Lee Chappell was the toast of Clarence Park on Saturday as the St Albans City captain scored the goal that clinched a 2-1 victory over Weston-super-Mare and carried the Saints through to the 1st Round Proper of the FA Cup and potential glory.
Graeme Montgomery celebrates after scoring the first goal
Chappellâ€™s second FA Cup goal for the City could not have come at a more crucial time as Weston, having drawn level after trailing at the interval, looked on course to haul the two sides back to Somerset for a midweek replay.
Instead, City can bank another Â£12,500 to add to the Â£12,000 already collected from the FA prize fund this season and hope for a money-spinning 1st Round tie in Mondayâ€™s draw.
St Albans made two changes from the side defeated at Maidstone the previous weekend. Right-back Ben Nunn, on loan from Boreham Wood, replaced John Kyriacou, while Kevin Krans returned to the side in place of midfielder Luke Allen.
Nunn, who turns 26 one day after this match, was one of four players in Saturdayâ€™s squad who ended last season with Boreham Wood.
Weston, one of just two sides still below St Albans in the National League South table, started brightly and determined to secure a third successive away win.
For a side struggling desperately for league points Ryan Northmoreâ€™s boys played the ball with surprising assurance, and when Bradley Ash and Jake Mawford linked together down the left the latter crossed low to Ben Withey who cracked a powerful effort just over the home goal.
Ash caused a couple of anxious moments in the home defence when semi blocking clearances by City keeper Joe Welch but once City settled keeper then Seagulls keeper Luke Purnell was given numerous opportunities to demonstrate his undoubted class.
James Comley was voted as the match sponsors Man of the Match, but City boss Jimmy Gray felt that the award should have gone to Krans. And it was Krans who set up Cityâ€™s first chances on the Weston goal.
The first clear opening came the way of Gus Sow but the former Crystal Palace youngster scooped his shot wide while unmarked leading marksman Louie Theophanous was thwarted by the sprawling Purnell.
From early on the handling and punching of both goalkeepers was of a high standard and Purnell produced an outstanding tip over high to his right to keep out a rising effort from 25-yards by Billy Gibson, who was enjoying his best performance in a City shirt to date.
Gray was frustrated that City were not at least two goals to the good at the interval as Graeme Montgomery shot straight at Purnell and Krans had an effort deflected over for a corner.
But following a spell on the back foot Weston hit back with a spell of attacking that saw Welch get good distance on two punches when under pressure and then stretch high to push over the crossbar a firm effort from the lively Joe McClennan.
Just four minutes later, on the stroke of half time, City closed in on their fourth win in four cup ties this season with the opening goal.
Welch darted from his penalty area to tap a short pass to Nunn who had slotted in well on his debut.
The full-back hit a long ball to just inside the Weston penalty area. Central defender Clayton Fortune appeared to overrun the ball and allowed the alert Theophanous to nip in and cross low towards the back post where Montgomery slid in to hammer the ball into the Hatfield Road net with his outstretched left leg.
The goal could, however, prove costly for St Albans as one lunatic in the crowd threw two flares â€“ one blue, one yellow â€“ onto the pitch as part of a misguided celebration. The miscreant was later ejected from the ground.
Weston began the second half much as they had the first by applying pressure and going close to pulling level through Jamie Edge.
City eased the pressure with Krans forcing Purnell into a save but from the keeperâ€™s clearance Weston again caused the Saints problems with Welch diving to his right to keep out another effort from McClennan.
Eleven minutes after the restart the Seagulls swooped to draw level and threaten to plunge Cityâ€™s season into complete disarray.
Mawford, a constant thorn in Cityâ€™s side but surprisingly substituted later in the half, threaded a pass through the middle of the home defence.
As Darren Locke raced back Welch came from his goal. The duo slid towards the ball at the same time to keep out Ash, but Lockeâ€™s touch only succeeded in giving the ball straight to Withey who calmly stroked it into the open net.
It was a piece of bad fortune for Locke who received a couple of verbal lashings from Gray during the game but responded with several excellent interventions.
Once level Weston played with confidence and the outcome began to look bleak for St Albans, but, whereas City remained a threat going forward, Weston gave Welch few moments of genuine concern.
One excellent move by St Albans saw the ball worked straight down the middle of the pitch by Comley, Sow and Krans to Theophanous whose shot from a tight angle was palmed over Purnell.
On 77 minutes Gray withdrew wide men Gibson and Montgomery with striker Harry Crawford and midfielder Allen being a chance to rekindle Cityâ€™s bid for cup glory.
But it was an earlier substitute, Sam Corcoran, back after a nine-week lay-off through injury, who played a part in the build up to the winning goal just a minute later.
Corcoran played a deflected pass to Krans who, in turn, pushed it wide to the overlapping Nunn. Checking back, Nunn laid the ball inside to Krans who, from around 25 yards, clipped a cross towards the near post that Fortune failed to clear and allowed Chappell to steal in at the back post and score with his right foot from close range.
With time running away from them Weston desperately needed a second goal but a long range effort by McClennan, comfortably gathered by Welch, was the closest they came to saving the tie.
City, on the other hand, did go close to adding a third goal.
As rain began to fall on the Victorian park Crawford slid in to block an attempted clearance by Pat Keary, following Krans lofted through ball, with a ricochet off the strikers leg bouncing just wide of the target.
Purnell kept Weston in the hunt with a good low save from Theophanous and an even better stop from Crawford, again teed up by Corcoran and aided by a collision between Seagulls defenders Keary and Edge.
Two minutes later referee Daniel Cook sounded the final whistle and City were through to the competition proper.
It is the first time in almost 90 years that St Albans have progressed from the qualifying rounds to the First Round Proper twice in three years.