Worthing 1 St Albans City 3: Mackerels defeated in FA Cup replay after St Albans' first half blitz

Worthing manager Adam Hinshelwood. Picture by Stephen Goodger
Worthing manager Adam Hinshelwood. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Three first half goals from National League South side St Albans City did the damage as Worthing exited the FA Cup in tonight's second qualifying round replay.

Jalen Jones added a late consolation goal but he couldn't prevent the Mackerels from falling to a 3-1 home defeat against their league-above opponents.

Adam Hinshelwood named an unchanged side from Saturday's draw at Clarence Park and his charges exerted pressure from the off.

On six minutes a free-kick, conceded by the Saints' Scott Shulton on the half-way line, found Jones at the back-post but his header flashed over the bar.

Worthing had an even better chance two minutes later. A buccaneering run from Lloyd Dawes ended in him forcing a great save from Dean Snedker at the near post.

The hosts then struck the woodwork on ten minutes. Marvin Armstrong did well to intercept a St Albans pass before driving forward. Armstrong slotted the ball into the path of Reece Meekums but last weekend's hero saw his low shot hit the post.

It was then the visitors turn to put the Worthing back-line under the cosh. The Saints forced a succession of corners but the Mackerels resisted the pressure.

After a frantic opening to the first half the game settled. But with St Albans' first gilt-edged chance of the evening they took the lead on 27 minutes.

Nwabuokei battled well to win a free-kick 25-yards from Worthing's goal. Up stepped Noble, and his free-kick zipped over the wall and past Roco Rees to make it 1-0 Saints.

To compound the host's misery, Armstrong had to be substituted immediately after the goal due to an injury. He was replaced by Alex Parsons.

The Mackerels had a huge shout for a penalty turned down on the half-hour mark. Ricky Aguiar went down in the area but the referee was uninterested by Worthing's appeals.

The hosts were beginning to rediscover their early attacking intent. Dawes bamboozled his marker before firing off a 20-yard shot that Snedker did well to palm over the crossbar for a corner. The resulting corner, however, sailed onto the roof of Snedker's net and the danger passed.

But, after seemingly getting their tails up, the Mackerels went 2-0 down on 39 minutes. Iaciofano, who scored in Saturday's draw, leapt on a mistake from a Worthing defender and slotted the ball past Rees at the near post.

And things got even worse for the hosts two minutes later. Nwabuokei did magnificently to make space for himself in the area before arrowing his shot home to make it 3-0.

Worthing now had a mountain to climb. A minute before the break Aguiar unleashed a 40-yard howitzer of a free-kick that was mere millimetres over the bar.

As the referee blew for half-time, the Mackerels were left to rue missed opportunities and faced a monumental task in the second period.

The restart saw St Albans immediately go on the front foot. Iaciofano saw his shot blocked by a defender before Noble sent an effort over the bar.

But there was still life left in Worthing. Snedker was called upon to keep out Meekums on 53 minutes and two minutes later sub Shola Ayoola was denied after a superb tackle by Dave Diedhiou.

The Mackerels came agonisingly close to reducing the deficit on 63 minutes. A dangerous corner found a Worthing man at the back post. The hosts looked certain to score but Oli Sprague did marvellously to clear the ball off the line.

Worthing then enjoyed a good spell of pressure. On 68 minutes Parsons saw his 20-yard shot fly wide of the far post and three minutes later Ollie Pearce's first-time strike was well held by Snedker.

The Mackerels then struck the post for the second time on 73 minutes. Ayoola did well to beat the St Albans keeper to the ball outside the area. The substitute went for goal from a narrow angle but his shot rattled the crossbar. The ball fell to Pearce but his follow up went narrowly over.

The Saints were then wide of the mark three minutes later. Nwabuokei's low cross from the right found Iaciofano and the forward's first-time effort skewed past the post.

Worthing reduced the deficit in second half stoppage time. Jones hit a sweet half-volley from the edge of the box past Snedker but it was too little, too late for the Mackerels.

Worthing: Rees, Colbran, Jones, Barker, Armstrong (Parsons 28), Tennent, Dawes (Ayoola 48), Aguiar, Pearce (Pattenden 82), Meekums, Starkey. Unused: Long, Doughty, Edwards, Mendoza.

Attendance: 637