The Non-League Football Paper - - FA CUP SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING - By Jake El­la­cott

ROB­BIE NIGHTIN­GALE hailed his bat­tling Cam­bridge City side as they came from be­hind twice to snatch a re­play against higher league St Al­bans City in a six­goal thriller.

The Evo-Stik South East side found them­selves two goals down early on against the Na­tional League South Saints, but man­aged to draw level in the sec­ond-half.

Nightin­gale’s side then fell be­hind again be­fore Ross Pater­son headed an 82-minute equaliser.

“It was our best per­for­mance of the sea­son, the boys de­serve im­mense credit for com­ing from two-nil down against a club joint top of the Na­tional League South,” Nightin­gale said.

The high-fly­ing Saints took the lead in the 13th minute. Shaun Lu­cien de­liv­ered in a dan­ger­ous cross that Jor­dan Gent at­tempted to clear. The Cam­bridge de­fender failed to get it away and it bounced into the path of Rhys Mur­rell-Wil­liamson who struck a pow­er­ful half-vol­ley that left Niall Con­roy stranded.

That lead was dou­bled just five min­utes later when Percy Kiangebeni played an ex­cel­lent through ball into the path of Sam Mer­son. The St Al­bans front-man pow­ered through and lobbed the ball over Con­roy.

Solomon Sam­bou al­most made it three when he found him­self one-on-one, but Con­roy blocked the mid­fielder’s ef­fort.

Cam­bridge slowly came into the game and the pres­sure even­tu­ally told on the stroke of half-time.

A long ball for­ward was headed down by Gent into the path of Ryan Shar­man and the Cam­bridge man made no mis­take pok­ing the ball past Dean Sned­ker.

Their con­fi­dence con­tin­ued to grow af­ter the in­ter­val and they equalised in the 66th minute with an ex­cel­lent fin­ish from Lewis Wilson. The for­ward re­ceived the ball on the edge of the area and turned bril­liantly be­fore hit­ting a su­perb ef­fort into the top-cor­ner that left Sned­ker with no chance.

The home side re­sponded well and were back in the lead less than ten min­utes later. Sub­sti­tute Zane Ban­ton de­liv­ered a per­fectcross from the left that Mer­son met with his head and planted into the bot­tom cor­ner.

St Al­bans, how­ever, again failed to hold onto the lead. Ross Pater­son tow­ered above the home de­fence to head Knowles’ 82nd minute cor­ner over the line and send the game to a re­play.

“We switched off, we got sloppy and full credit to Cam­bridge City, who made the most of us be­ing poor af­ter the first twenty min­utes,” Saints boss Ian Allinson said. “I’m just happy we’re still in the draw.”

PIC­TURE: Rob Walk­ley

PAT ON THE BACK: Ross Pater­son wheels away af­ter his late header pulls Cam­bridge City level

PLAY IT AGAIN SAM: St Al­bans’ Sam Mer­son heads in for 3-2

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