Match day

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Wargrave Women FC (H)
Sun Dec 10

Match day

Team logo
Wargrave Women FC (H)
Sun Dec 10 14:00
Thames Valley Counties Women's Football League

Just One Of Those Things?

| League
Att: 1112
St Albans City
Clark (67, 2-1), Close (90)
3 - 1
Slough Town
Sayer (0-1)
Andy Sayer
The Rebels' on-off flirtation with promotion took another agonising twist on Saturday, as they allowed St Albans to come back into a match which they should have sewn up reasonably comfortably long before the nail-biting finale which ensued.

A dodgy referee, an injury and suspension pile-up as long as your arm, the early loss of Mark West, plain bad luck; none of these things helped. But 3-1 is 3-1 and three points lost with the clock ticking away.

This was not a match for the faint-hearted. The controversy was well underway almost as soon as the whistle had blown, the only thing the referee got right all afternoon. West chased a ball into the area, Cockram casually stuck out a leg and tripped him - all appeals were dismissed out of hand, much to the chagrin of the floored striker, who had to leave the field on 10 minutes because of his injuries.

St Albans, refreshingly endearing in their Conference-standard stadium and their steadfast refusal to either use or condone the kick-in, had little of the early possession but created nearly all the noteworthy opportunities, with Clark heading forcefully onto the crossbar shortly after West's departure in one particularly productive bout of pressure.

Slough initially threw Stone up front alongside Blackman, but the latter's lack of height and the former's fleeting form meant that the partnership rarely produced anything of note.

Only when Sayer swapped places with Stone upfield did the home defence begin to break sweat. Even so, it was a surprise when the Rebels took the lead, and more than ironic that it was the detested kick-in - heavily criticised by Russell and Craker - which provided the source. Stone thumped his kick into the clouds, Howells punched poorly as it skimmed under the crossbar and Sayer dived headlong to return the ball to the net.

The start of the second-half brought with it a new wave of controversy. Eight largely uneventful minutes had elapsed before Catlin nodded the ball on and Blackman gave chase, sprinting clear of his two pursuers. Krusynski then launched into a kamikaze-style assault, tossing the diminutive striker aside like a rag doll. For some reason, the referee decided that this merited a yellow card.

After that, the visitors began to visibly lose their way, and the team's spirit and competence began to crack.

Clark exploited these fully with a 67th minute equaliser not entirely dissimilar to the visitors' ridiculed opener, as a high free-kick was flicked on by Gurney for Clark to arrive in style and side foot into the corner.

The deadlock could have been broken by either side. Duffield forced a full-length save from Bunting with a powerfully-struck low effort, and Stone saw a lob cleared off the line as he lifted the ball over the advancing Howells from 20 yards.

But one more moment of defensive uncertainty settled the score. With Slough still the better side on the balance of play, St Albans' very own Blackman was left clear on the left-wing, crossed and watched in glee as an entirely unmarked Clark headed in his second.

Saver saw a late and entirely justified penalty appeal turned down by the controversial man in black; Blackman volleyed straight into Howells' arms and then inadvertently obstructed Catlin as he tried to shoot in the six-yard box.

Close barely needed to add a well-taken-third with 20 seconds left to play. He did and the comeback was complete.

Not a disaster, just one of those days; but three points lost all the same.

St Albans City Line up


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