Jupp spares Saints’ blushes

Goalkeeper keeps City in the FA Cup

FA Cup First Qualifying Round

St Albans City 0 Berkhamsted 0

THE magic of the FA Cup was nowhere to be seen at Clarence Park on Saturday as St Albans City and Berkhamsted played out a boring goalless draw.

A second bite of the cherry was the least an organised and spirited Berkhamsted side deserved and had it not been for a couple of excellent saves from Saints goalkeeper Nick Jupp they could’ve found themselves progressing to the next round.

Jupp, who was recalled to the team after missing out to Will Viner in Tuesday night’s defeat to AFC Totton, had to be alert to get down low and divert Mark Welling’s long range shot around the post after just three minutes.

That early chance gave the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division side plenty of confidence and they went on to enjoy a sustained period of pressure but they were unable to convert that into goals.

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City’s best chance of the first half fell to striker Sakho Bakare but the Frenchman smashed his shot wide of the target after being the recipient of a lucky ricochet in the Berko penalty area.

The visitors continued to probe for the opening goal and nearly had it when Russell Clark turned Welling’s cross goalwards but Ryan Moran was on hand to drill the ball away to safety.

The Saints were then indebted to goalkeeper Jupp for a wonderful save that kept the visitors from going into half time in front.

Captain David Ijaha conceded a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of penalty area that Josh Chamberlain looked like making the most of. The visiting midfielder bent the ball beautifully over the war and towards the right hand upright only to see Jupp spring across his goal line full length to palm the ball behind.

The second half was just as bad as the first as City were left to rue an alarming lack of quality. The number of times David Howell’s team wasted good opportunities to deliver from out wide was pushing close to double figures with crosses from both flanks regularly ending up with the fans on the terrace.

One Nathan Ralph cross that did find its way into the penalty was met by Matt Cutchey but the centre half headed wide of the target.

After an hour Berko’s efforts began to have an effect but Saints were unable to capitalise.

Again Jupp had to bail City out pulling off a two handed save to deny Tony Burnett after the Berko man had latched on to a long punt forward from goalkeeper Eddie Farmer.

It was an easy afternoon for Farmer who didn’t have a single shot on target to deal with. A cross from the right from Jack Pattison was sliced behind his own goal by Jamie Gavin and from the resulting corner Cutchey headed wide from Moran’s knock down.

The visitors were not content to sit back and hold out for a draw and they were nearly rewarded for their adventure when Gavin pounced on a mistake by Ralph but the right-back hit his half volley just over Jupp’s crossbar.

Rob Haworth, who was starved of decent service all afternoon, tried his best to create something out of nothing bulldozing his way into the penalty area and when his run was stopped Ryan Watts drilled the loose ball across the face of goal and wide.

That pair linked up again minutes later with the latter crossing to the far post for substitute James Bent but he blazed his volley well over the bar.

The former Harrow Borough forward was lucky to finish the afternoon on the field when his high and late two footed lunge just missed Gavin’s legs. Referee Sam Purkiss decided a yellow card was punishment enough.

David Howell was meeting with his players individually well after the game had finished and he will be demanding a much improved display when the two teams come head-to-head on Tuesday night.

St Albans City: Jupp; Pattison, Moran, Cutchey, Ralph; Sean Shields (Ehui 70), Matthews, Ijaha �, Watts; Haworth, Bakare (Bent 57).

Subs not used: Hart, Haisley, Alebiosu, Dedman, Viner.

Berkhamsted: Farmer; Gavin, S. Carmichael �, Rodrigoe, Toomey; Clark (Harewood-Williams 75), Welling, Usmani, Wardle; J. Chamberlain (Gallagher 65), Burnett.

Subs not used: O’Farrell, Gerrard, Hester, Mead.

Referee: Sam Purkiss (Highbury, London).

Att: 351.