Gabriel bags the match winner as St Albans City lose to Boreham Wood in the Herts Senior Cup
- Credit: Archant
Ralston Gabriel came back to haunt St Albans City with the only goal as Boreham Wood lifted the Herts Senior Cup.
The former City man looked hungry to prove a point all game and after a number of chances he got the decisive touch to a Sorba Thomas cross.
But for all his efforts it was the introduction of the Boreham Wood substitute that proved decisive in settling what had been a close enough game.
Saints may not have enjoyed as much of the ball as their hosts in the final but bar a few mistakes on the ball, they looked relatively comfortable.
However, a lack of chances, a symptom of City in recent weeks, meant they were always the less likely to score.
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With the crucial game against Torquay looming on Saturday, the Saints line-up was always going to be an eyebrow raiser.
And therefore it probably wasn’t too much of a surprise to see the likes of Josh McLeod-Urquhart or Jacob Gardiner-Smith included in the starting line-up.
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Regular substitutes in recent weeks Liam Sole and Luke Joyce-Dwarika were also included as City’s injury list bit hard.
Sam Merson’s withdrawal on 36 minutes with a flare up of the troublesome back injury picked up on Friday against East Thurrock will just add to Ian Allinson’s selection headache.
Action wise it was former Saint Ralston Gabriel who looked most likely to score.
The Wood man had the ball in the back of the net on 28 minutes but his header was ruled out for offside.
One minute earlier he had shot tamely at Dean Snedker with a side foot effort when he really should have done better.
A slip from McLeod-Urquhart provided him with a third sight of goal and although he caught this one with much more power, it was a good height for Snedker to palm away from danger.
For the rest of the half it was the former Hitchin full-back, Kane Smith, who was causing troubles down the Saints’ left.
He was delivering plenty of good crosses but Lewis Knight and Michael Clark tended to be equal to most of them.
Chances at the other end did come although they were equally as rare as the Wood ones.
Joyce-Dwarika had a shot that was always drifting wide while Merson connected with an excellent Clark cross but headed too close to Ryan Huddart.
Clark himself had the other good chance but his header from a deep corner was again too near to the Wood goalkeeper.
Extra-time wasn’t high on Saints’ wish list and they started the second half with a bit more zip.
That said Boreham Wood clearly didn’t fancy 30 more minutes and with both sides starting to press more, the number of chances crept up.
Dave Diedhiou nodded City’s best attempt just wide but Wood had the better efforts.
Gabriel and Snedker continued their private duel, the City keeper kicking this shot away with his legs after the Boreham Wood man had snaffled a loose pass.
Keiran Murtagh almost put Wood in front with either an opportunistic strike or a fluke, depending on your allegiance.
It came from a free-kick 10 metres inside the City half and off to the right. Whether he meant to shoot only he will know but his ball in looped over Snedker and bounced back off the bar.
That came seconds after the introduction of Thomas and he was the provider of the goal six minutes later.
He was slipped in by Smith down the right and his low cross was swept in by Gabriel who celebrated wildly, pointing to the name on the back of his shirt.
Thomas then crashed a thunderous drive off the underside of the bar and had a late chance to go round Snedker but fired over.
St Albans threw James Kaloczi and young debutant Nick Ralfe on in the closing stages, with the former going straight up front.
But despite a header from Ben Wyatt that for a split-second looked to be heading in, there was to be no late drama as trophies continue to elude Allinson and Saints.
With the big league game and a bigger prize just a few days away that may not be too much of a disappointment.
St Albans City: Snedker, Clark, Bender, Diedhiou, Knight, McLeod-Urquhart, Joyce-Dwarika (Kaloczi 87), Sambou, Merson (Wyatt 36), Gardiner-Smith (Ralfe 88), Sole.
Subs (not used): Geller, Ralfe, Bonfield.
Boreham Wood: Huddart, Woodards, Ilesanmi, Fyfield, Smith, Shaibu (Kanu 85), Shakes, Champion, Gabriel, Murtagh, Ash (Thomas 64).
Subs (not used): Parry, Legg, Shields.
Goal: Gabriel 70
HT: Boreham Wood 0 St Albans City 0
Referee: David Rock (Hertford)