St Albans City went on the rampage for the second time in five days when hammering Isthmian League side Wingate & Finchley 8-3 at Summers Lane in the searing heat of Saturday afternoon.
City, who used 17 players when notching their highest score in an away friendly for exactly eight years, were ruthless in front of goal and the management team of Graham Golds and Jimmy Gray will be delighted that six different players got on the score sheet.
On an immaculate playing surface that benefits from an in-built sprinkler system, St Albans were a threat whenever they moved forward and even when changing the frontline at half time the goals continued to flow.
However, the three goals conceded to the north London side hinted at defensive frailties for the Saints and, especially during the opening 45 minutes, City were exposed far more often than was comfortable only for Wingate to be let down by a poor final pass.
City gave goalkeeper Tom Coulton his first starting appearance of the summer and rested central defenders Ben Martin and Tom Ward.
Their places were taken by Darren Locke and James Kaloczi, although the latter moved into the midfield to make way for the former Derby County youngster Kayoda Bola at half time.
St Albans linked up well in the middle of the park although, like the backline, struggled to get the upper hand early on.
In attack City were led by Warren McBean and Loick Pires before the interval, while John Frendo joined the fray after the break.
Finchley had already caused a couple of anxious moments, which included David Knight forcing Coulton in making the first save of the day, before the Saints opened the scoring in the sixth minute.
McBean attacked down the left hand side of the home penalty area before cutting the ball back to Pires. The former Welling’s striker’s shot was blocked but the ball ran kindly for McBean to drill the rebound into the centre of the goal.
Following a spell of pressure Wingate equalised on 13 minutes when Ola Sogbanmu smartly slipped home a cross from close range.
The home side maintained the pressure with a couple of corners but when Sogbanmu upended Steve Wales 25 yards from goal on 16 minutes City were presented with an opportunity to regain the lead.
Sam Corcoran accepted the offer and with a low right-footed shot, that took a slight deflection past keeper Cain Davies, the midfielder restored the Saints advantage.
Two minutes later and Corcoran, collecting the ball from a quick throw on the City left, beat Davies with a wonderful strike high to the diving keeper’s left.
Wingate reduced the deficit to 3-2 on 28 minutes when Gavin Suddell, receiving a deep cross, knocked the ball back into the middle where Sogbanmu got between Locke and Kaloczi to stab home his second goal of the game.
The players had a welcome, though short, surprise six minutes from the interval when one of the pitch side sprinklers started spraying water across the pitch.
Howard Hall, Danny Green, McBean and Pires stood down during the interval to make way for John Kyriacou, James Comley, Bola and Frendo.
Kyriacou, signed from Chesham United, is showing himself to be an attack minded right-back who can supply a good cross.
Three minutes after the break Kyriacou, having been picked out by Comley’s fine sweeping ball the width of the pitch, supplied a perfect low cross for Wales to drive home the fourth City goal.
Signs were beginning to emerge of a rout and on 57 minutes Kyriacou crossed from the right to the back post were Lee Clarke rose above Mark Goodwin to head the ball into the six-yard for Frendo to stoop to head home.
Wales, sent through by Frendo went close to adding to the tally but on 80 minutes City did score for the sixth time when a good passing move ended with Clarke turning in a pass from Wales.
Before the minute was out Wingate’s problems increased when Wales converted from close range following a pass by Frendo.
Wingate central defender Marc Weatherstone converted possibly the best goal of the goal only for an offside decision to terminate the celebrations prematurely.
St Albans scored their eighth and final goal on 89 minutes with another well-worked effort.
Kyriacou spread the play across to Lee Chappell who in turn found Comley on the edge of the penalty area.
After stumbling and appearing to lose his chance, Comley regained his balance and sent a curling shot just inside the keeper’s left-hand upright.
With just seconds remaining the home side scored an excellent third goal when Junior Fatai crossed at pace from the right for fellow substitute Nico Muir to score with a nonchalant back-heel.
City are back in action on Tuesday (22nd July) when they visit Harrow Borough, kick off at Earlsmead is at 7.45pm. Harrow are currently managed by former Saints boss Dave Anderson.
Wingate & Finchley: C.Davies, M.Goodwin, P.Wright, O.Sogbanmu, M.Weatherstone, S.Grace, S.Shulton, T.Tejan-Sie, R.Laney, D.Knight, G.Suddell, subs used: B.Aisien, J.Fredericks, L.Fisher, N.Muir, J.Fatai, C.Emboige, R.Bouton.
St Albans City: T.Coulton (J.Welch 60), H.Hall (J.Kyriacou 46), L.Chappell, S.Corcoran, D.Locke, J.Kaloczi (M.Lette Jallow 60), D.Green (J.Comley 46), L.Clarke, W.McBean (J.Frendo 46), S.Wales, L.Pires (K.Bola 46).