St Albans City reach FA Cup first round after shoot-out win over Corinthian Casuals

Huw Dawson celebrates his first St Albans City goal in the FA Cup win over Corinthian Casuals.

Huw Dawson celebrates his first St Albans City goal in the FA Cup win over Corinthian Casuals. - Credit: JIM STANDEN

In cup football it is all about winning – and St Albans City did just that to reach the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in five years. 

They did it the hard way mind you, beating Corinthian Casuals 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out after the two sides had been tied 1-1 at the end of extra-time, but the replay success means they will welcome League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers in a few short weeks. 

They had a big crowd backing them at Clarence Park too, announced as 1,113, but they will expect treble that for the visit of the Greens. 

And while that will be a party atmosphere, they will have to be much sharper, much brighter and play with no fear. 

All those emotions were there for the win over the Isthmian League Premier Division side, especially in the first period.

All that changed when Huw Dawson put himself forward to be hero of the hour, coming off the bench at half-time and unleashing a stunning drive for his first Saints goal.

But after Benjamin Checklit equalised with seven minutes to go, it was two penalty saves from Michael Johnson and four successful conversions that booked City’s passage. 

Most Read

It had to be better than Saturday – that was the one thing wanted and needed from a St Albans City perspective. 

And while they naturally had more of the possession in the first half, there was once again a worrying lack of chances. 

Mitchell Weiss, drafted in to the starting line-up in place of Romeo Akinola, provided that at times with two notable runs at the defence. 

He got passed a couple in brown and pink shirts but on both occasions, as he cut in from the left, he found a Casuals defender across to make the tackle. 

The centre-half pairing of Andrew Mills and Jack Strange were a thorn in City’s side quite often, turning any most of the crosses or rare surges forward. 

Shaun Jeffers had one glorious opportunity after a rare defensive lapse but as he went round goalkeeper Dan Bracken, he seemed to be expecting contact. 

When it didn’t come he had to improvise but his clipped cross back into the middle was cleared. 

Johnny Goddard did have a sight of goal but sliced it wide. 

The real chances of the first period fell to the south Londoners. 

Jack Tucker connected with a looping cross from the left first time and directed it towards goal and although he didn’t get everything on it, it still required Johnson to make a diving save and push it behind. 

The Saints keeper also gathered after a corner was only partially cleared, Kieron Cadogan’s cross landing at the feet of Mills but it seemed to surprise him, deflecting off the defender and into the arms of the former Hitchin man. 

A change at half-time brought Dawson on for the out-of-sorts David Noble but nobody expected the move to make the impact it did so quickly. 

Four minutes after the restart he caught the ball beautifully from 25 yards and sent it flying and dipping to the right of a static Bracken. 

From there the confidence returned to the home players and they looked to have an extra step, conspicuous by its absence in the 135 minutes previous to the goal. 

They still didn’t create too much in the way of clear-cut chances, Dawson firing a rising shot over the top the best of them. 

They still had to be careful and Warren Mfula could have pulled the visitors back into the game when he broke clear. 

He was under pressure though and pulled his shot wide. 

Weiss should have made much more of a chance when he got in behind the defence and closed in on the keeper but he hit his shot straight at Bracken. 

And it proved a costly miss as again, out of nothing, there was a goal, and this one went to the visitors. 

A diagonal ball over the top dropped behind the defence and was taken down superbly by Checklit. 

His second touch took it round Johnson and his third was rolled into the corner of the net. 

That led to a frantic closing stages. 

City lost Tom Bender to injury but almost snatched it six minutes beyond the 90, Kyran Wiltshire thumping a drive off the upright and Zane Banton unable to turn in the rebound. 

The first period of extra time saw Saints trying to push forward but apart from one old-school scramble, the Casuals defence stood firm. 

Liam Sole was brought on with 15 minutes to go and he had a couple of runs that brought some panic to the visitors. 

Not enough though and it needed the shoot-out to decide it. 

St Albans City: Johnson, Bender (Diedhiou 90+2), Wiltshire, Jeffers, Banton, Noble (Dawson 46), Weiss (Sole 105), Lankshear (Akinola 117), Adebiyi, Mukena, Goddard.

Subs (not used): Gauthier, Austin, Brown.

Goal: Dawson 49

Booked: Wiltshire 114

Corinthian Casuals: Bracken, Tucker, A.Mills (Morgan 90+1), Williams, Strange, Bendle (Paratore 105), Bolton, Cadogan (Pinney 78), Mfula (B.Mills 78), Thompson, Cheklit.

Subs (not used): Efambe, Adelakun, Ekim.

Goal: Checklit 83 

Booked: A.Mills 72, Williams 90+4

HT: St Albans City 0 Corinthian Casuals 0

90: St Albans City 1 Corinthian Casuals 1

Referee: Wayne Cartmel (Luton)

Attendance: 1,113