Cambridge City give battling display in FA Cup defeat to St Albans
Lilywhites give higher league opponents a run for their money
The lights went out on Cambridge City’s FA Cup progress as they were beaten 2-0 by St Albans in the second qualifying round replay at Westwood Road.
But they did not go down without and a fight, and, on a different night with a bit of fortune going their way, they may easily have gone through.
The first tie had finished 3-3 at St Albans on Saturday, with City proving more than a match for a side two divisions higher in the league pyramid.
And it was almost the perfect opening inside the first minute of the replay as Tom Knowles broke clear on the left wing and cut inside, only to see his effort saved by St Albans keeper Dean Snedker.
Jordan Gent then had a header cleared off the line by St Albans midfielder Solomon Sambou.
St Albans’ first effort was an shot from the centre of the area from Charlie Walker that Niall Conroy did well to stop.
The match swung back up the other end, and this time Knowles put through Lewis Wilson, who was thwarted by the feet of the advancing Snedker.
In the 33rd minute though, the National League South side broke the deadlock. Kieran Monlouis’ curling ball into the box was met with a powerful header on the run from Zane Banton.
And St Albans’ lead was doubled just before half time as Shaun Lucien’s inswinging free kick was headed home by Walker, under appeals of a push from the City defence.
It looked like an uphill battle for City in the second half, but they made a good fist of things, and with a little bit of belief that they were good enough to win the game, the result could have been different.
Salim Relizani flicked a pass into the feet of the on-running Ross Paterson, but his effort was saved by Snedker in the 51st minute.
City were making most of the running, but they were struggling to get a clear sight of goal, and then there was a delay after a power failure in St Ives led to a loss of lights.
When play restarted, City’s best chance came in the 80th minute as Gent headed a corner back across goal which Ben Robinson met with his head, but it deflected off the bar and over.
Rhys Murrell-Williams nearly added to St Albans’ tally on the break, but his curling effort from a tight angle hit the bar and bounced clear.
City’s final chance came from a Knowles free kick that was deflected just wide, and while there will be disappointment at the defeat, the Lilywhites now know they can hold their own against higher level opposition.
Cambridge City: Conroy, Robinson, Spence, Paterson, Gent, Miller, Relizani, Towner, Wilson, Sharman, Knowles.
Substitutes: Snaith (Sharman, 75), Coulson (Spence, 90). Not used: Lyratzopoulos, Capel, Harradine.
St Albans City: Snedker, Herd, Bender, Kiangebeni, Gardiner, Joseph, Lucien, Sambou, Walker, Monlouis, Banton.
Substitutes: Murrell-Williams (Lucien, 83), Merson (Walker, 87). Not used: Eshun, Eadie, Adeloye, Nobel, Allinson.
Bookings: City – Relizani (foul, 45+1), Snaith (foul, 77); St Albans – None.
Referee: Wayne Cartmel.