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01.03.2008 at 15:00 Woodspring Stadium

Attendance : 237

Weston Super Mare

0 - 3

St Albans City

Referee : Andy Newell Blue Square South

None Paul Bruce (pen.) (14)
Paul Bruce (pen.) (22)
Lee Clarke (66)
Opening squads
Ryan Northmore
Michael Green
Michael Bell
Andrew Robertson �
Curtis Ujah
Elvis Ewruje
Dean Grubb
Marc McGregor
Wilfred Domoraud
Gareth Hopkins
James Palmer
Paul Bastock
Hassan Sulaiman
Marcel McKie
Luke Thurlbourne
Ben Martin
Ryan Frater
Paul Bruce
Paul Hakim
Wasiu Akanni Sunday
James Fisher
Hasim Deen
Lewis Powell
Ben Willshire
Jason Burt
Harry Sherwood
Luke Purnell
Scott Cousins
Simon Martin
Lee Clarke
James Archer
Jonathan Hunt
Ben Willshire -> Marc McGregor (46)
Lewis Powell -> James Palmer (55)
Jason Burt -> Michael Bell (71)
Scott Cousins -> Marcel McKie (45)
Lee Clarke -> Wasiu Akanni Sunday (61)
Jonathan Hunt -> Hassan Sulaiman (80)
Yellow cards
Michael Green (54) Luke Thurlbourne (84)
Red cards
None None.
Match report
ST ALBANS City sucked Weston-super-Mare into the Blue Square South relegation dogfight on Saturday with a resounding 3-0 victory at Woodspring Park that lifts the Saints to within one win of Welling United and a place outside the dreaded drop zone.
City’s first win at a windswept Winterstoke Road was as straightforward as the score suggests with Paul Bastock facing just a solitary on target shot on his triumphant return to the Saints. City were aided by what could be considered as the big decisions going their way but the fury directed at referee Andy Newell by the home supporters was not totally justified.
Mr Newell angered the locals by twice awarding first half penalties for handball against Seagulls defender Curtis Ujah and then waving away home protests right on half time when Ben Martin slid in with a potentially crucial tackle on Wilfred Domoraud, inside the penalty area, that saw the City defender emerge with the ball but the Weston striker in a crumpled heap.
Manager Steve Castle, returning to the ground where a 3-0 defeat in October 2004 culminated in his resignation, again left strikers Lee Clarke and Simon Martin on the bench and they were joined by left back Scott Cousins. Into the side, along with Bastock in place the discarded Nick Eyre, returned Marcel McKie while Wasiu Sunday continued in attack alongside the lively Paul Hakim.
As the sun disappeared behind threatening clouds City kicked off with a strong wind to their backs and with a two-goal lead inside the first quarter of the match the visitors made full use of the advantageous conditions. Hakim maybe should have opened the scoring as early as the eighth minute when a long Bastock goal kick took him clear of the Seagulls defence but the former Stevenage striker pulled his shot tamely across Ryan Northmore’s goal. Sunday was equally wasteful with two wild shots early on posing more problems for inattentive seagulls than they did for the home keeper.
But on 14 minutes City got the early break they wanted. Hassan Sulaiman ran powerfully down the City right and crossed deep beyond the far post to Paul Bruce whose controlled first touch fell to Hakim in front of goal. After bringing the ball down Hakim, from close in, saw his shot blocked by the arm of Ujah. Referee Newell was quick to point to the spot despite strong Weston protests.
Bruce, in good form throughout, duly opened the scoring with a cleanly struck left footed spot kick high to the keepers right as Northmore fell to his left.
With the Saints defence in an unusually resolute and organised mood, the promptings of Bastock not going unnoticed, Weston could make little headway but missed a good chance to pull level when James Palmer played the ball in from the left to Ujah whose shot on the turn went safely into the side netting.
But City were quickly back onto the offensive with the excellent Ryan Frater glancing a header narrowly wide from a Bruce free kick. Bruce’s delivery from set pieces was of a higher standard than the Saints have delivered previously this season and caused frequent problems for the Seagulls defence.
With only one win in 14 Blue Square South matches since winning at Clarence Park, Weston were looking frail and on 22 minutes the match was effectively put beyond them courtesy of a second Bruce penalty.
Hakim retrieved a long ball out to the left from Bastock and helped it on to Marcel McKie. The one time Spurs defender clipped a cross into the penalty area where Ujah, dipping his upper torso towards the ball when a raised foot would have cleared the danger, blocked the ball with his left arm prompting Mr Newell to point to the spot for the second time.
