07:29PM, Saturday 07 January 2017
St Albans City 2, Maidenhead United 2
Maidenhead United's lead at the top of the National League South was cut to eight points after a late fight back from the Saints cancelled out Sam Barratt's double for the Magpies.
After a month on loan at Staines Town Barratt returned with a bang, rifling home left-footed in the 19th minute before heading home Ryan Upward's cross to put the Magpies 2-0 up five minutes after the break.
After missing a several of chances to kill off their hosts they allowed the Saints back into the game when Tom Bender headed home from a corner with 20 minutes to play and Sam Merson fired home an 89th minute equaliser to rescue a point for St Albans.
The hosts, who came into the game off the back of three successive defeats, began the brighter with Tom Bender's dangerous crosses from the left creating an early chance for new signing Charlie Walker, but his weak effort at the back post was easily gathered in by Carl Pentney. Theophanous also had an early sighter for the Saints but his left footed effort from the edge of the box flew well over.
Since their return to the National League South in 2014 St Albans have held something of a hex over United, drawing two and winning three of the matches between the sides including both of the fixtures played at Clarence Park.
United were depleted in numbers, with James Comley having suffered a broken hand in training on Thursday and Harry Pritchard only fit enough to start from the bench as he continues to recover from a back injury. Remy Clerima also missed the trip with Ryan Peters slotting in for him at right back.
The Saints were also bolstered by three new signings with manager Ian Allinson handing debuts to Charlie Walker, Jack Saville, who arrived in the week from Aldershot Town and Tom Gardiner, who linked up with the squad from Dartford.
The Magpies took a while to find their feet but Barratt was given a range finder when the ball reached him on the edge of the box and he whipped a shot just over in the 18th minute.
Within a minute United were ahead when a hopeful ball into the box was headed on by Marks for Barratt to turn and bury the ball past James Russell. An emphatic finish.
The ever alert Pentney turned a rising drive from Bender around the post for a corner and gathered in when Lee Chappell's free kick from the right took a little deflection on its way toward goal on the half hour.
Maidenhead's bench felt aggrieved when Marks appeared to be pulled back in the box by Ben Martin but nothing was given and Dean Inman headed harmlessly off target from a Tarpey cross as United warmed to their task before half-time. The best was yet to come however as Barratt curled a delicious effort millimetres over the bar in first half injury time. Most inside Clarence Park thought it was in. James Mulley also stabbed a shot wide from the edge of the area as the Magpies finished the half in the ascendancy.
The visitors made the perfect start to the second half when Barratt rose well between St Albans defenders to head home Upward's cross. The well timed leap and header gave Russell no chance - think Dele Alli's first for Spurs against Chelsea in midweek.
Allinson threw on former Norwich City man Jamie Cureton and Shaun Lucien - scorer of the Saints equaliser when the sides met at York Road in September. But United continued to carve out the better chances, walking through St Albans back line almost at will. Marks put the ball into the net from a wayward Barratt shot but had strayed offside and was then denied by the sprawling Russell when clean through.
However, momentum swung back to the reinvigorated Saints when Bender headed home from a corner with 20 minutes to play - having moments earlier sent a low shot whistling past the post.
United might have finished off the Saints with 12 minutes to play when Kieron Forbes surging run through the heart of hosts defence ended with substitute James Hammond slamming a presentable opening over the bar.
The Saints threw the kitchen sink at United in the closing stages and,although United defended manfully, the breakthrough came in the 89th minute when Merson collected a deflected shot from Theophanous and slammed a low shot into the bottom corner of Pentney's net to an eruption of noise around Clarence Park. Martin guided a header wide of the posts as the Saints pressed for a winner in five minutes of injury-time but the Magpies managed to emerge with a point.
After an impressive performance for 70 minutes this felt like two points dropped and to make matters worse Ebbsfleet's 4-2 win at Wealdstone cut the Magpies lead at the top to eight points.
Maidenhead United: Pentney, Peters, Steer, Upward, Massey (C), Inman, Tarpey (Cox 76'), Barratt (Hammond 73'), Marks, Mulley (Smith 90'), Forbes. Subs not used: Pritchard, Kelly.
St Ives Town 2, Slough Town 0
It was a bad day at the office as Slough Town lost for the second week in a row, going down 2-0 at St Ives Town.
The Rebels generally struggled throughout and fell behind in the first half when Ogbonna got on the end of a long ball and lifted it over Mark Scott in the visitor's goal.
Charlie Moone glanced James Dobson's cross wide of the post in the 65th minute but their chances of rescuing a result were ended when Higgs fired home an 82nd minute penalty.
Slough drop a place to fourth after suffering their sixth defeat of the campaign.
Marlow 1, Egham Town 2
Marlow's play-off hopes suffered a blow as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Egham Town.
All the goals came in the first half as Moore and Berry put the visitors 2-0 up before Chris Ovenden netted from the spot in the fourth minute of first half injury-time, but that's as good as it got for the Blues.
Flackwell Heath 4, Burnham 0
A solid home win over bottom of the table Burnham saw Flackwell Heath maintain their recent fine form.
The Heathens had to wait until the 27th minute to take the lead through Dan Molloy's header and he drove home from sub Danny Burnell's through ball to double their lead eight minutes after the interval.
Burnell then rounded the keeper and slotted home on the hour mark before Liam Tack's free-kick flew into the net in the 65th minute to complete the scoring.
Headington Amateurs 0, Holyport 1
Lady luck finally shone on Holyport as they ground out a 1-0 win at Headington Amateurs.
Nathan Shamayriro got the only goal of the game with 15 minutes to play after coming on as a substitute.
Coach Dan Wake said afterwards: "I thought the game was generally evenly matched, but our lads really wanted it, all over the pitch. It's the best I've seen our centre backs play."
Wycombe Wanderers 2, Stourbridge 1
Wycombe Wanderers are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup after edging past non-league Stourbridge at Adams Park.
Adebayo Akinfenwa headed the Chairboys into the next round after Dan Scarr had levelled things up for the visitors with a poked finish.
Sammy Wood broke the deadlock for Gareth Ainsworth's with a close range finish minutes after the interval.
Manchester United 4, Reading 0
Wayne Rooney drew level with Sir Bobby Charlon's record of 249 goals for Manchester United as they won 4-0 to knock Reading out of the FA Cup.
Jaap Stam's first competitive return to Old Trafford since leaving as a player in 2001 was overshadowed as Rooney diverted in Juan Mata's cross to put the home side ahead in the seventh minute.
A further goal followed for Martial in the first half before Marcus Rashford netted twice in the final 20 minutes to put the seal on an emphatic victory for the reigning champions.
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