Photographs courtesy of Leigh Page
Right from the kick off, it was clear that this was a game that both sides were determined to win, with both beginning in equal measure at breakneck speed. Just two minutes in, Ferrier forced himself free on St Albans’ left flank, and flashed a ball across the area. Despite the fact that no one from Stortford was there to touch the cross home, the move was a warning sign of what was to come.
After former Saint Elliott Buchanan had squandered one chance, and James Comley had made a superb challenge in the area from Ferrier, in the ninth minute Buchanan and De-Reece Vanderhyde linked up on the right-hand side, and the latter swung in a pinpoint cross, which Ferrier headed off his shoulder and past Joe Welch to put the visitors ahead.
If the goal had been coming, City then began to find their way back into the match, and before halftime had not only brought a fingertip save from a full-stretch Fitzsimons, but were beginning to look more assured in the face of Stortford’s dynamic attack, and countering themselves to good effect.
That being said, on 35 minutes Ferrier was bundled over in the St Albans area, but the claims for a penalty were ultimately deemed unconvincing, and it looked at the time like it would have been a soft award.
Both Ben Martin and captain Lee Chappell were then forced into tremendous challenges against a breaking Ferrier, and Welch had to be alert to divert a cross/shot from the striker wide of his goal, and so the second half began with City not quite having done enough to get themselves back in the tie.
They faced an immediate penalty shout, to which referee Purkiss again waved away all appeals, and despite that somewhat nervous start, the Saints then began to really control the play for large periods. It is fair to say then, that by the 56th minute, the hosts fully deserved their equaliser.
It came after the lively Jernade Meade had almost caught out Fitzsimons with a cross that nearly snuck in at the near post. Three minutes later, the ball was played back towards the area from the City defence after a St Albans corner, and Martin played an astonishing first time ball around the corner to put Theophanous clean through in the area.
The striker made no mistake, emphatically driving the ball home from just inside the box, and from then on, the hosts looked more likely to take the full three points than fall behind again.
City were denied their own penalty appeal on 72 minutes, when Stortford captain Anthony Church seemed to handle the ball in his own box following a St Albans corner, but this time the cries of the home fans were ignored by the ref, and the rest of the game was played out without much incident of note, bar some more fairly harmless long range strikes from both sides.
Though Bishop Stortford had the better of the first half, the Saints deservedly got back into the game, and a draw was probably a fair result overall, although City may look back with disappointment at some missed opportunities.
Though not the three points that St Albans would have liked from the match, they can be pleased with their performance, and Theophanous’ goal will hopefully be a sign of his fortunes in front of goal turning around at the start of the New Year.
City next play away at Sutton United, at the Borough Sports Ground on Saturday January 9th.
St Albans: Welch, Kyriacou, Johnson, Martin, Bender, Corcoran, Comley, Meade (Krans 77), Chappell, Edwards (Crawford 67), Theophanous
Subs Not Used: Green, Thomas, Gibson
Bishop’s Stortford: Fitzsimons, Vanderhyde, Herd, Ekim, Allen, M’Boungou, Merrifield (Abdullahi 77), Church, Buchanan, Ferrier, Moore
Subs Not Used: Lee, Muleba, Gayle, Lovelock
By Elliot Gibbons