Shamik Das


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Brucie's bonus culls Gulls

THE NON-LEAGUE CARLING CUP: Setanta Sports, sponsors of the 2007/8 Conference League Cup.

Clarence Park, Setanta Shield, Round 4:
St Albans City 2-0 Torquay United



A MOMENT of madness and a sublime show of skill combined to down high-flying Torquay and send St Albans through to the fifth round.

Paul Bruce's stunning volley at the end of the first-half maintained St Albans's fine recent run, unbeaten this month and on a run of three wins in a row.

The midfielder chested the ball down on the edge of the centre circle, spotted Simon Rayner off his line and volleyed home from all of 40 yards.

Bruce's sweet strike could not have been more different to the opener, a desperate own-goal after just four minutes' play.

Kevin Nicholson's weak back-header, under pressure from Richard Butler, forced Rayner out of his area, but the keeper could not find safety.

Instead, he leathered the ball point-blank at the unfortunate Mark Ellis's chest, the ball looping back over Rayner's head and into the goal.

St Albans    Torquay

The visitors had their chances to equalise, Chris Roberts coming closest, his header mid-way through the first-half from Kevin Nicholson's corner cleared off the line.

Gulls skipper Kevin Hill, firing over from 20 yards, and Danny Wring, blazing wide when teed up by Ishmael Welsh's through-ball also wasted good opportunities.

It was the same story in the second-half. Straight after the re-start, Ellis wasted a golden opportunity to make amends for his earlier own-goal.

In oceans of space inside the six-yard box, he planted the easiest of free headers from Matt Hockley's inviting cross inches over the bar.

Then, eight minutes from time, Elliot Benyon - unmarked and ten yards out - fluffed his lines, placing his shot too close to Nicky Eyre, who gathered with ease.

Torquay sorely missed top-scorer Tim Sills, out injured, and weren't helped by having strikers Chris Zebroski, Lee Phillips and Chris Todd all starting the game on the bench.

Star Man: Paul Bruce (St Albans City); Entertainment: ****

Read my full report, including line-ups, ratings and quotes in tomorrow's Non-League Paper.

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