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05.01.2008 at 15:00 Clarence Park

Attendance : 426

St Albans City

1 - 2

Sutton United

Referee : Ian Crouch (New Eltham) Blue Square South

Goalscorers
Jon Stevenson (77)
Craig Dundas (82 pen)
John Scarborough (90)
Opening squads
Nick Eyre
Scott Cousins
Marcel McKie
Ryan Frater
Craig Vargas
Paul Bruce
Jon Stevenson
Lee Clarke
Hamsa Twomey
Jomo Faal-Thomas
Hasim Deen
Phil Wilson
Dean Sammut
Alan Bray
John Scarborough
Jack Haverson
Bashiru Alimi
Paul Honey
Lee Maskell
Jason Henry
Craig Dundas
Warren McBean
Substitutes
James Archer
Solomon Henry
Kwame Asamoah
Austin Byfield
Chris Haslam
Tom Hughes
Jason Goodchild
Nicky Greene
Harry Ottaway
Joe McLoughlin
Substitutions
None. Nicky Greene -> Lee Maskell (67)
Harry Ottaway -> Warren McBean (77)
Yellow cards
Craig Vargas (28)
Lee Clarke (36)
Jon Stevenson (37)
Nick Eyre (90)
None
Red cards
Paul Bruce (72)
Jomo Faal-Thomas (81)
Nicky Greene (72)
Match report
BY VIRTUE of Saturday’s disastrous 2-1 defeat at Clarence Park by Sutton United, the club the Saints replace at the foot of Blue Square South, St Albans City are looking increasingly bound for a second successive relegation. Little went right for the managerless Saints as skipper Lee Clarke missed an early penalty and in addition to having Paul Bruce and Jomo Faal-Thomas sent off four other City players and coach Andy Edwards were cautioned.
But City, a club blighted by poor discipline in recent years and already under scrutiny from the Football Association, can feel hard done by on this occasion as the performance of referee Ian Crouch was little short of mystifying. The New Eltham-based official dismissed Sutton substitute Nick Greene for throwing a punch at City’s Bruce who was also dismissed for violent conduct. The incident took place just in front of the dugouts and Bruce appeared to do little more than hold Greene as the duo tussled for the ball.
Sutton responded the better of the two sides to that spat and were handed a lifeline on 82 minutes when Mr Crouch deemed Faal-Thomas to have tripped Bashiru Alimi in the box. Having been booked for dissent earlier in the half, Faal-Thomas was duly dismissed and Craig Dundas pulled Sutton level from the penalty spot. From then on Sutton laid siege to the home goal and grabbed a dramatic winner in the third minute of stoppage time.
Sutton’s victory extends their unbeaten run to four games but there was little to suggest for the opening 70 minutes that the visitors would be heading back to Surrey with anything other than a defeat under their belts. In a match between two poor sides, St Albans held the upper hand and really should have had the points wrapped up long before Sutton realised just how low the Saints are at present. Even United boss Ernie Howe admitted that he could not see anything other than a St Albans win until the sending offs started.
An indication of the desperate times the club is going through was hinted at by the team sheet, with temporary manager Steve Castle forced to include four members of his Oaklands college youngsters amongst the five substitutes. A fifth member, Hamza Twomey, of Irish-Turkish extraction, made his first league start for the club.
City’s problems appeared to be easing five minutes into the game when referee Crouch pointed to the penalty spot after Ryan Frater’s shot from a Scott Cousins corner struck the arm of one of a cluster of Sutton players, believed to be Jason Henry. United custodian Phil Wilson stood motionless as Clarke twice stopped in his run up and then gratefully caught the ball as the Saints skipper simply chipped a truly pathetic spot kick straight into the keeper’s arms.
City put aside the disappointment of that effort to dominate the remainder of the half without looking anything better than mediocre, so poor were the visitors. Frater, following a Bruce corner, saw his header blocked on the goalline by Henry, while a Bruce free kick was headed against the inside of the woodwork by Hasim Deen.
A rare Sutton threat on the home goal ended with Deen popping up to head away Dundas’s header from a Paul Honey free kick. Little goalmouth activity was seen during the opening 20 minutes of the second period although Nick Eyre was called upon to make his first save on 65 minutes following a low drive from John Scarborough.
That incident sparked City’s best spell of the game as they hit back strongly and forced Sutton to defend in depth. Marcel McKie, playing in a more forward position on the right of midfield, sent a half volley from 20 yards screaming just over the York Road crossbar, and shortly after Wilson, none too convincingly, tipped over a rising effort from Frater.
On 72 minutes United substitute Greene was sent packing along with Bruce just five minutes after replacing Lee Maskell. City briefly shrugged off that blow to maintain the pressure with McKie and Stevenson having shots charged down but the game twisted on 82 minutes when Bashiru Alimi went down in the box following a clumsy challenge by Faal-Thomas. City were aggrieved even before the penalty decision as during the build up a clear throw-in in their favour was awarded to the visitors.
Dundas swept the resulting penalty to Eyre’s right as the keeper went to his left and suddenly Sutton were a different proposition as shots rained in on the home goal. Eyre saved well from Honey, and smothered a miscued effort from Dundas as City’s nine men began to get stretched.
Eyre made one more save from Alimi before an excellent twist by Harry Ottaway, in the third minute of added time, took him between the half hearted challenges of McKie and Twomey before racing clear and crossing low for Scarborough to apply the killer blow from close in.
Sutton’s wild celebrations at the final whistle suggested they had achieved something a touch grander than moving off the foot of the table for the first time since late September, quite when St Albans are able to repeat such celebrations is something for any of the prospective managerial candidates to ponder.

Report by Dave Tavener
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