Late Martin goal sees Saints sting Hornets

SIMON Martin’s injury time header gave St Albans City a much needed 2-1 win over a Watford XI and sees the Saints progress to the next round of the Herts Senior Challenge Cup, writes Sam Glanz.

Juan Onieva had given City the lead midway through the first half on Tuesday night but his goal was quickly cancelled out after a neat finish from Watford’s Jamie Calvin.

The Saints started brightly in bitterly cold conditions at Clarence Park, a good spell of pressure culminating in David Ijaha grazing the bar in the 11th minute with a rising drive from 30 yards.

City continued to press the visitors and their high tempo was clearly unsettling the young Watford side as they struggled to get a foothold in the game.

The pressure finally paid off when City took the lead on 22 minutes.

Good work from Chris Henry down the right hand side saw the winger cross low for Onieva who, after seeing his initial shot saved, put in the rebound after a scramble in the Watford defence.

The lead was short lived and within two minutes the Hornets were back on level terms. A clever through ball was latched onto by Calvin, who took a couple of touches before bending the ball round Nick Hardy in the Saints goal and into the corner of the net.

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The visitors quick response seemed to take some of the tempo out of the Saints play and, although they continued to enjoy the majority of possession, the home team didn’t provide any real threat to the Watford goal.

Following the half-time break City again started the quicker of the two sides, with captain Ryan Watts getting into a good position down the left side of the penalty area, before seeing his powerful effort parried away at the near post by Watford keeper Daniel Wilks.

A similar pattern began to emerge, as St Albans dominated the play but were found wanting when it came to the final pass or effort on goal, with substitute Martin missing two good headed chances.

But, as the clock ticked past 90 minutes and with extra-time looming, Martin made amends for his earlier misses with a well placed header into the corner of the net following a cross from Sean Shields.

The win is City’s first in six games and will come as welcome respite for caretaker managers James Gray and Graham Golds.