Smith strike enough to secure City narrow Saints win

A first-half strike by Tom Smith was just enough to see City record a first league win since early September against struggling St Albans City at Clarence Park this afternoon. The Romans came under considerable pressure during the second half but stood firm, with keeper Ryan Clarke producing several excellent stops. After a largely uneventful opening 20 minutes, City’s game slowly began to click into gear and on 26 minutes a great run by Sam Pearson saw him tee up Smith to sweep the ball home from six yards. Boosted by this City controlled the remainder of the half and should have been further in front before the interval but couldn’t find the vital second goal. The second half began scrappily with neither side able to take control but after City saw another couple of chances come and go, the Saints began to press them back. A 73rd minute free-kick right on the edge of the box saw Clarke produce his first save of quality then three minutes later a melee in the City box ended with Knight diverting the ball onto the crossbar. Further chances flew wide of the goal and several times City defenders produced excellent last-ditch blocks. Into stoppage time Clarke got his finger-tips to a rising shot from Merson and a couple of minutes later the shot-stopper did well to claim a header from the same player. This turned out to be the final action as the referee blew for full-time with Clarke still prone on the Clarence Park turf cradling the ball, which saw the Romans move back to within two points of the play-offs and St Albans slip to the foot of the Vanarama National League South table.