Saints book a spot in fourth round draw

Mark Nwokeji scored a second half goal to book St Albans City a place in the fourth qualifying round draw of the FA Cup.

City and Tonbridge Angels were drawing at half-time, Mark Lovell cancelling out John Frendo’s opener, but, kicking down the slope, and with the magic of the cup still shining on Clarence Park, Nwokeji popped up in the 73rd minute to score the winner.

Both teams started the game brightly but it was the visitors who crafted the first chance. Nathan Green ran down the left flank but he failed to spot Mark Lovell in space on the opposite wing and his shot was blocked.

Angels, who play in the Skrill Southern Conference, continued to push forward but it was a swift counter-attack that brought about the first goal after just eight minutes. Mark Nwokeji, who has City’s best player in the first-half, broke down the right wing before squaring the ball to John Frendo who stepped around his man and placed the ball past Clark Masters.

It was a goal against the run of play and Tonbridge quickly resumed camping in Saints’ half, albeit without creating any clear-cut chances.

In fact, despite losing the possession battle, it was City who looked the more likely to score the second, Frendo coming the closest with a shot towards the near post that cannoned out for a corner.

City were dealt a blow with the substitution of Chris Watters on the half-hour mark, replaced by Matt Taylor but he seamlessly slipped into the side.

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St Albans’ best chance for a second fell to Richard Graham, back in the side after two games, but Nwokeji’s crossed bounced a little too high and the Northern Irishman fired over.

Graham’s shot finished a spell of pressure for City; Tonbridge re-took the initiative and this time they converted their pressure into a goal. A ball into the box found Mark Lovell who directed his header past Tom Coulton, in for the injured Paul Bastock, for the last highlight of the half.

The first half proved to be just a prelude for an excellent second.

Matt Taylor had the first chance but he tried to do much and the goalscoring opportunity passed by.

Nwokeji was next to try his luck, and he should have scored. After dispossessing Angels on the half-way line, Frendo put Nwokeji through on goal but he shot straight at Masters.

The teams played out a stalemate for the next 20 minutes, both sides having chances but neither troubling the goalkeepers but the tie re-ignited when Nwokieji hit the net, moments after Frendo hit the bar with a long-range effort.

A long throw in by Lee Chappell found Richard Graham who rode a couple of tackles before teeing up Nwokeji. The striker took a touch and fired it under the goalkeeper.

City saw out the rest of the game, winning fouls and keeping the ball, to earn a spot in the fourth qualifying round tie, which will be drawn on Monday.