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06.02.2016 @ 15:00 Princes Park ‘Crowd’ : 931
Dartford
2 - 0
St Albans City
Referee : Carl Brook (Hastings) Varnarama National League South-Match

Goalscorers
Andy Pugh (55)
Andy Pugh (90)
None.
Starting Line-ups
Deren Ibrahim
Tom Gardiner
Mark Onyemah
Ronnie Vint
Callum McNaughton
Tom Wynter
Ryan Hayes
Elliot Bradbrook
Andy Pugh
Barry Cogan
Jack Simmons
Joe Welch
Ben Martin
Sam Corcoran
Emmanuel Udoji
Tom Bender
Scott Thomas
Darren Locke
Alhassan Bangura
Jack Green
Charlie MacDonald
Michael Thalassitis
Substitutes
Becka-Kah Dembele
Ben Francis
Danny Harris
Lee Noble
George Sykes
Lee Chappell
John Kyriacou
Edward Oshodi
Billy Gibson
Louie Theophanous
Substitutions
Danny Harris -> Barry Cogan (50)
Becka-Kah Dembele -> Ryan Hayes (80)
Louie Theophanous -> Alhassan Bangura (28)
Lee Chappell -> Jack Green (46)
Billy Gibson -> Michael Thalassitis (64)
Yellow cards
Deren Ibrahim (79) Sam Corcoran (56)
Red cards
None None.
Match report

Charlie MacDonald is pulled down in the box but no penalty was awarded.
St Albans City’s inexorable slide towards relegation from National League South with given another shove at Princes Park on Saturday as a second half brace by Dartford striker Andy Pugh settled a thoroughly abysmal encounter.

City were dire, the Darts were little better, and referee Carl Brook lived down to those standards with a series of questionable decisions that included three crucial ones that could have a significant bearing on the Saints survival hopes.

The Hastings-based referee rejected three penalty appeals by Harry Wheeler’s free-falling Saints; two of which it appeared harder not to point to the penalty spot.

But to blame the match official entirely for a fourth successive league defeat would be churlish.

City’s failure to directly aim as much as a single shot on-target ensured that the best they could hope for would be a draw, and that hope vanished when Pugh scored ten minutes into the second half.

This was St Albans fourth consecutive match against a side chasing a play-off place. During that time City scored just once and failed to secure a solitary point.

Dartford’s Princes Park abode is a tidy, relatively new stadium that possesses a dreadful pitch that is suffering under the pressure of also being the home of Greenwich Borough.

There are vast areas of the pitch that are little more than compacted sand, and this results on a surface riddled with divots that are of benefit to neither side.

All too frequently on Saturday players made ‘air-shots’ as the ball bobbled away from where it had been expected to run.

A fierce wind that swirled all around the stadium only added to the problems facing the two teams but an endless stream of lofted, aimless hoofs into the air ensured that this was a football-free afternoon under grey skies.

St Albans made one change from the side beaten by Truro a week earlier, with leading scorer Louie Theophanous relegated to the bench and Jack Green recalled.

Green, however, only lasted until the interval when a knee injury caused him to give way to former captain Lee Chappell.

Midfielder Al Bangura lasted just 28 minutes until a foot injury, received in an accidental clash with team-match Charlie MacDonald, forced him to make way for Theophanous’s quick return.

Completing the list of used substitutes was Billy Gibson who came on for the disappointing Michael Thalassitis just after the hour.

The Kent side offered the first threat when Pugh dispossessed Darren Locke and came in from the left touchline to test Joe Welch with a fine effort from 20 yards that the City ‘keeper dived to his right to save.

Welch launched the ball into the home penalty area where Charlie MacDonald got goal-side of Callum McNaughton who grabbed the striker’s shirt and hauled him to the ground.

Mr Brook had a clear view of the incident and how a penalty was not forthcoming defied belief.

After those two early incidents goal chances dwindled until, on 23 minutes, City defender Ugo Udoji excelled to dive to block a point blank shot by Tom Wynter after Welch had failed to hold a Barry Cogan corner.

The half petered out tamely but the Saints maybe ought to have been level within 15 seconds of the restart.

Cogan played the kick off to Pugh who in turn laid the ball back to Elliot Bradbrook.

Unfortunately for the Dartford skipper the ball bounced over his foot and was seized upon by the advancing MacDonald who raced clear only to slice his rushed shot wide.

That miss was to prove costly nine minutes later when Pugh fired the Darts ahead.

A Dartford attack down their right appeared to breaking down until Ryan Hayes whipped a cross towards the penalty area.

Ben Martin headed the ball away only for Tom Gardiner to immediately knock it forward again to Pugh.

A quick exchange then saw the ball go via Jack Simmons and substitute Danny Harris back to Pugh who beat Welch with a perfectly placed first time right-footed shot from 16 yards.

City’s response was muted with a long range effort by Thalassitis that flew three yards wide, being the only moment of concern for the home side before some serious pressure was applied to the visitors goal.

Welch made a superb one-handed save low to his right to keep out a Bradbrook header following a Hayes free kick, and Pugh sent a half volley over the top after a low cross by Hayes had been blocked.

Hayes caused more problems with a good low ball deep into the goalmouth that Locke hacked away before Bradbrook could pounce.

Although St Albans gained no credit for their overall performance they did see out the closing stages on top but were again on the wrong end of a couple of decisions by referee Brook.

Locke knocked a long high ball over the Darts backline that MacDonald brought down smartly only to be sent tumbling when pushed in the back by Ronnie Vint.

Mr Brook rubbed salt into City’s wound by not only ignoring the penalty appeals but by awarding a free kick against MacDonald for hand ball when he landed on it after being pushed.

City’s third and final penalty appeal again ended in pure farce.

Chappell directed a long throw towards the near post where Gardiner got in front of Martin and raised his arm as Martin attempted to flick on a header. This time the referee deemed that there had been no handball and that Martin had glanced the ball on, thus making Theophanous offside.

Dartford, having conceded two late goals to lose to Wealdstone in their previous home game, were clearly nervous and the chance of a second goal looked to have eluded them when Welch did well to gather a low cross by Mark Onyemeh in amongst a cluster of legs.

City rallied again with a Chappell throw coming off two Dartford players before being scuffed wide by Gibson.

Theophanous was next to stretch the home defence with a run and low ball into the goalmouth that was hammered out for a corner.

Gibson eased the pressure on the home goal when, wastefully, sending the corner behind the goal and followed that with a free kick from 20 yards that sailed wide.

Two minutes into added time and City’s tenth away league defeat of the season was confirmed, as Dartford added a second goal.

Onyemah got the better of Chappell in a heading duel and after running 20 yards clipped a delightful ball into the path of Simmons.

A short pass along the edge of the penalty area allowed Pugh to pick his spot before beating Welch with a fine in-swinging shot along the ground for his 10th league goal of the season.
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