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13.02.2016 @ 15:00 Clarence Park Attendance : 476
St Albans City
2 - 2
Concord Rangers
Referee : Lloyd Wood (Romford) Varnarama National League South-Match

Goalscorers
Edward Oshodi (30)
Michael Thalassitis (52)
Steve Cawley (79)
Sam Bantick (89)
Starting Line-ups
Joe Welch
Lee Chappell
Sam Corcoran
Emmanuel Udoji
Tom Bender
Edward Oshodi
Josh Staunton
Alhassan Bangura
Louie Theophanous
Charlie MacDonald
Michael Thalassitis
Ben McNamara
Jay Dowie
Tom Stephen
Max Cornhill
Steve King
Arthur Lee
Lewis Taaffe
James White
Ben Greenhalgh
Steve Cawley
Alex Osborn
Substitutes
Ben Martin
John Kyriacou
Scott Thomas
Darren Locke
Billy Gibson
Jack Lampe
John Easterford
Sam Bantick
Adam Topley
Bayley Newell
Substitutions
John Kyriacou -> Emmanuel Udoji (67)
Billy Gibson -> Sam Corcoran (84)
Scott Thomas -> Louie Theophanous (84)
Sam Bantick -> Alex Osborn (71)
Yellow cards
Lee Chappell (10)
Tom Bender (25)
Alhassan Bangura (40)
None
Red cards
None. None
Match report

New manager Ian Allinson makes a point.
Two late goals denied Ian Allinson a winning start to his time as manager of St Albans City but the part City played in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Concord Rangers at Clarence Park suggested that relegation from National League South could yet be avoided.

A share of the spoils was probably just about the right outcome but this was a match St Albans will feel that they should have sewn up, especially when two-goals to the good and attacking with genuine intent for the first time since mid-December.

Concord, to their credit, began positively and once they saw off the Saints best spell midway through the second half, fought back impressively to take a point back home to Canvey Island.

Having only been handed the hot seat at Clarence Park on Thursday evening Allinson had little time to make changes to end the Saints eight-match winless league run, but a new face was introduced in central defender Josh Staunton.

The 20-year-old is on a one-month loan to St Albans from Charlton Athletic but it was Harry Wheeler, now assistant manager at the Park after a difficult short and tough introduction to management, who was instrumental in bringing Staunton to the club.

Staunton played with an assurance and calmness that is way behind his years and having him in the backline for the next four weeks can only bolster City’s survival hopes.

Concord arrived at the Park with Adam Flanagan’s side protecting a five-match unbeaten run and within the opening forty seconds the Beachboys maybe should have scored only for Lewis Taaffe’s cross from the right to be missed in front of the home goal by the debut-making Alex Osborn.

The visitors went on to have the better of the half but it was St Albans who, having offered little as an attacking entity until this point, took the lead on 30 minutes with birthday boy Charlie MacDonald playing a leading part.

The 35-year-old threaded a good ball through the middle of the Concord defence that Lee Chappell gave chase to and forced Rangers skipper James White to clear for a throw-in.

Chappell took the throw himself and arrowed the ball towards the near post where Michael Thalassitis provided a good flick to Eddie Oshodi.

Standing nine yards from goal, the defender chested the ball down, turned and sent a right-footed low shot past ‘keeper Ben McNamara courtesy of a slight deflection off defender Arthur Lee.

It was a moment to savour for Oshodi, who has been sent off on two previous occasions when playing against Concord, and provided City with their first goal for 380 minutes.

City pushed hard to add a quick second goal with a corner from Sam Corcoran causing problems for the Essex side.

Corcoran’s corner was punched wide of the back post but Oshodi returned it into the goalmouth where MacDonald’s header was headed away by Ben Greenhalgh but only as far as Louie Theophanous, whose firm drive clipped Corcoran and was somehow saved by the arm of McNamara who then smothered the ball.

Greenhalgh tested City keeper Joe Welch with an effort from 25 yards that was gathered comfortably while just before the interval Jay Dowie and White worked the ball across the Park to Cawley who cut inside and forced Welch into pulling off a significant save just inside his right hand upright.

For only the third time in 11 games City went into the interval a goal to the good and they had failed to retain that lead after the break on those two previous occasions.

It was also the first time in 14 home games that they had not attacked down the slope during the opening 45 minutes.

Seven minutes after the restart St Albans added a second goal, something last achieved on 19 December, and what an outstanding goal it was.

Right-back Ugo Udoji headed a clearance to Alhassan Bangura who touched a short pass to Theophanous on the halfway line in front of the main stand.

City’s leading goalscorer, helped by a deflection off Lee, played the ball up to MacDonald.

From his wonderful first time pass into the penalty area Thalassitis stretched to guide an excellent finish past McNamara as the keeper rushed from his goal.

Concord responded with Max Cornhill heading wide from a corner but for the next 15 minutes City played their best attacking football for quite some time, as confidence flowed back into the team, and on 63 minutes the Saints thought they had a third goal to celebrate.

City seized possession following a Concord throw and burst forward with pace. Theophanous played the ball inside to MacDonald who quickly fed Thalassitis only for Dowie to step across and intercept.

Unfortunately for the Rangers defender the ball ran into the penalty but he darted back and hammered an almost point blank clearance at Theophanous, who used his arms to protect his face.

The ball struck the City player on the arm and referee Lloyd Wood allowed play to go on as the striker drove the ball into the Hatfield Road net.

It was only after a delay of some ten seconds that the goal was disallowed for handball.

Now the game began to open up with both sides looking for goals.

Bangura had a shot charged down while City defender Tom Bender made a good clearance inside the six-yard box after Greenhalgh had fired past Welch.

Thalassitis had a header saved from a Corcoran corner and Concord counter-attacked in style with Osborn riding two tackles before sending an ambitious effort well wide.

McNamara did well to grasp, at the second attempt, a powerful rising angled drive by Corcoran after Theophanous had laid off a Bender throw-in perfectly.

As chances flowed the bitingly cold rain failed to dampen the spirits on the terraces.

Another flowing Concord move ended with Greenhalgh’s cross being glanced onto substitute Sam Bentick who shot from a tight angle was blocked by the diving Welch.

A golden opportunity to seal Concord’s fate was lost on 73 minutes when Corcoran, 12 yards inside the Rangers half, was adjudged to be offside when Theophanous sent him clear. Video footage showed it to be a tight decision that could have gone either way.

Concord continued to attack with pace and a good passing game, and from one such move, that saw Steve King, Tom Stephen and White, work the ball across the pitch, space opened up for White – with the aid of a bobble – lift the ball towards the near post where the excellent Cawley got in front of Welch to loop a header into the York Road net.

St Albans were now looking edgy, but they still posed a threat with Chappell having a shot deflated wide and MacDonald appealing, unsuccessfully, for a penalty when the ball struck Cornhill on the arm.

The Saints hopes of holding out for a much-needed three points were shattered on 89 minutes following a seven-man move that brought about a second goal for Concord.

White, on the halfway line, diverted a McNamara goal-kick to Cornhill whose first touch was knocked on by Taaffe to Greenhalgh who, again with one-touch, sent Cawley clear.

As Welch came out to narrow the angle Cawley dinked a shot over the diving keeper sent the ball towards the net where Bantick, somewhat needlessly, added a final touch.

Bantick was close to being offside but the linesman’s flag stayed down and two points had slipped away.

The draw lifts the Saints off the foot of the table but if a resurgence is underway then it will face a severe test on Tuesday, 16 February, when Allinson takes his new side to Kent to face big-spending league leaders Ebbsfleet United.
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