JOE GARDNER admits matches against St Albans will always be special to him after his FA Cup heroics – and revealed he has a soft spot for the Saints fans.

The Concord winger hit a wonder volley to knock their Vanarama South rivals out of the FA Cup in October.

Alongside a winner he scored for Redbridge against Ebbsfleet in their memorable FA Cup run in the 2011-12 campaign, Gardner says it is his favourite ever goal.

Both strikes secured a place in the competition’s first round proper, but Gardner admits he will always remember his trip to Clarence Park six months ago for what happened after the final whistle.

He said: “After the game their fans were great in the bar and said well done to us and great goal to me. And when you consider how important the game was and what was at stake, I think that says a lot about them.

“And they were funny too. I remember them saying that if we drew Hemel in the next round we had to make sure we smashed them! I guess they are big rivals.

“And St Albans fans travel well so hopefully there will be a good few of them there on Saturday.”

The Saints exacted some revenge with a 2-0 win over an out-of-sorts Beachboys side in January’s reverse league fixture and Gardner is expecting another tough day.

He said: “It will be hard, like all the games in this division, and I think there might be a few goals in it as well.

“One thing I do remember is they have a long-throw specialist. I’m not kidding – he could get it halfway down the pitch so I’m not looking forward to that again!

“But as much as I enjoyed going back there in January because of the cup memory I really did not like the result and we’ll be looking to do much better this time around.”