A miserable two and a half hours around the M25 on a sunny Summer afternoon to Colston Avenue, home of Carshalton Athletic, The Robins. Promoted as Champions from Division 1 South after an absence of two seasons, Carshalton parted company with Manager Graham Roberts in the Summer and now at the helm is former Robin, Billy Smith.
For this first League fixture of the season, Cookie selected Wilmot in goal; 4 at the back: Gledhill, Brown (C), Campbell and Smith; 4 in the middle: Graham, Wraight, Castle and Oakes; and up front: McDonnell and De Souza. On the bench: Deacon, Seeby. Martin, Jay Murray and White. Naylor is suspended, Tomlinson injured and transfer-listed Moran somewhere else today.
Saints started brightly with Gledhill, Graham and Wraight combining well on the right and Oakes showing his pedigree on the left but the quality of the final ball into the box limited clear chances. The visitors early pressure was rewarded midway through the half with a penalty when McDonnell and a defender tangled and both fell to the ground. The former Crawley striker hit the spot-kick firmly to the keepers left who went the right way and saved smartly. The linesman intervened and indicated that the keeper had encroached. 'Have another go', said the referee and, this time, the other new boy on display, Mark Graham made no mistake, high to the keeper's right. 0-1.
Carshalton began to cause difficulties for the City defence and were the more likely to add to the scoreboard for the remainder of the half. Chances were created and Wilmot was called into action, aided by the post once and wayward shooting by the home strikers on several occasions. City were relieved to hear the whistle. H.T. 0-1.
Carshalton began the second half the way they finished the first, dominating position and possession and the Saints' defence seemed unable to break the siege. Midway through the half, the home striker left his marker and tried to take the ball around Wilmot who was adjudged to have brought him down, despite prolonged protest from the entire visitors defence. Only one spot-kick was required to level the score. 1-1.
Carshalton were on top and the game was played in the City half of the pitch, the visitors' midfield falling deeper and unable to break out. Discipline was lost and four yellow cards waved at Saints players which could have been more during this period when cuffs were exchanged more than once and a melee developed following a foul by Wraight late in the game. Martin replaced McDonnell late on and with seconds remaining, Murray came on for De Souza. F.T. 1-1.
Carshalton played crisp football through the midfield and were denied all three points by wayward finishing. Their defence was untroubled today after the opening period of the game. They will de pleased to have come back from behind but will regard this as points dropped. St. Albans City were poor. Their was little rhythm through the side, the back four seemed strangely ill at ease, the strikers isolated and the midfield had little in the tank. Cookie will be troubled at the football and the loss of discipline is of concern. MotM? I don't think so. Graham if I must.
Entertainment 3/10, Technical Merit 3/10. Referee 5/10. Atmosphere 4/10.
Match report by Awayday