Rocks kill Saints’ FA Cup hopes stone dead

St Albans City’s FA Cup hopes over for another year

FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round Replay

St Albans City 1

East Thurrock United 3

A WOEFUL second half performance ended St Albans City’s FA Cup exploits for another season as East Thurrock United ran out worthy winners in Tuesday night’s replay.

The Saints were devoid of quality for the most part and only some substandard finishing denied the visitors a half-time lead. The Rocks made no mistake after the break though as two goals from Petrit Elbi and one from Kris Newby confirmed the Essex side’s place in the next round with Ryan Watts’ wonderful free kick the only glimmer of quality on offer from the home side.

The Ryman Premier Division visitors dictated the game from the start with Reiss Gilbey and Michael Ramkin running the show in the middle of the park and City boss David Howell admitted afterwards that his team had looked fearful.

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The warning signs were there early on for City as Gilbey threaded a delightful ball through for Elbi who kept his composure well to round Nick Jupp but the forward’s refusal to use his left foot allowed Tobi Jinadu to recover and clear off the line.

Jerome Walker was City’s most lively player in the opening exchanges and the speedy winger forced Rocks’ ‘keeper Richard Wray into action, the stopper tipping the ball over the bar after Walker had cut inside from the left wing.

After a fairly even opening period East Thurrock stepped up a gear and winger Sam Collins should have given John Coventry’s side the lead. The City defence stood off the visitors who manoeuvred the ball around the edge of the area unhindered until Collins stabbed the ball wide from 18 yards.

St Albans still had chances with Danny Hart firing over the bar and Walker unable to get a touch to Haworth’s near post flick on.

City’s best move of the opening 45 minutes saw Haworth show great strength to hold the ball up before feeding Watts. The left sided player cut the ball back to the edge of the box for Nathan Haisley whose volley was well saved by the diving Wray.

Elbi passed up two good chances to put the visitors ahead before the break but the striker made no such mistake after the interval.

Kye Ruel was the architect, racing down the left wing unchallenged and getting to the byline before rolling the ball back to the unmarked Elbi who beat Jupp from close range with the second half just six minutes old.

A further three minutes had been played when the Rocks doubled their advantage with a goal that should give the City defence nightmares. East Thurrock had a distinct disadvantage in the height stakes against City but the home side’s failure to track Elbi’s near post run made that irrelevant as the striker darted forward unmarked to turn home Kris Newby’s corner.

That two-goal burst rocked City and they had goalkeeper Jupp to thank for denying Elbi a hat-trick just minutes later. Again the Saints went to sleep at the back allowing East Thurrock to take a quick free kick but Elbi’s effort was turned behind by the City stopper and from the corner Newby headed narrowly wide.

The Rocks’ midfielder didn’t have long to wait to join Elbi on the scoresheet though as East Thurrock effectively wrapped up the tie with a third goal in the 63rd minute.

Jupp’s kick out went only as far as Newby who exchanged passes with a team-mate before firing low across the ‘keeper and inside the far post.

To their credit East Thurrock continued to look to add to their tally but the final goal of the contest went the way of the home side as Watts curled home a beautiful free kick from nearly 30 yards.

It was the only thing the Saints fans had to cheer all night and although they can have plenty of complaints about the performance of their team there can be no complaints about the final outcome.

Referee: Gavin Muge (Dunstable).

Att: 250