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12.01.2008 at 15:00 Westleigh Park

Attendance : 577

Havant & Waterlooville

3 - 1

St Albans City

Referee : Eamonn Smith (Woking) Blue Square South

Goalscorers
Tom Jordan (19, 75)
Craig Watkins (90)
Simon Martin (4)
Opening squads
Kevin Scriven
Justin Gregory
Brett Poate
Shaun Wilkinson
Gary Elphick
Tom Jordan
Mo Harkin
Jamie Collins �
Jamie Slabber
Rocky Baptiste
Tony Taggart
Nick Eyre
Marcel McKie
Scott Cousins
Ben Martin
Ryan Frater
James Quilter
Paul Bruce
Jon Stevenson
Lee Clarke
Simon Martin
Jomo Faal-Thomas
Substitutes
Alfie Potter
Chamal Fenelon
Craig Watkins
Michael McEnery
Tom Taylor
Craig Vargas
James Archer
Hamsa Twomey
Alex Olcott
Substitutions
Alfie Potter -> Mo Harkin (16)
Chamal Fenelon -> Jamie Slabber (78)
Craig Watkins -> Rocky Baptiste (69)
Hamsa Twomey -> Jon Stevenson (56)
Craig Vargas -> Jomo Faal-Thomas (87)
Yellow cards
Justin Gregory (34) Paul Bruce (21)
Marcel McKie (87)
Red cards
None None.
Match report
ST ALBANS CITY's search for a ray of light at the end of a painfully long tunnel appears to remain some way off in the distance following a 3-1 defeat on Saturday to FA Cup heroes Havant & Waterlooville that keeps the Saints firmly rooted to the foot of the Blue Square South table.
For long periods of an encouraging opening 45 minutes City, attempting to play more passing football than seen for much of this disastrous campaign, looked firmly on course for at least a share of the spoils before eventually tiring and falling away on the sodden Westleigh Park turf.
With his playing options slightly increased from his first match in temporary charge, Steve Castle opted for just three at the back with Scott Cousins, on the left, tucking in with Ryan Frater and the returning Ben Martin. City went for a five man midfield with the Marcel McKie and Jomo Faal-Thomas wide on the flanks with the again booked Paul Bruce joined in the middle by Jon Stevenson and the debut making James Quilter.
In attack Simon Martin, who made his umpteenth return to the club on Friday, partnered Lee Clarke. Martin’s inclusion, as he moved to within one game of his 200th appearance for the Saints, might not grab the headlines in the manner of Beckham’s hyped 100th game for his country, but the 28 year old striker took just four minutes to remind everyone of his predatory instincts as he gave the Saints a deserved early lead.
Quilter, most recently with Ilford, played the ball square to Cousins who slid a fine pass down the left of the penalty area to Clarke. The City skipper twisted smartly as his marker, former Saint Gary Elphick, slipped on the most treacherous part of the pitch, and crossed low for Martin to steady himself before scoring on his 150th league game for the Saints.
Shortly after, Martin turned defender Justin Gregory inside the box but squandered the chance to double Saints lead with a sliced shot that disappeared out for a Hawks throw. Home keeper Kevin Scriven had to move swiftly on 17 minutes to smother the ball as Clarke slid in on Elphick’s risky back pass, but two minutes later and Havant drew level with unsettled defender Tom Jordan powerfully heading to Nick Eyre’s right following Jamie Slabber’s fine cross from the Hawks right.
City survived a mad scramble midway through the half when Eyre did well to save from Elphick with Jordan stabbing the rebound just wide. Having performed so positively early on St Albans were struggling to retain the upper hand and just as the half began to peter out tamely Castle’s side did well to block a Jamie Collins effort with Tony Taggart putting the rebound comfortably over the bar.
Havant, showing five changes to the starting XI that achieved the clubs historic FA Cup draw at Swansea City, should have been ahead within 28 seconds of the restart only for the goalscoring hero at Swansea, Rocky Baptiste, to head wastefully over Eyre’s goal following Taggart’s cross.
City livened up their attacking options on 56 minutes with central midfielder Stevenson replaced by the right-sided Hamza Twomey whose pace and fearless run at the home defenders certainly added a new dimension to the game and bodes well for City’s future.
But with Havant gaining control of the game City were starting to live on borrowed time at the back, Frater made an excellent interception as Collins tried to send Baptiste away while the Hawks front man was again wayward with another header, this time maybe just a tad too high for him, from a Gregory cross.
The game almost turned again in City’s favour on the hour though when McKie tackled Gregory close to the penalty area and after getting to the goalline cut the ball back to Twomey whose controlled low drive was blocked in the centre of the goal by the retreating Gregory.
Havant hit back with a swift break that ended with Eyre diving forward to parry and then grab Taggart’s dangerous low cross. Still City refused to lie down and Scriven had to move swiftly low to his left to keep out a powerful drive from Twomey after the teenager cut in from the right and shot towards the foot of the post from 18 yards.
City had a scare when lively Hawks substitute Alfie Potter struck the woodwork but was already deemed to be offside while Eyre watched closely as Brett Poate’s firmly hit free kick went straight through to the City keeper.
But Havant, beaten in the three most recent encounters between the two clubs, closed in on victory with Jordan’s second goal on 75 minutes. Another Poate free kick was charged but when Sean Wilkinson clipped the ball back into the penalty area Jordan, from 14 yards, fired in the second Havant goal to Eyre’s right.
Eyre did well to save a snap shot from Wilkinson before Havant, deep into added time, secured victory with a third goal. Wilkinson played the ball out to diminutive loanee Potter whose excellent first time cross was spectacularly volleyed home by fellow substitute Craig Watkins.
City’s third successive defeat since the start of the New Year may have been decided but only a full stretch tip over by Scriven denied Bruce from reducing the deficit prior to the midfielder starting a five match ban next week.

Report by Dave Tavener
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