Hayes and Yeading United's FA Youth Cup campaign ended at the first hurdle as despite having their moments, they were beaten by worthy winners St Albans City.
It was a frenetic start. Javier Mato put a perfectly weighted ball on a sixpence for Lucas Sinclair to control but his low shot was smothered by the on rushing home keeper, Liam Gauthier. Just a few minutes later, Mo Otuyo and James Taylor collided whilst both trying to deal with a long ball and Jake Anthony would have opened the scoring but for Callum Keane retreating to the six yard box to collect his goalbound shot.
The lively Ethan Grant got into the game, troubling the home defence with his pace, and his was the next chance, cutting in from the left to hit a low drilled shot which Gauthier saved low to his right. Play then quickly switched to the other end as United were robbed on the right whilst trying to advance and the ball was centred to Oran Swales whose shot was tipped wide by Otuyo. On the quarter hour mark, the Saints took the lead. A swift move forward ended with Anthony receiving the ball in the right hand channel and his firm rising shot beat Otuyo and flew into the top of the net.
United responded with Mato blasting just over from 25 yards, but the home side maintained control, Swales getting to the byline before sending the ball across goal only for Otuyo to get enough on the ball to deflect it wide.
United began to turn the momentum their way again in the five minutes before the break but aside from a couple of blocked shots, there was no real threat on the home side's goal. However, just 58 seconds after the interval, there was an incisive move which culminated in the equaliser as Grant crossed deep for Harrison Livingstone to control, turn his marker and finish left footed inside the far post.
The United striker went close to completely overturning the game when from further out, a similar shot whistled just wide. However, after another scare where Otuyo was stranded, but this time bailed out by Callum Keane clearing a shot off the line, somewhat against the run of play, St Albans scored again to go in front, as the resulting corner was scrambled in by George Devine virtually on the goal line.
With twelve minutes left on the clock and United pressing for an equaliser, another swift breakaway led to the third goal in slightly controversial circumstances as Emmanuel Katundu was dispossessed and Devine received the loose ball seemingly in an offside position, but was allowed to slot the ball behind the onrushing Otuyo and into the empty net behind him.
Substitute Deji Alabi almost scored for United but his shot from the edge of the area rose over the bar, but as they pushed forward, United were caught on the break and Swales cut in from the left to finish with a low shot. United still had time to get a second as Dan Edwards headed in a Sinclair corner at the near post. James Taylor's stoppage time free kick just cleared the bar and Katundu volleyed just wide from 30 yards, but in the end, St Albans were to run out worthy winners by four goals to two.
Report by Nick Bell.
United Man of the Match: Nathan Mushidi.