First half goals by Sam Corcoran and John Frendo brought the smiles back to Clarence Park on Saturday as a 2-0 Conference South win over in-form Weston-super-Mare ended St Albans City’s longest winless run for four years.
City’s first success in two months also secured a first league double of the season and clinched the 50th league win of Graham Golds and Jimmy Gray’s managerial career.
The victory was achieved with the Saints most composed team performance for some weeks and that it came against a side that had won five of its previous six games will do wonders for City’s confidence over the remaining six games of the season.
Weston, given recent results, were a big disappointment and were particularly found wanting in front of goal, an area where they have enjoyed great success in recent weeks.
Simon Thomas, formerly captain of Chesham United, became the 44th player to wear the City’s colours this season and provided to the strong physical presence that John Frendo has looked to play alongside all season.
Strong in the air, Thomas gave the Seagulls problems throughout and supplied the touch from which Frendo scored his tenth league goal of the season.
On a sunny though windy and cold afternoon, both sides were quickly onto the attack with Frendo, although on the ground, going close with a clever snap shot.
Weston hit back to counter-attack quickly following an error by James Comley.
The England C international gifted the ball to Dayle Grubb and from his cross Jamie Lucas, at the back post, scooped a bouncing ball high into a terrace that, at the time, housed just seven people.
The early chances continued to come with a Lee Chappell free kick, following a foul on Frendo, being met at the back post by Darren Locke with the City defender having two point blank attempts on goal blocked.
From the ensuing corner City worked a short routine that ended with Jamal Lowe floating a cross into the penalty area that the tireless James Kaloczi headed through to visiting keeper Luke Purnell.
City opened the scoring on 11 minutes with Comley being involved several times before finally beating left-back Jake Llewellyn and crossing low into the six-yard box where one-game City defender Clayton Fortune unwittingly knocked it back to the City midfielder.
This time Comley stroked the ball into the path of the excellent Corcoran, who beat Purnell with a superbly placed right-footed shot that drifted to the right and away from the keeper before coming to rest in the York Road net.
Weston were quick to respond with a Grubb free kick finding its way, after a couple of ricochets, to Fortune and the defender cut an angled shot back across the face of the home goal.
The Seagulls looked to have pulled level on 20 minutes when Grubb curled a free kick from 20 yards over a four-man wall and jut inside Joe Welch’s right hand post. But with remarkable agility Welch leapt and stretched to palm the ball to safety.
One of the most thrilling moments of play was provided by Grubb when he ran wide of Kaloczi and darted along the goal-line, but just as he looked to slip the ball into the goalmouth Kaloczi came back with a perfectly timed intervention to tap the ball out for a corner.
That tackle grew in significance on 32 minutes when St Albans moved into a two-goal lead.
Weston struggled against Chappell’s long throws for much of the afternoon and when Thomas headed on one such throw at the near post, an unmarked Frendo was on hand at the back post to prod the ball in with his right foot.
The goals may not have flowed quite so freely for Frendo this season as in the past, but it was still his 40th goal in just 70 league games.
Just to confirm that he has not lost his touch Frendo then brought down a long free kick by Omar Beckles before shooting low at Purnell.
The Chappell-Thomas-Frendo combination almost worked again from a throw-in, only this time Thomas’s flick fell just behind his fellow striker.
Soon after the sides changed ends Lowe copied Grubb’s run of the first half when he tormented Jordan Tilson before flying past the central defender, only to see Thomas just fail to make contact with the cross at the near post.
For a while the two sides cancelled each other out, something that St Albans will be happy with as both the defence and midfield performed with a solidity not seen in recent games.
Threats on goal became more frequent in the closing stages. City set the stage with possibly their best passing move of the match eventually setting up Thomas for a shot from 25 yards that bounced narrowly wide.
Weston’s best chance to get back into the game came when Bradley Ash clipped an excellent ball over the home defence from the half-way line.
Lucas latched onto the pass and touched the ball wide of the out-rushing Welch only to then miscue his shot and allow the City keeper time to recover and save.
Lucas arrived at the Park having hit the back of the net five times in his previous two games and he looked set to continue that run when stroking home a low cross from substitute George King, but was deemed to be offside.
Frendo’s thirst to add to his impressive tally was highlighted when Thomas helped on a long free kick by Welch and the Saints top goalscorer took just one touch before unleashing a snapshot that sailed only fractionally away from the target.
The visitors made a couple of late surges towards the City goal and had penalty appeals rejected when Oliver Watkins was sent tumbling by Locke, just a split second after laying the ball off to Ash who had two efforts charged down in quick succession.