St Albans City may be dreaming of cup glory but the more pressing concern of retaining their National League South status suffered another blow at the Gallagher Stadium when Maidstone United chalked up a possibly fortuitous seventh successive victory with a 1-0 win on a grey Saturday afternoon in Kent.
Harry Crawford chips an effort onto the bar.
Hammered 6-0 in their most league outing City responded positively on the Stones plastic pitch and had more than twice as many shots on goal than their hosts only to slide to a single goal defeat in the first league meeting between the two clubs for 44 years.
City even struck the crossbar as they pressed for a late equaliser but fortune smiled on Jay Saundersâ€™ side as their record for not conceding a goal in the league was stretched to sixth consecutive game running back to the end of August.
St Albans made four changes from the starting XI that made progress in the FA Cup a week earlier, while Maidstone had two alterations from the side that defeated Dunstable.
Maidstone dominated the early possession with City barely getting a touch during the opening five minutes.
But after that City comfortably held their own with home keeper Lee Worgan, the Stones September Player of the Month, becoming the busier of the two keepers.
That said, Maidstone offered the first threat on goal when a Matt Bodkin free kick from the right was flicked on by Adam Birchall for Manny Parry to head narrowly wide.
Worganâ€™s first piece of the action was to collect a tame effort from the stretching Lee Chappell.
Central defender Parry was soon action again at the opposite end of the pitch when he attempted to allow the ball to run out of play only for Luke Allen to step in. The City midfielder pulled the ball back to Louie Theophanous whose firm low drive towards the near post was blocked for a corner by Worganâ€™s outstretched right leg.
These flurries of near excitement were, however, mostly buried during a half of great tedium.
Whether it was the synthetic surface, Maidstoneâ€™s lengthy spells of short passing without progress up the pitch, or just Cityâ€™s determination to stem their slide towards the foot of the table, the outcome was a match of few thrills.
Maidstone had a couple of pops on the City goal with Birchall shooting high and wide before heading well off-target following a Bodkin cross.
Five minutes from the interval Maidstone finally tested City keeper Joe Welch with an on-target shot from 25 yards by Callum Driver. Welch blocked the effort with his legs and then made a remarkable point blank save from Jay Mayâ€™s follow up.
Had May scored it would not have counted as he was, probably incorrectly, adjudged to have been offside.
The second half saw little change in the general demeanour of the game although Cityâ€™s seven shots on goal compared to the Stones one suggests that Jimmy Grayâ€™s side should not have returned home empty handed.
Worgan had to be alert to clutch onto a crisp drive Graeme Montgomery and more so to smother a clever free kick from Billy Gibson that was driven towards the near post from out on the City left.
The outcome was decided on 75 minutes with substitutes from both sides playing a pivotal role.
Saints sub Harry Crawford, who replaced Luke Allen just a minute earlier, attempted to find the excellent James Comley with a pass but sold the central defender short and allowed Birchall to intercept.
Jack Paxman then took the ball on and into the penalty area where Comley put in a tackle but was unfortunate to see the ball roll straight to Alex Fisher with the Stones no.16 beating Welch with a clinical strike across the keeper and inside his left hand upright.
Fisher had only been on the pitch four minutes with his arrival receiving one of the loudest cheers of the afternoon from the large crowd.
Fisher looked to have added his second goal of the season eight minutes later when latching onto Birchallâ€™s headed through ball but was deemed to be offside.
St Albans stepped up the tempo once behind and came so close to notching their third away goal of the season and salvaging a much needed point.
Chappell sent a long throw into the Stones penalty area from out on the City left, United defender Driver headed the ball up into the air with Worgan looking to complete the clearance with a punch.
Instead the ball fell to Crawford who, from 14 yards, chipped an elegant left-footed shot over a crowded goalmouth and against the crossbar.
As the ball dropped off the woodwork it hit City striker Sam Akinde virtually on the goalline but stayed out and was walked to safety by the cool Parry.
Cityâ€™s eighth defeat in 13 league games keeps them firmly entrenched in the bottom three of the National League South table and next Saturday, 24th October, one of the two sides still below them, Weston-super-Mare, are the visitors to Clarence Park in the 4th and final Qualifying Round of the FA Cup.
St Albans will be without the imposing figure of Ben Martin, as he sits out the second match of a three-game ban, while Ian Gayle will also be absent following the end of his loan spell.
Kick off is at 3pm and should a replay be required it will be at Westonâ€™s Winterstoke Road home the following Tuesday, 27th October.