50 minutes into Essex and on to Jeff King's Canvey Island. 20 feet below sea-level. What a 12 months this club have had. In the F.A.Cup last season, they defeated Port Vale after a replay in the first round proper and then, in the second round, Southend United required a replay to overcome these upstarts. They won the F.A.Trophy at Villa Park, defeating 4 Conference sides along the way and, some would say, gave way to Farnborough Town in the League due to a fixture back-log theat meant a game every 4 days for the last few weeks of the season. This term, The Seasiders top the Ryman League and they
have won 19 of their last 20 games which includes a win at Wigan in the F.A.Cup and next week they are on BBC's Match if the Day in the second round at home to Northampton Town.
No problem for The Saints today, then. For today, the Dynamic Duo selected Wilmot in goal, 3 at the back: Moran, Brown and Campbell; 5 in the middle: Nabil, Sagrue, Evans, Smith and Rattle; and up front: Martin and Bignal. On the bench were Cook, Heider, Mackail-Smith, Bermingham and Church. In the
stand were the cup-tied Wraight and the injured Ansell (very impressive scar) and Honeyball.
I imagine that City's Plan A for this match was to be 'up' for the game from the start, contain the opposition for the first 20 minutes or so, get on to terms with them and take our own chances. There is no Plan B. Well it didn't work. Canvey scored in the second minute ( a Kennedy volley, unmarked from
six yards) and in the eleventh ( a Parmeter solo effort after a Saints move broke down in the Canvey half). The home side were in total control. In the first half, City had 2 or 3 chances but were unable to test the home keeper.
The City defence were under siege and Wilmot can be pleased with his performance, ably assisted by several goal-line clearances from the back 3.
It was a case of 'How many?' and Canvey added 2 more before the break ( both close range predator strikes from Wayne Vaughan). H.T. 4-0. Cook came on for Sagrue. Within 10 minutes of the restart, it was 5 (a Gregory header) and Canvey began to relax, the game won. A floodlight failure brought a 7 minute pause to proceedings and City 'won' the last period of 15 minutes following the re-start, thanks to a Martin header from a Nabil cross and could have added a second when first Bignall was frustrated by a last-ditch tackle on the line and then Mackail-Smith (on for Nabil) volleyed
wide. F.T. 5-1 .
There was no disgrace for The Saints in this defeat. Canvey Island are a very impressive side indeed. A yard and a half quicker to each ball, confident on the ball and always with severall options. Smith, Stimpson and Duffy stood out from a side which included Julian Dicks, formerly of West Ham. City will
be disappointed that they didn't take one or two of their rare chances in the first half. City's MotM was probably Campbell or Wilmot.
Difficult for me to guess the attendance. 450/500/550 or so? There were some 200 Travelling City Faithfull, giving loud and long vocal support in these very difficult times for St Albans City F.C..
Entertainment 8/10. Atmosphere 9/10. Technical Merit 6/10. Referee 8/10.
Next up. Back to League action next Saturday, away from home at Billericay and then the following Saturday, away again at Hampton and Richmond Borough.
The Christmas preparations have begun. They are looking for a volunteer Father Christmas. I suggested one of the injured players, Danny Honeyball or if he has recovered and will play, Gary Ansell. A cushion up the jacket.
Peace on Earth, goodwill to all men.
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