St Albans City progress in FA Cup after nervy win over Deal Town
- Credit: Archant
St Albans were given a massive scare by Deal Town but progress to the third qualifying round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win.
Deal, who play their football three divisions below City, grew into the game but were two down just after the hour to strikes from Louie Theophanous and an own goal by Charlie Dickens.
However when Dickens scored at the right end with nine minutes to go, it set up a frantic finale and brought Deal a well-deserved round of applause from their travelling supporters at the final whistle.
City handed a debut to new signing Harry Crawford, who came in as one of four chances to the side that drew against Hayes and Yeading.
The changes didn’t seem to affect the home side who started on fire.
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It took just three minutes for the National South side to take the lead.
Billy Gibson slipped the ball inside the defender and Theophanous pounced, rifling in at the near post.
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City’s tempo was so high in the opening exchanges that Deal struggled to get a hold of the ball.
But when that fell away, the team from the Kent coast came back into it.
Connor Coyne and Ryan Philpott both went close with shots that went just wide of the post.
St Albans were left with a few crosses that were well dealt by a stubborn Deal defence.
Theophanous should have done far better in the dying moments of the half, miscuing a one-on-one chance wide.
The break didn’t seem to make much of a difference and it was the Southern Counties team who came out better, playing some lovely football.
And had it not been for the long leg of substitute David Longe-King they may have got back on level terms.
Deal themselves had to rely on some excellent last-ditch defending but they were undone by a cruel bit of luck.
Luke Allen, an early substitute in the second half, got the faintest of touches to a Chappell cross, but the ball was diverted into the net by Dickens, who had little knowledge of it.
However he made amends on 81 minutes, heading home unmarked from a right wing corner.
It made for a nervy finish but Saints hung on for the win.