Debutants see St Albans City squeeze past Ware in Herts Charity Cup

Junior Morias connects with a header. Picture: BOB WALKLEY

Junior Morias connects with a header. Picture: BOB WALKLEY - Credit: Archant

Two second half goals from debutants Rhys Hoenes and Junior Morias saw St Albans City come from behind to knock Ware out of the Herts Charity Cup for the third successive season, winning 2-1 at Wodson Park tonight (Tuesday).

Gareth Price’s eighth-minute solo effort, turning the defence inside out before slamming beyond new keeper James Russell, put the hosts ahead until the break as City pushed for an equaliser.

That leveller finally came in the 55th minute as Hoenes, signed from Royston Town, raced onto Morias’ quickly-taken free-kick and rammed home on the angle.

Six minutes later Ian Allinson’s men, fielding eight debutants in the starting 11, were deservedly in front. Alaa Oujdi’s loose back-header was seized upon by ex-Boreham Wood attacker Morias who made no mistake.

Former City assistant boss Ken Charlery’s men huffed and puffed to grab a second but were denied on several occasions including a last-ditch challenge by Andrew Iwediuno in the 84th minute as substitute Nathan Mukunu looked certain to touch in from no more than two yards out.

The Ryman League North side’s quest for a first victory over the Clarence Park outfit since 1978 goes agonisingly on.

Both teams started well with Louie Theophanous going close with a fifth minute header after Joe Simmonds had failed to fully clear a corner.

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Two minutes later, Ware were in front thanks to some sublime skill from Price.

His footwork bedazzled Josh Hill and his turn-and-shot combination from 15 yards was anything but rusty in the first competitive game of the new season.

Saints were unfazed against opposition two divisions their inferior but an away goal was not to come before half-time.

Scott Thomas stung the palms of Simmonds in the 20th minute with a 20-yard half-volley and six minutes later, City went even closer as a similar Theophanous effort, this time from the left, rattled the crossbar. Had new signing Dipo Akinyemi, on loan from League Two Stevenage until January, been a few inches taller it surely would have been 1-1.

As hard as the visitors tried they could not unlock the staunch Ware defence although Akinyemi’s dribbler almost caught the in-form keeper out at his near post. The ball slithered just wide of the upright and the hosts went into the break on top.

City didn’t stray from their first-half game plan and within 10 minutes of the restart they had their reward.

Morias fed the lightning quick Hoenes who surged into the box and lashed beyond Simmonds.

With their tails up, City went searching for a second and when Oujdi’s header bounced invitingly into the path of new boy Morias there was only one place it was heading. No more than the Saints deserved.

But for the assistant referee’s flag it would have been three 11 minutes from the end as substitutes Sam Merson and Matt Ball combined well before the former side-footed home. Merson, son of former Arsenal and England legend Paul, was adjudged to have handled the ball in the build-up however.

Moments later, Ware thought they had grabbed a late leveller but Iwediuno did just enough to put off substitute Mukunu as he attempted to touch the ball in on the line.

The new-look City survived though and they progress to the next round.