An outstanding performance by 36-year-old Wealdstone striker Jefferson Louis extended St Albans City’s winless run to a sixth game as the Stones rolled over the Saints with a 3-1 Conference South victory at Clarence Park on Saturday.
From chances created St Albans certainly did enough to avoid defeat but a weakness in front of goal, coupled with an inspired performance by visiting keeper Luke Chambers, enabled the Stones to secure their first league success at the Park since ten years before the birth of Louis, 1969.
Of the 22 players that lined up for the kick off on a blustery afternoon, there were no fewer than 13 changes from when City won the first meeting 3-0 at Grosvenor Vale last September.
St Albans had another fresh face on the bench in the form of Jake Nicholson, who is unattached after being released by AFC Wimbledon.
When introduced to the game early in the second half the one-time Tottenham and West Ham midfielder showed a willingness to shoot from distance but, like several of his team mates, found Chambers in fine form between the uprights.
St Albans could hardly have made a worse start and were picking the ball out of their own net inside two minutes.
Former Stones defender Darren Locke headed the ball out for the first corner of the game, as many spectators were still seeking a favoured viewing point.
Scott Davies sent the set piece into the home goalmouth where Michael Corcoran glanced the ball on.
Louis darted wide to collect the loose ball, brushed aside Michael Malcolm with ease and then, from 18 yards, drove a wonderful angled drive high to the left of the despairing Joe Welch.
St Albans responded positively with Howard Hall setting off on a run through the Stones defence before laying a short pass off to Jamal Lowe, whose well placed shot high to Chambers left was superbly tipped over by Wealdstone’s second choice keeper.
Louis went close to extending the Stones lead when his volley, after a long throw by Davies had been headed on, was blocked unwittingly close to the goal by a colleague.
The game struggled to live up to its bright opening with too many passes going astray and too much reliance of the long ball leading to spells of head tennis, with neither side seemingly keen to get the sphere back down on the ground.
Midway through the half City struck a purple patch and looked to have pulled level on 25 minutes.
Locke headed on a Lee Chappell free kick and James Kaloczi, getting around the back the Wealdstone defence, prodded the ball home.
But any hope of celebrating his first goal in almost six months was dashed by linesman Paul Lister’s raised flag.
A minute later Sam Corcoran and Chappell combined well down the City left and played the ball inside to Lowe, whose measured right-footed strike along the ground beat Chambers but rolled just wide of the target.
A swift City counter-attack saw Corcoran and John Frendo work the ball forward and across the pitch to Lowe, who cut inside and struck a shot against the stanchion from just inside the box.
Struggling to find a way through at one end of the pitch City were looking far from secure at the opposite end.
A corner by Davies was helped on to Jonathan Wright whose first time shot was partially cleared by Locke.
Davies, coming in from the touchline, got the better of Corcoran to win the loose ball and went for goal with a low shot that Welch took the sting out of with Malcolm completing the clearance close to the line.
Going in at half time a goal down was a touch tough on the Saints but the likelihood of an equaliser soon after the restart remained remote, as Chambers went full length to his left to keep out a good effort from Corcoran after a thrilling run by Lowe.
On 54 minutes Wealdstone cemented their position when scoring an excellent second goal.
Nathan Mavila almost lost possession before cushioning a pass into the path of the over-lapping Ryan Watts.
The former City defender clipped an enticing high cross to beyond the back post where Wright headed the ball into the home goalmouth.
Ex-Stones player Locke headed his attempted clearance upwards but only as far as Louis, who teed the ball up with his right foot before, most acrobatically, thumping a powerful half volley into the roof of the Hatfield Road net off Welch’s fingertips.
But just five minutes later and St Albans were back in the game.
Kaloczi broke up a Stones attack and found Lowe in the Wealdstone half. The ball was quickly moved on to Chappell who, after having a cross charged down, laid a pass short to Nicholson.
After moving inside the debutant went for goal and claimed an assist as his shot struck the outstretched right leg of Frendo and beat a surprised Chambers just inside his near post.
Boosted by Frendo’s ninth league goal of the season, and third against Wealdstone, City pushed forward with greater vigour but where almost caught out when Stones substitute Matthew Ball flashed a shot across the face of the home goal.
Chambers continued to frustrate St Albans when pulling off another spectacular save from a Nicholson free kick.
Although the play was becoming increasingly scrappy the odds of City pulling level looked to be improving until there was a delay of almost five minutes after referee Andy Laver went down with a severe bout of cramp.
City were not at their best after the unfortunate stoppage and Louis gave warning of what was to come when storming past Hall only to have his run terminated by the covering Chappell.
Four minutes from time though and Louis was more successful in an identical raid down the Stones right flank.
Receiving a pass from Wright just inside his own half, Louis did well to fend off Omar Beckles before racing clear of a player 14 years his junior.
Once inside the penalty area Louis cut a perfect ball back to the edge of the box where Davies, with great precision, swept home the third and victory clinching Stones goal.
City were handed nine minutes of added time in which to salvage something from the game but a shot well wide by Nicholson, a header onto the roof of the net by substitute Jack Green and a scooped effort over the bar by Corcoran was the closest they came to troubling Gordon Bartlett’s side.
City’s 16th defeat of the season – only two sides have lost games – sees them slide down to 15th in the table but they head to Concord Rangers next Saturday, 7 March, looking to complete their first double of the season.
Kick off at Thames Road on Canvey Island is at 3pm.
St Albans City: J.Welch, H.Hall, L.Chappell, J.Kaloczi, D.Locke (J.Green 81), O.Beckles, C.Gorman (J.Nicholson 53), S.Corcoran, J.Frendo, M.Malcolm (D.Keenleyside 64), J.Lowe, unused subs; S.Wales, A.Yearwood.
Booked: Kaloczi (5), Gorman (49), Locke (63).
Wealdstone: L.Chambers, C.Martin, R.Watts, W.Parker, T.Hamblin, M.Corcoran, J.Wright, L.O’Nien, J.Louis (S.McGleish 90), S.Davies (S.Cronin 90), N.Mavila (M.Ball 57), unused subs; S.Lucien, J.Hammond.
Booked: Corcoran (65).
Goals: 2 0-1 Louis, 54 0-2 Louis, 59 1-2 Frendo, 86 1-3 Davies.
Referee: Andy Laver (Portsmouth).