Bruce’s again inch perfect kick to the same spot as eight minutes earlier once more beat Northmore comfortably despite the keeper going the right way. It is the first time in 18 years that a City player has successfully converted two penalties in the same match.
Weston’s problems almost intensified on 28 minutes when Sunday latched onto a poor headed back pass by Seagulls skipper Andy Robertson but Northmore was out swiftly to block the strikers shot. After a quiet spell the half ended if not in uproar then certainly in heated debate.
A poor touch by Wilfred Doromaud, making his home debut, allowed City to clear when a goal beckoned while the Saints made a change seconds before the break when Cousins replaced McKie who was hindered by a slight hamstring strain.
The Seagulls bellowed for a penalty when Domoraud seized possession after an attempted overhead clearance by Frater went horribly wrong only to be sent tumbling as Martin slid in with an excellent tackle that saw the ball cleared and the home forward wallowing in the turf.
Before the row around the lack of a penalty that time had died down City themselves appealed for another penalty when Ujah appeared to shove Hakim in the back. Neither appeal was successful and the Saints were content to go in in an unaccustomed strong position.
Weston suffered a further blow at the start of the second period when the wind, which had been expected to push forward Tony Ricketts side, seemed to switch direction and again aid the Saints cause. Regardless of the overhead conditions St Albans began the second half most impressively, for the first time in several weeks the ball was on the ground and City played with confidence.
Cousins played a significant part in City’s dominance with an assured touch and some excellent forward passing, his partnership with Bruce was one of several good points from the visitors perspective. Cousins exchanged passes with Bruce on 48 minutes and played in Hakim who in turn fed Sunday. Only a superb tackle by Michael Green stopped the Nigerian from opening his account.
Sunday was withdrawn in favour of Clarke on 61 minutes while Bruce waited to take a free kick. With the deposed City captain now in position, Bruce swung in the dead ball from the City right towards the near post. Clarke’s first touch from inside the six-yard box looked certain to find the target but somehow Northmore got down to save.
The reprieve delayed the third City goal by just five minutes. Cousins, close to the halfway line, played the ball up to Clarke who took a return pass from Hakim before storming through the middle of the home defence and beating Northmore with a perfectly placed low shot to the keepers left as the custodian dived to his right.
Without wishing to devalue City’s victory, especially as they continued to push for more goals, Weston looked a desperately poor outfit that is suspect at the back and weak in attack. City players acknowledge as much after the game while in the time remaining sought to press home their impressive dominance.
A sweeping move involving Cousins, Clarke and Bruce ended with Cousins continuing his run to collect Bruce’s deft flick only to have his shot charged down by Ujah. Cousins started another move with a pass to Bruce who quickly teed up Hakim whose cushioned pass paved the way for Clarke, from 20 yards, to force Northmore to dive low to his right to save.
The busy Northmore – City accumulated eight shots on target during the afternoon – stretched high to his left to save from Hakim after Sulaiman had opened up the Weston defence before the Seagulls, on 84 minutes, finally got a shot on target only for Bastock to block substitute Lewis Powell’s drive.
Jonathan Hunt, more than 17 years after his only previous appearance for the Saints, came on for the final ten minutes and clearly needs a few more games under his belt before acquiring full fitness.
The victory, City’s fourth away league win of the campaign, lifts the Saints off the foot of the table and up to 20th, and with a favourable run in through to the end of the season St Albans will be confident of avoiding a second successive relegation.
City’s search for a second home league win of the season continues next Saturday with the visit of an out of form Basingstoke Town to Clarence Park. St Albans will again be without the suspended James Quilter while Dean Cracknell will also be absent having ended his second spell with the club earlier this week.

Report by David Tavener
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