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Saints 3-2 Ebbsfleet United

The Saints came from two goals behind to secure an impressive three points against Ebbsfleet United in a topsy-turvy encounter at Clarence Park on Saturday afternoon.

With James Kaloczi ruled out through suspension, Ian Allinson was forced into making changes to his starting eleven and formation, including the returns of Dave Diedhiou and Joy Mukena to the side.

However, it proved to be Ebbsfleet who started the game the brighter of the two sides and the Kent based club took the lead from the penalty spot, although the decision to award it was disputed by the City players and staff.

Reece Grant burst into the box and looked to round Johnson, but appeared to be caught by the goalkeeper. Referee Oliver Mackey had no hesitation and pointed to the spot. Rakish Bingham stepped up and sent the spot-kick high into the roof of the net.

Things went from bad to worse for St Albans five minutes later as Grant turned from provider in to goalscorer. The forward latched onto Paxman’s brilliant flick on before powering into the box and calmly side-footing the ball low to Johnson’s right.

A change in formation from the Saints following Ebbsfleet’s second brought about a change in the game’s momentum, and in the 38th minute the deficit was reduced with City’s first attempt on target.

The always energetic Devante Stanley found acres of space down the right and delivered an inch perfect ball into the box that Mitchell Weiss calmly nodded home.

Three minutes later and the game was turned totally on its head as the Saints levelled things up through Shaun Jeffers. The experienced striker latched onto a defence splitting ball and took a touch before striking a low effort that beat Hadler and just trickled over the line before a recovering defender could hack it clear.

Following the interval both sides struggled to put their stamp on the game, however that changed just before the hour mark. Zane Banton’s delivery from the left found Shaun Jeffers unmarked and the 28-year-old made no mistake from six yards out, sending his header back across goal and into the far corner of the net, sparking wild celebrations amongst the home players and staff.

Ebbsfleet failed to show the attacking intensity on display during the opening half an hour and the closest they came to snatching a point was through substitute Egan, who let fly from the edge of the box only to see it pushed away by Johnson.

The Saints could have extended their lead further in the dying minutes of the game but for an acrobatic stop by Hadler, who tipped Weiss’ vicious strike over the bar.  

City return to action away to Bishop’s Stortford next Saturday in the Emirates FA Cup fourth round qualifying.

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