FA Cup first round
St Albans City
Mitchell Weiss 25, Zane Banton 29, Shaun Jeffers 78
Forest Green Rovers
Matty Stevens 18, Jack Aitchison 45+1
St Albans City produce stunning win in FA Cup to send Clarence Park into dreamland
- Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO
To the list of FA Cup giantkillers you can now add the name of St Albans City after an incredible evening at Clarence Park against Forest Green Rovers.
You have to go back to 1924 for the only other time Saints toppled league opposition but goals from Mitchell Weiss, Zane Banton and Shaun Jeffers put them into dreamland.
The 3-2 win was thoroughly deserved too. After a slow and nervy start they began to grow into the contest and exhibit the confidence that has been shown so often in the National League South.
It was the reason the BBC cameras came to town, it was the reason a sell-out crowd had packed into the famous old ground.
Many believed, some more in hope than expectation, but this is a new St Albans City, one with eyes on emulating their opponents and reaching the promised land of the Football League and they trust in everything they do.
This will do nothing to dampen those dreams, only enhance them further, and will have thrust the name of St Albans City Football Club into the minds of thousands of people up and down the country
Saints went with two changes from the side that beat Eastbourne Borough eight days earlier, Banton and David Noble recalled in place of Romeo Akinola and Huw Dawson.
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For Forest Green there were four changes from the side who drew with Bradford City, including ex-Stevenage loanee Jack Aitchison who started with a Boro team-mate from last year, Matty Stevens.
And the pair would haunt the Saints in a first half that was incident packed and worthy of the great competition.
The hosts had looked edgy in the opening stages and were almost behind in three minutes.
Alex Lankshear was disposed on a gallop forward and Kane Wilson turned it into a counter-attack the other way.
It was slipped to Josh March but his first touch was heavy and Michael Johnson was able to come out and block.
The deserved lead though came on 18 minutes and was a soft one from a City point of view.
A left-wing cross from Nicholas Cadden was curled towards goal and it bypassed both Joy Mukena and Callum Adebiyi, allowing Stevens to nip in unmarked and poke past a static keeper.
But the goal woke St Albans from their slumbers and a break down the Left allowed Banton to cross low for Shaun Jeffers, although both of his attempts were blocked.
However the left wing proved the Saints' best avenue and from a John Goddard cross, Weiss glanced a header that reached the goal before Mukena could touch it home.
Four minutes later Clarence Park was in dreamland as Banton wriggled into the box before sliding a lovely ball wide of Luke McGee.
Stevens had a goal ruled out for offside at the other end while Jordan Moore-Taylor hit the top of the crossbar before missing with a gilt-edged opportunity when the ball pinged out to him on the right side of the box.
Unmarked he hit it first time but always going wide.
However, moments after a minimum of two added minutes were announced Aitchison, in the same place as the centre-half had been, drilled it easily to the right of Johnson and finished a breathless half.
The second half started on in the same manner and City were looking threatening on the break, with most of the play focused down the left.
Adebiyi came close when a corner fell to him but the defence kept it off the line.
But with Banton now moved to the right wing, Weiss going over to the other side, the game began to settle into a midfield dogfight.
But suddenly a slip by Wilson with 12 minutes to go allowed Weiss to nip in and pinch the ball.
He rolled it to his right to Jeffers who clipped it over the advancing McGee and inside the post.
The final five added minutes saw Forest Green commit silly foul after silly foul and when they did get a free-kick it was wasted.
In truth though nothing was going to stop the party which kicked into overdrive on the final whistle as fans flooded the pitch.
St Albans City: Johnson, Wiltshire, Jeffers, Banton, Diedhiou, Noble (Dawson 79), Weiss (Sole 90+5), Lankshear, Adebiyi, Mukena, Goddard (Brown 79).
Subs (not used): Gaultier, Bender, Akinola, Bani, Austin, Meakes.
Goals: Weiss 25, Banton 29, Jeffers 78
Booked: Diedhiou 5
Forest Green Rovers: McGee, Wilson, Stevenson, Adams, Stevens, Aitchison, Cadden, Moore-Taylor, Young (Diallo 65), Godwin-Malife, March.
Subs (not used): Bernard, Cargill, Allen, Evans, Edwards, Hendry, Thomas, Bennett.
Goals: Stevens 18, Aitchison 45+1
Booked: Aitchison 63, Adams 89
HT: St Albans City 2 Forest Green Rovers 2
Referee: Bobby Madley (Wakefield)