For once, a stoppage-time strike proved no more than a consolation, after three gift-goals in the first-half presented Worthing with a mountain that even they couldn’t climb.
- Jones (90')
- Noble (27')
- Iaciofano (39')
- Nwabuokei (41')
Boss Adam Hinshelwood made just one change to the matchday eighteen who fought back so dramatically at Clarence Park, as the experience of Alex Parsons saw him dislodge the youthful exuberance of Fin Stevens on the bench. While Step Two Saints made five changes to the troops that had come agonisingly close to victory on Saturday.
Under the bright(er) lights of Woodside Road, it was the hosts who got us underway, with the first chance of the evening. Five minutes in, Lloyd Dawes’ run from deep led to a one-two between him and Olie Pearce, only for the latter to miskick with his first attempt and see his second blocked by a visiting defender.
Pearce came much closer within sixty seconds, when he forced Dean Snedker into a good save to keep out his diving header, from Jesse Starkey’s left wing cross.
Not long after, Marvin Armstrong made a similar run to that of Dawsey earlier on and passed to Reece Myles-Meekums, on the left-hand side of the penalty area. However, just when the majority of the crowd were starting to celebrate going in front, Meeky’s low, drilled shot hit the inside of the far post and was cleared to safety.
Neither team really tested their respective goals before a mini catalogue of disasters befell the home side.
Armstrong pulled his hamstring conceding a free-kick in a dangerous position, marginally outside the box but worse was to follow with Captain, David Noble’s effort – which would usually provide Roco Rees with no more than a routine kneel and gather – slipping through the hands and legs of the unfortunate ‘keeper, to give the visitors a most unexpected advantage.
Reds responded through the endeavour of Dawes leaving Scott Shulton bamboozled and Snedker pushing his effort over the bar with both hands.
With half-time looming fairly large on the horizon, the travelling Saints were gift wrapped a second goal when a poor touch in the area by Jalen Jones offered Joe Iaciofano an opportunity he simply couldn’t miss, to suddenly put his team two-nil up.
Two minutes later, Worthing effectively put the nails in their FA Cup coffin as they failed to clear their lines, leaving Zane Banton to slip in Sol Nwabuokei, who shifted the ball neatly passed Joel Colbran and fired home with the outside of his right boot past Rees, for what looked to be an unrecoverable third.
Ricky Aguiar almost gave his side hope, when his free-kick from more than thirty yards out only narrowly flew over the crossbar but Shulton had the last word of the opening forty-five, when he seized on a heavy touch by Meekums and drove powerfully forward. His final shot, however, not unduly troubling Roco.
Hertfordshire-based City looked to rubber stamp their passage through to a tie at National South rivals, Weymouth by way of Noble adding a fourth. Unfortunately for all those in white, his subsequent shot at the end of some neat approach play was more in keeping with the Rugby World Cup than it’s FA counterpart.
Bizarrely, both teams seemed to accept their fate, with clear-cut chances at a premium after the turnaround.
A rare home attack saw Danny Barker drift in off the left flank and play in Meekums, only for his turn and effort to lack the power or trajectory to trouble Snedker.
Nwabuokei could have put the game beyond reach when he was the recipient of a lucky rebound but sent his side-footer sailing over the target.
Past the hour mark, it was Reece’s flag-kick that he won and took, that resulted in Joe Tennent’s slide towards the back stick being headed off the line by Olly Sprague.
Parsons nearly marked his return to the fold by picking up fellow sub, Shola Ayoola’s flick-on from Rees’ clearance and breaking away to find room for an attempt that fizzed across the box and, ultimately, the wrong side of the left-hand upright.
Perhaps bored by a lack of involvement, Snedker then suffered a rush of blood to the head that almost got punished by Ayoola, as he raced out of his area to meet the onrushing striker near the right-hand touchline. Instead, he counted his lucky stars after a curling lob struck the inside of the far post and the rebound swirled over the top corner off the boot of Pearce, with Parsons the provider.
One final chance for St Albans to put the icing on the cake fell to Iaciofano but his run down the right ended with the ball safely in the gloves of Roco, guarding his near post.
Worthing finally got their name on the scoresheet in added time, when Aguiar’s dead ball delivery from wide on the right was headed down by Jones and only partially cleared as far as the lurking Pattenden. The impish replacement returned the ball back into the mixer where Jones repeated his nod down, which came back to him off a City shirt/Tennent and volleyed in an impressive finish but alas, there was to be no great comeback this time and our FA cup dream was over for another year.