FA Cup third qualifying round replay
St Albans City
Shaun Jeffers 10, 45+1, Zane Banton 77
Metropolitan Police F.C
Jack Mazzone 64
St Albans City in touching distance of the first round proper after FA Cup win over the Police
- Credit: DANNY LOO PHOTOGRAPHY
St Albans City put themselves within one win of the FA Cup first round proper by navigating their way past Metropolitan Police in their replay.
Saturday's game had ended 0-0 but a double from Shaun Jeffers and one for Zane Banton helped them to a 3-1 success and a trip to Isthmian League Premier Division Corinthian Casuals.
This success was probably deserved but they made life difficult for themselves at times, not least when the visitors to Clarence Park pulled it back to 2-1 midway through the second half.
They have had previous with Casuals having beaten them in a much-delayed replay back in 2018 but they will travel with confidence.
There was one change for the Saints, Zane Banton given the nod ahead of Mitchell Weiss while Liam Sole returned to the bench.
The Police too made only one change, Sam De St Croix in for Jack Mazzone.
The change didn't alter the shape but Saints did start with their two full-backs being asked to push "higher and wider" by the management team.
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The ploy was obvious, pin the Police back and unpick them in the final third.
And it worked a treat with a goal on 10 minutes.
The ball into the box looked to have run away from Banton but Jeffers was on his toes and pounced, rolling it beyond Liam Beach.
But that was as good as it got until that vital second goal, with almost the last touch of the half.
John Goddard's cross from the left was perfectly placed for Jeffers to run onto and power it over the keeper.
In between though the Saints bench was less than impressed with the home side's play.
Cries of "sharpen up" were heard from Ian Allinson as he urged his team to use the possession better.
Too often moves would quicken up only to flounder in short order because of under-hit or wayward passes.
A case in point was when Goddard picked up a loose ball across field inside the Police half.
He took a couple of touches and by the time he played in Jeffers, the top scorer had run offside.
The visitors too were having problems when they got into good positions, a three-on-one ending without a shot coming in because the pass was lazy and short of its intended target.
They did almost score from a corner, Liam Ferdinand helping it towards goal and the superb Alex Lankshear clearing it off the line.
The young full-back was excellent once again, shining as he has done all season. There wasn't many tackles, headers or passes that weren't timed to perfection and he looks to have a bright future in the game, much sooner than later too.
The second half began in a similar fashion and Banton almost wriggled through, his final shot being blocked and Goddard's cross from the rebound cleared.
There were still scares. A free-kick from a central position and about 25 yards was bent round the wall by Ollie Knight, forcing Michael Johnson to dive to his right and push it round the post.
A substitution on the hour made a big difference and four minutes after coming on, Mazzone found himself unmarked at the far post and he nodded home.
And for a few minutes City were rocking with the bench scrambling to make a change.
Before they could though, the players altered the momentum themselves.
Goddard finally had a shot after too many touches in the box, Beach shovelling it behind for a corner, and from the set-piece Joy Mukena and the keeper entered a private duel.
The keeper won them both, the first an absolutely outstanding save down low to his left, while the second was a header that was tipped over the top.
However, they didn't have to wait long to seal the game, Jeffers shooting from the right and the keeper could only push it into the path of Banton.
St Albans City: Johnson, Bender, Wiltshire, Akinola (Weiss 76), Jeffers, Banton, Noble (Dawson 76), Lankshear, Adebiyi, Mukena, Goddard.
Subs (not used): Gauthier, Austin, Sole, Bani, Diedhiou.
Goals: Jeffers 10, 45+1, Banton 77
Metropolitan Police: Beach, Wickham, Fisher, Robinson, Tanner, Birch (Mazzone 60), Knight, Robertson, Ferdinand, Appaih-Allen, De St Croix (Vincent 75).
Subs (not used): West, Chislett, Vincent, Mather, Rabbetts.
Goal: Mazzone 64
HT: St Albans City 1 Metropolitan Police 0
Referee: Alex Blake (Waterlooville)