI that started at home to Chelmsford in October, while the Clarets kicked off with six new faces.

Chelmsford were the dominant force during the opening 45 minutes but were denied an early breakthrough when City keeper Joe Welch dived to his right to beat away a well-placed Joe Ward free kick to concede the first corner of the game.

Despite enjoying a lot of possession Chelmsford created few clear chances on the Saints goal and on the two occasions that they did look set to score, through the clear Jack Bridge, Howard Hall came to the rescue with two sublime last ditch blocks.

Great credit goes to the Saints defence for the manner in which Chelmsford were kept at bay but attempts on the home goal were even scarcer.

Smith, who generally had a fairly quiet afternoon, teased the home side with a wonderful cross that was put behind by Clarets defender Michael Toner, as John Frendo and Jamal Lowe waited to pounce.

Smith then forced home keeper Tom Lovelock into his first save of the day when directing a 25-yard free kick close to an upright.

From another free kick, played short by City captain Lee Chappell, Hall drove a shot comfortably wide.

Bridge continued to be a threat at the opposite end of the pitch and forced Welch into making his second excellent save of the match with a powerful effort from 22 yards.

St Albans ended the half strongly and Lovelock had to dive low to his left to keep out a fine effort by Chappell.

But two minutes into added time City’s good work was undone when a powerful run down the Clarets right by Robert Girdlestone won the home side a corner.

Sawyer laid the ball short to Ward who, from probably no more than eight yards from the goal-line and a couple of yards wide of the penalty area, drove what was possibly nothing more than a speculative ball into the goalmouth.

But, as the ball soared towards the near post, Smith, possibly believing that Welch was right behind him and ready to catch it, ducked down and simply let the ball fly into the back of the net.

Twenty-eight seconds after the restart the half time whistle blew, it was a cruel blow for the Saints to suffer.

City’s task looked to be pretty hopeless on 56 minutes when Chelmsford struck for the second time.

A headed clearance by Beckles was lofted back into the Saints half by Harry Hickford and when Michael Cheek got a feint touch to the falling ball front of Hall, Bridge was free to attack down the left wing.

After going wide of Gayle, Bridge slid a low cross towards Jaanai Gordon but before the ball could reach the West Ham United loanee the otherwise excellent Darren Locke stretched to stab the sphere into his own net.

City’s problems almost worsened when referee John O’Brien issued a stern final warning to Beckles following an alleged foul on Bridges, who did appear to go to ground with little help from the Saints midfielder.

As the half wore on St Albans suggested that a route back into the game could be found from Chappell’s long throw. The hideous two running tracks around the outside of the pitch provided ample space to build up momentum for his prestigious throws.

And it was from one such scenario that St Albans, in the 66th minute, had the pleasure of scoring the 100th goal seen in Chelmsford’s 28 league games this season.

From Chappell’s throw on the Saints right Beckles glanced a header into the goalmouth that Frendo sent goalwards with a right-footed scissor kick.

Lovelock did well to save low to his left but was helpless to stop Locke from ramming home his first goal of the season at the correct end of the pitch.

Two minutes later and St Albans were adamant that they had pulled level when another Chappell exocet caused more mayhem in the home ranks.

Under pressure from Beckles, Lovelock flapped at the high ball and only succeeded in pushing it towards his goal.

The ball appeared to have crossed the goal-line as Hickford hooked it up onto the underside of the crossbar and away. The linesman’s flag stayed lowered and Chelmsford had escaped.

An air of tension, if not aggression, was creeping into the game and Lovelock was most fortunate to stay on the pitch after shoving his head into Locke’s midriff after the City defender and Frendo had sought to turn in a Chappell free kick.

Locke was back in the thick of the action at the opposite end of the pitch moments later when producing a wonderful tackle to deny Cheek his 23rd goal of the season.

But Chelmsford did get the ball into the back of the net for a third time on 83 minutes when skipper Mark Hughes headed home with some force from a Toner corner only to see it ruled out for a push on the impressive Hall.

During the final minutes the play became ever more frantic with Welch clutching dangerous crosses from Christian Smith and Cheek, while a clever half volley by Frendo dipped just over the crossbar.

Chappell put the home side into panic mode once more when a throw from ten yards inside the Chelmsford half led to Gayle heading the ball into the six yard box.

Again Lovelock failed to hold it as Locke rose in front of him but the now prone ‘keeper was in the right place to block Manny Soetan’s follow up right on the goalline.

With just seconds remaining St Albans substitute David Keenleyside attempted to lob the ball over Lovelock from around 30 yards out but his effort drifted a couple of yards wide.

Soon after the final whistle rang out and, in a match in which Chelmsford appeared to be coasting to victory for an hour, it was a tune that the home side were most relieved to hear.

Having gained just one point from their last five away Conference South matches St Albans slip to 14th in the able and face another difficult encounter on Tuesday when they visit fifth placed Havant & Waterlooville.

The match, which is Graham Golds’ and Jimmy Gray’s 100th league game as the joint managers of St Albans City, has a 7.45pm kick off at Westleigh Park.

The duo are the first double act to have been in charge of St Albans for so many games, while six individuals have been manager for more than 100 matches.
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