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08.03.2016 at 19:45 Clarence Park Attendance : 300
St Albans City
2 - 1
Weston Super Mare
Referee : Ashvin Degnarain (Islington) Varnarama National League South-match

Michael Thalassitis (69)
Louie Theophanous (82)
Scott Wilson (36)
Opening squads
Joe Welch
Lee Chappell
Ben Martin
Sam Corcoran
Harry Anderson
Tom Bender
Edward Oshodi
Josh Staunton
Billy Gibson
Louie Theophanous
Charlie MacDonald
Luke Purnell
Pat Keary
Jamie Edge
Kane Ingram
Jason Pope
Clayton Fortune
Joe McClennan
Tristan Plummer
Scott Wilson
Danny Wring
Syd Camper
Emmanuel Udoji
Scott Thomas
Darren Locke
Jonathan Edwards
Michael Thalassitis
Jake Llewellyn
Ben Withey
Jacob Kane
Alex Byrne
Ioannis Varouxakis
Michael Thalassitis -> Tom Bender (69)
Ben Withey -> Tristan Plummer (74)
Alex Byrne -> Danny Wring (74)
Jacob Kane -> Syd Camper (77)
Yellow cards
None. Tristan Plummer (38)
Kane Ingram (86)
Red cards
None. None
Match report

Louie Theophanous scores the winner
With a stirring second half comeback against fellow strugglers Weston-super-Mare at Clarence Park St Albans City grabbed a vital 2-1 win on Tuesday to keep alive their hope staging National League South football for another season come August.

A goal down at the interval Ian Allinson’s Saints hammered away at the Weston goal relentlessly after the break before breathing life into their survival bid with a victory that keeps the Seagulls stuck in the bottom three and reduces the gap to the sides outside the relegation places to five points.

It is still a tall order to think that St Albans can avoid the drop but the manner in which they laid siege to the Weston goal demonstrated that City are far from ready to throw in the towel.

City made one change from the side beaten by Sutton at the weekend with Ben Martin returning to the starting XI to delay Darren Locke’s 100th appearance for the club.

Martin was recalled after being banished from the Park for a week following a breach of club discipline. The former Saints captain maintained his fitness with two winning appearances for Staines Town.

St Albans went into the game fully aware that nothing short of victory was required to keep talk of survival valid.

They certainly began positively with a couple of teasing crosses into the Hatfield Road goalmouth that were either punched away or gathered confidently by Weston’s former Youth and now England C squad goalkeeper Luke Purnell.

Louie Theophanous tested Purnell with two low shots while Martin sent a tame header through to the keeper from a Billy Gibson free kick.

During the opening 45 minutes Weston played at a high tempo and looked to get forward whenever possible.

Tristan Plummer, playing on the Seagulls right flank, caused City several problems as Saints left-back Tom Bender endured a torrid evening.

City defender Eddie Oshodi collected the first of four bookings following a trip on Scott Wilson and from the ensuing free kick, well struck by Kane Ingram, Joe Welch had to move smartly to his left to catch the ball.

Chances continued to be created with Seagulls captain Clayton Fortune being well placed to cut out a driven low cross by Theophanous that Charlie MacDonald waited to turn in at the back post.

St Albans were none too impressed with the performance of referee Ashvin Degnarain and captain Sam Corcoran was given a ticking off after blasting one decision as ‘embarrassing.’ Corcoran later picked up his 11th booking of the season.

On the half hour Gibson was afforded acres of space down the City left to latch onto a fine ball from Anderson and skip past Pat Keary before having a shot towards the near post well saved by Purnell.

Two minutes later Weston struggled to clear a Lee Chappell throw and after a couple of failed attempts the ball fell to Anderson, who elegantly lifted a shot over a crowded penalty area only for it to be headed off the line by Keary.

Weston’s two previous away league matches ended in goal feasts of 3-3 and 5-5 draws and given the attacking nature of this match it was surprising to have to wait 36 minutes for the opening goal.

A Weston attack looked to be breaking down when Bender intercepted the ball but his intended through ball to Gibson was cut out by Joe McClennan who quickly sent the free Plummer away.

