FA Trophy: Tonbridge win replay to set up Saints rematch
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City have been drawn away at Tonbridge Angels in the first round proper of the FA Trophy.
Fans will be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu as this is the second time City have been drawn against a team they beat in the FA Cup.
Saints beat Billericay Town in the second qualifying round of both competitions and overcame Tonbridge in the third qualifying round of the Cup.
Greg Ngoyi punched St Albans City’s ticket into the first round proper of the FA Trophy, and a second meeting with Tonbridge, by scoring the winning goal against Chelmsford on Saturday.
Last season’s top marksman came off the bench to double Saints’ advantage after John Frendo had won and converted a first-half penalty. The Clarets scored an injury-time goal but it was too little too late and City ran out of the Melbourne Stadium deserved winners.
After the club’s worst defeat in recent memory at the hands of Mansfield Town in the FA Cup last weekend, St Albans City joint manager James Gray said he needed a big response and was “proud” that the players delivered.
“We were hammered in terms of scoreline [against Mansfield in the FA Cup] but I knew we were in the game for 70 minutes; we needed a big response and we got one on Tuesday against Royston [Saints won 3-1 in the Herts Senior Cup] and got another one today,” he said.
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“The lads were superb and outplayed a team that are a league higher than us.
“We could have come down here, especially after [the Mansfield game], and got turned over but the lads were determined and put in a really good performance.”
Despite competing against a team from the Conference South, one league above the Calor Southern League Premier Division, Gray admitted he was relaxed on the sideline.
“I felt as comfortable as I ever have as manager of St Albans City,” he said.
“On the sideline I wasn’t nervous; there was no stress. Everyone looked like they knew what they were doing, the two centre halves were big and strong and won headers and tackles.
“It wasn’t just the starting 11, it’s the 15 or 16 that we’ve used; it’s a squad win. We’ve come down to Chelmsford and done a job.”
It was St Albans’ second win over Conference South opposition this year, furthering the idea that City can reach and compete in a higher league in the next few years.
Joint manager Graham Golds told the Herts Ad: “It’s good for us to be playing and beating teams of that calibre; we’re holding our own and showing where we are as a club.
“We want to be playing those teams week in, week out but the [Southern Premier Divison] is a difficult league to get out of. We’ve played a lot of cup games and we’ve done well; if we can bring that form into the league and we’ll be up there.”
And while he relishes the opportunity to test his wits against higher league managers, he admitted he would rather have come up against AFC Sudbury – the team Tonbridge beat 1-0 in a replay on Tuesday evening.
“We didn’t want to draw the same team again because, while we would know what to expect from them, they would know about us, but we’re excited for the tie.”
The FA Trophy first round proper tie will be played on November 30.