Cup déjà vu as ‘embarrassing’ Saints exit FA Trophy

Elliot Bailey holds his head in his hands after missing a guilt-edged chance. Picture: Bob Walkley

Elliot Bailey holds his head in his hands after missing a guilt-edged chance. Picture: Bob Walkley - Credit: Archant

“We went out with a whimper,” was joint manager James Gray’s assessment of St Albans City’s performance in Tuesday’s FA Trophy loss to Wealdstone.

The Saints fans who made the trip to Grosvenor Vale will have had a sense of déjà vu after watching the team put in an inept, flat display in a cup game. In fact, captain Ben Martin used the same description after City exited the FA Cup at the hands of Concord Rangers back in October.

After clearing an early Martin header off the line, Shaun Lucien scored a superb free-kick and Dan Brown headed in an equally impressive goal to put Gordon Bartlett’s side in front.

Saints were in the game after the break until Steve Wales petulantly kicked out and was rightly sent off. With an extra man, Wealdstone scored a third to secure a first round tie against Hayes and Yeading.

Gray called it an ‘embarrassing’ performance.

“I’m a frustrated character at the moment because I know how good we can be. If everyone could get the mentality and focus and do their jobs week in, week out then there’s not a side in the league to frighten us,” he said.

“On our good days, we’re a match for anyone. On our bad days, it’s embarrassing.”

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Gray tried to shoulder the blame for the loss, quoting a change in formation to try to ‘get a spark’, but ultimately he couldn’t defend his senior players, many of whom were well off the pace.

“We huffed and puffed but we had no quality and no pace. We tried to force the issue and then we had the crazy sending off and it’s curtains so we gave the young lads a run out.”

Elliot Bailey started the game and Jack Green and Alex Yearwood were introduced in the second half. More performances like Tuesday and fans could be seeing more fresh-faced youngsters.

“The young lads are there week in, week out and if the senior players are playing like that then there’s no point in keeping them on there; at least young lads have some zest,” he said.

“The senior players need to look at themselves because they could find themselves in the bench and we’ll go with the young lads. They’re top of the capital league and if the senior lads are going to perform like that then we’ll give the young lads a run out.”