St Albans City kicked off the 2014-15 season with a comfortable 4-1 Herts Charity Cup victory over Ware on Saturday and that three of the goals at Wodson Park were struck by summer additions Loick Pires and Elliot Buchanan pleased joint-Saints manager James Gray.
The City boss praised his two strikers and made allowances for some indifferent performances during the friendly matches as the duo recover from long term injuries.
With goalkeeper Joe Welch (injured), and John Frendo and Ben Martin unavailable City still went with a strong starting XI against the Isthmian League Division One North side but, in spite of the scoreline, did not have things all their own way.
Ware, particularly during the opening 20 minutes, frequently unsettled the City defence and with a better final pass and finish could have built a useful lead before St Albans found their touch.
Given the experience that was in the City back four, which had support just in front of it through Sam Corcoran as Lee Clarke was pushed into a more attacking role, the Saints will be asking questions as to how Ware were able to thread their way through middle as often as they did.
But once Steve Wales opened the scoring on 26 minutes there was little doubt as to the final outcome.
Both sides looked to get forward early on with Ryan Hervel firing wide for Ware while Pires shot across the face of the home goal.
Khale Da Costa caused concern in the Saints defence when speeding his way past John Kyriacou, only for good work by Darren Locke to deny Murat Karagul a clear shot on goal.
The goal that put City on their way to a 20th consecutive meeting against Ware without defeat was an embarrassing one for the home side to concede.
A Lee Chappell cross from the City left was headed up into the air by Ware defender Lee White. Goalkeeper Rhys Madden, under pressure from Clarke, missed his attempted punch as the ball dropped and, completely inadvertently, headed it into the path of Wales who gently clipped home his sixth goal in just 10 games for St Albans.
City could easily have gone down to ten men when Da Costa’s excellent ball through the middle of the Saints defence sent Albert Adu clear.
His shot struck the left arm of the advancing Tom Coulton, some ten yards outside the penalty area, but referee Lee Marshallsay allowed play to continue with Kieran Bishop’s goal-bound follow up being blocked by Tom Ward.
One wondered whether the match official would have been so lenient in a league game.
A minute later, the 30th, and Ware knew that this was not to be their day as Pires cut in from the right touchline and, when reaching the apex of the penalty area, unleashed a spectacular left-footed effort that sailed high to the right of the static Madden and dropped under the crossbar for the second City goal.
St Albans made certain of victory on 39 minutes when Wales chipped a cross in from the right that sailed over both Buchanan and George Florence, but Buchanan was quickest to turn and hammer the loose ball past Madden from eight yards out.
City made one change during the interval with the dependable Danny Green replacing the current Player of the Year Chappell at right back.
Five minutes after the restart Ware almost forced the ball home through Karagul and White following a corner by Hervel, but Coulton managed to smother the ball and collected a knock for his troubles.
Ware’s spirit seldom flagged and on 56 minutes a good touch by Bishop sent Michael Deane into the visitor’s penalty area.
Deane attempted to flick the ball over the diving Coulton but the keeper stretched to push it upwards. As the ball fell behind Deane the Ware player opted for an over-head kick but scuffed his shot wide.
City responded with a free flowing move across the pitch and back that ended with Pires shooting wide.
Central defender Locke retired with a back problem on the hour, his place was filled by substitute Howard Hall.
Shortly after, Clarke, following a good ball into the penalty area by Pires, stabbed the ball into the Ware net but was ruled offside, possible harshly.
Coulton’s interesting afternoon continued when the 21-year-old scrambled to get the ball from the feet of Bishop and appeared to place a hand on it just outside his penalty area.
The final 15 minutes were played under increasingly leaden skies and the temperature dropped by almost four degree Celsius before a brief storm battered the stadium.
Both goalkeeper’s were called into action to save from Abu (Ware) and Comley before Da Costa, on 81 minutes, scored a consolation goal for the host with an angled shot that deflected wide of the diving Coulton.
But City restored their three-goal advantage on 88 minutes when Kyriacou was impeded down the right flank and from Corcoran’s free kick Pires rose, unchallenged, to head home from close range.
The Saints kick off their Conference South campaign next Saturday but prior to then finish their run of summer friendlies this coming Monday, 4th August, with a visit from Stevenage. Kick off at Clarence Park is at 7.45pm.
Ware: R.Madden, K.Da Costa, G.Florence, M.Deane (A.Oudji 58), G.Madden, L.White, R.Hervel, A.Adu, K.Bishop (F.Robins 74), M.Karagul, M.Milner (S.Hadi 65), subs; C.Ledula, K.Bishop.
St Albans City: T.Coulton, J.Kyriacou, L.Chappell (D.Green 46), S.Corcoran, T.Ward, D.Locke (H.Hall 60), S.Wales, J.Comley, E.Buchanan, L.Pires, L.Clarke (M.Taylor 71), subs; D.Keenleyside, E.Bailey.
Goals: 26 0-1 Wales, 30 0-2 Pires, 39 0-3 Buchanan, 81 1-3 Da Costa, 88 1-4 Pires.
Referee: Lee Marshallsay (Borehamwood).