Lights, cameras…then no action. St Albans City’s chance to shine in front of the nation in Monday’s televised FA Cup Fourth Round Qualifying tie against Bishop’s Stortford was nothing more than a damp squib as the Isthmian League Bishop’s punished lamentable errors on the part of Ian Allinson’s side to book a 1st Round tie at Brackley Town with a 2-0 victory at Woodside Park.

City were a goal down inside 130 seconds following a blunder by debut-making goalkeeper Rihards Matrevics that will plague him for the rest of his career. Unfortunately for the Latvian custodian he hardly covered himself in glory either when the Bishop’s took a stranglehold on the tie with a second goal on 16 minutes.

In between those two goals City threw away a succession of opportunities to turn the tide in their favour and if ever a side fell victims to their own shortcomings then St Albans were that team as the nation looked on.

A thigh injury to the Saints first choice ‘keeper Michael Johnson ruled him out of the picture and with a bit of assistance from his son Lee, at Hendon, Allinson pulled in cover at short notice in the shape of 21-year-old 6ft 7in Matrevics who has also been on the books of West Ham United, Dover Athletic and Barnet.

Another blow to the Saints was the absence of club captain David Noble, also through injury.

Stortford boss Steve Smith had no such problems and named the same starting XI that removed Steve Castle’s Royston Town side in the previous round.

With no supporters permitted at any games in the competition proper, this was the last game in this year’s FA Cup to have any fans present and the 600 Stortford followers in attendance had to wait precious little time for the, farcical, opening goal.

Stortford keeper Jack Giddens launched the ball down the pitch, City defender Dave Diedhiou won the header but could only direct it towards former Saint Darren Foxley. City midfielder Kyran Wiltshire dived in to get the ball back to Matrevics and from there it went all horribly wrong.

Foxley, more with wild optimism than any hope of reward, gave chase and, as the keeper lost time in getting the ball onto his right foot, the Stortford man stretched out his left leg to block the attempted clearance and looked on in sheer elation as the ball looped high over Matrevics and into the goal.

City’s response was instantaneous as Shaun Jeffers fed Mitchell Weiss with a return pass. Weiss drifted past the experienced Mark Haines but shot against Giddens right-hand upright and the goalkeeper safely gathered Munashe Sundire’s follow up.

Another chance went begging following a poor challenge by Jack Thomas on Sundire. Matrevics launched the ensuing free-kick long. Tom Bender headed the ball inside to Solomon Nwabuokei who put Zane Banton away with a fine through ball.

Banton picked out Weiss with a square pass into the penalty area but, after neatly stepping inside, the former Kings Langley striker shot wastefully wide of Giddens right-hand post.

Good close skill by Banton when collecting a flick on by Weiss created what appeared to be another clear opening only for Haines to swoop in and clear before the City man could turn the ball in from close range.

Stortford may have been riding their luck at this time but they gained greater breathing space with the second goal.

Sam Robbins sent a long diagonal ball from midway inside his own half over a dozing City defence for Aaron Greene to race clear and slide wide of Matrevics with some ease.

City’s decision to go with a back three instead of four was looking questionable but, in reality, Stortford had two goals in the bank from having had just one shot.

City had the better of the remaining 30 minutes of the half but good chances faded away and once neither Sundire nor Weiss could turn in an inviting low cross from Bender the cause began to look lost.

The second half was most dispiriting from a St Albans perspective. An all-out assault on the home goal was called for but the Saints looked a spent force and Stortford, unbeaten in all of their nine previous games this season, had a couple of good chances to confirm their progress to the next round.

On 53 minutes, Archie Jones intercepted a pass and sent Frankie Merrifield clear only for the Stortford player to shoot high over Matrevics’ goal.

At the other end of pitch, after a scrappy spell, Weiss had a shot blocked, Banton latched onto the loose ball but his shot bounced a couple of yards wide of the target. It was a rare opening for the Saints as the Stortford backline looked increasing solid.

Allinson injected new blood into the team with 20 minutes remaining when sending on Jo Chidyausiku and Romeo Akinola – the latter for his debut - for Banton and Weiss.

Stortford ought to have put the result beyond doubt on 73 minutes when Foxley fed Sam Mvemba down the Bishop’s left but from his perfect first-time cross Merrifield somehow scooped his shot wide and seconds later was substituted.

Four minutes from time another chance went begging when Mvemba got the better of Diedhiou and drove the ball across the face of the goal to Correy Davidson whose powerful low shot was well stopped by Matrevics.

It mattered not a jot as the City threat had long since evaporated into the chilly autumnal air.

Maidstone-based referee Aji Ajibola cautioned the City pair of Bender and Chidyausiku during the evening but was in lenient mood when he let Thomas, Mvemba and Diedhiou escape without punishment following some ugly challenges.

Bishop’s Stortford: J.Giddens, S.Mvemba, J.Thomas, S.Robbins, R.Henshaw, B.Marlow, F.Merrifield (T.Richardson 73), A.Greene (C.Davidson 66), A.Jones (J.Baker 64), D.Foxley, M.Haines. Subs not used: B.Smith, P.Haxell, L.Johnson, J.Brown.

St Albans City: R.Matrevics, D.Stanley, T.Bender, K.Wiltshire, S.Nwabuokei, S.Jeffers (C.Onokwai 81), Z.Banton (J.Chidyausiku 70), D.Diedhiou, M.Weiss (R.Akinola 70), M.Sundire, J.Mukena. Subs not used: J.Kaloczi, M.Clark, L.Warner-Eley, D.Jackson.