Saints shot out of shield
ST Albans City handed Aldershot Town a passage into the quarter finals of the Setanta Shield with a poor defensive display at Clarence Park on Tuesday. Caretaker boss Steve Castle picked young striker Bradley Gray, on work experience from Leyton Orient, a
ST Albans City handed Aldershot Town a passage into the quarter finals of the Setanta Shield with a poor defensive display at Clarence Park on Tuesday.
Caretaker boss Steve Castle picked young striker Bradley Gray, on work experience from Leyton Orient, alongside Simon Martin with Paul Hakim (cup tied) and Lee Clarke (suspended) both out. In midfield, Ben Walshe was dropped for Marcel McKie and Hassan Sulaiman returned after a month out with a hamstring injury on the right flank. Ben Martin was back from suspension in defence and Hasim Deen switched to right back.
Aldershot Town included club stalwarts Ricky Newman and Rhys Day, along with midfield star Scott Davies, on loan from Premiership Reading. Top scorer John Grant was on the bench but wingers Joel Grant and Scott Donnelly ensured the City defence would be forced to work hard.
City attacked first and Bradley Gray delivered a dangerous cross from the right flank which Venezuelan goalkeeper Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz had to palm over his own crossbar.
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The positive approach from City was soon dented when, on four minutes, a Davies corner was knocked down by defender Day for Kirk Hudson to force his shot over the line from close range.
The Shots should have added a second on 10 minutes when Donnelly fired a low cross to left-sided player Joel Grant but with time to pick his spot he lacked composure and fizzed the ball wide of City goalkeeper Nick Eyre's left post.
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Saints had lost defender Deen to injury and replaced him with Jomo Faal-Thomas on 12 minutes and soon the home side were cut open again. Davies surged down the right and whipped in a stunning cross which Elvins headed over with the goal at his mercy.
On 19 minutes the lead was deservedly doubled and Saints, who lost 5-3 at home to the Shots in the Conference last term, were staring at another hefty defeat. Davies lofted a free kick forward which City defender Ben Martin left for the outrushing Eyre. The City 'keeper was disastrously beaten to the ball by the alert Elvins who prodded it forward and then rolled the ball into the empty net.
Aldershot were rampant and Hudson fired a good chance wide while, on a rare City excursion forward, Faal-Thomas fed Simon Martin who failed to beat the first man with his cross.
On 27 minutes, Saints should have struck back as Sulaiman and Quilter combined well to release McKie who blazed his shot high and wide.
With the pressure off and the result settled, Saints passed the ball around well and, on 30 minutes, Cracknell shot straight at Jaimez-Ruiz after some fine work from Sulaiman.
In the 38th minute, Hudson easily beat Scott Cousins for pace and sped away from two more defenders before guiding his shot just the wrong side of Eyre's left post, under pressure from Ben Martin.
City suffered a double blow before the break as first a great run and cross from McKie was not attacked by the front men in the box and then, on 45 minutes, a scuffed corner from Davies found its way to Elvins who tapped in his second of the game for 3-0.
The lively Gray threatened to pull a goal back for Saints after the restart when he picked up a long ball forward and lofted his shot over Jamiez-Ruiz and narrowly over the crossbar.
City played some neat football in the second period and opened up the visiting defence on 67 minutes when Faal-Thomas won a strong challenge on the edge of the box. Sulaiman took the ball on but drilled his shot across the goal and well wide from a fine position.
Gray showed good skill on 69 minutes to control a high ball and find Faal-Thomas, who delivered a superb high, dipping cross which Simon Martin could only head straight at the Aldershot goalkeeper.
The Shots scored the best goal of the game to ease the comfort of their passage through on 75 minutes. The excellent Donnelly ripped a thunderous right-foot hit into the top corner from 25 yards.
Davies appeared to punch the ball into the net as Aldershot looked for a fifth and referee Ian Cooper immediately disallowed the effort.
City had the final attack when Gray laid the ball into the path of substitute James Archer who struck his right foot shot well but straight at Jaimez-Ruiz.