MAG­I­CAL IS SAINTS SAVIOUR

The Non-League Football Paper - - NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH - By Jake El­la­cott

ST AL­BANS CITY came from two goals be­hind to se­cure a dra­matic point against league lead­ers Maiden­head United.

Mag­pies boss Alan Devon­shire was forced into changes fol­low­ing in­juries to James Com­ley and Remy Cler­ima, while City man­ager Ian Allinson made no less than six tweaks to the side that fell to de­feat against Ox­ford City on New Year’s Day.

The changes for the home side looked to bring a re­newed im­pe­tus to the team and St Al­bans dom­i­nated the open­ing quar­ter of the game, with Lee Chap­pell go­ing close.

How­ever, Maiden­head have lead the Na­tional League South for much of the sea­son, and showed why with 18 min­utes gone.

A ball over the top ap­peared to catch the St Al­bans de­fence on the back­foot and the en­er­getic Sam Bar­ratt calmly con­trolled the ball be­fore find­ing the far cor­ner.

The first half was one of few chances fol­low­ing Maiden­head’s opener. St Al­bans had much of the pos­ses­sion but the vis­i­tors were happy to sit back and soak up the pres­sure.

Maiden­head looked to be on their way to se­cur­ing an­other three points fol­low­ing the half-time break when Bar­ratt headed home Ryan Up­ward’s de­liv­ery.

Sean Marks thought he had scored his side’s third of the af­ter­noon on the hour mark but he was thwarted by the lines­man’s flag.

The drama wasn’t over how­ever, and St Al­bans grabbed a goal back in the 72nd minute through Tom Ben­der as he got the slight­est of touches on a cor­ner.

The vis­i­tor’s started to sit back as they re­pelled wave af­ter wave of St Al­bans at­tacks.

How­ever, the pres­sure fi­nally told with the game en­ter­ing the 90th minute. Maiden­head failed to clear a Shaun Lu­cien cor­ner, and the ball even­tu­ally fell into the patch of Sam Mer­son, who with­out hes­i­ta­tion took a touch and slot­ted the ball past Carl Pent­ney.

Speak­ing af­ter the game, Maiden­head boss Devon­shire was in re­flec­tive mood hav­ing seen his side fail to de­fend a two goal lead.

“We’ve con­trolled the game for long pe­ri­ods, but prob­a­bly would have taken the point be­fore the game,” he said.

His St Al­bans coun­ter­part Allinson was un­der­stand­ably much hap­pier with the re­sult.

He said: “The lads have showed tremen­dous char­ac­ter to come back from two down, and we could have quite eas­ily won in the fi­nal few min­utes.” STAR MAN: Sam Bar­ratt (Maiden­head) EN­TER­TAIN­MENT: ★★★★★

PIC­TURES: Rob Walk­ley

ROUND THE BEND: Tom Ben­der led the St Al­bans come­back, scor­ing the goal which halved the deficit, in­set

UP AND AT ‘EM! Sam Bar­ratt heads United’s sec­ond

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