Dickson wins it at Clarence Park, after Maclaren moment of magic
The Beavers fought back from 1-0 down to record a 3-2 win over St Albans, on an exciting night in the Vanarama National League South.
The first half started with early pressure from the Beavers, as Miller-Rodney and Murrell-Williamson looked to combine early down the right, with smart passing finding pockets of space.
The Saints eased into the game, and winning an early corner, set their sights on an early goal. After Sprague nodded the first corner behind, the following wasn’t dealt with well, with Corcoran having to pressure Gabriel, who lost his composure just 8 yards from goal, to the Beavers delight.
It was a first half that saw The Saints earn a lot of corners, and after a poor defensive header allowed Moyo to wriggle into the box and unleash a left-footed effort, the Beavers set themselves for another one.
This time the Beavers were able to counter, sending Dickson long, as has been seen on many occasions. Dickson was intelligent in his forward play, bringing in Dundas, who was able to use his experience to help retain possession.
As Hampton gained a foothold, they almost broke the deadlock through a moment of individual brilliance. A long ball into Zak Joseph from Lovelock was taken down expertly. The forward then swivelled, beating two defenders, before trying to catch the keeper out from 25 yards with a chip. It was comfortably wide from St Albans perspective, but a glimpse of the attacking potential in the new look Beavers team.
This was soon forgotten though, when St Albans took the lead in the 19th minute. A great delivery from Khale Da Costa caused all sorts of problems in the Beavers box, with Lovelock eventually palming into the path of Wyatt, who was cool and composed, side footing it home.
In truth, it could have been immediately worse, as the Saints next attack saw Moyo race onto through ball and into plenty of space. His cross-goal shot was blocked well, before the follow up from Da Costa was turned over on the line from Lovelock.
This proved to be crucial, offering the Beavers a lifeline. A free-kick on the edge of the box from Hampton, won by Dickson, was placed straight at the wall by Murrell-Williamson on his return to Clarence Park, and it looked like it might not be his night.
This wasn’t to be the case though, and in the 34th minute, he opened his account for the Beavers in emphatic style
Dickson’s tireless work in the middle created a chance out of nothing, with a tackle falling fortunately into Murrell-Williamson's path. The forward makes no mistake, rifling it into the bottom corner past Snedker from the edge of the box.
The Beavers started the second half in very positive fashion, with left-back Sprague winning a corner after good play from himself and Murrell-Williamson on the left. The resulting corner was met by Casey Maclaren, but he saw his header cleared off the line. But this didn’t dampen his spirits.
A few moments later, after the ball was back in the box, a moment of inspiration from Maclaren gave the Beavers a lead. Watching the ball rise, Maclaren shaped up, before unleashing an overhead kick into the top left corner, stunning Clarence Park.
It was a great moment for Gary McCann’s side, who had battled their way back into the game.
St Albans didn’t wait long to respond, and in the 57th minute, made a substitute in the form of Sam Merson, replacing the injured goalscorer Ben Wyatt.
It didn’t take Merson long to make an impact, with his trademark long-throw causing all types of problems. The delivery wasn't cleared at first attempt, and Gabriel was pulled down, leading to the referee pointing to the spot. Merson stepped up and powered it past Lovelock, and the scores were level.
The Beavers nearly retook the lead instantly, as Sprague's inch-perfect delivery to the back post was met by the towering Dundas - but his header dropped just over the bar.
The game continued in end to end fashion, with both teams threatening to take the lead. In the 66th minute however, striker Chris Dickson scored what turned out to be the winner.
The marauding Ollie Sprague’s attacking run on the left flank created great space, before the defender delivered a teasing ball in front of Dickson. The Hampton striker didn’t need a second invitation, getting the wrong side of the defender and heading home.
With the introduction of Uchechi and Mavilla, The Beavers looked to see out what would be an impressive performance.
Late on, a long, difficult ball upfield from Sprague was raced onto by Dickson, who won it at first, before taking a heavy touch and having it picked up off his feet.
Wellard and Dickson fought hard in the five additional minutes to wind down the clock, with the introduction of Dan Bowry ensuring steadiness at the back.
The final whistle came, and Gary McCann’s new team won their first league game, quickly putting behind them the disappointment of last week, and in some style.