Gloucester City 0 Saints 0

Saints defiant but disappointed in draw with Tigers

St Albans City left Worcestershire with a deserved, if not disappointing point on Saturday after a rather uninspired 0-0 draw with Gloucester City.

The Tigers who currently ground share with Evesham United, some 27 miles away from their spiritual home, could have been behind as early as the first 20 seconds of the encounter when Ralston Gabriel advanced with purpose and squared the ball for David Moyo who saw his low drive brilliantly saved by Sesay in the home goal.

That was the Saints’ only real effort of note for the remainder of the half and although the desire to stop the recent run of defeats was obvious, the cohesion and quality which served the team so well this season was found wanting.

The hosts were tough in the tackle but cautious in approach. When they did manage to commit bodies to their advances, they asked serious questions of the visiting defence. Sam Avery and Tom Knowles both guilty of squandering gilt-edged chances for the home side. Both from headers, both off target with the goal looming.

Despite those two glaring opportunities, Captain Tom Bender led his rearguard well and on the whole were equal to the remaining Tigers’ threats.

Gabriel was making his first start in five games for the Saints and whilst the match fitness was lacking, it was notable that his reputation commanded respect and was often found with multiple defenders for company. His flash effort late in the first half stung the palms of home keeper Sesay but no more.

A gritty midfield battle continued to grow as strikers became isolated and the creativity depleted. Strong tackles and wasted free kicks for both sides littered the latter stages of the first half leaving Ian Allinson to conduct his interval post-mortem.

His troops came out for the second period with added bite. Eager to keep their potent front-line of Gabriel and the unusually quiet David Moyo fed with a diet of direct passes, the creative legs of Ben Wyatt and Khale Da Costa started to see more of the ball in the final third but ultimately the home side defended well, and in numbers.

It wasn’t a game for the purists and clear-cut chances were very few and far between as the match neared its conclusion. Only Jake Jackson found a way through but was thwarted by a combination of Dean Snedker and the sliding body of Ben Herd as the temperature dropped along with the quality.

Given recent results, a point along with a rare clean sheet is a most welcome gift to be taking back to Hertfordshire but City manager Ian Allinson is clear that the class has to improve if the Saints are to warm up their play-off aspirations during the colder months.

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