Penalty shootout drama as Hitchin Town edge past St Albans City in the Herts Charity Cup

PUBLISHED: 21:45 01 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:33 02 August 2017

St Albans City's Zane Banton. Picture: BOB WALKLEY

St Albans City's Zane Banton. Picture: BOB WALKLEY

Robert Walkley

Goalkeeper Michael Johnson scored the winning penalty as Hitchin Town went through to the semi-final of the Herts Charity Cup beating St Albans City.

Hitchin won both encounters with the Saints last season and one the season before that.

And when Danny Green put them two-up after 13 minutes it looked as if the good run would continue.

But Zane Banton pulled one back shortly after and Rhys Murrell-Williamson levelled with almost 10 minutes to go.

That meant the game went to penalties and Banton was the first to miss.

Connor Vincent’s miss gave City a chance but Murrell-Williamson’s miss left Johnson with the chance of being the hero, one he duly took.

Penalties seemed a long way off when Hitchin went ahead early.

The first half was barely three minutes old when Green flicked in a peach of a cross from Liam Brooks that gave James Russell in the City goal no chance.

The Saints stopper had no such luxury with the second 10 minutes later, as he fumbled another delicious cross straight into the path of Green.

But if City fans thought the match was slipping away they were mistaken.

Banton pulled City back into it with a shot placed in off the post.

That goal came courtesy of good work from Ben Herd among others, who was playing as a wing back in a new system for City.

On the whole it worked with both him and Layne Eadie getting forward well.

Both teams probed away for the rest of the half with some nice passing but not enough chances.

In fact the major talking point for the rest of the half was the tackling with Jack Saville perhaps lucky not to receive at least a booking for two fouls.

Certainly the Hitchin faithful felt that was the case.

Substitutes occupied the most part of the first 15 minutes after half-time but there was just the one real chance, Russell denying Green a hat-trick.

But it was the St Albans’ replacements that did the damage.

City abandoned the wing-back system with the introduction of Shaun Lucien on the hour and he went close twice within minutes.

First a wicked dipping shot was pushed away by Michael Johnson and the Hitchin stopper had to beat out a free-kick that took a deflection off the wall.

But it was the final Saints substitute who brought parity.

A cross from Lucien made its way to the edge of the box where Murrell-Williamson curled it beyond Johnson.

The game was wide open by this point and Hitchin were still looking dangerous on the break.

Russell was forced in to a good block when an unmarked Connor Vincent swung a boot at the ball inside the box and then a wicked cross was deflected behind from in front of goal for a corner.

Lucien hit the side netting at the other end as the game went to the drama of a penalty shootout.

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