FA Cup: Saints into first round proper

St Albans City celebrate David Keenleyside's goal. Picture by Bob Walkley

St Albans City celebrate David Keenleyside's goal. Picture by Bob Walkley - Credit: Archant

St Albans City are through to the first round proper of the FA Cup.

Lee Chappell celebrates City's win with the fans. Picture by Bob Walkley

Lee Chappell celebrates City's win with the fans. Picture by Bob Walkley - Credit: Archant

Goals from John Frendo and David Keenleyside saw Saints past a spirited Chatham Town side that gave City more than a run for their money.

The build up to the game evolved around Saints coming up against lower league opposition – Chatham play in Ryman League Division One North – by the hosts failed to play their part in the story and came out firing from the first whistle, putting City under pressure.

And they should have taken the lead after 15 minutes but Kieran McCann fired over when well placed at the back post. It looked as though McCann’s miss would be atoned for straight away but resilient defending kept Drew Crush from heading in a corner.

Despite the warnings that a goal was coming for Chatham, City still struggled to find a footing in the game, seemingly struggling with the pitch, which was in an awful condition after Saturday morning rain.

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City’s first chance fell to Nwokeji and it should have scored his sixth goal in this year’s FA Cup campaign. Darren Locke cleared a corner to Frendo who broke down the left; his low cross into the box found Nwokeji at the back post but he fired wide from four yards.

After City missed their best chance of the half, Chatham followed by failed to convert their best opportunity. McCann’s ball the box narrowly missed Alfie May, who was sliding in, and the danger was cleared.

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In the last five minutes of the half, City finally found the form that had eluded them for 40 minutes. Keenleyside’s cross found John Frendo and City’s marksman made no mistake in giving his side the lead.

For all their poor play, City led at the interval having not reached anywhere near their full potential.

After the break, the team the travelling fans – who made it seem like a St Albans home game – had come to see emerged. City kept possession, looked more assured in their first touch and passing, and build pressure through James Comley, Richard Graham and Keenleyside.

With an improved display, the second goal was not long coming. Graham’s out-swinging corner was headed goalward by Locke. Nwokeji flicked the ball onto the bar but Keenleyside thundered the rebound past Jack Bradshaw to give City a lead they would not relinquish.

But just as City had found their form it evaporated and Chatham probed for a goal; coming close through Kalvin Morath-Gibbs and Austin Gachern.

For all their chances, Chatham lacked a cutting edge and failed to score as City earned a spot in the first round proper of the FA Cup.

In truth, it was not the best game but City played the occasion, got the job done and have a spot in Sunday’s draw.

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