St Albans City’s U18 Midweek Youth successfully negotiated a potentially tricky match against Romford FC to win by 4 -2 in the preliminary round of the FA Youth Cup.
Playing their first match of the season at Clarence Park, the young Saints fielded a strong side which featured nine players from last year’s successful team in the starting line-up plus debuts for Danny McCarthy in central midfield and Abo Eisa wide on the right wing. From the kick-off City’s youngsters flew out of the starting blocks and immediately took the advantage in just the first minute when McCarthy’s corner was headed back by Ken Ogbuagu for Elliot Bailey to finish on the near post. The visitors were still in state of shock when Eisa’s pace and trickery on the right took him inside the box, only to be upended by the fullback. Full of confidence Eisa picked himself up and dusted himself off to coolly stroke home the penalty for a two nil lead with just 5 minutes on the clock Romford were reeling at this point but could thank their keeper Scott Parker who twice denied Bailey with a tip on to the bar and a point blank save before Matt Taylor added to the goals. Receiving the ball on the edge of the box his low shot snuck inside the far post, 3-0 with 13 minutes gone.
With St Albans so much in dominance it seemed to be a case of how many goals they would score, but a combination of overconfidence and some ill-discipline as players tried to do too much on their own let Romford get back into the match. This culminated in a penalty for the visitors after 31 minutes as fullback Myles Scott caught the heels of Lewis Brown. The twice taken penalty beat keeper Bell to his right, 3-1. Romford looked to claw back the deficit but it was the home team who regrouped and added pressure to retake the advantage in the second half and it was Ogbuagu’s remarkable run, starting from inside his own half and ending with a one on one with the keeper, which led to the fourth home goal. Although his low shot was blocked by a spread-eagled Parker it rebounded to Bailey, who made no mistake from outside the box. With the match seemingly safe City could make 3 substitutions and although chances to add to the home tally went begging, it was the visitors who had the final with a consolation goal in injury time.
Overall a competent start to the season for the youth’s management team of Graham Golds and James Gray, who can take confidence from an exceptional first 20 minutes’ play from the youngsters. City now have 3 away matches on the bounce including a Premier league opener against Aylesbury next week and then Cheshunt, who beat Barking on penalties, in the next round of the Youth Cup on Wednesday 19 September.
City: Bell; Scott (Shanley 76), Kaloczi, Wroe, Henderson (Humphrey 68); Carr (McNamara 60), McCarthy, Taylor; Eisa, Bailey, Ogbuagu.
Subs not used: Shaw, Archibong.
Goals- City: Bailey (1, 57), Eisa (5 pen), Taylor (13). Romford: (31, 90+1).