Former England Youth international Plummer squared the ball for Scott Wilson, from five yards out, to thump home his third goal in four days.

This game was very City’s Last Chance Saloon and at one-down the barrel was running dry.

Tempers became frayed and Corcoran was pulled up for having a couple of digs at Plummer who was cautioned for responding by pushing a hand into the City midfielder’s face.

Just prior to the interval City had a good opportunity to pull level when Syd Camper was harshly penalised for an alleged foul on Chappell. Gibson struck the free kick cleanly but the ball bounced just wide of Purnell’s left-hand upright.

After an impressive first half display Weston completely disappeared after the break and Ryan Northmore’s side did little more than try to hold on as City dominated in a fashion not seen previously this season.

With wave after wave of attacks on the visitors goal it seemed just a matter of time before St Albans, in front of their second lowest home league crowd of the season, would pull level.

The Seagulls survived a scramble following a Gibson corner and followed that by blocking a fierce drive by Theophanous and then hammering away a clever chipped effort by Charlie MacDonald that bounced across the face of the goal.

A rare threat by Weston on the City goal saw Wilson have a shot charged down but seconds later the ball again buzzing around Purnell’s goal with Oshodi’s cross being headed away for a corner.

Oshodi, despite being clattered into by Purnell, met Chappell’s corner at the back post but was unable to direct his header on target.

Martin added to the pressure with a couple of headers although neither seriously troubled Purnell, but the towering defender almost let Weston in with a loose pass but was rescued by the reliable Josh Staunton.

Oshodi and Anderson continued to link well down the City right and the latter, fed by Corcoran, forced Purnell to save low down.

The match finally turned in City’s favour on 69 minutes when striker Michael Thalassitis replaced Bender. Within 14 seconds of coming on the new boy had headed City level.

Purnell launched a goal kick into the City half that Martin volleyed from whence it came. Weston appealed for offside against Theophanous but Fortune kept City’s leading scorer onside.

Forced wide by Keary, Theophanous crossed with his left foot and with a majestic full length diving header Thalassitis sent the ball at some speed to Purnell’s right and into the York Road net.

The crowd may have been meagre but the volume they created was excellent and bordered on hysterical with that goal.

With 20 minutes remaining there seemed little chance of the Seagulls taking a point back to Somerset as City continued to dominate.

Purnell punched away an Oshodi cross, Anderson snatched at the clearance but screwed his shot well wide, and Thalassitis shot over after wriggling his way into a good position.

Purnell’s greatest moment came on 75 minutes when he beat away a beautifully struck shot on the turn by MacDonald and rose to his feet immediately to keep out Oshodi’s follow up effort that was fired directly at, rather than wide of, the keeper.

No sooner had that attack been repelled when Anderson floated a perfect cross to the back post that the unmarked Gibson somehow headed wide when a goal beckoned.

Weston eased the pressure for a few seconds with a breakaway only for Alex Byrne’s through ball to Plummer to be just too long and Welch rushed out to collect.

Still the chances came at the opposite end with Thalassitis getting on the end of a Chappell corner only to head wide.

On 82 minutes City’s total dominance was, almost inevitably, rewarded with the match winning goal.

Staunton played the ball wide to Gibson deep inside the City half, the former Wealdstone player fed Thalassitis who sauntered down the left in front of the main stand before cutting inside and sliding a clever pass inside to Corcoran.

With a remarkable piece of skill Corcoran clipped the ball over Fortune and into the path of Theophanous who, with great composure, flicked his shot to the left of the on-rushing Purnell for his 15th goal of the season.

Cue delirium on the York Road terrace.

The match threatened to end in unsavoury fashion when Corcoran and Ingram were booked following a petty incident but normality soon returned with City pressing forward and seeing out much of the remaining time by keeping possession next to the corner flag.

Despite the win, St Albans remain in 21st position in National League South, one place and four points adrift of Weston who have the unenvious task of visiting Sutton on Saturday.

City are away to a Hayes & Yeading United side at the weekend (12th March) that has moved away from the bottom three in recent weeks on the back of a run one defeat in seven games.
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