FA Cup preview: Saints looking for glory against Angels

Mark Nwokeji scored a hat-trick in the first qualifying round win over Enfield Town. Picture by Leig

Mark Nwokeji scored a hat-trick in the first qualifying round win over Enfield Town. Picture by Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

St Albans City will hope the FA Cup magic continues to sparkle on Clarence Park this Saturday when Tonbridge Angels roll in for their third qualifying round tie.

Saints’ league form has been somewhat inconsistent this season but their cup performances have been anything but.

In the first round, City demolished Enfield Town 6-1 before following up with a 2-0 win over Billericay Town, which joint manager James Gray called a “professional” performance.

They were, perhaps, the best two displays of the season so far.

So hopes are high, amongst the fans, players and management, that City can take a step closer to the first round proper with a win on Saturday, despite coming up against opposition from a higher league – the Skrill South Conference.

Gray told the Herts Ad: “We’re all looking forward to it; we’ll come out fighting and hopefully give the fans something to cheer about.

“We need a big performance after [the draw with Bedford Town on Tuesday night] – see inside for report and reaction. We can’t show up like this against a team from a higher division.

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“We’ll go through things with the lads this week and identify what I want them to do [against Tonbridge].”

He added: “We’re hopeful that the fans will come and watch us. It was tremendous to see a few familiar faces at Truro and Bedford; hopefully there will be a big turnout.”

Tonbridge come into Saturday’s game having won their first FA Cup tie since 2009, beating Hayes & Yeading 2-1 in a second qualifying round replay. Their league form, however, has not been good.

The Longmead Stadium outfit opened the new season with three straight losses in the league, including a 5-1 romp by Bromley, before winning back-to-back games at the end of September.

Since then, Tommy Warrilow, who celebrated his 300th game in charge earlier this month, has seen his team knocked out of the Kent Cup, pick up three points from 12 in the league, and win in the FA Cup.

Saints’ fans will see a few familiar faces lining up for Tonbridge Angels. Former City players Gary Elphick, David Ijaha, Ryan Watts and Chris Piper are all key players in Warrilow’s squad.

As well as bringing added excitement to Clarence Park, the FA Cup has also been very lucrative for City. So far, the club has earned £7,500 from the two wins and that figure can double with a victory on Saturday,

City chairman Nick Archer said he was excited to see St Albans in the cup and is hoping for another good performance.

“It would have been nice going into Saturday on the back of a win but we’ll be confident we can win the game.”

The FA Cup third qualifying round tie kicks off at Clarence Park at 3pm.