Sutton United, second in the National League, had to wait until the dying embers of Saturday’s FA Trophy third round tie at Clarence Park before striking twice to clinch a 2-0 win and quash St Albans City’s desire to add cup glory to their promising start to the league campaign.

Over the 90 minutes, Matt Gray’s side were worthy winners at a near deserted Clarence Park but until former Saint Harry Beautyman opened the scoring on 87 minutes there was hope in the home camp of stealing a win.

Sutton, second in the top flight of non-league football, bossed the early stages and in denying Ian Allinson’s side a single on-target shot, were unlikely to depart the competition other than via a penalty shoot-out.

The opening 20 minutes suggested that the game could be out of City’s control before they had even got into it and it was Beautyman, who played seven games for St Albans in 2010, who was causing most of the problems.

The former Saint first threatened inside five minutes when the abrasive Kenny Davis won the ball just inside the City half and quickly sent Beautyman scurrying through the middle. After skipping past Joy Mukena with ease the Sutton man struck a rising shot that Michael Johnson helped on its way over the crossbar.

As City struggled to get into the game, Davis created another opening when touching the ball to Will Randall whose cross was headed across the goal and wide by Ben Goodliffe, and Randall followed that with a header not too far over the City goal.

Randall then turned to be the provider again with a cross from the U’s left that Beautyman headed gently into Johnson’s arms.

With a quarter of the game gone City finally suggested that they could make a fist of it. Michael Clark won the ball deep in the City half and moved it swiftly, via Solomon Nwabuokei and Munashe Sundire, to Zane Banton who cut in from the left only to see his low cross flash across the face of the just too far ahead of Shaun Jeffers.

Banton caused more problems two minutes later when picking up the pieces after a fine run by Mitchell Weiss had been thwarted. Weaving, almost wobbling, his way wide of three defenders Banton ended the run with a shot from a tight angle that thudded into the outside of Dean Bouzanis’s right-hand upright.

Sutton ended the half with Beautyman firing wide and David Ajiboye sending a dipping half volley just over the Hatfield Road goal.

Four minutes after the restart the U’s produced one of the best moves of the game that ended with a stretching Beautyman heading wide from an Ajiboye cross.

The game looked to be drifting inexorably towards Sutton but just after the hour St Albans enjoyed a good spell that caused their opponents to appear less certain, although clear chances were scarce.

In fact, it was Sutton who went closest to making the breakthrough in this period with Beautyman sending a diving header against the woodwork following a cross by Jon Barden.

On 72 minutes Clark, who had a troubled first half but rediscovered his best form after the break, played a quick throw-in to Nwabuokei who slipped a pass inside to Banton. After skipping past Davis, Banton saw his powerfully struck goal-bound shot deflected over the top for a corner.

City continued to offer hope of breaking through with a patient build-up down the right that led to Sundire playing in Jeffers who fired over from 18 yards.

With six minutes remaining City won a free-kick wide on the right when substitute Romeo Akinola went down somewhat dramatically following a seemingly innocuous challenge by former Saint Ben Wyatt. The ease with which players hit the deck throughout the game was one of the downsides of the afternoon’s play.

Luke Warner-Eley, who was heavily involved throughout the game, swung the set-piece to the edge of the six-yard box where skipper James Kaloczi made too firm a connection and headed over.

That miss took on greater significance on 87 minutes when U’s substitute Isaac Olaofe got the better of Kaloczi down the City right and cut inside before laying the ball into the path of Beautyman.

At last, the City old boy got everything right and placed a firm shot, with his instep, from the edge of the box to Johnson’s left and the City keeper could only help the ball on its way into the York Road goal for Beautyman’s sixth goal of the season.

A City fightback looked unlikely and in the first minute of added time Sutton booked their place in the fourth round with a second goal.

A loose pass by Jeffers handed possession to Beautyman, with an inch-perfect flighted ball he sent Olaofe away from Clark. Olaofe cut across the advancing Johnson before clipping a left-footed shot into the most open of open goals.

Sutton’s win was their sixth in succession at City’s expense and handed the Saints their first home defeat since March. With no more cup games to come City now have 23 weeks in which to fit in their remaining 29 National League South fixtures. The first of which is at home to Hemel Hempstead Town on Boxing Day, kick off at Clarence Park is at 1pm. The game will be played behind closed doors.

St Albans City: M.Johnson, K.Wiltshire, J.Kaloczi, M.Clark, S.Nwabuokei, S.Jeffers, Z.Banton, M.Weiss (R.Akinola 80), M.Sundire, J.Mukena, L.Warner-Eley (C.Onokwai 90). Subs not used: D.Stanley, D.Diedhiou, R.Matrevics, D.Noble, M.Dara.

Sutton United: D.Bouzanis, J.Barden, B.Goodliffe, L.John, B.Wyatt, C.Eastmond, K.Davis, H.Beautyman, D.Ajiboye (A.Smith 90), W.Randall (I.Olaofe 61), C.Kealy (C.Dundas 68). Subs not used: F.Chalupniczak, J.Adebayo-Smith, A.Lovatt, W.Brown.