St Albans CityAshford’s FA Cup adventure came to an abrupt end after Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division club St Albans City won this afternoon’s Second Qualifying Round tie, leaving with an emphatic 6-2 victory.

The margin of defeat might have been a little harsh on the Ash Trees, but there were no complaints a week ago when Ashford hit five in similar circumstances at Walton Casuals, so we can only learn from the experience and congratulate our visitors.  There can be no doubt that the Saints were worthy winners and we wish them well in the next round.

The first half of this game was a hectic, open and end to end game and it was a combination of ruthless finishing and ill-fortune that sent Ashford in for half-time 4-1 down.  The tone was set when Saints’ midfielder Sean Shields fired across Paul McCarthy.

The Ash Trees responded immediately, Dan Brown winning the ball and finding Alex Duffy, whose cross was volleyed home off the far post.

Ashford were marginally the better side and might have taken the lead in the 21st minute when a Kofi Lockhart-Adams header was brilliantly saved by Nick Jupp.  From the rebound, a shot appeared to strike the hand of a defender who was shielding his face.  No penalty was awarded, and just two minutes later, Shields scored his second of the game, curling his shot through a crowd of players.

Six minutes later, Shields completed his hat-trick to make the score 3-1, walloping a shot past the unsighted McCarthy.  Ashford conceded a penalty in the 35th minute, when Russell Canderton shielded his face from a shot. Despite the precedent set at the other end, referee James pointed to the spot and Micah Hyde sent McCarthy the wrong way.

With the Tangerines desperate for a good start to the second half, the reverse happened, McCarthy making two good saves but his defence not helping him to clear the ball, leaving Simon Martin with a tap-in.

Ashford never stopped trying and generated a couple of half chances, but it was St Albans substitute Chris Henry who next found the net, with a spectacular long-range strike.  The final goal of the afternoon was scored by Kofi Lockhart-Adams who, along with Dan Brown, was on hand to turn in a fine cross from substitute Samad Kazi.

The full report is online.