Young Saints bow out at first hurdle

St Albans City’s youngsters were unable to repeat last season’s heroics as Thurrock recorded a 4-2 win at Clarence Park

FA Youth Cup Preliminary Round

St Albans City Youth 2 Thurrock 4

ST ALBANS City bowed out of the FA Youth Cup at the first time of asking as Thurrock gained revenge for defeat by the Saints in last season’s competition.

The City youth class of 2010/11 were unable to match the heroics of last season’s side, who made it through to the Second Round Proper before bowing out on penalties to League Two side Wycombe Wanderers.

First teamer Ross Dedman continued his recovery from injury with a run out at centre half and boss Steve Castle also gave the defender the captain’s armband. Also included in the Saints’ starting XI was Ross’s brother Matt as well as James Macey who had appeared in the competition last year.

Things didn’t start well for Castle’s youngsters with Christy O’Donoghue opening the scoring from the penalty spot on 14 minutes after Josh Nye had been penalised for a foul.

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The goal sparked the visitors into life and O’Donoghue could have had a second when he pounced on a loose ball inside the City area but curled his effort wide of Buster Thomas’s far post.

Thurrock didn’t have to wait long to double their lead however and O’Donoghue was again involved. This time the forward was the architect delivering an excellent cross for James Smith at the far post to bundle the ball past Thomas.

To their credit City regrouped and gained a foothold in the contest when Nye atoned for his earlier misdemeanour. Jordan Gill’s teasing free kick was cleared by the Thurrock backline but only as far as Nye whose vicious left foot volley crashed off the underside of the bar onto the goal line and up into the roof of the net.

City were a lick of paint away from being level just 60 seconds later when James Macey went on a mazy run, cut inside his man and fired in a shot but it smashed off the inside of the post and spun across the face of the goal.

Thurrock captain Danny Ford came close to restoring the visitors’ two goal cushion with a curling effort from 20 yards that had Thomas diving across his goal but the ball ended up on the roof of the net.

Saints’ striker Jonathan Addai did well to hold up the ball and evade the attentions of his marker before stabbing the ball through to Macey but the winger’s effort smashed into the side netting as the visitors maintained their advantage at the break.

It was an advantage that looked like it had been wiped out just six minutes into the second period when Addai scored with an arrowed effort into the top corner. A Spyros Mentis free kick to the far post was knocked down into Addai’s path and the striker fired his shot into the net but the City celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag for an offside from the free kick.

With just over 20 minutes remaining Thomas found himself facing another penalty after Andy Roth was penalised. This time however the City stopper guessed right springing to his right to push out O’Donoghue’s effort.

It was only a temporary reprieve for the Saints though as O’Donoghue raced down the right and crossed for Ben Sartain to tap home at the far post.

The Saints didn’t lie down and die though and Gill teed up Macey to shoot into the bottom corner of the net.

The visitors should have been home and hosed when Sartain chased onto a long ball and knocked it past Thomas midway in the Saints half but the Thurrock man was forced wide and although he picked out Smith free in the box the midfielder skewed his shot wide of the target.

After several lengthy delays during the second half there was over eight minutes of injury time added on.

With City pushing for an equaliser the visitors struck the final blow in the 98th minute with a goal from substitute Chris Hankin. Mentis was robbed of the ball in midfield and a quick break resulted in Hankin firing home via the underside of the bar to seal Thurrock’s progression to the next round where they will meet Ilford.

City: Thomas; Butler (Guest 63), Stanley, R Dedman �, Gill; M Dedman (Roth 69), Nye (Graham 45), Mentis, Macey; Addai, Machado.

Subs: Eadie, Tammaro (GK).

Thurrock: Manning; Painter, Madden (Smith 78), Byrne, Spillman; Smith (Cook 90+3), Ford, Bradley, Catherall (Hankin 86); Sartain, O’Donoghue.

Subs: Moule, Maleary.

Referee: Andrew Loe (Hertfordshire)