The Saints bow out of FA Cup

Luton Town 4 St Albans City 0 Full match report.....

ST ALBANS CITY’S FA Cup run came to an end on Saturday as they were beaten convincingly by high-flying Blue Square Premier side Luton Town.

The Hatters totally dominated the tie which was all but over at half time as they had stormed into a 3-0 lead after a brace from Man of the Match Amari Morgan-Smith and a strike from Danny Crow. The Saints were slightly improved after the break but struggled to create any real chances at goal and the game was wrapped up just before the end when Morgan-Smith completed his hat-trick.

St Albans started the match nervously and struggled to maintain any meaningful possession in the opposing half of the field.

Harry Beautyman had the Saints’ first attempt at goal after 15 minutes – albeit a rather speculative effort from 30 yards – and Luton stopper Mark Tyler wasn’t troubled and gathered comfortably.

Saints were nearly caught out moments later after giving away possession from their own free kick in Luton’s half but a quick breakaway from Luke Howells came to nothing after Morgan-Smith gave away possession at the vital moment.

St Albans were punished for their inability to keep possession when the Hatters took the lead on 23 minutes. Matthew Barnes-Homer played a delightful ball down the line to Claude Gnakpa who crossed first time to the unmarked Morgan-Smith at the far post who fired past Paul Bastock from a tight angle.

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Steve Castle’s side were failing to get to grips with the superior passing and movement of Luton and Morgan-Smith should have doubled his tally moments later when he skipped past James Fisher only to place his shot just wide of Bastock’s near post.

However the lead was doubled just past the half-hour mark when Crow’s quick free-kick from 25 yards caught Bastock unawares as the ball flew into the bottom corner.

The Saints just couldn’t get any sort of foothold into the game and Luton made it three on 38 minutes with an almost carbon copy of the first. Gnakpa was again sent free down the right and he picked out an again unmarked Morgan-Smith at the far post who duly nodded past a helpless Bastock from six yards.

Manager Castle had clearly seen enough and quickly introduced Jean-Michel Sigere for central midfielder Adam Martin.

The flow of the game didn’t change, though, and had Crow shown a bit more composure after finding himself in acres of space in the Saints’ penalty area it could have been four but his curled attempt drifted over the crossbar.

The Saints were having to cope with wave after wave of Luton attacks and, had it not been for some careless finishing from the home side, it is no lie to say the scoreline would not have been far away from double figures, such was the Hatters’ dominance.

The second half started much in the same way as the first had ended with Luton monopolising possession and St Albans struggling to break out of their own half. Luton were continually utilising the pace and skill of winger Gnapka down the right hand side who was making full-back James Fisher endure a busy afternoon.

David Deeney was booked on the hour-mark after a poor challenge on Luton substitute Ed Asafu-Adjaye and it was clear frustration in the St Albans ranks was starting to boil over.

Crow was desperately unlucky not to make it four seconds later after Morgan-Smith broke the offside trap to set up the Luton striker whose half-volley cannoned back off the crossbar.

Gnapka then went equally as close to making it four after wriggling away from Smith and Adam Everitt with embarrassing ease only to hit the post from close range.

Sigere almost pulled a goal back with a chance out of nothing on 76 minutes when the striker pounced on some sloppy Luton defending to break through on goal. However his left foot shot from just inside the area was deflected narrowly wide of Mark Tyler’s left-hand post.

Morgan-Smith capped off a fine performance six minutes from time when he scored a quite brilliant goal to ensure the match ball was going home with him..

Beautyman inexplicably gave the ball away on the halfway line to Luton substitute Dan Walker who roamed into the Saints’ half before setting up Morgan-Smith on the edge of the area who lobbed Bastock with a delightful chip that even had some in the away section applauding the strike.

There was still time for Deeney to go close with a fierce 25-yard attempt while at the other end Bastock pulled off a fantastic save to deny Walker from point-blank range.

In the end this was a disappointing performance from the Saints and they can have no real complaint about the final outcome.

Luton Town: Tyler, Gleeson (Asafu-Adjaye 55), Murray, Keane, Pilkington, Morgan-Smith, Barnes-Holmer (Poku 63), Kroca, Howells, Gnapka, Crow (Walker 72).

Subs not used: Atieno, Blackett, Besta, Pilkington.

St Albans: Bastock, Fisher, Smith, A Martin (Sigere 38), Frater, Everitt, Beautyman, Deeney, Shields, Effiong, Odubajo (R Martin 73).

Subs not used: Peters, Barker, Dedman, B Martin, Kweme.

Attendance: 4,144