The Tinmen marched into Verulameum and sacked Clarence Park, leaving with three points and some real pride, as their hosts dithered through much of this game, missing famed striker John Frendo and also James Comley, both suspended. Yet Truro were without suspended central defender Arran Pugh too, although long time absentee Jake Ash had slipped onto the bench for the first time since he wore short trousers at school. However, Saints were so poor before the break that Truro might well have been three goals ahead, not one, for Jamie Lowry and Ben Watson missed very good chances from very good positions and Joe Broad fired in a 20 yarder too (!) but home ‘keeper Paul Bastock held on well. St Albans had failed to take advantage of huge acres of space on their left-flank, not well defended throughout by their guests, creating only a couple of half-chances before the interval though. After parity had been regained, Saints succumbed to a Dan Green goal, but then with a number of crosses, some long throws by Lee Chappell (the man in many green acres) and a little trickery by replacement Chris Henry, they threatened to overwhelm Truro during the final fifteen minutes but Paul Kendall and Shane White in particular held firm, with goalie Ollie Chenoweth making a couple of valuable and pivotal saves at the death. Truro then broke out through Lowry and Green to settle the issue in dramatic, added-time style.
Lowry’s early corner for Truro, not well delivered, was too easily headed clear by Saints but when Cooke drove towards the left byeline, he fed Lowry with a fine opportunity to score, 12 yards out but the combative midfielder, who was to have such an impact on this game with two magnificent interceptions, drove a wild shot much too high, leaving him looking wryly at the surface, which was actually largely decent. Another, higher Lowry corner was unconvincingly punched clear by Bastock, as Truro looked the livelier and more confident outfit. I was reminded of Hadrian’s Wall and Scottish Picts harassing Roman soldiers with guerrilla tactics, for the two huge St Albans central defenders, Tom Ward and skipper Ben Martin, were being hassled by the diminutive and hustling Truro strikers Afful and Watson, who were causing some panic with their runs into channels. Obviously they were not winning the ball aerially, but Cody Cooke was, on the left-flank, offering Joe Broad and Dan Green a few attacking options.
With the sun in their eyes, Truro continued their strong start and took the lead on the quarter-hour, when Lowry won possession in midfield, inside-right channel and ran forward with conviction, managing to cross towards the supporting Cooke at inside-left, where the midfielder ran onto the ball and left-footed a bouncing shot past Bastock into the bottom right corner of goal from 15 yards, stunning the home crowd. In an isolated attack, Peter Dean hooked a shot off target for the hosts, after Chenoweth had punched out a free-kick by left-back Chappell, who must have enjoyed the space afforded to him all afternoon. And then Afful tricked his marker Ward in reaching the left byeline, somehow keeping the ball in play and passed well to Watson, whose marker Ram Marwa had lost him, but the Truro striker lifted a bad shot well over the crossbar from just 8 yards out.
At the other end, Chenoweth couldn’t get to a right-wing corner by the hosts but the imperious Kendall headed out well and the second delivery by Chappell was also headed clear by the visitors. Chenoweth took a cross confidently but Watson was unable to free the lurking Afful at inside-left, as Truro continued to worry the rather gargantuan home central defenders. Watson then made a run to the right byeline but was quite clearly tripped by Martin, only for an insistent linesman to award a goal-kick to Saints. Harsh, Sir, harsh… Afful was then flagged offside by the same official and several Truro fans became rather mad with rage, forcing wry smiles from stewards. Broad was challenged in midfield and Saints attacked on that open left flank again with Richard Graham this time, but midfielder Sam Corcoran’s eventual curled effort was always drifting past the right angle of bar and post from 20 yards.
Good Truro passing, with Warren Daw and Watson involved, led to Broad driving a 19 yard shot at goal, which Bastock caught smartly under his crossbar. Henry replaced Graham for the hosts and even more freedom was offered Chappell out on the offensive left for Saints but striker Elliot Bailey’s overhead effort flew well off target, following a head-down. As the half ended, Afful attempted a 40 yard chip at goal, which the alert Bastock caught under his crossbar again but the referee’s whistle was sounding as the ball struck the custodian’s gloves anyway. The dispirited home troops sauntered off to receive rations and a dressing-down from their Centurions and Truro retired knowing that a repeat of the first-half would surely reward them with three unexpected points at third-placed St Albans. Something needed to be done about the Saints’ central defensive pairing and sure enough, James Kaloczi, also tall, replaced skipper Martin at the break. At the start of the second period, Lowry made a galloping run into those green acres but with no result, after Chenoweth had struggled to deal with a long throw by Chappell, then Henry delivered a low centre, which Bailey failed to control. Soon though, the hosts equalised from a left-wing centre, which fell perfectly onto the inside of the unmarked Bailey’s right boot and his searing volley battered past Chenoweth deep into the Truro net from 6 yards.
