A strong St Albans City brushed aside Spartan South Midlands League side Hertford Town 4-0 at West Street in the 2nd Round of the Herts Senior Cup on Tuesday and in so doing set an admirable new club record of 15 consecutive away matches without defeat.
Richard Graham scores Saints 2nd goal
The game was as good as over inside the opening 22 minutes as City stormed into a four-goal lead and with one eye on the forthcoming FA Trophy tie with Cambridge United, the Saints could be excused for easing up for the remaining three-quarters of the game.
St Albans, making their first visit to Hertingfordbury Park for a competitive match in 12 years, took the lead after just seven minutes.
James Comley swept a long diagonal pass out to Lee Chappell. The left-back was afforded plenty of space to attack and send a low cross towards the near post that Chris Watters neatly clipped right-footed across keeper Harry Ricketts for his third goal of the season.
Just three more minutes passed before City doubled their lead with an exquisite curling effort from 25 yards by Richard Graham after Hertford had squandered two chances to clear their lines following pressure from Mark Nwokeji, Chris Henry and Comley.
It was a bitter sweet moment for Graham, as it was his first goal of the season but he now faces three matches on the sidelines following his dismissal at Tonbridge at the end of last month.
Hertford suggested that City would not have things entirely their own way when Louis Rose headed narrowly wide from a free kick but on 15 minutes St Albans were celebrating for a third time.
Chris Henry, in for the rested John Frendo, laid the ball out to right-back Howard Hall and the duo exchanged passes again before Hall waltzed his way past Charlie Smith, Rose and George Laffer before clipping the ball to beyond the back post.
Watters attempted to volley the ball home but his misdirected shot went, kindly, straight to Nwokeji who, from close range, poked home his 10th cup goal of the season.
City were denied a fourth goal when an offside Nwokeji stroked the rebound home after Ricketts had saved well from Henry.
But Nwokeji was not to be denied for long and on 22 minutes the former 200 Metres All-England Schoolboy champion runner did add his second goal of the night.
Watters placed a perfect ball beyond Hertford right-back Connor Lancaster for Henry to latch onto and race clear.
Henry matched that pass with an equally fine pass to the edge of the six yard box that Nwokeji despatched past Ricketts most emphatically before being sent flying by Town defender Matt Turpin.
With the contest over and a gentle mist forming around the ground, St Albans visibly eased up and Hertford were able to enjoy longer spells of possession.
Even so, City still went close from a Comley free kick and Hall had an effort saved by Ricketts. At the opposite end of the pitch Turpin went close with a header from a Charlie Smith corner.
With City four goals to the good it was almost inevitable that the second half would struggle to retain much interest, and although it was far more even than the opening 45 minutes it was not a time that will survive for long in the memory.
The impressive Ricketts, though, did thwart City with a fine save from Nwokeji soon after the restart while the home side went close with a shot from Jimmy Martin that drifted away from the target at the final moment.
The Hertford keeper also did well to save from Henry on two occasions.
City skipper Comley almost scored a spectacular goal when receiving a short corner and running along the goal line before sending an audacious effort across the goal and just beyond the far post for a goal-kick.
With time almost up former City striker Tegana James embarked on a long run that ended with Hertford’s only on-target effort of the half, but the shot lacked the necessary power to trouble Tom Coulton who is proving to be a fine understudy to Paul Bastock.
Both sides saw out the final few minutes a man short.
Hertford lost Harry Sedgley, the son of former Tottenham midfielder Steve Sedgley, through injury while a groin injury also accounted for City’s Danny Green.
It was a disappointing end to the evening for Green who had filled in for Ram Marwa most admirably throughout the game.
St Albans City now turn their attention to the FA Trophy with Conference League leaders Cambridge United visiting Clarence Park for a 2nd Round tie this coming Saturday, 14th December. Kick off is at 3pm.