Saints up for the Cup

ST ALBANS City boss David Howell says the team which wants victory the most will be the one which triumphs when his side host Spartan South Midlands Premier Division side Berkhamsted in the FA Cup on Saturday.

The Saints came out on the wrong end of a 4-3 scoreline against league leaders AFC Totton on Tuesday evening but turned in a confidence boosting second half display with 10 men following Jack Pattison’s dismissal. However, Howell has warned his players that if they are complacent come Saturday they will be punished.

“Saturday against Berkhamsted is a one-off,” said Howell.

“All these FA Cup games it’s about the team that really, really wants it the most and I don’t want my players to be complacent just because we put in a good second half performance against the team top of the league – I want that second half performance week in week out from the beginning to the end of the match.

“Saturday is just as important to get a win and get a result and to have that good feeling around the club continuing so it’s important that we get something.”

Despite Tuesday night’s defeat, which saw City surrender their unbeaten home record this season, Howell felt there were plenty of positives to be taken from the match, particularly the Saints’ second half display.

Substitutes Sakho Bakare and Sean Shields came off the bench to turn in their latest impressive showings and Howell was pleased that the pair have taken on board the advice he and his coaching staff have given them.

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“Today was a plus in that it bought the team closer together,” explained Howell. “The spirit’s there, the will’s there and we’ve just got to look try to keep on improving on that.

“Sean’s (Shields) in a place at the moment where I think he feels he wants to play and he wants to get back on the park but he also understands he’s got to make minor adjustments to his game and he came on and he did exactly what I wanted him to do.

“He held the ball up, he actually directed Sakho where he wanted him to make his run, where he was going to put the ball for him. Two weeks ago those two were arguing over the same ball but tonight they’re the best of friends and have a good understanding.”

Pattison’s dismissal on Tuesday night, for handling Jamie Whisken’s goalbound effort on the line, took City’s red card tally to four in their last five games. First to go was Nick Jupp, who saw red against Banbury for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, while Ryan Moran was sent off for a trip on Lewis Toomey as the Hemel man raced in on goal.

Tobi Jinadu was then dismissed after collecting two yellows at Swindon Supermarine for fouls before Pattison’s dismissal on Tuesday, but despite the negative statistics Howell insists he has no qualms with the discipline of his squad.

“I maintain that the players are a really good bunch of lads,” he added.

“I’ve got no problems with their discipline, their conduct, their behaviour - nothing. I understand that the Non League Paper are doing this fairplay table – we haven’t had a point, a caution, a sending off for anything along those lines and (that was the case) again today.

“We’ve had four players, I think, sent off in the last seven matches so I’m starting to think I’m going to have to set my teams up for 10 men and start organising before we kick off a formation for 10 players.”

* St Albans City Reserves bowed out of the Challenge Trophy on Tuesday night after suffering a 5-4 penalty shootout defeat to Premier Division Stotfold.

Jon Addai fired the Saints ahead and despite the home side equalising Brian Haule’s well executed overhead kick put City back in front.

Saints lost their concentration though allowing Stotfold back into the contest for a second time before the Roker Park side triumphed in the shootout.

On Saturday Franco Sidoli’s side earned a point at league leaders Ampthill Town thanks to Dan Quattromini’s goal.