PREVIEW: Pre-season is over and St Albans City are ready for Ware

Louie Theophanous prepares to have a shot at goal. Picture: Leigh Page

Louie Theophanous prepares to have a shot at goal. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

St Albans City begin the competitive season tonight away at Ware in the first round of the Herts Charity Cup.

It’s a re-run of last year’s first round tie, which the Saints won 4-1 thanks to goals from Loick Pires, Elliot Buchanan and Steve Wales.

It’s been a long, 10-game pre-season for the Saints, and joint manager James Gray, for one, can’t wait to get the season going.

“Pre-season is a little bit drawn out but every manager will tell you the same: it’s non-competitive and you’re trying to learn as much as you can in a short space of time to get everything right for [the first game of the season],” he explained.

Gray and Graham Golds, joint managers, will have a full squad at their disposal for the tie, with Joe Welch and Luke Allen back in the fold after absences and Lee Chappell returning from a slight knock against Hitchin Town. The only player missing will be Danny Green, who has a broken nose.

After last season’s 13th-placed finish in the National League South, and with a tough opening fixture at Gosport Borough on Saturday, the Saints would be forgiven for treating tonight’s game as another friendly and blooding a lot of players from this season’s reserve squad, which will play in SSML Division Two. Gray doesn’t intend to do that, though.

“We’re going to send a good, strong side down to Ware. It’s a competitive game and I want to win it. I want to win the cup,” he said.

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City haven’t won the cup since the 2012/13 season, when they beat Bishop’s Stortford 3-2 at Clarence Park.