By David Tavener
With a 3-0 victory at Clarence Park St Albans City heaped more misery on county rivals Barnet on Wednesday night as the Saints first Herts Senior Cup win over the Bees for 32 years came just 24 hours after Paul Fairclough's side was dumped out of the FA Cup.
Both sides took the opportunity to look at players knocking on the door of the First team along with some more familiar names and it was City, gifted a ridiculous own goal inside the opening five minutes, who will have gained most pleasure from the outcome.
With Steve Castle unavailable, Andy Edwards took charge of the Saints and gave debuts to three players; goalkeeper Austin Byfield, central defender Jon Munday and striker Inih Effiong.
Twenty-year old Munday, recently released by Grays Athletic, is certainly making his presence felt having scored twice in his first run out for the Reserves last week and followed it with another headed goal as City notched up their first home County Cup win over Barnet for 55 years.
Munday, though, was not the only individual to have cheered the Saints as Chris Seeby came through his first run out in the senior side for 14 months, and marked it with a rare goal, while Hassan Sulaiman also got 90 minutes under his belt for the first time since September.
But the first player to make an impact was midfielder Paul Semakula who has also been dogged by injury since last December and requested a trial with the Saints. The midfielder, who played ten times for St Albans last season, struck the right hand upright of Ran Kadoch's goal inside 70 seconds with a sumptuous drive from 25 yards as the game got off to a lively start.
The Israeli goalkeeper was not so fortunate in the fifth minute when he rushed to the edge of his penalty area to collect a long headed clearance by Ryan Frater only for team mate Jeremy De Magalhaes to head the ball over the stranded keeper and into the back of the Hatfield Road goal.
The French defender got his bearings right to test City keeper Austin Byfield with a header shortly after while striker Elliott Charles fired just wide. Barnet struggled to fully test the young keeper throughout the match with a high number of their on target efforts all going straight at Byfield.
Sam Hurrell broke swiftly from a Barnet attack on 24 minutes only for his shot from 20 yards to be deflected away for a corner. The Bees, under the guidance of Ian Hendon as Paul Fairclough looked on from the main stand, counter-attacked with Danny Hart looking well placed to score before Semakula made an excellent tackle to get the ball back to Byfield.
After a relatively quiet spell the half ended with a flurry of activity as James Quilter sent a diving header over the bar from a Hassan Sulaiman cross after the winger had been sent clear by Inih Effiong.
Barnet hit back with the impressive Adam Birchall smartly controlling a near post cross before stabbing his shot wide and then sending a powerful drive across the face of the home goal. Ryan Burge was more accurate but his crisp drive from 25 yards was again straight at the City keeper whose handling was faultless.
Three minutes after the restart Burge, set up by Birchall, fired straight at Byfield once more. On 50 minutes Birchall played the ball short to Chris Doyle whose shot across goal was just too long for the lunging Hart to turn in.
City had no such misgivings in front of goal and when Effiong was fouled close to the Saints left touchline on 58 minutes Adam Everitt drove the free kick towards the far post where Munday crowned his Man of the Match performance by out-jumping the Bees keeper and sending a looping header into the goal.
Just after the hour City, with one eye on Saturday's FA Trophy tie with Dartford, withdrew Frater and Quilter which allowed youngsters Troy Oham-Strachan and Craig Mortimer sufficient time to put behind them their most recent venture into the First as part of the side hammered at Hemel Hempstead.
With Frater off Seeby switched from right back to central defender, the versatile Everitt was at left back.
As time slipped away Barnet made a determined effort to salvage the tie but long periods of possession brought no reward and little direct threat as City defended with great resolve.
Burge was heavily involved in the visitors best chance when he played the ball wide to Nicky Nicolau and continued his run into the penalty area only to head Nicolau's perfect cross back across goal and harmlessly wide.
A half chance also went begging when De Magalhaes' attempted through ball just ran away from Charles and through to Byfield. City were also wasteful when Dean Regis clipped a delightful cross to the back post where the incoming and unmarked Hurrell headed a couple of yards wide.
But the left sided midfielder made amends on 89 minutes when his corner - needlessly conceded by Marcus Rose - was headed into the goalmouth by Munday with Seeby's miskick deceiving the diving Rob Beckwith and bouncing into the net.
St Albans City: Austin Byfield, C.Seeby, A.Everitt, P.Semakula, J.Munday, R.Frater (C.Mortimer 62), H.Sulaiman, J.Quilter (T.Oham-Strachan 62), D.Regis, I.Effiong (T.James 69), S.Hurrell, subs; D.Broux, Aiden Byfield.
Barnet: R.Kadoch (R.Beckwith 46), A.Taj, W.Mabbett (C.Doyle 46), M.Rose, J.De Magalhaes, A.Carew (K.St Aimee 30), D.Hart, R.Burge, E.Charles, A.Birchall, N.Nicolau, sub; D.Broom.
Goals: 1-0 Own Goal 5, 2-0 Munday 58, 3-0 Seeby 89.