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05.11.2011 at 19:45

Attendance : 241

Oxford City

3 - 1

St Albans City

Referee : Andrew Roberts (Surrey) Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division

Lee Steele (21)
Andy Ballard (54)
Lee Steele (74)
Sean Shields (87)
Opening squads
Jason Mooney
James Clarke
Adam Learoyd
Andy Ballard
Darren Pond
Wayne Blosson
Michael Lyon
Marvin Martin
Felipe Barcelos
Lee Steele
Jack Ashton
Nick Jupp
Barrie Matthews
Ryan Watts
Matt Cutchey
James Gray
David Ijaha
Sean Shields
Nick Chrysanthou
Paul Furlong
Joackim Ehui
Michael Lewis
Steve Basham
Reece Fleet
Matthew Clark
Jamie Heapy
Will Viner
Danny Hart
Jerome Walker
Sakho Bakare
Nathan Haisley
Reece Fleet -> Marvin Martin (78)
Matthew Clark -> Felipe Barcelos (78)
Jamie Heapy -> Michael Lyon (83)
Danny Hart -> Nick Chrysanthou (46)
Sakho Bakare -> Joackim Ehui (49)
Jerome Walker -> Paul Furlong (76)
Yellow cards
Jack Ashton (43)
Marvin Martin (45)
Paul Furlong (45)
Danny Hart (50)
Nick Jupp (90)
James Gray (90)
Red cards
None None.
Match report
St Albans City’s slump showed little sign of coming to an end during Saturday’s 3-1 Southern League defeat to Oxford City at Court Place Farm.

The Saints were hopeful that Mike Ford’s side would have one eye on next week’s 1st Round FA Cup tie with Redbridge but another well below par performance by the struggling visitors allowed Oxford to join AFC Totton and Cambridge City at the top of the Premier Division table.

City gave a debut to central defender James Gray who has joined the club from fellow strugglers Arlesey Town and who also remains on the books of Spartan South Midlands side Dunstable. Gray is also coach to the Saints midweek youth side.

Michael Lewis, a 19-year-old right-back, was brought in for his first game in the Southern League, as was midfielder Nick Chrysanthou. Barrie Matthews became the Saints fourth captain in as many matches.

Lewis and Chrysanthou both endured a tough baptism while Gray, after a quite dreadful first 15 minutes, gave a powerful display with the kind of determined fighting spirit that a number of his new team-mates need to show if the Saints are to arrest their alarming decline of one win in ten games.

In total, St Albans made five changes from the side beaten at Bashley a week earlier with one of those missing out being defender Kgosi Ntlhe who has been recalled by Peterborough United.

Oxford were sharper and more cohesive in all areas of the pitch and once they were handed the opening goal there was little doubt that the Hoops would chalk up an 11th win in 14 games.

On a chilly afternoon it was the home side who offered the first threat with Brazilian Felipe Barcelos firing narrowly wide of Nick Jupp’s goal.

Gray’s uncomfortable start saw him gift the ball to the excellent Lee Steele who wastefully screwed his effort across the face of the goal.

St Albans had just one poke at the home goal during the opening half with Sean Shields’ curling shot drifting comfortably wide of the target.

Although on top, Oxford gave Jupp little to worry about but did open the scoring on 21 minutes with a soft though well-executed goal.

Chrysanthou collected a throw-in from Lewis but as the one-time Spurs youngster dithered Steele seized possession and darted into the penalty area before scoring to Jupp’s left for his sixth goal of the season.

With Oxford dominating the Saints tepid midfield more chances should have been created but it was left to the long throw of Andy Ballard to cause City most problems.

Steele headed over from close in following a Ballard throw but St Albans, although uninspiring as an attacking entity, reached the interval without further mishap.

Dave Howell sought to bring greater width to his midfield by replacing Chrysanthou at half time with Danny Hart.

Hart endured an intriguing 45 minutes as he collected an early booking, sustained a cut to the head and had a goal-bound effort cleared from inside the six-yard box.

A vast majority of the goals conceded by St Albans this season have come in the second half of matches and this pattern looked likely to continue as Oxford pushed forward with greater menace soon after the restart.

Barcelos had a free kick charged down before another set piece, chipped into the penalty area by Jack Ashton, saw Adam Learoyd head the ball square for Ballard to head home from close range on 54 minutes.

Sakho Bakare, the Saints leading scorer but surprisingly left on the bench for an hour, came on to replace fellow Frenchman Joakim Ehui but by now the game was well out of the reach of the visitors.

St Albans won their first corner of the day on 64 minutes when David Ijaha crossed from the right with Hart’s shot headed behind from close to the goal.

Two minutes later Gray headed away a Ballard cross with Darren Pond’s follow up hitting Jupp’s right hand upright.

The lethal weapon that is Ballard’s long throw led to the third Oxford goal on 74 minutes when a flick on took the ball over Steele only for it to rebound back to him off the unfortunate Lewis for a point blank finish.

St Albans avoided a second successive three-goal league defeat when James Clarke, on 87 minutes, miss-controlled a long punt from Gray and allowed Shields to pinch possession.

After jinking left and right several times Shields eventually found the back of the net with a deflected shot from 20 yards.

Shields third goal of the season may not have been enough to avert a fourth consecutive defeat but it did provide the spark for a lively finale.

Bakare, diving in to meet a Hart cross, had a penalty appeal rejected while Bakare also sent a scorching 30-yard free kick just wide of the target. A final chance went begging when a cross by Ijaha bounced just too high for Jerome Walker to control.
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