St Albans City exit FA Trophy
ST Albans City’s run of five successive victories came to an end in disappointing style with a 2-1 FA Trophy loss to Arlesey Town at Clarence Park.
A scrappy start saw both Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division sides struggle to get going in the late September sunshine.
There wasn’t a sniff of a decent chance on goal until the 14th minute.
City’s Lewis Toomey played the ball out to the right for full-back Chris Seeby to whip a dangerous cross into the box only for Town defender Shane Blackett to clear from under his own cross-bar.
Minutes later Toomey tried his luck from 25 yards; his shot was deflected for a corner which led to the opening goal on 18 minutes.
A Richard Graham right wing corner was cleared to David Ijaha 20 yards out, his fierce drive was parried by keeper Nathan Abbey and Curtis Ujah was in the right place to power home.
The lead was to last just five minutes as Danny Gordon was adjudged to have fouled Shane Blackett in the box and referee Neil Davis pointed to the penalty spot.
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Striker Drew Roberts tucked the spot kick low into the bottom right of Nick Jupp’s goal.
Experienced City striker Barry Hayles picked up a booking on 29 minutes for handball; he previously had been warned for a couple of physical challenges.
Just after that the ex-Fulham ace nodded over a Graham cross from the left.
Arlesey’s Roberts drove just off target from the edge of the box as his side came into the game more with winger Aston Goss looking threatening.
However, back at the other end Toomey fired an effort across goal and then headed a Sean Shields ball into the box wide.
A minute before the break Hayles caught Blackett and the home fans feared a red for their man, but he just got a final warning from the referee.
In added on time Town went close to taking the lead for the first time, but Chris Dillon’s effort was cleared off the line by Gordon.
Shields, after shooting from a tight angle, was denied by a smart Abbey save at the start of the second period.
City boss David Howell made a double substitution just before the hour mark with Hayles and Graham making way for Chris Henry and Simon Martin.
It had the reverse effect as almost immediately Arlesey went ahead as Roberts crossed low from the right and Dillon converted at the far post.
In a half of few chances City had two great ones in 10 seconds.
With 20 minutes to go Shields’ low drove was palmed away by Abbey, Henry got onto it and laid the ball to fellow replacement Martin and his attempt was cleared off the line.
Arlesey were looking for a third goal to seal the tie and went close as a Roberts corner was met by the head of Leon Hibbert but he could only nod into the hands of Jupp.
City failed to create a real opportunity to level and will be left frustrated at the manner in which their winning run, and FA Trophy hopes, ended.