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On a very warm evening at Clarence Park, the Hertfordshire derby in the National League South ended all-square 2-2 between St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead Town. I have to report again, that for sheer entertainment and value for money this was superior to anything I've seen at League Two level this season.
On a beautiful bowling-green of a pitch St Albans came racing out of the blocks, playing some great passing football on the slick surface. After just 7 minutes Louie Thepananous put the home side 1-0 up after his well-hit shot squirmed under Hemel keeper Jamie Butler's body Joe Hart-style. Combining well with Junior Morias up front, Saints were a constant threat and completely in control. After 32 minutes Junior Morias was put through and expertly chipped the ball over Hemel keeper Butler to double the Saints lead.
And then came a moment of madness. Following a tackle Junior Morias lashed out at Hemel defender Ollie Thorne right under the referee's nose. The inevitable red card followed and Morias sloped off the pitch laughingly protesting his innocence. Thereby the game changed. In the second-half Hemel struggled to show their superior numbers but pulled a goal back through ex-Kings Langley striker Mitchell Weiss. However, for all their efforts Hemel rarely troubled the home keeper apart from one shot that grazed the post. It was in the 94th minute however that defender Ollie Thorne smashed home the equaliser to earn Hemel a 2-2 draw and send the visiting fans delirious.
This game had just about everything. There was no love lost between the fans in a crowd of 903 with about 200 visiting supporters. The game was frenetic end-to-end football. Saints were the better side and should have taken all 3 points, except for Junior Morias' umpteenth show of petulance that's seen him sent off far too many times. One word for the referee. I've seen some awful refereeing at Non-League level this season but Mr Ali Ajbola was absolutely outstanding. He let the game flow but dealt with flash points as they happened. His excellent performance helped provide another night out quality entertaining football at Non-League level.