Bishop's Stortford couldn't have had a better start in their televised FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round tie against St Albans City last night, Darren Foxley charging down an attempted clearance from Saints keeper Matrevics in only the third minute and seeing the ball rebound into the net- and it got better still for the Blues, who were two up less than quarter of an hour later, a fabulous diagonal ball from Sam Robbins finding Aaron Greene, who ran clear and finished expertly. The visitors had chances to at least reduce the deficit, but couldn't take them and the hosts held on for a two-nil half time lead.
The match certainly wasn't over, as the Saints came from two-nil down to win in their last match, against Ebbsfleet United, so would have been confident that another comeback was possible- but the next chance again came to the home side, Frankie Merrifield finding space on the edge of the box but firing over seven minutes after the restart. Blues keeper Jack Giddens then saved well from Jeffers as the visitors began to press, but despite that pressure there had been few clear cut chances for City as we entered the last twenty minutes.
The next two opportunities came at the other end. A clever move from the Blues saw two subs combine, as Davidson slid a pass through for Baker to shoot from a narrow angle, and immediately afterwards Merrifield came close but just couldn't manage to convert a near-post cross. We entered the last ten minutes, and in truth the hosts hadn't really been threatened. Surely that couldn't last?
Again, however, Stortford were the side threatening, as Davidson saw his shot saved by the keepers legs with five minutes to go. Sam Robbins was named man of the match, but he still had work to do as four added minutes was signalled. They came and went- again with most of the action at the wrong end for the visitors- and the final whistle signalled celebration for Blues supporters, as their side reached the First Round for the first time since 2013.
The Blues will head to Northamptonshire to face Brackley Town, currently in sixteenth place in National League North, in the First Round on November 7th.
Image from Stadium Photography.