St Albans City were comprehensively removed from the Ryman League Cup on Tuesday as Hampton & Richmond Borough secured a place in the last four with a dominant display at the Beveree. Hampton, beaten 5-0 at Clarence Park back in the first week of the season, even had the added satisfaction of maintaining their fine record of scoring at least three times in all of their League Cup matches this seasons.
In truth it did seem as though Hampton would breeze past that figure but young goalkeeper Andy Walker again impressed with a number of good saves against a side which had slipped in form a little of late having failed to win any of its previous four matches. As ever these days, City went into the game with a few problems of their own with Ben Andrews and Steve Blaney cup tied and six other players injured. Indeed John Kendall even admitted he had to field two players carrying knocks which he would not have done under normal circumstances. But life at Clarence Park at the present time is far from normal as the feeling of growing unrest off the pitch is clearly filtering through to the players.
Given the ceaseless rainfall to have blighted this season and that the Beveree is on the banks of the Thames, the pitch was in good condition and Hampton paid testimony to its flatness with a sweeping move which led to the opening goal inside three minutes. A City attack broke down and from just outside the Hampton penalty area Martin Carter played a good ball up to Warren Williams out wide on the left on the halfway line. Williams streaked clear of the City defence before crossing a low pass to the edge of the six yard box where Carter had continued his run to tuck the ball home.
For Walker, making his third appearance for the Saints, it was the first goal he had conceded since joining the club, and just four minutes later he made a spectacular save high to his left to deny Carter from adding a second from the edge of the penalty area. Hampton's early dominance continued with the Saints surviving strong penalty appeals as Walker, after parrying Carter's long shot, appeared to bring down Gary Holloway as the two battled for the loose ball.
Holloway was frustrated again in the 24th minute as from his cross Leroy Griffiths got the ball into the back of the net from a Holloway cross only for an offside flag to cut short the celebrations. Hopes of a City comeback were dashed on 37 minutes as Robbie Simpson, matched step for step by Nick Burton, chased a long ball which home keeper Eric Talbot somehow missed as he ran from his goal. The ball clearly struck Burton on the arm which took it away from Simpson but somehow a penalty was not forthcoming. A minute later Talbot was more impressive as he dived to his right to cling onto a Corey Campbell header.
The outcome was decided within seven minutes of the second half getting under way. In the 50th minute Griffiths squared the ball across the edge of the City penalty area and with a cracking drive high to Walker's left Williams claimed his 14th goal of the season. Two minutes later Francis Birch, a half time substitute, conceded a free kick by the corner flag on the City left which Maskell placed into the middle for Holloway to plant in the City goal with a fine finish.
At that time the Saints, now certain of their first defeat at the Beveree for 20 years, looked to be facing a quite severe reversal but in the latter stages Talbot's was goal was tested with a number of efforts from distance but Walker remained the busier of the two keepers and he proved himself equal to the task with two good saves from the lively Griffiths.
Report by Dave Tavener