Bricknell Strikes Late to Record Draw At St Albans
BILLY BRICKNELL’S eleventh goal of the season rescued a point for the Clarets on Bank Holiday Monday, cancelling out Eddie Oshodi’s first-half opener.
Oshodi, the St Albans right-back, beat Marvin Ekpiteta at the near post to steer the hosts in front after dominating the second-half.
The Clarets kept on attacking in the second-half and went close with a number of chances, and were eventually rewarded when Bricknell stabbed home at the back post thirteen minutes from time.
The result ended a run of four straight National League South defeats and, considering the side’s recent form, it can be considered a crucial point but still leaves Mark Hawkes’s men hovering five points above the drop-zone.
In response to the Clarets’ Boxing Day defeat to Dartford two days prior, City chief Mark Hawkes made two alterations to the starting eleven, bringing in Harry Morgan and Billy Hunt for his first Chelmsford start, meaning Lee Sawyer and right-back Rob Girdlestone dropped to the substitutes’ bench.
The Saints, who have lost just one of their last seven home games, started promisingly and put the visitors under sustained pressure early on. Rory McAuley, who has been a solid performer for most of the season, was beaten by Jonathan Edwards’ strength and space on the wing, but Kevin Krans, who found himself unmarked in the box, scuffed his shot from the pull-back and allowed Chelmsford some breathing space after a hectic opening ten minutes.
Ex-Claret Sam Corcoran and former England C international James Comley were pulling the strings for the Saints as Chelmsford struggled to get the ball on the floor and test the opposition defence.
It was a cause of frustration for the City management team who looked on as their midfield was being overrun, while Hunt and top-scorer Billy Bricknell were chasing mere shadows up front.
They did force their way into the match eventually, however, with Hunt controlling Luke Daley’s cross from the right, but credit to St Albans who crowded the striker out and cut short his sight at goal.
St Albans soon picked up again and the score remained level thanks to Marvin Ekpiteta’s last-ditch tackle to put off Jernade Meade from hitting the back of the net after the winger was free in the area.
And the visitors did look to have taken the lead themselves on the half hour mark when Bagasan Graham’s long throw caused havoc inside the area. With plenty of Saints players around him, Bricknell looked to get the deftest of touches on it to send it towards the upright. It cracked the post and the net rippled but the ball failed to cross the line – the closest City had come to a breakthrough.
But the Clarets soon found themselves trailing four minutes before the interval shortly after Jonathan Edwards had a goal ruled out for offside. The Saints’ right-back, Eddie Odoshi, who teed up Edwards a moment earlier, beat Marvin Ekpiteta from close-range to steer home Tom Bender’s cross as the Clarets found themselves pegged back.
It’s what St Albans deserved for a largely dominating first-half performance, Edwards had another chance but saw his shot smothered impressively by Tim Brown, but Hawkes will be disappointed by the space afforded to former City full-back Bender, and it left Chelmsford with it all to do in the second-half.
They looked rejuvenated after the break with Bricknell going close only for Darren Locke’s deflection to take his shot over the bar, but they still couldn’t force the ball home against a well-drilled defence.
Lee Sawyer, introduced at the break in place of Matty Whichelow, helped add a little more attacking threat to support Hunt and Bricknell, but the front duo were starved of much service.
McAuley’s long ball fell nicely to the feet of Graham who was denied by close-range thanks to Joe Welch’s fine fingertip save to retain the Saints’ lead.
The custodian was then called into action after the hour when Ekpiteta’s neat flick-on from Sawyer’s free-kick had to be tipped over the bar. Chelmsford kept knocking.
for all of Chelmsford's attacks, St Albans almost doubled their advantage in spectacular fashion when Corcoran’s left-footed half-volley dipped narrowly over the bar at the far side, giving the Clarets a warning sign.
The Clarets' leveller came with 13 minutes remaining after the Saints failed to deal with another Graham long throw. The ball dropped in the box and found Bricknell at the far post, and the frontman made no mistake in pouncing on the loose ball.
On the basis of their second-half display it was probably what the visitors deserved, although Brown had to be at hand to keep out Jorell Johnson’s power header from a set-piece routine late on.
Hunt had a chance to cap off his first start for the Clarets since joining from Heybridge Swifts last week, but he dragged a shot narrowly wide of the post after skipping a challenge outside the box.
With time running out the Clarets would have to settle for a point but, considering recent results, it momentarily steadies the ship heading into the tough trip to Dartford on January 2nd.
St Albans City:
1. Joe Welch
2. Eddie Oshodi
3. Lee Chappell (C)
4. Sam Corcoran
5. Jorell Johnson
6. Darren Locke
7. Tom Bender
8. James Comley
9. Jonathan Edwards
10. Kevin Krans
11. Jernade Meade
12. Harry Crawford (On for Jonathan Edwards, 85’)
14. Louie Theophanous (On for Kevin Krans, 60’)
15. Ben Martin
16. Scott Thomas
17. Jack Green (On for Jenade Meade, 75’)
1. Tim Brown
2. Mark Haines
3. Bagasan Graham
4. Harry Morgan
5. Marvin Ekpiteta
6. Rory McAuley
7. Ben Marlow
8. Billy Hunt
9. Billy Bricknell
10. Matthew Whichelow
11. Luke Daley
12. Jake Gordon
14. Lee Sawyer (On for Matty Whichelow, 46’)
15. Rob Girdlestone
16. Damien Green
17. Dexter Peter
Referee: Mr. Anthony Serrano
Assistant Referees: Mr. Michael Heavey and Mr. Bhupinder Gill
St Albans City: Eddie Odoshi (41’)
Chelmsford City: Billy Bricknell (77’)
St Albans City: Sam Corcoran (57’, dissent), Tom Bender (69’, cynical foul)
Chelmsford City: None
HT Score: 1-0
FT Score: 1-1
City Man of the Match: Tim Brown