St Albans City are just one game from the National League after beating Dartford in a penalty shoot-out.

City had held their hosts 1-1 after extra-time, Luton Town loanee Aidan Francis-Clarke cancelling out a 12th minute opener from former Saint Harvey Bradbury before half-time.

Shaun Jeffers, restored to the starting line-up after being on the bench in the win over Chelmsford City, put away the first penalty but crucially Samir Carruthers missed with Dartford's first attempt.

And from there Glenn McConnell, Zane Banton, Chay Cooper and Joe Neal held their nerve to send Saints into Sunday's final at Oxford City, kick-off at 12.30pm.

City boss David Noble was full of praise for the spirit of his squad, and the mental strength to step up to take, and in the case of Dylan Berry, save them.

He said: "It’s not the easiest way to win a game for the heart, on penalties, but if you come out on the right side it is nice. 

"I’m obviously delighted that we’re in the play-off final. 

"We lacked quality but we made up for it with everything else. 

"The heart of the boys and the work-rate, the way they wanting to keep working, I know there are some tired bodies in there, but they were a different class. 

"Dylan Berry, 19, saves a penalty. He was excellent in the game, kept us in it with crucial saves at crucial times. 

"But then Chay Cooper and Glenn McConnell taking them. This is a pressurised situation and I thought all five takers, the quality of the penalties was exceptional. 

"Believe me, it is not easy to take a penalty under that sort of pressure. 

"It takes a lot to win a football match. Quality is one thing but there are many others and over the last two games, here at Dartford and away to Chelmsford, we’ve shown them in abundance.

"It was a lovely moment to be able to celebrate with the fans."


St Albans City: Berry, Stanley (McConnell 91), Francis-Clarke, Adebiyi (Clark 46), Blackman, Jeffers, Banton, Weiss (Neal 90), Mukena, B.Smith (Dawson 106), Cooper.

Sub (not used): Sundire.

Goal: Francis-Clarke 41

Booked: Mukena 44, Jeffers 65

Penalties: Jeffers, McConnell, Banton, Cooper, Neal


Dartford: Dudzinski, Wynter, Chin (Fonkeu 31), Essam, Bonner, Coulson, Allen (Murtagh 91), Statham, J.Smith (Carruthers 77), Bradbury (Sheringham 91), Odaudu.

Sub (not used): Wilks.

Goal: Bradbury 12

Booked: Oduadu 49

Penalties: (Carruthers), Coulson, Sheringham, Murtagh