St Albans City in FA Youth Cup comeback
St Albans City Youth 3 Hitchin Town Youth 1 FA Youth Cup First Qualifying Round James Ronayne at Clarence Park ST ALBANS City's Youth impressed last night as they came from behind to beat local rivals Hitchin Town in the FA Youth Cup First Qualifying Rou
St Albans City Youth 3 Hitchin Town Youth 1
FA Youth Cup First Qualifying Round
James Ronayne at Clarence Park
ST ALBANS City's Youth impressed last night as they came from behind to beat local rivals Hitchin Town in the FA Youth Cup First Qualifying Round.
In what was an absorbing clash between two evenly matched sides, the young Saints team recovered well after falling behind to an unfortunate own goal with the game barely five minutes old.
A free kick into the City box found Jordan Loftman and although goalkeeper Adam McWeeney kept out the Hitchin man's effort the ball rebounded off City left back Layne Eadie and into the net.
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The early goal probably helped open the game up and City striker Stefano Geraldes saw his half volley fly over the bar.
Tinashe Muskwe did well to turn his man after receiving an Eadie throw-in but the striker's effort also went over.
At the other end the lively Theo Swaine kept the Saints defence on their toes, and the former Stevenage man should have done better after he'd cleverly crafted himself some space in the box. Unfortunately for the visitors his unwillingness to use his left foot allowed the City defence to recover and remove the danger.
Jonathan O'Donnell, fresh from making his first team debut at Weymouth last weekend, hit a beautiful dipping volley that crashed off the Hitchin crossbar but City were beaten to the second ball by the Hitchin defence who were able to clear their lines.
Arguably the game's turning point came four minutes before denied by an outstanding save from McWeeney. If that had gone in, you fear it would have killed City's chances but as it was just five minutes later, in first half injury time, Muskwe turned his man and showed great composure to fire into the roof of the net to draw City level.
It was no more than City deserved and set the home side up for a commanding second half display.
Steve Castle has high hopes for O'Donnell and you can see why. With the second half just a minute old the gifted midfield player glided past a couple of Hitchin tackles but this time his radar was slightly askew and his effort went narrowly wide.
City didn't have to wait too long to take the lead though, with captain Rob Magwood heading home from a corner in the 52nd minute. The impressive Luke Jackaman swung the ball in from the left and Magwood, left unmarked six yards out, had no trouble in placing his header in to the back of the net.
To their credit Hitchin kept battling but City put the game beyond doubt when they added a fourth 13 minutes from time.
Jackaman was again the provider, this time delivering a pin-point cross from the right for O'Donnell to steer a header inside the far post. It was yet another well worked goal and one that even had the opposition management applauding.
City's reward for beating their County rivals Hitchin is a home tie with the highly rated Thurrock.
The Football Association were filming the game, with highlights set to be broadcast on their website from Thursday morning - to see the young Saints in action visit www.thefa.com
St Albans City Youth: McWeeney, Spaul, Eadie (Baker 68), Magwood, Spencer (Dedman 42), Lewis, Jackaman, Saunders, Muskwe, Geraldes, O'Donnell (Macey 77).
Subs: Higgins, Handelaar.
Hitchin Town Youth: Haggerty, Adcroft, Smeaton, Pennery, Potts, Welsh, Loftman (Hacker 65), Pett, Swaine (Jarvis 80), Foster, Webb.
Subs: Klein, Johnson, How.
Referee: Geoff Garnham (Hemel Hempstead).