St Albans City 7–2 East Thurrock United

(Merson 16’, 42’, 46’, Kiangebeni 45’, Walker 79, Banton 87’’: Smith 23’, Snedeker OG 28’)

From Clarence Park

National League South

TEN-MAN East Thurrock United lost a winning position against St Albans City as they were hit for seven in Hertfordshire.

Despite leading 2-1 after 30 minutes, a red card for Marvin Ekpiteta saw the game turn on its head and the hosts scored six unanswered goals.

Rocks knew they were in for a tough ask against the play-off hopefuls but John Coventry’s men were excellent in the opening throes of the match.

After Ekpiteta had seen an effort chalked off for offside, Lewis Smith sent a speculative effort narrowly wide of the far post.

Sam Higgins saw two shots blocked away, while St Albans’s first chance came after 15 minutes – David Noble’s free-kick drifting past the post.

And the home team were to get the first goal. Sam Merson took aim and, via a deflection, the shot beat goalkeeper Lukas Lidakevicius and found the corner.

Back came East Thurrock and they deservedly levelled. After missing a golden opportunity, Smith did get his goal after following up a Higgins free-kick that was parried into his path.

And they took the lead five minutes later. A corner created havoc in the six yard box and the ball was forced over the line, with St Albans’ Dean Snedeker having the final touch.

But then a crushing blow for the visitors. Ever-present Ekpiteta was shown a second yellow card for a foul and Rocks were reduced to 10 men.

And the away side couldn’t hold out until half-time. A driving run from Solomon Sambou ended with the ball dropping to Merson and he hammered the ball into the corner of the net.

The striker was the width of the post away from completing a first half treble, with both posts coming to East Thurrock’s rescue, although the Saints were to take a lead into half-time.

Percy Kiangebeni beat two men and sent a superb strike into the corner as a breathless first 45 minutes to an end.

A poor end to the first half was matched with a bad start to the second as Merson completed his hat-trick.

A foul in the penalty area and the striker finished with aplomb.

Higgins came close to scoring, his strike blocked on the line only for Merson to grab his fourth of the afternoon up the other end.

Substitute Charlie Walker got the sixth in the final 10 minutes, tapping home from close range before the rout was completed in the last five minutes.

Zane Banton netted as East Thurrock’s misery was brought to an end.

East Thurrock United: Lidakevicius, Sammons, Clark, Burns, Ekpiteta, Phipps, Harris (Knott 78'), Cornhill, Higgins (Honesty 68’), Smith (C. Ekpiteta 68’), Agyemang