St Albans City manager Stuart Cash was given food for thought with Saturdayâ€™s comprehensive defeat by Weymouth but on Tuesday night he was almost left picking at the carcass as his new charges teetered on the brink of a humiliating Herts Senior Cup defeat as Broxbourne Borough, no more than midtable in the Spartan South Midlands League, came close to claiming the biggest scalp in their history.
Cash will have been horrified by the Saints dreadful first half showing on the excellent Goffs Lane pitch but after surviving an early second half scare the Saints belatedly got their act together to move through to the 3rd Round of the County Cup and take their minds off the more pressing battle against relegation from the Nationwide South.
With injury ruling out Ben Martin and Ben Walshe City recalled former New Zealand captain Chris Zoricich and midfielder Darren Sarll who was in the starting line-up for the first time since August.
St Albans started promisingly with Adam Parker sending Lee Clarke through inside four minutes, Broxbourne keeper Martin Wade did well to block to the Saints leading scorers shot but knew little about how he deflected Matt Hannâ€™s follow up which struck the keeper on the back of the head. Soon after Hann, again fed by Parker, shot low across the goal, Wade parried the ball and was relieved to see Tom Beech virtually stumble over the ball as he attempted to turn it in at the back post.
Beech, who is struggling to make an impact with the Saints, went off with gashed head following a clash with Ouzo Opara and those he left behind were similarly ineffective as an attacking force as City relied on timely interceptions from Miguel De Souza and Chris Zoricich to keep the Borough at bay.
Most first half excitement was confined to the almost five minutes of added time as City were denied a penalty when Wade appeared to trip Clarke and John Armand saved well from Tan Osman. But Broxbourne did threaten an upset during added time as Peter Theoâ€™s side opened up City with ease down the visitors right before Emiel Aitken shot low under Armand to open the scoring.
City hardly began the second period with all guns blazing indeed, on 49 minutes, Broxbourne should have doubled their lead when Tanzel Osman passed to Aitken whose shot was well saved by the advancing Armand who was relieved to Paul Ulatowski fire the rebound well over the target.
St Albans were level within three minutes when Zoricich played the ball down the right to Gary Wraight who sent Clarke scurrying towards the goalline where the Northern Ireland Under 21 international crossed for Parker to fire past Wade.
On 54 minutes the Saints added an almost replica second goal with Wraight and Clarke again combining down the right only this time Parker scored at the back post with a well placed header.
Although seldom trouble thereafter by their tiring hosts City were still far from impressive but did make certain of victory deep into added time when Chris Seeby missed Scott Cousins low near post corner but following close behind was Ram Marwa who gleefully tucked away his first goal for the club.
Report by Dave Tavener
After League defeat on Saturday, newly appointed City boss Stuart Cash took his side to Broxbourne Borough of the Minerva Spartans South Midlands Premier Division for this County Cup tie, and while relieved to advance to the 3rd round thanks to three second half goals, he will have been horrified at the first half display by his new charges.
With modest spectator facilities but on an excellent playing surface at Goffs Lane, the spirited home side were untroubled by their visitors during the first period and deservedly took the lead just before the break.
Whatever the new manager said in the dressing room at half time, the Saints' superior fitness and skill told in the second period and two goals in two minutes from Adam Parker shortly after the break paved the way for a comfortable victory.
Ben Martin and Ben Walshe were unavailable due to injury and there was a recall for Chris Zoricich and Darren Sarll. Mel Capleton remains on the injured list so youngster John Armand retained his place in goal and will be pleased with his contribution tonight.
City started brightly and in the opening few minutes the pace of Matt Hann and Lee Clarke up front cretaed half chances which could not be converted. Hann forced a fine save from Martin Wade and Tom Beech miss-hit a shot from close range at the far post just wide but the visitors faded fast, seemingly unable to prise open a tight home defence.
The excitement came in five added minutes at the end of the period. First City were denied a penalty when the keeper appeared to trip Clarke and moments later, Aemand was forced to make a fine full length save to deny Tan Osman. Broxbourne mounted a sustained period of pressure and the opening goal came when, after slick interplay on the right, Emiel Aitken found space on the edge of the area and fired home from 18 yards.
The first chance of the second half fell to the home side within moments when Armand blocked a fierce Aitken shot and the rebound hit high by Paul Ulatowski.
On 52 minutes, St Albans were level when Clarke was set free by Gary Wraight at pace on the right and the Northern Ireland U21 striker beat his man to the bye-line before sending a low cross to be met at close range by Parker.
Two minutes later and City were in front in virtually identical circumstances. Wraight found Clarke who cut inside before crossing to Parker who made no mistake from a yard out from the goal-line.
The home side visibly tired and, although by no means impressive, the Saints were untroubled and in control for the remainder of the match. The result was put beyond doubt just before the final whistle when a Scott Cousins corner was converted at the far post by Ram Marwa, his first goal for the club.
Report by Tom Lewis