Forty-three years after last playing Wealdstone in a league game, it was a case of déjà vu for St Albans City on Saturday as they followed up their 3-0 1971 victory at Lower Mead with a replica score at the Stones current Grosvenor Vale home to move into the top six of Conference South.
City, as joint-manager James Gray admitted after the game, seldom got above second gear but won in some comfort as Wealdstone remain in search of their first home win and stay rooted to the foot of the table.
St Albans named an unchanged starting XI from the side that defeated Maidenhead United the previous week, while the Stones made one change from the side that won at Whitehawk in midweek with former Saint Ryan Watts coming into the back four in place of Jack Mills.
The visitors started positively on a grey afternoon and deservedly picked up the three points but, generally, it was a low-key 90 minutes.
In the openings minutes Sean Shields, John Frendo and James Comley all made attempts on the Wealdstone goal with varying degrees of accuracy.
Wealdstone tested City with a couple of free kicks and corners floated into the penalty area by Watts and Luke Pigden, but the Saints dominance in the air ruled out any threat to Joe Welch’s goal.
St Albans went close to grabbing a soft lead when former Wealdstone favourite Lee Chappell clipped a free kick into the penalty area and Steve Wales deft flick sent the ball just wide of Jonathan North’s goal.
Just after the half hour a good move down the Stones led to Jonny Wright crossing to the near post where the ball broke off Tom Ward to Luke O’Nien whose point-blank effort was superbly blocked by the diving Welch.
Wealdstone had a let off when a half cleared City corner saw Charlie Gorman drill the ball through a crowded penalty area only to be blocked close to goal by team-mate Comley.
St Albans took the lead on 42 minutes with a goal that will cause Stones captain Sean Cronin a sleepless night or two.
Welch caught a Pigden free kick and threw the ball out to the right to John Kyriacou who in turn exchanged passes with Shields before knocking it long down the flank.
Cronin misjudged the bounce of the ball and allowed Frendo to seize possession behind him before the ball could roll out for a goal kick.
The City striker then cut along the goal-line and from the tightest of angles slid his shot under North and into the net.
In the few remaining minutes before the interval Ward flicked a Chappell throw-in across the face of the home goal while a clever scooped effort from 25 yards by Stones striker McGleish forced Welch to stretch high to his left to save with Cronin just unable to turn the loose ball goalwards.
St Albans began the second half as they did the first, on the attack, with Frendo, following a through ball by Comley, bringing North into action inside the first minute, while a fine headed clearance by Hammond denied Shields a clear sight of goal following a cross by Wales.
One of Wealdstone’s best moves of the game saw O’Nien and Wright work the ball through to Tom Hickey but Welch moved swiftly to save at the striker’s feet.
The Stones spirit continued to rise as Wright came in from the right and shot just over the City goal.
But, following that effort, genuine attempts on goal faded and neither side really appeared likely to make any addition to the score, although O’Nien came within a hairsbreadth of scoring from a free kick just outside the penalty area.
Any hope Wealdstone held of saving the game surely vanished on 74 minutes when Lee Clarke scored his first goal for City in 27 games stretching back to September 2008.
Comley picked up a loose ball that had deflected off Tom Hamblin and laid it inside to Wales.
A quick return pass led to Comley drilling in a powerful angled drive that North could only parry into the path of Clarke who shot left-footed into the net despite a valiant attempt by Hammond to keep it out.
Clarke, brought on to replace Shields, has spent most of the past six years in midfield but was sent on to play alongside Frendo, and revelled in being given an attacking position from which he scored 92 times during his first spell with the club.
On 82 minutes former Northern Ireland U21 international Clarke caused more problems for the home side when Charlie Gorman’s low pass sent him into the penalty area where he won a spot kick following a shove by Hammond.
After missing his previous penalty, Frendo admitted that he has put in extra practice since that blip and duly sent North the wrong way to celebrate his 49th league game with his 34th league goal for the Saints.
The clearly ebullient Clarke, set up again by Comley, ought to have made it four but slid his cushioned shot just wide of the goal. It mattered not as the victory had already been secured.