Bastock the hero as Saints scrape through
PAUL Bastock produced a vintage display as St Albans stole a lucky victory at Dartford to set up a third-round FA Trophy tie with local rivals Stevenage Borough. The veteran goalkeeper was on top form as he denied the Darts attackers time and again as St
PAUL Bastock produced a vintage display as St Albans stole a lucky victory at Dartford to set up a third-round FA Trophy tie with local rivals Stevenage Borough.
The veteran goalkeeper was on top form as he denied the Darts attackers time and again as St Albans were totally outplayed for the last twenty minutes of normal time and the majority of extra time.
St Albans actually started the game on top with Paul Hakim and Gary Cohen causing the home defence no end of problems but when both players were forced off with injury the tide began to turn and the Saints struggled to get over the half-way line.
Boss Steve Castle made two changes to the side that played on Saturday, with Scott Cousins and Sam Hurrell being replaced by Adam Everitt and Jonathan Hunt while Dartford stuck with the same 11 that played at Clarence Park.
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Jamie Day caused the Saints a headache all game with his never-ending running and pin-point passing. His cross in the 23rd minute was met by Rob Haworth but the ex-Saint headed wide.
Hassan Sulaiman enjoyed plenty of space down the right wing and he made the most of it, crossing for James Quilter who hit a half volley into the bottom corner of the net to give City the lead.
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The two combined seven minutes later when Sulaiman crossed to the far post but this time Quilter's header was off target. City should have made it two on the stroke of half time but Cohen's effort bobbled wide following another Sulaiman cross. Hakim was forced off with a leg injury after he was tackled by Dartford goalkeeper Andrew Young.
Saints were given a warning of what was to come when, in first-half injury time, Cody McDonald raced past James Fisher and into the area, only for the Darts attacker to be denied by the advancing Bastock.
Hunt's cheeky free kick nearly caught Young out but the 'keeper did well to recover. Cohen raced down the right wing and delivered a cross to the far post but Hunt's acrobatic effort drifted wide of the post.
The game changed when Dartford introduced Ryan Hayes. The winger was given the same freedom that Sulaiman had enjoyed in the first half and his pace coupled with the equally quick McDonald saw Dartford breach the Saints defence on a number of occasions.
McDonald's pace got him in behind Ben Martin but his shot crashed off the post and was cleared by Frater. The Darts striker was then denied by Bastock after he'd left both Martin and Frater in a heap on the floor.
Dartford were awarded a free kick 30 yards from goal and with the Saints defence sleeping, they took it quickly to Adam Gross whose shot cannoned down off the crossbar before being cleared, with the Darts players claiming it had crossed the line.
Dartford made their pressure pay in the 78th minute when Haworth rose highest to head Hayes' cross home from close range.
The goal gave the hosts a lift and they besieged the Saints goal. McDonald again left Frater and Martin in his wake but he was thwarted once again by Bastock. Haworth then rolled the ball to Day on the edge of the box but his weak effort was easily gathered by the City 'keeper.
Arguably Bastock's best moment came when he saved McDonald's effort and then bounced straight back up again to deny Day with the crowd certain he'd score.
Bastock continued to excel in extra time, producing another fine double save from McDonald and then Haworth.
With penalties looming Day raced through the Saints defence but Bastock produced a point-blank save to take the game to spot kicks.
City went first with Bradley Gray confidently beating Young and things got even better for the visitors when Dartford substitute Steve Butterworth blazed his effort over the bar. James Fisher and Scott Cousins, who lashed his effort into the roof of the net, both scored and Dartford converted both of their next efforts. Disaster struck for City when Quilter's effort smashed off the post but, when Hayes saw his effort hit the bar, the visitors knew they only needed one more to set up a glamorous tie with Stevenage. Hunt duly obliged sending Young the wrong to spark wild celebrations from the City players.
Penalties: St Albans: Gray (Scored), Fisher (Scored), Cousins (Scored), Quilter (Hit post), Hunt (Scored). Dartford: Butterworth (Over), Day (Scored), Osborne (Scored), Hayes (Hit bar).