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Another cup slips away as Tudors maintain dominance over Saints
Hemel Hempstead Town maintained their stranglehold on St Albans City in knock-out competitions on Tuesday with an impressive first half display at a sodden Clarence Park laying the foundation for a 3-2 quarter final Herts Senior Cup victory; it was the Tudors sixth consecutive cup win over the Saints.
Led out by new club captain James Comley, City were without almost all of their January captures due to the new boys being cup-tied.
This allowed central defender James Kaloczi, 17, and the versatile Elliot Bailey, 18, to stake a claim for a First team place while second choice keeper Nick Hardy stood in for Nick Jupp.
Bailey, having earned praise as goal scoring striker, came in at right-back with Chris Seeby moving inside to partner Kaloczi.
Rain started falling around 40 minutes before the kick off and was driven towards the York Road goal by a blustery wind. It only relented late in the match.
Hemel gave notice of their intentions within the opening couple of minutes when right-back Danny May tested Hardy with a stinging drive from 30 yards.
City replied in equally positive fashion with Jerome Walker slipping a clever ball through to Matt Taylor whose rising shot was palmed away for a corner by Tudors custodian Sam Beagle.
It was the visitors that made the first breakthrough though with an excellent goal on 11 minutes, although the Saints management can rightly raise questions regarding marking in the City defence.
May, close to the touchline in front of the away dugout, drove a free kick towards the back post and as the ball curled away from goal former Saint Matt Nolan had no problem in heading past a static Hardy in the Hatfield Road goal.
Midway through the half Hardy did well to beat away a shot from Alex Campana after the Hemel midfielder cut City open with some excellent close control.
Hemel were well on top by now but the game took a surprise twist on 23 minutes when St Albans claimed a flowing equaliser.
Layne Eadie did well to win possession just inside the Hemel half and in a confined area he, Simon Martin and Chris Henry combined to send Taylor clear.
Getting close to the goalline the teenage drilled the ball into the goalmouth where Beagle could only parry the ball and Walker moved swiftly to slide home his first goal since returning to the Park.
But Dean Brennan’s side was restrained for just four minutes.
May, despite being clattered into by Henry, laid the ball wide to Campana and from his low cross Jordan Parkes had all the time in the world to steady himself before firing past the again unprotected Hardy.
The influence May had on the outcome continued on 35 minutes when Nolan and Campana worked the ball out wide to him and from another stunning right-footed cross he set up Parkes for his second of the night with a simple back post header.
City just about remained in contention at the interval as Hardy denied both Victor Osobu and Tudors skipper Peter Holmes.
The second 45 minutes never came close to matching the football of the opening half and it was more than 20 minutes before either keeper was called into action. On this occasion Taylor, put through by Kaloczi, stretched and fired tamely through to Beagle.
City gave a debut to City Youth striker Ken Ogbuagu in the second half while Greg Ngoyi announced his return from injury.
As the clock ticked into the final minute Ngoyi accelerated into the penalty area only to be sent sprawling by Charlie Mpi.
The City striker, after dusting himself down, took his revenge by sending Beagle the wrong way to end City’s run of three consecutive failures from 12 yards.
St Albans City: N.Hardy, E.Bailey, L.Eadie, J.Comley, J.Kaloczi, C.Seeby, R.Graham (M.Scott 74), M.Taylor, S.Martin (G.Ngoyi 56), C.Henry, J.Walker (K.Ogbuagu 56), subs; J.Gray, N.Jupp.
Hemel Hempstead Town: S.Beagle, D.May (T.Opoku 80), R.Parsons, J.Gilbert, C.Mpi, P.Holmes, A.Campana, S.O’Leary (D.Talbot 46), V.Osobu, M.Nolan (I.Fiadzomor 76), J.Parkes, subs; D.King, L.Teakle.
Goals: 11 0-1 Nolan, 23 1-1 Walker, 27 1-2 Parkes, 35 1-3 Parkes, 90 2-3 Ngoyi (p).
Referee: Lee Marshallsay (Borehamwood).