Brackley Town’s hopes of repeating last year’s famous FA Cup run were dashed by a 2-0 defeat away at St Albans in the third qualifying round on Saturday.
St Albans grabbed an early lead and dictated thereafter before a second goal and straight red card for right back Dwayne Samuels completed a miserable day for Jon Brady’s side.
Brady said afterwards: “We never got started. We had players who were not at the races today and that is not good enough.
“Perhaps the recent run of improved form and successive wins have raised expectations so this performance feels especially frustrating. We had a plan and if players do not stick to what we have discussed then we play into their hands.”
Steve Wales’ fourth minute goal gave St Albans the lead and the early initiative from which they never looked back. The goal came as Brackley failed to clear a free-kick, the ball falling to Wales who made no mistake from close range.
St Albans’ second goal on 75 minutes was the result of more poor defending as Sean Shields was allowed too much time and space in a dangerous position, and the on-loan striker from Dagenham and Redbridge finished well, finding the bottom corner with clinical efficiency.
There was little Billy Turley could do about either goal but his intervention after 28 minutes saved a further goal as the ball came back off the post and was bravely smothered before a St Albans boot could touch the ball home.
In between the goals, neither side established any real pattern of play as City were content to disrupt any rhythm Brackley sought to build and did so to great effect.
Big central defenders Ben Martin and Darren Locke dominated the penalty area, protecting ‘keeper Joe Welch from all but the rarest threat and at the other end the tall defenders and equally imposing James Kaloczi were a constant threat to Billy Turley from set pieces and left-back Lee Chappell’s long throws.
Brady cut a frustrating figure patrolling in front of his dug-out but was decisive in using all three substitutions early in the second half as the game was slipping away and switched to a back three with captain Ryan Austin leading the line as makeshift centre forward for the final 20 minutes.
Dwayne Samuels received his marching orders for a clumsy challenge on substitute Danny Green after 82 minutes before Tom Sharpe’s cushioned header placed the ball beyond an advancing Billy Turley who was relieved to see it pass the right side of the post for a corner.
Shaun Jeffers fired in a shot that Welch saved well and Greg Kaziboni shot over but it was all too late as Brackley crashed out of the FA Cup.
Brackley: Turley, Samuels, Carruthers, Eddie Odhiambo, Sharpe, Austin, Nelson-Addy (Pearson 62), Whittall, Rowe (Austin 70), Jeffers, Eric Odhiambo (Kaziboni 55).
Subs not used: Built, Curtis, Farrell, Brown.
St Albans City: Welch, Kyriacou, Chappell, Gorman, Martin, Locke, Kaloczi, Comley (Green 57), Frendo (Keenleyside 73), Shields, Wales (Mitchell 65).
Subs not used: Ward, Clarke, Watson, Coulton.
Referee: Robert Hyde