Concord fly on as Saints crash out of FA Cup

James Kaloczi heads towards goal. Picture: Leigh Page

James Kaloczi heads towards goal. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

St Albans City failed to secure consecutive FA Cup first round appearances after suffering a 1-0 home defeat to fellow Vanarama Conference South side Concord Rangers.

James Kaloczi went closest for the hosts with two well saved headers in a closely contested first half.

A much improved Rangers dominated the second half and their pressure told from a spectacular volleyed finish from Joe Gardner.

Despite a late surge from the Saints the defensively sound away side secured a deserved victory against an under-par St. Albans.

The home side, looking for back-to-back first round FA Cup appearances, made two changes from last weekend’s league victory against Weston-Super-Mare with Lee Clarke and Tom Ward replacing the unavailable John Frendo and Darren Locke.

The Saints were seeking a third straight win in all competitions with the visitors, looking to reach the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history, suffering just one defeat in eight games.

A minute’s silence was held before the game for club historian Andy Porter and Christine Hollingsworth who passed away this week,

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A raucous home crowd were almost silenced early on as a lacklustre and nervy start by the hosts paved the way for a succession of early corners for the more alert Rangers.

James Comley went close within the first ten minutes for the Saints but his shot was blocked just as he was about to pull the trigger.

Reminiscent of Rory Delap, Lee Chappell’s torpedo throw-in towards the penalty area caused havoc for the away side and following good build up play from the Saints, an unchallenged Kaloczi could only head over the bar from eight yards out.

St. Albans were beginning to gain the upper-hand and they almost took the lead after 22 minutes through a Steve Wales header that only the acrobatic reactions of Joe Wright managed to keep out.

Charlie Gorman’s speculative, curling 35-yard strike whistled past the post in a game of limited chances. At the other end Kaloczi’s alertness denied Rangers snatching the lead after 30 minutes.

Now it was the away side that were looking more threatening with two quick fire chances, firstly from a Steve Cawley piledriver going narrolwly over the bar and a Lewis Taafe header that just went wide.

St Albans fired some warning shots of their own in the half’s dying embers, from a tame Wales shot when seemingly through on goal and soon after a Kaloczi header again forced Wright into a smart save, but it was all square at half time in an evenly matched first half.

A luke warm second half start ensued but Taaffe almost broke the deadlock in the 50th minute but his well struck shot soared just past the wrong side of the post. A few minutes later the striker went close again but his looped effort went agonisingly wide.

Their pressure eventually told in the 64th minute with a superbly taken volley through Gardner from a tight angle just inside the penalty area after the City defence failed to deal with an innocuous floating cross.

St. Albans needed a spark in order to halt the irrepressible advance of the away side who only looked like doubling their lead and Gardner almost did in identical fashion but he sliced his volley wide.

The physical presence of David Keenleyside gave the hosts a greatly needed composure and the big man almost levelled proceedings but failed to hit the target. Moments later Rangers almost secured the win from an audacious long range volley from Jeremy Walker.

As the game headed into injury time, the urgency from the Saints and the crowd reached a crescendo as they poured on in search of an equaliser.

But it was Rangers who held on to secure the win and their first ever appearance in the first round of the FA Cup,

St Albans City:

1) Joe Welch (2) John Kyriacou (3) Lee Chappell (4) Charlie Gorman (5) Ben Martin (C) (6) Tom Ward (7) James Kaloczi (Corcoran ‘59) (8) James Comley (9) Lee Clarke (Mitchell ‘67) (10) Sean Shields (11) Steve Wales (Keenleyside ‘73)

Subs: (12) David Keenleyside (13) Danny Green (23) Geoff Mitchell (16) Sam Corcoran (17) Joel Watson (GK) Mayson Tewkesbury

Concord Rangers:

1) Joe Wright (2) Jeremy Alexander (3) Danny Glozier (4) Alex Woodyard (5) Jack Lampe (6) Matt Fry (C) (7) Joe Gardner (King ‘81) (8) James White (9) Lewis Taaffe (Stokes ‘70) (10) Sam Collins (11) Steve Cawley (Ogilvie ‘87)

Subs: 12) Steve King (14) Cheye Alexander (15) Taylor Miles (16) Gary Ogilvie (17) Tony Stokes (18) Riggers Kabashi

Attendance: 953