St Albans dump Forest Green out of the Emirates FA Cup first round in latest upset

Sunday 07 Nov 2021
St Albans beat a Football League side in the proper rounds of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time in their history

St Albans City sprung an Emirates FA Cup upset to spectacularly knock out Forest Green Rovers and book their place in the second round to headline Sunday’s action.

St Albans had never beaten a Football League side in the proper rounds of the competition before brilliantly snatching a 3-2 victory over their League Two opponents.

Forest Green are actually top of the fourth-tier table but were matched throughout an enthralling cup tie by the National League South side.

Rovers took the lead when Matty Stevens prodded home at the near post on 18 minutes but the tables were turned in a three-minute spell thanks to a Mitchell Weiss glancing header and Zane Banton’s arrowed finish.

Forest Green did equalise just before the break when Jack Aitchison found the far corner, however Shaun Jeffers was the 78th-minute hero when he tapped into an empty net following Weiss’s pass. 

"This is amazing, it's what dreams are made of,” said Jeffers. “They're top of the league and flying but we knew we'd have a chance.

"We're unbeaten now in 15 games and on a good run. So, we always felt confident. I dare to dream, because we had to to get through this game. We'll enjoy the draw and see who we get."

Elsewhere on Sunday, Stockport, Notts County and Bristol Rovers all earned Emirates FA Cup first round proper replays against higher-level opposition.

National League Stockport travelled to Bolton – two divisions above them – and made sure their name is in the hat for Monday’s second round draw after an entertaining contest ended 2-2.

All four goals came in a breathless final 22 minutes of the first half, as Scott Quigley pounced on a poor backpass to give County a surprise lead before Eoin Doyle tapped in at the far post and Elias Kachunga fired home through Ethan Ross’s legs to turn things round.

But Stockport didn’t lie down and Ben Whitfield side-footed home from Paddy Madden’s precise pass in first-half injury-time to level things up once and for all.

Another National League side, Notts County, are also in the hat after drawing 1-1 with EFL opposition in the form of League Two Rochdale.

Corey O’Keefe rifled Dale ahead just before half-time but Kyle Wootton sent the Magpies soaring with a near-post header on the hour mark to keep County in the competition.

Meanwhile, League Two Bristol Rovers struck late to snatch a 2-2 draw with Oxford United, from the division – Antony Evans stroking in an 87th-minute penalty after Sam Finley’s half-volley for the Pirates had earlier sandwiched goals from Oxford pair Matty Taylor and Marcus McGuane.

And in Sunday’s other action, seventh-tier Stratford Town took a shock early lead before League One Shrewsbury hit back to triumph 5-1, while Sheffield Wednesday and Plymouth Argyle played out a goalless draw.


Meanwhile on Saturday, Diego De Girolamo lifted Northern Premier League side Buxton into the second round of the Emirates FA Cup with a 1-0 upset over York City at the LNER Community Stadium. 

The 26-year-old, who had three loan spells with the Minstermen while at Sheffield United, curled in an effort from the edge of the area to break the deadlock five minutes from time.  

De Girolamo’s left-footed decider spelled the end for their tier six opponents, who were saved further embarrassment thanks to a stellar performance by goalkeeper Peter Jameson. 

The home man-of-the-match was tested throughout a contest which saw York outshot 20-13 by a side from the division below, blocking attempts by Jamie Ward and Chris Dawson. 

Emirates FA Cup
  • First round proper
  • Saturday 6 November

Six minutes of stoppage time weren’t enough for the Minstermen to find an equaliser, Sam Fielding coming close with a last-gasp header batted away by Buxton keeper Theo Richardson.  

It was a doubly historic day for the Bucks, who ended a 58-year first round proper drought with their victory over Kettering Town last month.

The victory capped a perfect first day in the manager’s chair for new boss Steve Cunningham, who was able to celebrate with the 1100 supporters who travelled up for the win.

Elsewhere, National League North side Kidderminster Harriers shocked fifth-tier Grimsby Town.

Ashley Hemmings scored the only goal in a match that was up for grabs until the final whistle.

Kidderminster could have opened the scoring on six minutes, Hemmings sending a cross to Amari Morgan-Smith, but his nodded effort was saved by keeper Max Crocombe. 

Both sides had chances throughout the first half, Will Bapaga coming closest at the near post, but no-one could find the finishing touch before the break.

Grimsby’s best opportunity came through Luke Waterfall whose strike from the spot on 62 minutes missed by mere inches. 

Waterfall was then punished for his challenge on Ethan Freemantle, handing the Harriers an opportunity to pull ahead.

Hemmings took full advantage, sending Crocombe the wrong way to seal the win. 

“If you’d seen the faces at the end of the game of the people who have come to support us today,” said assistant manager Jimmy O’Connor, “We made their week.”

And in another cupset, Rhys Oates ensured Mansfield Town’s name will be in the hat for Monday’s round two draw, sending a strike past Sunderland keeper Nathan Bishop just five minutes into their clash at the Stadium of Light. 

League One Sunderland nearly drew level in the first minute of second-half stoppage time but Dan Neil, who earned his first call-up to the England U20 squad this week, could only cringe as his half-volley hit the woodwork.

“It was a brilliant team performance from all of the lads,” said Mansfield defender John-Joe O’Toole. 

“Everyone gave it their all.  We probably would’ve preferred to have had more of the ball. Sometimes you come to places like this [against higher league opposition] and you have to withstand a bit of pressure.”

Meanwhile, two of the Stags’ League Two rivals also found success against opponents higher up the pyramid.

James Wilson’s hat-trick helped Port Vale sail past League One side Accrington Stanley 5-1, with Lewis Cass and George Lloyd also getting on the scoresheet for the Valiants, while Ethan Hamilton was the lone goal-scorer for Stanley, who saw Colby Bishop issued a red card on 70 minutes. 

And Swindon Town punched their ticket to the second round with a decisive 3-0 victory over Crewe Alexandra, Louis Reed scoring either side of half-time and Tyreece Simpson adding another.

Elsewhere, Doncaster defeated Scunthorpe 1-0, AFC Wimbledon moved on with a 1-0 victory over Guiseley, Lincoln City picked up triumphed 1-0 over Bowers and Pitsea, Walsall edged a close 1-0 contest with King’s Lynn Town, and Burton beat Fleetwood 2-0.

And there were draws aplenty, including Ipswich Town v Oldham Athletic and Bradford City v Exeter City, who both drew 1-1, while Hartlepool and Wycombe and MK Dons v Stevenage ended 2-2, with replays needed to separate those sides.

Elsewhere, League Two Barrow ended Banbury United's run in Saturday's late kick-off with a 4-1 win, while fellow tier seven sides Harrow Borough, Yate Town, Horsham and Hayes & Yeading were all defeated by opponents further up the pyramid. 

By FA Staff