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25.04.2013 @ 15:00 At Clarence Park Attendance : 230
St Albans City
3 - 2 a.e.t
Bishop's Stortford
Referee : Rob Smith (Letchworth) Herts Charity Cup / Final-Match

Chris Henry (5)
David Keenleyside (41)
Matt Taylor (99)
Ricky Sappleton (49)
Ricky Sappleton (57 pen.)
Starting Line-ups
Tom Coulton
Layne Eadie
Ryan Wharton
Brad Wadkins
Fabio Bufano
Simon Martin
Chris Henry
Josh Urquhart
James Kaloczi
Matt Taylor
David Keenleyside
Haydn Dodge
Barry Mattock
Johnny Herd
Steve Cawley
Adam Bailey-Dennis
Sean Francis
Callum Webb
Alli Abdullahi
Ricky Sappleton
Jesse Waller-Lassen
Harry Baker
Ken Ogbuagu
Richard Graham
Curtis Shaw
Stuart Henderson
Elliott Bailey
Matt Johnson
Danny Elmes
Billy Lobjoit
Reece Prestedge
Ben Sampayo
Ken Ogbuagu -> Chris Henry (56)
Elliott Bailey -> Simon Martin (64)
Richard Graham -> Brad Wadkins (106)
Billy Lobjoit -> Harry Baker (46)
Matt Johnson -> Callum Webb (56)
Danny Elmes -> Ricky Sappleton (82)
Yellow cards
James Kaloczi (101)
Harry Baker (19)
Ricky Sappleton (44)
Billy Lobjoit (100)
Red cards
None. None
Match report
After a gap of 15 years the Herts Charity Cup made a dramatic return to Clarence Park on Thursday as St Albans City defeated Conference North side Bishop’s Stortford 3-2 after extra time in an absorbing final.

At the end of the opening 45 minutes St Albans looked comfortably placed at two-goals to the good but Stortford, during a half of almost non-stop pressure on the home defence, pulled level within 12 minutes of the second half getting under way.

Just when it appeared that the superior strength of the visitors would deny the Saints on their own turf City hit back with the decisive blow through Matt Taylor nine minutes into the 30 minutes added time.

The quality of the football witnessed was poor with possession conceded far too often – especially by the Saints when they were looking to stem the tide of Stortford attacks – but the excitement was certainly fitting for a cup final.

Both clubs fielded sides of about two-thirds their full strength, which was perfectly reasonable considering that Stortford had played a league game two days earlier and both sides faced another match around 44 hour after this one.

Playing down the slope towards the Hatfield Road the Saints began positively and were rewarded with the opening goal on six minutes.

A long throw from the City right by Josh Urquhart was not dealt with well by Sean Francis with his two attempts at heading the ball away only sending it just beyond the back post, where Chris Henry swooped to fire left-footed past Stortford keeper Haydn Dodge.

Four minutes later Taylor sent David Keenleyside away but after weaving his way into a good position shot tamely to Dodge’s left and the keeper saved in comfort.

St Albans maintained the momentum with Keenleyside feeding Henry. When Henry’s path was blocked Simon Martin stepped in to fire goalwards, but Dodge spread himself well and the ball looped up off his outstretched leg and went narrowly wide of the goal.

Midway through the half and the Bishop’s finally made their presence felt with a fine snapshot from 20 yards by Callum Webb that went just wide before thudding into the stanchion.

Making his debut in goal for St Albans was 20-year-old Leverstock Green goalkeeper Tom Coulton.

The former Arsenal and Barnet youngster made a tremendous impression on his new club and in the 25th minute pulled off a stunning full-stretch two-handed save to push Harry Baker’s wickedly swirling shot away for a corner.

For a while the game went through a quiet patch but it bounced back into life on 41 minutes when Keenleyside increased City’s lead with a sweetly struck free kick from 25-yards that appeared to gather speed as it clipped Dodge’s fingertips on its way into the back of the net.

A minute later Keenleyside drove a low cross in front of the Stortford goal as the Saints ended the half brimming with confidence.

But Stortford, timid during the first half, were a different kettle of fish after the interval and blasted the Saints with two quick goals, and then pressed relentlessly in search of the goal that would have secured a hat-trick of Herts Charity Cup final victories.

On 49 minutes Jesse Waller-Lassen found space to thunder a blistering drive at the home goal from close on 30 yards.

As the ball veered Coulton could do no more than parry the shot and dive in vain as Ricky Sappleton blasted the rebound to his right for the first Stortford goal.

Boosted by the early goal Rod Stringer’s side hammered away tirelessly at the City goal.

A drive by Alli Abdullahi deflected goalwards off Adam Bailey-Dennis but somehow Coulton fell onto the ball and kept a tight grip on it.

The Bishop’s fight-back was given a helping hand on 57 minutes when referee Rob Smith, somewhat harshly, deemed that City defender Ryan Wharton had used his hands to block a Matt Johnson shot.

Wharton had provided a solid figure at the heart of the City defence and certainly did not deserve to be on the wrong end of such a decision, but could only look on as Sappleton sent Coulton the wrong way from 12-yards to draw the sides level at 2-2.

Although Stortford looked the side most likely to win during normal time, possibly the best chance came City’s way when substitute Ken Ogbuagu’s cross was volleyed goalwards by Keenleyside, but Dodge got a just firm enough touch to flick the shot wide.

A good chance came Stortford’s way when St Albans missed three chances to clear their lines and allowed the formidable looking Sappleton to bear down on goal and only be denied a hat-trick by another superb save from Coulton.

Other chances came and went at either end, with City squandering a couple of good openings on the break, but with no further addition to the score extra time came into play.

Fortune smiled on the Saints nine minutes into the first period of extra time when they scored a goal that was sublime in its creation and ridiculous in its execution.

The excellent Fabio Bufano played the ball down the City right to Keenleyside and with a pinpoint dipping crossfield ball the winger arrowed his cross over Francis and into the path of Taylor.

Midfielder Taylor sought to control the ball as Dodge raced from his goal-line but the falling sphere struck Taylor’s right leg and flew at speed past the stranded keeper and into the Hatfield Road.

Stortford’s best chance of saving the game evaporated when Billy Lobjoit – a former target of St Albans – whipped over a tremendous cross on the run that Bailey-Dennis seemed certain to head home from six yards only for the ball to go straight into Coulton’s midriff.

After some jaded performances in the league of late, City’s work rate here was exceptional, and despite the game being somewhat error-strewn it was nonetheless entertaining.

The cup was presented to City’s club captain James Comley and captain for the night, Simon Martin, by Lawrence Bolino. Mr Bolino is a former Vice-Chairman of the Hertfordshire FA and is now a Life Vice President of the Association.
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