St Albans City stunned the Conference South championship favourites at Clarence Park on Bank Holiday Monday and courtesy of the brilliance of striker Lee Clarke sent their former manager Garry Hill packing with his tail well and truly tucked between his legs.
In equalling the club record of scoring in all of the Saints opening five league matches Clarke took his goal tally from the past ten league games to a round dozen with his second strike against Weymouth surely being the best he will ever score.
Following the weekend draw at Basingstoke, City welcomed back Simon Martin in place of the injured Paul Hakim and his partnership with Clarke looks capable of unsettling any defence in this league. Whilst in defence the muscular duo of Djoumin Sangare and Patrick Ada appears most formidable.
Despite losing their opening two away games this season Weymouth arrived at the Park full of swagger but after 45 minutes during which they were fortunate to go in just a single goal down their self-confidence seemed misplaced. An early chance for the Terras did go begging as Chucki Eribenne just failed to meet Wayne Purser’s ball across the face of the City goal while Tom Davis, set up by Clarke saw his soft shot blocked by keeper Jason Matthews with Davis’s follow up header being hacked off the goalline.
A fine effort from 25 yards by Martin went just wide of the target before a lull in the action was broken when linesman Chris Turner signalled to referee Tim Howes that Terras defender Trevor Challis had impeded Clarke. The Saints leading marksman ignored the lengthy delay to send Matthews the wrong way to open the scoring from the penalty spot.
Once ahead City oozed confidence and almost scored a second with a fine half volley from Martin after good work by Clarke and Mark Graham. City should have added a second when Martin led a swift City attack and played the ball inside to Clarke who shot was blocked so he calmly laid the rebound into the path of Davis whose rising effort was well taken by Matthews.
For the opening 25 minutes of the second period Weymouth at last looked capable of going someway to justifying the large sums invested in turning the club into a full time professional outfit, but behind a resolute defence they found Paul Bastock determined to underline his reputation as one of the finest custodians outside the Football League.
Four minutes after the break Weymouth looked to have equalised when an Andrew Harris free kick caused mayhem in the City defence and paved the way for Eribenne to drill the ball home only for linesman Turner’s raised flag to curtail the celebrations and cause no small amount of fury amongst visiting officials.
Weymouth laid siege to the Saints goal but their finishing was indifferent; Daniel Webb fired wide when clear while Ritchie Hanlon glanced wide a free header and the unmarked Matthew Bound sent a tame header through to the City keeper. Bastock saved at full stretch by the foot of his right hand post from Eribenne and late in the day made a fine stop low to his left after Eribenne teed up Purser.
But by then City were coasting at three goals to the good. The second, on 76 minutes, will be without equal this season as Clarke stretched to win the ball just inside the Terras half and then made light of a Bradley Thomas challenge. Clarke advanced and still at least 25 yards from goal sent a glorious, drifting angled left-footed lob over the bemused Matthews and just inside the keepers left hand post.
The celebrations were still in full flow when Martin cushioned a header for Matt Hann, just four minutes after replacing Davis, to power home the third goal from close in on 80 minutes.
The rout of Weymouth was concluded in injury time when Scott Cousins sent in a corner from the City right that Djoumin Sangare met with a blistering angled diving header that flew through a crowded penalty area and into the York Road goal.
Match report by Dave Tavener. Kindly supplied by The St Albans Observer.