Solomon Nwabuokei scored his first goal on home soil as St Albans City maintained their perfect start to the delayed new season with a hard-fought 1-0 National League South victory over Hampton & Richmond Borough at Clarence Park last night.

Thrills and spills were in as short supply as spectators but Ian Allinson’s new-look Saints displayed the fortitude required to come through an occasionally feisty encounter that condemned the Beavers to their first defeat at the Park in 18 years.

The City boss made two changes from the side that kicked off the campaign with a five-goal salvo against Hitchin Town in the FA Cup on Saturday, as 21-year-old Joy Mukena and 38-year-old David Noble made way for James Kaloczi and Kyran Wiltshire.

Kaloczi formed a central defensive partnership with skipper Tom Bender that stood firm throughout and allowed goalkeeper Michael Johnson to have a far quieter evening than was possibly expected against a side that had finished last season in outstanding form.

Playing up the slope during the opening 45 minutes, City edged the early exchanges with Shaun Jeffers prominent against one of his former clubs.

Following a neat exchange with Luke Warner-Eley, Jeffers forced Hampton’s debut-making veteran keeper Alan Julian to stetch to his left to concede a corner. Zane Banton drove the ensuing set piece low into the penalty area where Jeffers made a good connection but Julian got down well to save with his legs.

The first flare-up between the two teams came on 21 minutes when City reacted in numbers to an ugly tackle by Ryan Hill on Mitchell Weiss that resulted in the first yellow card of the game.

The chances of the half ending anything other than goalless looked slim and when Johnson comfortably caught a long-range effort from Jake Gray a blank scoreline at the interval was confirmed.

Gary McCann’s Beavers had finished the first half in the ascendancy and they also started the second period in positive fashion but clear threats on the home goal were minimal. After a couple of Hampton efforts went harmlessly City began to test the visitors’ backline.

Julian went full-length to keep out a crisp drive from Banton and from the corner, taken by Banton, Kaloczi tried an audacious overhead kick that Julian collected in comfort.

Back came Hampton with Hill attacking down the Beavers left and when his cut-back rebounded to him the lively midfielder saw his powerful drive blocked and cleared. Moments later Niko Muir was denied by Johnson.

With 15 minutes remaining Hampton skipper Charlie Wassmer made an entry in referee Andrew Humphries’ notebook when taking out Banton with the former Luton youngster in full flight.

Wassmer paid the full price for his indiscretion as Jeffers’ well-struck free-kick went wide of the defensive wall and was only parried by Julian for the alert Nwabuokei to sweep the deciding goal into the Hatfield Road net from six yards out.

Any lingering hopes Hampton retained of salvaging a point vanished on 88 minutes when Tyrell Miller-Rodney was sent off following a reckless and dangerous lunge on Nwabuokei. He became the fourth opposition player to be dismissed in City’s last eight competitive games and the eighth recipient of a red card in the past 15 games between these two clubs.

However, there was almost a sting in the tail when, three minutes into added time, Wassmer clipped a free-kick into the penalty area that Hill headed into the path of Dean Inman but the defender’s shot went wide of Johnson’s left hand upright.

City head off to Concord Rangers on Saturday boasting a run of wins in each of their past four competitive games and without a goal conceded in any of them; a defensive record that was last achieved seven years ago.

St Albans City: M.Johnson, D.Stanley, T.Bender, K.Wiltshire (D.Diedhiou 90+2), J.Kaloczi, S.Nwabuokei, S.Jeffers (J.Chidyausiku 90+4), Z.Banton, M.Weiss, M.Sundire, L.Warner-Eley. Subs not used: D.Dada, M.Clark, J.Mukena.

Hampton & Richmond Borough: A.Julian, T.Miller-Rodney, D.Inman, C.Wassmer, K.Farrell, C.Smith (N.Minhas 83), R.Hill, S.Deadfield, J.Gray, N.Muir, R.Donaldson (D.Bassett 83). Subs not used: I.Uche, R.Steer, R. Coleman De-Graft.