The FA Cup adventure for Cambridge City is over for another year after the Lilywhites lost 2-0 to St Albans in their 2nd qualifying round replay.
Despite exiting the competition, City hold their heads high after giving their opponents from two leagues higher a massive scare and if chances had been converted for the home side the outcome may just have been different.
The replay had everything from an electrifying opening to a tropical rain storm plus a floodlight failure which at one stage had fans considering that this tie could have a third chapter.
City went into the game with the same starting line-up that recorded a 3-3 draw at Clarence Park on Saturday and the home side almost found the net in the opening minute when Tom Knowles broke free only to see his shot saved by Dean Snedker.
The home side continued to take the game to the visitors and Ben Herd had to make a last ditch challenge to prevent Knowles from firing another effort in on goal.
Shortly after, and City won their first corner of the game which saw Lewis Wilson have an effort hacked off the line by Solomon Sambou.
The pace of the game by now was intense and whenever St Albans came forward it was Shaun Lucien who was proving to be the outlet with his trickery and pace causing problems out on the wing. So it was no surprise when he delivered an inch perfect cross for Charlie Walker, but his effort was well saved by Niall Conroy in the City goal.
It was Lucien again who created the next chance as he won a corner for the visitors. The same player took it, and Harold Joseph put his effort over the bar when well placed.
Although St Albans were causing the City defence problems each time they came forward, it was City who should have opened the scoring with the next opportunity. Lewis Wilson broke and found himself one on one with Snedker and the former City goalkeeper denied him with a fine save.
The deadlock was broken with the next St Albans opening. This time it was Kieran Monlouis who broke free and his cross picked out Zane Banton who planted a header past Conroy.
Like Saturday, City were undeterred when they found themselves on the back foot, and were unlucky not see a chance go in as a corner resulted in a massive goalmouth scramble before it was eventually cleared.
However, the visitors made them pay for the missed chances with their second of the game. It was Lucien the provider from a free kick and Walker rose above the City defence to power a header past Conroy.
The second half got underway to a backdrop of heavy rain which at times looked like something from the tropics. With both sides battling the conditions, the opening exchanges lacked the intensity of what we had seen in the first half, but City were still trying to get back into the match.
The tie then took another twist as the floodlights went out with around 25 minutes of the contest still to go. After a brief delay, the lights thankfully returned and it was St Albans who went on the attack again and won a corner which City cleared.
City manager Robbie Nightingale then replaced Ryan Sharman with Ollie Snaith. However, it was right back Ben Robinson who maybe should have got City back into the contest when he met a cross only to see his header hit the bar.
With the clock ticking down, City were desperate to get one back and set up a grandstand finish and when Knowles broke and cut inside, his effort went over the bar.
It was the visitors who had what turned out to be the final opportunity of the game when substitute Rhys Murrell-Williamson waltzed into the box and a curling effort hit the bar with Conroy rooted to his line.
With the FA Cup over, City can look back on four excellent performances against good opposition which will surely give them confidence for the months ahead as they now concentrate on the league in their bid to bounce back to the top flight of the Southern League.
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FROM ROBBIE NIGHTINGALE:
Obviously I am disappointed that we have gone out. But we can take massive credit at how we performed both on Saturday and in the replay. Lets not forget where they are in their league, so it has been a big effort from my team in both games.
When you play a team like St Albans you cannot afford to miss chances. We have had good openings before they scored which on another day would have seen us score. But it wasnt to be, but I am delighted at how we stuck to our task, played with high energy for the duration of both games against what is a very, very, good side.
All of our cup ties have been against decent opposition and we have given a great account on each occasion, and thats all we can ask. The club has made a bit of money out of it too, so its been a good cup campaign for us.