St Albans City found their shooting boots against the kids of Dagenham & Redbridge on Tuesday as Micah Hyde’s youngsters went down 6-2 on a warm summers evening at a sparsely populated Clarence Park.
Former City and Watford midfielder Hyde is currently in change of the Daggers Under 21 and Under 18 sides who, despite playing a good passing game, were unable to match the physical superiority of the Saints who ran in all of their six goals after the interval.
After a lethargic first run out of the summer on Saturday, City appeared much sharper on home turf and that the goals were shared by five players will have pleased joint manager James Gray who, after the game, pressed the point that the club does not want to rely on the goals of just one player.
This was a reference to last season when John Frendo scored 30 times in the Southern League but the second highest scorer chipped in with just seven league goals.
City kicked off with new signings Joe Welch, John Kyriacou, Lee Clarke and Loick Pires, along with trialist Elliot Buchanan, getting their first run out on the excellent looking Clarence Park surface.
Both sides looked to get forward early on with Kyriacou forcing Daggers keeper Ben Crickmay into a save low down.
Dagenham, having already troubled City’s experienced backline on a couple of occasions, took the lead on 12 minutes when a defensive slip let Ayo Olukoga through to fire past Welch.
Alfie Moulder almost added a second for the visitors before Ben Martin cleared from inside the six yard box.
Frendo caused problems for the Daggers throughout and went close with a delightful curling effort, while Dagenham hit back with Lewis Clark striking the ball cleanly but straight at Welch.
Midway through the half Frendo latched onto a short free kick by Sam Corcoran and forced Crickmay into making a full length diving save.
Pires, with a searching crossfield ball, set Frendo up for his next effort that struck the woodwork, and when the ball was quickly returned to the ace marksman he shot into the side-netting.
Clarke, making his first appearance at the Park in a City shirt for five years, was next to be thwarted as his header from a corner was blocked and seconds later the former Under 21 Northern Ireland international player slashed a shot over the top.
As City piled on the pressure in the closing minutes of the half, Martin had a header knocked off the goalline and former Bromley striker Buchanan volleyed just wide.
The momentum gathered prior to the break was maintained after the restart with Frendo striking the crossbar.
Dagenham’s stubborn resistance was finally broken on 49 minutes as City, with six strikes in just 31 minutes, rained in goals with a frequency that even the Brazil defence would be hard pushed to match.
Crickmay did well to save a Pires header from a James Comley cross but Pires was swiftly onto the rebound to score left-footed from close in.
Six minutes later Kyriacou crossed low from the right for Buchanan to score with a scorching first time effort from the edge of the box.
On 59 minutes the former Welling duo of Pires and Clark combined with Clarke thumping a low cross into the middle of the York Road net for the third City goal.
Crickmay’s final action of the night came on 62 minutes when a powerful angled drive by Buchanan appeared to brush through the keeper’s fingers on its way into the far corner of the net.
A minute later the keeper became one of six changes made by the visitors during the half. The City bench was even busier with no fewer than ten alterations being made to the home line up.
Connor Pearce had to wait only until the 67th minute to learn what it was like to concede a goal as trialist Warren McBean received a short pass from Steve Wales and hammered the ball to the left of the static keeper.
Should he sign, this will be McBean’s second spell for the Saints having scored once in two games for City back in October 2006 and since then he has passed through the doors of around 14 clubs.
In spite of the onslaught Dagenham strived to get forward whenever possible and received some reward for their endeavour on 71 minutes when Lee Hurst scored from around 20 yards with an audacious chip over Tom Coulton with the outside of his right foot.
Dagenham may have thought that they had scored the best goal of the night with that effort, but on 80 minutes David Keenleyside, complete with his alice-band last seen during the early weeks of last season, left his mark on the game in some style.
Darting towards the left corner of the penalty area Keenleyside collected Danny Green’s excellent long pass and cut from his left to his right foot, before curling an exquisite shot beyond the outstretched fingertips of the fully extended Pearce.
St Albans City are next in action on Saturday, 19th July, when they make the short journey to visit Wingate and Finchley. Kick off at Summers Lane is at 3pm.
St Albans City: J.Welch, J.Kyriacou, L.Chappell, L.Clarke, B.Martin, D.Locke, S.Corcoran, J.Comley, J.Frendo, E.Buchanan, L.Pires, subs used: S.Wales, W.McBean, K.Bola, T.Coulton, D.Green, H.Hall, D.Keenleyside, T.Miles, M.Taylor, M.Lette Jallow.
Dagenham & Redbridge: B.Crickmay, C.Yaxley, L.Clark, J.Shepherd, D.Foxley, A.Moulder, M.Bloomfield, A.Olukoga, J.Fitchett, T.Bolton, L.Hurst, subs used; K.Heather, S.Mitchell, H.Burnett, J.Jones, C.Madison, C.Pearce.
Referee: Anthony Serrano (Hemel Hempstead).