Penalty shoot-out joy for St Albans City as they beat Watford to reach Herts Senior Cup final
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City are through to the Herts Senior Cup final after a penalty shoot-out win over Watford.
Dean Snedker proved to be the hero, saving two of the Watford attempts while successful efforts from Jordan Sanderson, Zane Banton and Michael Clark took them through.
The two teams had finished level at 1-1 after a tight 120 minutes at a sodden Clarence Park.
Lewis Knight had put City in front on 22 minutes before Ryan Cassidy equalised just past the hour mark.
There were other chances before the deciding penalties, most notably a spot-kick in extra-time that Banton fired wide.
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But Saints had the last laugh and to the delight of the home fans it is they who will go on to face one of Stevenage, Cheshunt, Hemel Hempstead Town or Boreham Wood in the final.
Knight has become known for having the ability to hit a sweet shot during his time at Clarence Park.
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His goal in the first-half certainly wasn’t one of those but it went in so nobody was complaining too loudly.
A corner from the left saw Dave Diedhiou and a defender go for it and when the ball bounced down it was hooked goalwards by the central defender, going in of the bar.
It had been a game of limited chances up to that point but it led to a period of good pressure from the home side.
Tom Bender headed straight at Watford’s James Hoskins from a free-kick on the left and both David Moyo and Solomon Sambou did exactly the same with low shots.
Moyo was almost on the end of a number of dangerous crosses but was crowded out each time and Watford could have made Saints pay for those misses late on.
Zaiid Al-Hussaini showed both full backs a clean pair of heels within minutes of each other.
The first run saw him cut inside along the edge of the box but his shot took a deflection and went wide.
The second, a burst down the left, ended with a low cross flashed across goal and away from the onrushing attackers.
The second half started in pretty much a similar vein, with Saints looking the more likely to score but not testing Hoskins at all.
And it started to get a bit feisty, with a number of the young Watford side and the St Albans bench all being spoken to.
One totally mismatched stand-off pitted the much taller Knight with the diminutive Cassidy but it was the Watford man who was smiling shortly afterwards.
He got in when Michael Clark slipped and although Dean Snedker made the save, Saints switched off when the ball was played back in and Cassidy took a touch before prodding it limply beyond the keeper.
As with the Saints goal, this one gave Watford an extra spring in their step.
They still didn’t test Snedker, although City needed a few firm blocks to prevent strikes on goal.
But it was St Albans who almost prevented the game going to extra-time with two late chances.
The first was an audacious flick from Moyo which skipped across goal and wide and then good play for Liam Sole presented a chance to Ben Wyatt but his shot was saved.
City had an even better chance to win it six minutes into the extra period when Sole, who gave an impressive cameo for his home debut, was hauled down in the box but Banton’s effort from 12 yards clipped the post on its way wide with the keeper nowhere.
And one scramble in the Watford goalmouth during the second period of extra-time was the nearest either side came to winning it before the drama of the shoot-out and joy for St Albans.
St Albans City: Snedker, McLeod-Urquhart, Bender, Knight, Clark, Diedhiou (Kamdjo 99), Wyatt, Sambou, Da Costa (Sole 77), Moyo (Sanderson 99), Banton.
Subs (not used): Bonfield.
Goal: Knight 22
Watford: Hoskins, Maclean (Matthews 105+1), Tricker (Bani 91), Mukena, Leighton, Sankoh (McKiernan 98), Al-Hussaini, Phillips, Cassidy, Bennetts, Adebiyi.
Subs (not used): Baptiste, Suckling.
Goal: Cassidy 63
Booked: Maclean, Mukena, Cassidy.
HT: St Albans City 1 Watford 0
90: St Albans City 1 Watford 1
Referee: Stephen Bates (St Albans)