Saints 7 East Thurrock United 2

St Albans City sent out a statement of intent to the rest of the division at Clarence Park on Saturday afternoon as they defeat East Thurrock United 7-2.
It was an outstanding performance by Ian Allinson’s side, although Sam Merson will get many of the plaudits for his four goal haul.

East Thurrock had an early sight of goal just three minutes into the game when Lewis Smith latched onto a long ball and struck a half-volley from a tight angle that sailed across goal.

The opening goal came with quarter of an hour gone when Zane Banton cut in from the left and found Merson who, from the edge of the area, struck an effort that took a heavy deflection off of a defender and nestled into the top corner.

That goal appeared to galvanise the visiting side, who equalised just eight minutes later through Smith. A Sam Higgins free-kick was wall saved by Snedker, however the ball fell straight to the waiting Smith and the forward calmly converted.

East Thurrock continued to push forward and found themselves in the lead with 29 minutes gone. Montel Agyemang’s corner from the left caused havoc in the City box and caught out Snedker, who attempted to punch the ball away but ended up sending the ball into his own net.

However, despite a nightmare six minute spell, the Saints received a boost almost immediately from the kick-off.
Marvin Ekpetita, who had been booked ten minutes earlier for a foul on Monlouis, brought down Banton on the near side touchline. Referee James Durkin produced a second yellow card and gave the East Thurrock man his marching orders.

Merson, who returned to the starting line-up after missing out against Eastbourne Borough through illness, levelled things up with 42 minutes gone when he picked up a loose-ball and took a touch before sending a well-struck effort under Lidakevicius and into the far corner.

Merson should have grabbed his hat-trick when he sent an audacious lob over the goalkeeper, however his effort struck one post, bounced across the line and rebounded off the opposite piece of woodwork before the East Thurrock stopper scrambled back and gathered the ball.

Just as the game appeared to be going into the interval all-square, Percy Kiangebeni stepped up with an outstanding strike. The midfielder received the ball just outside the opposition area and turned delightfully before curling the ball into the far corner and past the out-stretched Lidakevicius.

The hosts extended their lead just two minutes after the break when Sambou broke into the box and was brought down by the goalkeeper. Merson, on a hat-trick, took a long run up and confidently placed the penalty into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.

East Thurrock almost reduced the arrears when Sam Higgins latched onto a poor Ben Herd back pass and looked to beat Snedker, however the goalkeeper managed to get a hand on the ball, which slowed it down significant enough for Kiangebeni to get into position and clear it off of the line.

Despite that scare, the Saints continued to look confident going forwards and Merson added his fourth when he brilliantly beat an East Thurrock defender and powered into the area before calmly picking his spot and sending a strike past a stranded Lidakevicius.

Tom Gardiner replaced Percy Kiangebeni, while Lucien came on in place of Monlouis and four goal man Merson was replaced by Charlie Walker.

Walker was only on the pitch for a matter of minutes before he added City’s sixth.

Fellow substitute Shaun Lucien struck a dipping effort that the goalkeeper could only parry into the path of Walker, who had the simplest of finishes from five yards out to extend his side’s lead.

The scoring was finally completed with three minutes left on the clock when Noble played in Banton, who, with all the space in the world, struck a rasping drive past a diving Lidakevicius and into the far corner.

It was an excellent performance from the Saints, who struck seven goals at home in a league for the first time since December 1994.

City are back in action next Saturday (3rd February) when table-topping Dartford visit Clarence Park, kick-off 3pm.

Match details