Former St Albans City trialist Taylor Miles hammered home a two-goal reminder of what the Saints missed out on as Concord Rangers strolled to a comfortable 3-1 Conference South victory at Thames Road.
St Albans seldom got to grips with the one-time West Ham youngster who provided the main spark of enterprise during an otherwise mundane encounter on a welcome sunny afternoon along the Thames estuary.
Miles inspired the Beach Boys to a tenth game without defeat – eight of which are Conference South fixtures – while the Saints slumped to a seventh successive match without victory.
City’s last win and Concord’s most recent defeat came when the sides met at Clarence Park in mid-January. The transformation in fortunes since that game has been remarkable.
St Albans made two changes from the defeat to Wealdstone a week earlier, with James Comley, back from illness, and Jake Nicholson, in for his starting debut, coming in for the injured Charlie Gorman and dropped Michael Malcolm.
Rangers brought in Miles for just his third appearance for the club as cover for the suspended England C midfielder Alex Woodyard.
Concord gave early warning of their intentions when a low cross from the right was only just too long for Lewis Taaffe to turn in.
The Essex clubs largest crowd of the season had to wait just eight minutes for the opening goal when City defender Omar Beckles, possibly harshly, was adjudged to have impended Taaffe wide on Concord left.
Standing ten yards in from the touchline, Miles spotted that Joe Welch had moved away from his near post in anticipation of a cross.
The 19-year-old took the opportunity to curl a perfectly placed right-footed shot over the one-man wall, John Frendo, and low inside the near upright as Welch tried unsuccessfully to cover his lost ground.
Although there can be no escaping from the fact that this was a desperately poor City performance, they did go on to have, slightly, the better of the remainder of the half with home custodian Josh Vickers being the busier of the two keepers.
Vickers first serious sight of the ball came when Nicholson, following a cross by Howard Hall, headed straight at him.
As is St Albans style of late, their biggest threat came from the long throw of Lee Chappell as the City captain made his 100th appearance for the club.
From one such throw Concord struggled to clear their lines and Darren Locke headed the ball inside to Jamal Lowe.
With a crisp well controlled half volley Lowe looked to have scored from 20 yards but Vickers, almost unsighted, made a superb one-handed save diving low to his right.
Lowe also did well when sent away down the right by Nicholson and then cutting the ball back to Nicholson who shot tamely through to Vickers.
Concord ended the half with a couple of good passing moves, from the second of which Welch had to tip away for a corner a rising shot by James White. It was the Beach Boys first effort on goal since taking an early lead.
From the resulting corner Concord skipper Steve King had a header gathered easily by Welch.
City were soon in trouble after the restart and only excellent block tackles by Beckles and Locke denied Cawley and Taaffe During that frantic goalmouth scramble Concord midfielder Joe Gardner – whose goal knocked City out of the FA Cup back in October – suffered a nasty and most bloody injury to his mouth.
The match moved out of City’s reach on 52 minutes through a combination of bad luck and bad play.
The ill fortune went against Comley with Concord being awarded a throw-in after Gardner appeared to get the final touch before the ball crossed the touch-line.
And the bad play followed the throw, taken by Jeremy Walker, when Locke put an attempted clearance straight to Sam Collins who moved forward before drilling a left-footed shot just inside Welch’s left-hand upright from 25 yards.
City sought to freshen things up with a double substitution that saw Sam Corcoran and the seconds-earlier booked Frendo replaced by Malcolm and Jack Green. Young Green was one of few City players to emerge from the island with his reputation still intact.
As with the second goal, loose play by the Saints also had a significant hand in the third Concord strike on 59 minutes.
St Albans were breaking from deep when Malcolm conceded possession meekly and the Beach Boys broke at speed down their right through King, Miles and Taaffe, who fed Walker.
Locke partially cleared Walker’s cross but the ball went straight to Miles who hammered a right-footed shot across Welch and into the net from eight yards.
Although the outcome had been as good as settled, City rallied in the latter stages and came close to embarrassing their hosts on a few occasions.
Danny Green had an effort kicked off the goal-line following a Chappell corner, while a ball across the box by Lowe was cut back by Malcolm to the inrushing Jack Green whose first time shot was beaten out superbly by Vickers.
Referee Carl Brook offered City the chance of a 90th minute consolation goal when Walker was penalised for handball, after a free kick from inside his own half by Howard Hall, helped on by Beckles, bounced up and struck the right-back on the left arm.
Lowe swept the resulting spot kick to Vickers right to claim his first goal since returning to the club in January.
Concord, though, almost restored their three-goal advantage when Tony Stokes held off Beckles only to shoot straight at Welch, and fellow substitute Harry Elmes also went close from outside the penalty area.
City’s defeat sends them down to 16th in the table but still ten points clear of Farnborough in the final relegation position, the Hampshire side have two games in hand on the Saints.
The match was part of a Community Day for Concord Rangers with supporters being admitted for free, although all spectators were invited to make a donation to the Beach Boys chosen charity.