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26.12.2003 at 13:00 Clarence Park

Attendance : 410

St Albans City

3 - 1

Aylesbury United

Referee : Paul Toyer Ryman Premier League

Goalscorers
Graeme Tomlinson (20)
Jamie Richards (42)
Jamie Richards (45)
Nadim Akhtar (3)
Opening squads
Wesley Jackman
Richard Thomas
Lee Gledhill
Derek Brown
Pat Baldwin
Gary Wraight
Scott Oakes
Jamie Richards
Graeme Tomlinson
Greg Deacon
Matt Jones
Kevin Davies
Jamie Moss
Nadim Akhtar
Danny Gordon
Dean Powles
John Winter
Aaron Cavill
Rory Hunter
Lewis Pritchard
Danny Gray
John Marsh
Substitutes
Ben Cogger
Jay Murray
Andrew Oxby
Fraser Toms
Ian Taylor
Jay Gould
Adriane Corcoran
Tom Alabaster
Mark Bunn
Richard Goulding
Substitutions
Fraser Toms -> Gary Wraight (61)
Jay Murray -> Jamie Richards (61)
Andrew Oxby -> Greg Deacon (75)
Jay Gould -> Aaron Cavill (82)
Adriane Corcoran -> Lewis Pritchard (66)
Tom Alabaster -> John Marsh 82)
Yellow cards
None. None
Red cards
None. None
Match report
Aylesbury United stopped short of wrapping up three Ryman League points in a present on Boxing Day but did pretty much everything else to ensure St Albans City had the perfect Christmastime by sending to Clarence Park what must be the most inexperienced team ever to partake in a Premier Division fixture.

Steve Castle’s struggling City side could do no more than beat what was put before them, and at times the win was achieved in style, but it is questionable whether a two goal victory is completely satisfactory against a club which had seen its manager and secretary walk out during the previous week and the first team squad take strike action and refuse to play over the holiday period.

To the credit of many at Buckingham Road the Ducks did muster a side but the combined total of league appearances of the 14 players used against the Saints was just 72, and that whittles down to just 25 from 11 players when the three most experienced players are removed from the equation. Between them those 14 players had accrued a grand total of one league goal prior to Friday’s visit to St Albans.

Unbeaten at home on Boxing Day for 24 years City made a tremendous start and had the young Ducks penned back in their own penalty area for the opening ten minutes but thanks to an excellent display by goalkeeper Kevin Davies City’s early thrusts were successfully repelled, his best moment early on denying Matt Jones his first goal for the Saints.

Indeed it was Aylesbury, without a win in seven games against the Saints, who opened the scoring on 13 minutes when a Danny Gray free kick was headed out of the penalty area to the diminutive Nadim Akhtar who unleashed an stunning dipping volley which the extremely uncertain Wesley Jackman in the home goal contrived to dive over as the ball headed into the York Road goal.

City were level within seven minutes when a near post Scott Oakes corner down the Saints right was neatly clipped home by Graeme Tomlinson. That goal was expected to open the floodgates instead it was Aylesbury who almost scored next as a free kick by Davies from 70 yards bounced once on its way towards the home goal before the retreating Jackman just managed to tip it over the bar.

Jackman, clearly believing this to be the pantomime season, caused further consternation when he dropped a harmless looking cross but his growing embarrassment was eased as City returned to the offensive with Jamie Richards and Pat Baldwin both going close. City’s pressure finally told on 42 minutes when Derek Brown challenged for a ball that ran on to Richard Thomas, his shot was blocked on the edge of the penalty area by the advancing Davies only for Richards to open his account for the Saints by guiding the rebounded into an unguarded goal.

Victory was ensured three minutes later when a Tomlinson corner from the right was smartly swept home from 12 yards by the elated Richards. Given that a hat trick would have boosted his confidence immeasurably it was surprising to see Richards withdrawn just after the hour.

St Albans really ought to have added to that lead substantially after the break, especially given the experience in Castle’s side compared to that of the Ducks, but a good deal of neat approach work was not matched by the finishing. Tomlinson fired across the face of the goal, Oakes sent a thunderous effort just wide, Greg Deacon was thwarted high up by Davies while a brilliantly timed tackle by Dean Powles terminated Jay Murray’s positive run.

Although there appeared to be a lack of genuine desire, or killer instinct, in their play City continued to push forward in the latter stages with Tomlinson going close with a chip just over the bar before missing out in a one on one with Davies. The final word went, deservedly so, to the visiting keeper who saved low down from Murray.

Report by Dave Tavener
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