FA Cup: St Albans City 0, Lowestoft Town 1
Lowestoft seem to be reserving their best performances for the FA Cup and Saturday was no exception as they produced another excellent performance to defeat a very good St Albans City side in a game which was a credit to non league football and the FA Cup alike.
In a frantic opening both sides could have taken the lead within five minutes. Lee Smith and Dan Gleeson combined to send Chris Henderson down the inside right channel and his cross shot was just wide of the far post with the inrushing Jack Defty just unable to get a final touch at the far post.
St Albans' instant reply saw Sean Shields pick out Lewis Toomey who curled his shot inches over the bar. Midfield was being bypassed with the Saints adopting a long ball game which saw them carve out the better chances. David Ijaha's 30-yard piledriver brought out a superb diving save from Jake Jessup with a similar effort from Toomey hitting the crossbar with Jessup well beaten.
Jessup lost a race for the ball with Toomey bringing the Saints striker down a couple of yards outside the penalty area but after an anxious wait the referee produced just a yellow card.
Lowestoft had the final chance of the first half with Henderson and Defty again causing problems to the home defence with the final cross being header just over the bar by Joe Francis.
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If St Albans had shaded the first half it was Lowestoft who controlled most of the second. Finally able to bring the ball down and get the midfield pairing of Andy Fisk and Robert Eagle buzzing Lowestoft started creating the better chances with Defty and Henderson creating havoc in the home defence. A Stuart Ainsley cross was headed on by Lee Smith to Henderson whose shot was saved by Nick Jupp. Another excellent combination down the left by Ainsley, Francis and Eagle saw Defty knock the ball down to Henderson whose tame header went straight to Jupp.
Lowestoft finally got the goal their second half performance merited in the 59th minute. A superb dummy by Smith left two defenders floundering before he released Dan Gleeson down the inside right channel. The full back made inroads into the penalty area and with the Trawlerboys fans screaming for him to shoot he squared the ball across the face of the goal to an unmarked Francis who had time to steady himself before drilling the ball into the net.
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Not unexpectedly St Albans presses hard for an equaliser in the final 10 minutes but found the solid Blues defence superbly protecting Jessup and the one time they found an opening Jessup produced another excellent save to deny Shields.
Having gone into the game with six of the squad ruled out with injury and illness and some walking wounded on the bench it was an excellent performance by the Blues who fully deserved the rapturous ovation by the 100 plus travelling Trawlerboys.
• St Albans City: Jupp, Seeby, Watts, Ijaha, Gordon, Ujah, Shields, Hyde, Toomey, Hayles, Graham (Henry, 73). Subs (not used) Martin, Diarra, Eadie, Mackie, Scarlett, Hardy
• Lowestoft Town: Jessup, Gleeson, Ainsley, Fisk (Okay, 90+1), Mitchell. Gaughran, L Smith, Eagle, Defty, Henderson (Frew, 86), Francis. Subs (not used) Cunningham, Saker, Gomes