With a 2-1 Herts Senior Cup victory over in-form neighbours London Colney on Monday St Albans City equalled their best winning run for 11 years but it was a thoroughly unconvincing performance by a group of players hoping to sneak into Ian Allinson’s FA Cup squad.
Goals, both deflected, by First teamers Dipo Akinyemi and Matt Ball seemed to have given City a comfortable passage through to a 2nd Round meeting with Boreham Wood, until an unfortunate slip by goalkeeper Tom Coulton allowed Ashley Morrissey to reduce the deficit and set up a frantic finale during which Joe Sweeney’s side went so close to forcing a penalty shoot-out.
With attention firmly focused on the upcoming FA Cup tie with Carlisle United, Ian Allinson wanted to avoid playing any of his possible starters in that game against Colney but he was forced to give a run out to Tom Bender.
The left-back, who has been in good form this season, fell far short of his best this time around but came through without picking up an injury.
Colney arrived at the Park in a rich vein of form standing a massive 12 points clear at the top of the Spartan South Midlands League having won 13 and drawn one of their 15 Premier Division matches this season.
But it took City just ten minutes to pierce the Blueboys backline, albeit with the help of a generous deflection.
Andreas Komodikis intercepted a pass by Gregg Douglas and played the ball out to the left to Rhys Hoenes who came inside and passed to Dipo Akinyemi.
The on-loan Stevenage striker turned and shot right-footed from 20 yards, Colney ‘keeper Tom Gowans had the ball covered until it clipped Douglas and flew into the opposite corner of the net.
Akinyemi had an opportunity to double City’s lead on 20 minutes after the ball ricocheted into his path off Oran Swales but his under-hit shot was beaten away by Gowans.
Another good chance went begging midway through the half when a well flighted pass by Matt Ball sent Komodikis away. Gowans was out quickly to block the shot but when the ball rebounded back to the City player his cut-back across the penalty area went straight to a red-shirted Colney player.
Colney’s first clear chance came on 38 minutes following a foul by Bender on Jack Woods.
Woods struck the ensuing free kick low into the penalty area where it bounced around amongst a crowd of player before being lashed over the top by Roy Bryon.
An uninspiring 45 minutes almost ended on a good note for the Saints when Akinyemi seized on a misdirected headed clearance and burst into the penalty area only to see his low shot roll just wide after clipping the outstretched leg of Gowans.
Attacking the York Road goal during the second half London Colney posed more of an attacking threat after the interval, although the accuracy of the shooting of both sides was poor.
Akinyemi and former Saint David ‘Bullet’ Parkinson fired well over within the first few minutes.
The wayward finishing continued with City wide-man Hoenes going close with a low shot across the face of the Colney goal following a good run, but a second attempt ended with a shot well over the target.
Colney’s finishing was no better as Archie McClelland chipped a shot wide and Spencer Clarke-Mardel stabbed a point blank effort wide following Ashley Morrissey’s good ball into the box.
Gowans pulled off the best save of the night on 65 minutes when a Lee Allinson free kick got through an eight-man wall but the Colney custodian dived to his left to beat the ball away.
Colney hopes of pulling off their first ever win at Clarence Park dived on 70 minutes when a Bender cross was partially headed away but seized upon by Komodikis who darted into the penalty area.
The ball ran away from the former Queens Park Rangers youngster and onto Ball who switched it onto his left foot and looked on as his shot passed Gowans courtesy of another cruel deflection off the unfortunate Douglas.
With the game drifting away from them Colney rose to the challenge well and only an excellent save by Coulton, from Clarke-Mardel after the Colney striker had intercepted a shot by Jon Clements, maintained City’s two-goal advantage.
With both sides struggling to retain possession the game became increasingly open and chances were created at either end of the pitch.
Ball went close from 25 yards for St Albans and Parkinson shot into the side-netting for the visitors.
With just two minutes remaining Colney were handed a lifeline when Coulton, who has recently returned to this country after six months travelling around sunnier climes, made a bad judgement when charging out to collect a wide through ball.
Seeing Clements’ long ball come into the penalty area Coulton rushed out to his left to smother it but got his bearings wrong and had to drop the ball before falling out of the penalty area with it still in his hands.
Morrissey was alert as to what was going on and took the ball away from the keeper and Bender before carefully sliding a shot into the net.
With the game into added time Colney looked set to grab a sensational equaliser.
Morrissey crossed from the right, Callum Dudrenec’s header hit George Casey and fell perfectly to Clarke-Mardel whose powerful drive smashed into the head of Darren Locke on the goalline.
The grounded Clements hit the rebound goalwards but the combination of Locke and Casey again blocked the effort and with that City stumbled into the next round.
City’s fortuitous victory means that they go into the Carlisle United FA Cup tie on the back of six consecutive wins in all competitions and a 100 percent winning record in five cup ties this season.
Kick off on Sunday, 6th November, against the high-flying Cumbrians is at 2pm and spectators are advised to get to Clarence Park early to avoid the anticipated queues.
St Albans City: T.Coulton, G.Casey, T.Bender, R.Hoenes, D.Locke, A.Iwediuno, O.Swales (K.Pope 80), L.Allinson, D.Akinyemi, M.Ball, A.Komodikis (R.Simpson 80), subs not used: L.Chappell, J.Morias, G.Nolan.
London Colney: T.Gowans, D.Power, C.Dudrenec, G.Douglas, S.Murphy, A.Osborne, J.Woods (A.Morrissey 63), R.Bryon (C.Kin To 69), A.McClelland (J.Clements 63), S.Clarke-Mardel, D.Parkinson, subs not used: R.Brennan, J.Lawrence.
Goals: 10 1-0 Akinyemi, 70 2-0 Ball, 88 2-1 Morrissey.
Referee: Lee Grimsey (Herts).