A Cooke effort was blocked as Truro retaliated, before Bailey shrugged past Shane White, who was having a strong match alongside skipper Kendall but the pass to Henry at inside-right resulted only in the substitute’s slightly angled shot being stopped by Chenoweth albeit with a bit of a fumble. Suddenly however, from what seemed an innocuous position, the ball was fed to Green, right side of the penalty-box, 8 yards out and he blasted the ball inside the near post, with Bastock well beaten and Truro had regained their lead. Neat passing by Truro led to a feed by Lowry, which so nearly put Afful in but it was Broad who rescued Truro when he covered Chappell’s run to left byeline, resulting in the full-back fumbling the ball out for a goal-kick. Mark Nwokeji replaced Corcoran for Saints, before Lowry and Green threatened for the White, er, Red and Black Tigers but Watson lost the ball inside the penalty-box.
A kick towards the right and into the green acres by Chenoweth freed Watson superbly and the striker strode on to fire into the side-netting, despite the fact that Afful had made a supporting run through the centre. Chenoweth dealt with a low near post cross-cum-shot from the left as if it were a hot potato then Lowry broke from midfield again, Green benefited but Lowry had been hacked to the ground by Marwa and the long-haired midfielder was cautioned for his misdemeanour. Truro had been denied an advantage there… The ball cannoned to Chenoweth as Saints worked an opening on the left, before Watson beat Kaloczi on the Truro left to get towards the byeline, his final touch allowing Bastock to block partially then recover the ball at the near post.
Then, Saints threw what they could at Truro, using Chappell’s throws and corners to force some desperate late defending, which Truro came through. First, Henry barged past Kendall at inside-left and Chenoweth raced out to save really well at the energetic forward’s feet, then Henry’s left-side corner, following a fine tackle by White, caused a major problem for the visitors; the ball was headed on by Truro, possibly Kendall, but Chappell, lurking far side, volleyed the ball at White, possibly against his arm, before the rebound was overhead-kicked by Ward and headed out by White again, only for Bailey to blast at goal again. The ball was blocked and bounced out to Marwa, who fell forwards to nod the ball onto the roof of the net. Relief was palpable, but only for a moment or two, for Chappell swung a left-side pass to defender Ward on the right, his cross was nodded down by the leaping Marwa for Bailey to smash a thunderous drive against the underside of the crossbar but when the ball bounced upwards again, Henry blazed it over the goal-frame.
Afful and Watson were then replaced by Liam Eddy and Olly Brokenshire for Truro but the third offensive salvo by St Albans brought even more desperation to the visitors’ defence. Dean slipped the ball inside for Nwokeji, who beat Kendall and was faced only by Chenoweth, who made a great block, then the ‘keeper dived at the replacement’s feet to save again, with Kendall falling onto them; Marwa hacked at the ball, which appeared to strike Nwokeji’s back, then get deflected twice but only out to Chappell, left side of the penalty-box, who steadied himself but shot wastefully too high from 15 yards and Truro’s goal was safe again. Chenoweth collected a simple shot, Jordan Copp replaced the industrious Broad and Brokenshire drove a shot at Bastock, following good work by Eddy on the left. Then Truro won the match. Whilst defending, the ball rolled out towards the St Albans left, where Lowry, doing what he had done so well during the game, wanted the ball more than Chappell, slid forwards to win it and broke clear on the right; Green supported the midfielder, received a pass from him but his 11 yard shot was blocked by the sliding Kaloczi, only for Green to show fine composure and clip a splendid 8 yard finish into the top right corner of the net.
Wild celebrations for players and supporters ensued, a warning from the waiting referee too and there was just time for Henry to drive the ball across the Truro goalmouth and the game was over. The Truro players walked across to their untiring fans and shook hands, receiving some real adulation, for the final twenty minutes of this match had been full of spills, drama and the kind of offensive assault that the Romans were famous for. The Tinmen withstood that and then moved away to score a thrilling third goal to plunder their rich dessert. Kendall was a tower of strength, White was ferocious, Lowry a workhorse, the strikers so quick and willing, Cooke had probed intelligently and Dan Green had been so clinical in front of goal. Saints were struggling from the start and apart from the throwing and crossing efforts of Chappell, some good shooting by Bailey and a real threat from the speedy Henry, they found their guests tough to break down, really only attempting to with any real gusto during the last fifth of the proceedings. Interesting that in melee number two, Chenoweth saved his team; it’s what ‘keepers do…
St Albans: Paul Bastock, Kerrea Gilbert, Lee Chappell; Rambir Marwa, Tom Ward, Ben Martin (Capt); Richard Graham, Sam Corcoran, Elliot Bailey, Peter Dean, Matt Taylor.
Subs: Chris Henry, Mark Nwokeji, James Kaloczi, Howard Hall, Danny Green.
Truro: Ollie Chenoweth, Steve Tully, Warren Daw; Paul Kendall (Capt), Shane White, Joe Broad; Dan Green, Jamie Lowry, Ben Watson, Les Afful, Cody Cooke.
Subs: Jordan Copp, Jake Ash, Olly Brokenshire, Liam Eddy, Grant Fisher.