Saints march to a derby victory
Stevenage Boro 1 St Albans City 2 MARCUS CRAWLEY reports ALL good things come to an end – but this was certainly not the ideal time for Boro s fabulous run to be stopped in its tracks. Mark Stimson s side failed to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games an
Stevenage Boro 1 St Albans City 2
MARCUS CRAWLEY reports
ALL good things come to an end - but this was certainly not the ideal time for Boro's fabulous run to be stopped in its tracks.
Mark Stimson's side failed to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games and clock up their eighth straight win against their near neighbours on Tuesday night.
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The defeat was especially galling as the Saints evened up the score after their Boxing Day defeat at Clarence Park and the result inched them closer to Conference safety.
Dale Binns in for Steve Guppy from the off was Boro's only change from Saturday's starting line-up against Cambridge United.
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The boot was very much on the other foot this time as Boro were the victims of a stirring fightback this time on a freezing cold night.
And the opening half would have done little to warm the hearts of either set of supporters as Boro wasted some decent opportunities and St Albans looked woeful in the final third.
Strikers Steve Morison and Jamie Slabber could each have given Boro the lead in the opening 15 minutes, Morison heading straight at Paul Bastock from a John Nutter cross and then Slabber dragging a shot wide after Adam Miller played him in.
With Saints lacklustre, Jon Nurse fired into the side netting before Morison searched for a goal which proved elusive on the night.
First he shot straight at Bastock following an unusual one-two with Binns and then he failed to hit the target after some clever play in the area.
Boro fans must have been thinking the points were assured when Binns broke the deadlock three minutes into the new half.
And what a goal it was as the former Cambridge City wide man unleashed a stupendous drive from a tight angle which flew past Bastock.
Boro were well on top at this stage but this was all to change.
Not before Morison had made a hash of a gilt-edged chance when Bastock's poor goal kick was collected by strike partner Slabber.
It took 67 minutes for Saints to record their first corner of the night and a further two minutes to finally have a shot on target.
This was a prelude to an astonishing spell where Boro's defence, previously so comfortable, was torn to pieces.
Miller lost possession in the middle of the park and Saints swarmed forward. Leon Archer was put through but Alan Julian produced the first of several good saves on the night.
Julian was powerless a minute later as substitute Paul Hakim, a recent triallist at Broadhall Way, had plenty of time and space in the area to score.
Now level, it was only two minutes before Saints went ahead.
Julian twice denied Hann but from the resulting Hann corner, Lee Clarke headed home despite the best efforts of the Boro keeper.
Boro were rocking and Hakim's efforts for a second were thwarted by Julian from another lightning break.
There was a strong feeling it was not going to be Boro's night when Morison scrambled an effort against the post from a knock down by sub Luke Oliver.
Saints looked just as likely to extend their lead when from another break, Archer was denied again by Julian and Clarke's follow-up shot hit the upright when he really should have scored.
New boy Mark Hughes made another substitute appearance and he went closest to salvaging a point.
Unfortunately for Boro, his shot went straight down the throat of a relieved Bastock.
Boro boss Mark Stimson had words of comfort for his misfiring strikers after the match.
"Steve Morison has got 22 goals so far this season and he will only add to that total; I wouldn't swap him for anyone else in the Conference.
"You can see Jamie (Slabber) is not match fit yet. He scored in his first game and gone close in the other two."
St Albans boss Colin Lippiatt said: "Dale Binns scored a great goal to put them in front. What a great goal that was, what an angle he has hit it from.
"I am very, very pleased that we got something from the game.
"Stevenage are one of the form teams and you have more than 2,000 people watching. We had some little life-lines in the first half when they didn't punish us.
"I personally enjoyed the game. I thought there was a good tempo and a good atmosphere. They are quite direct with quick ball up to Slabber and Morison and when big Luke Oliver came on who is going to be a handful at that height.