Shaun Jeffers has scored plenty of goals for St Albans City - none might have been as important as his strike against Chelmsford City.

It came five minutes into extra-time in the quarter-final of the National League South play-off semi-final and gave Saints a 1-0 win at the Melbourne Stadium.

It was a victory that David Noble's old manager at Boston United, Steve Evans, would have approved of.

Saints dug in for the opening 70 minutes before cutting loose and going for it.

And it sets-up a semi-final trip to Dartford on Sunday with the National League just two wins away.

Much of the talk among the supporters pre-game was on whether top scorer Jeffers would come into the starting line-up or remain on the bench, as he was against Farnborough on Saturday.

The team news revealed it would be the latter, the head coach opting to use him as an impact player again, likewise Cambridge United loanee Glenn McConnell.

The only change from the final league game of the season was Kyran Wiltshire missing out altogether with injury, Ben Smith coming in.

The squad chosen did at least get to half-time level but it was not a 45 minutes that will be remembered for any positive reasons.

Saints consistently gave the ball away but Chelmsford consistently failed miserably to take advantage.

The hosts should have gone in front after seven minutes but Cameron James turned down a shooting opportunity after a Dylan Berry punch failed to clear the box.

He had a clear sight of an open net at the near post but cut back onto his left foot and when he finally put the ball goalwards, it was straight at the retreating Berry.

It was another corner from the left side that gave Chelmsford another chance but although Ade Oluwo met it on the run, he couldn't direct his header on target.

A third opportunity for the home side came after a crazy decision by Joy Mukena.

He raced back to stop a loose pass going out for a corner and he managed it with a backheel.

He was obviously unaware of Tyreke Johnson following him but the Chelmsford man also opted not to shoot, passing to Callum Jones whose effort was blocked.

Saints only had two half chances of note.

One was a Chay Cooper header from 14 yards that was easy for Eddie Beach to collect, the second when Tafari Moore got in front of his marker to meet a looping Devante Stanley cross.

He took it down but his right-foot effort was pulled wide of the near post.

His evening ended early with a problem with his left thigh one minute before half-time, but that did at least give Jeffers an earlier than expected chance to make an impact.

And while Saints' ball retention had been awful, they had navigated the first 45 minutes of cup football by keeping the old adage alive - make sure you stay in the game until the latter stages.

There was a little bit more of a positive mindset after the resumption from the visitors but bar a daisy-cutter from Mitchell Weiss in the opening minute that went well wide, chances were still limited.

And there were still glaring errors. A poor pass from Mukena across his own area made it difficult for Aidan Francis-Clarke and after he couldn't control it, he fouled Johnson.

The Luton loanee also took a swing and a miss at the ball, conceding a corner.

Chelmsford could only muster one chance from those, Dave Winfield heading over from the free-kick for the foul.

The home side were not helped by a string of injuries. Cameron James had to go off after an ankle injury and his replacement, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb lasted just eight minutes before suffering the same fate.

Dave Winfield was also down for a period but the already masked skipper soldiered on.

All of that came as Saints suddenly had their best spell of the game and with that pressure came the one chance everyone was waiting for.

Neat little one-touch passing inside the area took the ball to the feet of Jeffers on the right-side of the six-yard box.

He caught it well enough but it flew across the face of goal and wide of the far post.

Chelmsford had a couple of goes late on, Berry needing to punch one effort away, while Zane Banton curled one wide of the target for Saints.

And that meant an extra 30 minutes.

A quick break three minutes in should have put Chelmsford ahead but Simeon Jackson's first-time cross ran in front of Freddie Hockey.

Two minutes later the importance of that miss was made clear.

It came out of nothing but Banton's cross from the left was poked in at the near post by Jeffers, leaving Beach stranded.

A few minutes later another left-wing cross for Chelmsford fizzed just in front of their forwards without a vital touch.

The second period of extra-time was one-way traffic.

Twice Winfield went close with a header, one deflected onto the roof of the net and then another pushed away by Berry.

Chelmsford even had the ball in the net but Tom Blackman's strike was ruled out for offside.

That seemed to deflate the hosts and inflate the hopes of players and fans for St Albans.

And they were able to see the game out with no more alarms.


St Albans City: Berry, Stanley, Francis-Clarke, Adebiyi, R.Blackman, Banton (Dawson 112), Weiss (McConnell 97), Mukena, Moore (Jeffers 44), Cooper (Neal 66).

Sub (not used): Di Trolio.

Goals: Jeffers 95

Booked: Francis-Clarke 76, Blackman 110


Chelmsford City: Breach, James (Barnum-Bobb 64, Hockey 72), Trotter, Winfield, Oluwo, Johnson, Folivi, Jones, T.Blackwell, Brookes, Krasniqi.

Subs (not used): Jackson, McGregor, Blanchfield.


Booked: Trotter 81


HT: Chelmsford City 0 St Albans City 0

Referee: Farai Hallam (London)

Attendance: 2,336