St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead Town share four goals once again after another dramatic clash
PUBLISHED: 15:24 26 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:25 26 December 2017
The fact that St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead Town drew 2-2 yet again should not be a surprise – but how we got to the ending certainly was.
After a goal-less first half, Hemel took the lead twice in the second period, firstly through Joe Howe, then Spencer McCall.
But Sam Merson twice equalised, both times within minutes of the Hemel goal.
The game finished with a red card to City’s Zane Banton.
It was the local rivals’ fifth 2-2 draw in the last five league games.
Howe’s opener was exactly what was needed to break the deadlock.
Coming at the end of some Tudors’ pressure the ball ran loose to the left-back who thundered a shot beyond Dean Snedker.
But then out of nothing City were level.
Tom Bender intercepted a loose pass and after a few steps forward, put Merson away who curled his shot around Laurie Walker.
McCall arrived off the bench to put Hemel ahead again, playing a lovely one-two with Alex Osborn, before scoring at the near post.
But Merson was alive and after pulling away from his defender at the back post, he fired home.
Banton’s red came after a poor first touch from him left him stretching into the next tackle and the referee had no hesitation.
What came in the rest of it was a fascinating encounter with chances for both teams.
The first half was one of those intriguing halves of football, but mostly from a tactical viewpoint rather than a footballing one.
Hemel may have shaded the possession but Saints were creating the better chances.
That was until the last five minutes of the second half when the hosts were left like a punch-drunk boxer in a prize fight.
David Moyo forced Dean Snedker into a sprawling spot when the ball found him unmarked by the penalty spot and a combination of Ben Herd and Solomon Sambou was required to clear a scramble from a corner.
Neither bench was happy as the half ended but City’s main concern was their lack of ball retention.
A lot of balls fired forward towards Merson saw the diminutive striker without any real support.
It was frustrating because when they did keep the football for any length of time, they looked dangerous, especially down the right.
Herd made one fine run into the box and his cross found Zane Banton via a back-heel from Merson.
However, he produced an air-shot only.
Rhys Murrell-Williamson also wriggled through but a drilled cross looped up and inches wide off a defender with Merson in close quarters.
But if the respective coaching teams thought their mood would be soothed in the second period, they were to be disappointed.
Hemel continued to create chances while City were still giving the ball away to much.
The visitors’ goal was definitely coming while St Albans’ quick equaliser came out of nothing.
It totally transformed the mood in Clarence Park and led to Saints piling forward.
Banton drew a great save out of Laurie Walker.
The former Luton man also scored on 77 minutes but his shot on the stretch went the wrong side of the post.
Just when it seemed as if the game was City’s for the taking McCall pounced.
But Merson was there again to finish off the scoring if not the action.
City: Snedker, Herd, Bender, Noble (Hippolyte-Patrick 57), Kiangebeni, Moore-Azille, Murrell-Williamson (Lucien 84), Sambou, Merson (C.Walker 90+1), Monlouis, Banton
Subs (not used): Joseph, Wynter
Goals: Merson 66, 82
Hemel: L.Walker, Doyley (Kaloczi 49), Howe, Parkes, Connolly, Yakubu, Osborn, Shulton, Moyo, German (McCall 68), Hoskins (Spring 82)
Subs (not used): Campbell, Boness
Goals: Howe 63, McCall 80
HT Score: St Albans City 0 Hemel Hempstead Town 0
Referee: Josh Smith