Saturday 19th December 2020 | 15:00
Address: , St Albans , AL1 4PL
Just when it looked as though Sutton’s failure to take any one of several good chances was going to force this FA Trophy tie to be decided on penalties, two goals inside the last five minutes gave U’s a well deserved victory in a game they had largely dominated against a side unbeaten at the top of National League South. Harry Beautyman, who could have ended with a hat trick, finally found a way through in the 87th minute and Isaac Olaofe, whose introduction with half an hour to go gave the home defence a problem they never really countered, added the second as the game was going in to stoppage time.
With Tobi Sho-Silva injured, Callum Kealy started up front, supported by David Ajiboye, Beautyman and the returning Will Randall, and inside the first five minutes Beautyman created a shooting chance for himself on the edge of the penalty area but was denied by a fine save from home goalkeeper Michael Johnson. That set the pattern for much of the first half, with Ben Goodliffe’s downward header going across goal and wide of the far post, and Beautyman meeting a Randall cross with a glancing header which was straight at Johnson.
St Albans had a brief spell midway through the first half when they carried an attacking threat up the hill, Zane Banton twice finding space on the left, firstly sending in a cross which eluded Shaun Jeffers, Ben Wyatt doing well to put the brakes on and avoid diverting the ball in to his own net, and then clipping the outside of the post from a narrow angle.
The half finished as it had started, though, with Beautyman volleying just wide from twenty yards and a snap volley from Ajiboye also just too high, and at the start of the second half U’s remained on top but Beautyman, who had missed the best chance of an equaliser in the recent defeat by Chesterfield, continued to have little joy or luck in front of goal as he headed wide from Ajiboye’s chipped cross and then flung himself at a fine ball in from Jon Barden only to see his header crash back off the post.
There was more threat in the second half from the home side, Mitchell Weiss always lively on the right, but Dean Bouzanis was still relatively untroubled as shots from Banton and Munashe Sundire were well off target and Jeffers had a shot deflected over the top, while in both halves when the home side had the chance to put U’s under pressure from set pieces, the choices and delivery were poor.
With penalties looming Sutton, and Beautyman, finally made the breakthrough they deserved when Olaofe, who had already dashed half the length of the pitch once and been denied by a well timed tackle from Joy Mukena, again used his pace on the left to get in behind the defence and cut in before rolling the ball to Beautyman, whose fortunes changed as his low shot from the edge of the penalty area found the back of the net despite Johnson getting a hand to the ball.
The goal gave Saints three minutes plus an extra four to find an equaliser, but instead, as the game went in to stoppage time, Beautyman turned provider as he won the ball in midfield and sent a pass over the top for Olaofe, who shrugged off Clarke’s challenge, skipped past Johnson and rolled the ball in to the net to put things beyond doubt.
St Albans: M Johnson, K Wiltshire, L Warner-Eley(sub C Onokwai 89), J Mukena, J Kaloczi, M Clark, M Weiss(sub R Akinola 80), S Nwabuokei, S Jeffers, M Sundire, Z Banton. Subs n/u D Stanley, D Diedhiou, D Noble, D Dara, R Matrevics. Booked: Kaloczi.