Sol Shields returns but City bow out

Midfielder returns as second half substitute

Herts Senior Cup 1st Round

St Albans City 1 (Inih Effiong 62)

Hatfield Town 4 (Matt Standon 12, 73, Daniel Staples 54, Jason Becks 83)

SOL Shields made his first appearance in a St Albans City shirt since rupturing his Achilles tendon in February as an inexperienced City side went down to a 4-1 home defeat to Spartan South Midlands Premier Division side Hatfield Town.

The 21-year-old was introduced as a 53rd minute substitute but looked understandably short of fitness and was unable to prevent the Saints from slipping to defeat.

It could have been worse for an unfamiliar looking City side had it not been for the form of goalkeeper Aiden Kelly.

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The stopper made several impressive saves to thwart the visitors who could have had a similar score to Welling at half-time had it not been for Kelly’s intervention.

Boss Steve Castle, who again watched the action from the stands as he served the second of his two game touchline ban, started with just three recognised first team players with Inih Effiong, Rob Magwood and Sean Shields all given a run out.

The home side were given a warning of what was to come as early as the fifth minute as managerless Hatfield tore open the inexperienced home defence.

Daniel Staples was given space to turn around 20 yards from goal and he picked out winger Carl Webb in space just inside the penalty area but the Hatfield man was rebuffed by a fine save from Kelly who tipped the effort wide of the far post.

City responded with Effiong latching onto Dan Bishop’s long ball forward but his effort was turned away by Hatfield ‘keeper Sam Lacey.

Kelly was called into action soon after to deny Hatfield striker Matt Standon. Staples again was the creator, stabbing the ball through the City defence to his strike colleague but his effort was stopped by the ‘keeper’s feet.

There was, however, nothing the City ‘keeper could do to prevent Standon from opening the scoring just a minute later. The stopper was left exposed by his defence as a cross came in from the left and the Hatfield front man made no mistake bundling the ball home from close range.

The goal energised the visitors and they had another good chance to further their advantage. Reece Lawrence got free down the right wing before delivering a low ball into the box that was dummied by Staples. The ball ran kindly to Webb who was on target with his effort but again found Kelly in fine form.

The game quietened down after a frenetic 20 minutes but burst into life again in the final five minutes of the first period.

A free kick from Trevor Golder was retrieved at the far post by Webb. The winger dinked the ball back into the middle for Jack Evans but his header was pushed out by Kelly.

Dom Petrucci, fresh from his first team debut the night before, bundled his way past several would be challengers and into the box. His cut back found Magwood in an advanced position but he fired wide under pressure from the Town defence.

With eight minutes of the second half gone Sol Shields made his entrance but the former Leyton Orient trainee had only been on the pitch a matter of seconds when Hatfield grabbed their second goal.

Webb’s long ball down the left flank was latched onto by Staples and he advanced into the box before curling the ball past Kelly at the ‘keeper’s near post.

Hatfield’s two goal advantage lasted all of two minutes as City struck back through a great solo strike from Effiong.

The club’s leading scorer picked the ball up on the left wing and bulldozed his way into the box before curling an excellent shot inside the far corner of the net to give City a route back into the game.

That hope was extinguished 17 minutes from time though as Standon’s deflected effort wrong-footed Kelly and ended up in the back of the net.

Effiong wasted a good chance to get City back in the game when he screwed his shot wide after doing all the hard. The front man received Sam Barker’s pass and burst into the box before rounding ‘keeper Lacey but somehow he put his shot wide of the near post.

Kelly continued to shine in the City goal tipping Staples’ header onto the post and wide but from the resulting corner substitute Jason Becks rose unchallenged to head home and put the game to bed.

City: Kelly; Perrin (Fiori 71), Campbell �, Sidoli, Bishop; Se. Shields, Ashcroft (So. Shields 53), Magwood, Barker (Addai 83); Effiong, Petrucci.

Subs: Logon, Nye.

Hatfield: Lacey; Gilbert, McGrandles, Coley, Welsh; Lawrence, Evans (Becks 46), Golder (Owen 67), Webb; Staples (Lockrie 85), Standon.

Subs not used: Tahon.

Referee: Anthony Serrano (Hemel Hempstead).

Att: 40