FA Cup glory bypassed St Albans City for another year on Saturday as Luton Town breezed through to the 1st Round Proper with a convincing 4-0 win at Kenilworth Road that included a sparkling hat-trick for Amari Morgan-Smith.

City held their own for the best part of the opening 20 minutes but once Morgan-Smith opened the scoring on 23 minutes, and Danny Crow added a second nine minutes later, the outcome was virtually assured and the remainder of the game, in all truth, did little to capture the imagination.

City manager Steve Castle had his pre-match plans thrown into disarray when he played the majority of his First team to fulfil a midweek Reserve team fixture against Crawley Green only to then witness an abject display.

Castle responded by making five changes to his starting XI from that match for the short trip to Luton and it left him a side that few would have predicted.

Included in the starting line up was new on-loan signing Harry Beautyman from Leyton Orient. The 18-year-old began wide on the right before switching to his favoured central midfield position.

Luton manager Richard Money had no such problems and made just one alteration from the team that hammered Forest Green Rovers 6-1 in midweek with Claude Gnakpa replacing Adam Drury.

Playing in front of their largest crowd for an FA Cup tie for 14 years City enjoyed a positive start in the bright Bedfordshire sunlight, although threats on goal were somewhat lacking.

Luton, riding high in third place in Conference National, posed the first threat with Paul Bastock stretching to smartly collect a Jake Howells cross while Town skipper George Pilkington headed over from a Howells free kick following a foul by one-time Hatter Adam Everitt.

St Albans suggested that Luton may not have matters all their own way when Beautyman let fly with an ambitious snap-shot from 30 yards that highly-rated home keeper Mark Tyler needed two attempts to smother. Sadly, it was to be the end of direct City efforts on the home goal for the afternoon.

Following that wake-up call Luton began to impose themselves with Bastock being called upon to deal with shots from Gnakpa and Zdenek Kroca that lacked the required power to really test the City keeper. But on 23 Luton minutes edged closer to maintaining their record of having won every home tie they have played at this stage of the competition.

Gnakpa broke clear down the Town right and sent a teasing cross towards the edge of the six-yard box that Bastock stretched to flick away but only succeeded in putting onto the foot of Morgan-Smith who calmly cushioned a shot into the Oak Road goal via the inside of Bastock’s right hand upright.

Once ahead Luton looked to kill the tie quickly and the influential Howells sent Gnakpa clear down the Town left only for a rushed shot to send the ball trickling harmlessly wide.

By now Luton were striding through their lowly visitors with ease. Ex-Hatter David Deeney battled gamely to stem the tide in midfield but with space being found all over the pitch it seemed just a matter of time before the result was put beyond all doubt.

That moment arrived on 32 minutes following a foul by Beautyman just outside the penalty area on Howells. The Luton man was quickly to his feet and before City could sort themselves out Howells clipped the free kick to Danny Crow who beat Bastock from 14 yards with a smartly taken first time left-footed shot.

Six minutes later it began to look as though City could be on the receiving end of a thrashing as Matthew Barnes-Homer’s cross from the right was headed home at the back by Morgan-Smith although the ball appeared to take a slight deflection off City right back James Fisher.

Determined to do something to slow Luton’s charge Castle took off Adam Martin, whose passing could only kindly be described as wayward, and sent on striker Jean-Michel Sigere. The Frenchman joined Inih Effiong in attack as Sean Shields was dropped to the right of the midfield, thus enabling Beautyman to move inside.

At the same time the match officials also made a change after linesman Mr Pawley picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Fourth Official Mr Wardell.

Half time really could not come soon enough for the Saints as Crow squandered two good chances, Barnes-Homer fired wide and Gnakpa forced Bastock to make a save low down.

Neither side made changes during the interval and St Albans can take heart that after the break they did not wilt but all the best chances continued to come at the end they were defending.

City were forced to defend frantically seven minutes after resumption when Gnakpa’s cross was headed into the goalmouth by Kroca where Crow’s close range effort was blocked by the combination of Deeney and Everitt.

Just after the hour Morgan-Smith turned provider but again Crow was denied his second goal as his blistering drive crashed against the underside of the bar before being cleared.

On 63 minutes Luton supporters gave a warm reception to former Saint Godfrey Poku as he replaced Barnes-Homer. At the same time St Albans bolstered their defence as Ben Martin made his entrance and Shields wandered off to the bench.

Poku wasted little time in reminding City of the player they lost when he set about playing his trademark short passing game. His contribution was in stark contrast to wastefulness seen from the Saints far too often this season.

The visitor’s goal continued to lead a charmed life as Gnakpa collected Crow’s throw and cut into the penalty area before cracking the ball against Bastock’s left hand upright.

The City defence faced a threat of a different kind when former Bedford Town striker Dan Walker came on and his speed quickly took him clear of the Saints defence bur fortunately Bastock moved swiftly to clear.

The excellent away support, a tad muted after giving raucous first half encouragement, was briefly lifted when Sigere forced his way through and shot across Tyler. Referee Stuart Burt generously awarded a corner that was dealt with comfortably by the home defence.

The attention soon switched to the opposite end with Walker going close and Poku, too, could well have found the target, when receiving a low cross from Walker, only to fire over the City goal.

A more accurate slant to proceedings was given via the score-line on 84 minutes when the Hatters notched an outstanding fourth goal.

Once again Walker broke free down the left and this time his low cross was picked up by Morgan-Smith who completed his hat-trick with a chipped effort from 25 yards that left a flying Bastock groping forlornly at thin air as the ball sailed over him and dipped under the crossbar.

City were desperate to have the consolation of goal of their own to reflect upon but their final chance of the day went begging when Deeney sent a powerful effort just over Tyler’s crossbar.

As City’s mood reflected the ever darkening skies Bastock did well to block Walker’s point-blank shot while Keith Keen’s stunning in-swinging corner was goal bound until Ben Martin made a thrilling headed clearance from right under the crossbar.

With that City had avoided a rout but the gulf between the two sides was a vast chasm and City’s day was made complete with news of Dorchester Town’s surprise victory over Conference South leaders Braintree Town; a result that nudges St Albans down to an uncomfortable 19th position.

With their decisive victory Luton had saved themselves the trouble of making plans to stage a replay that, on the advice of Hertfordshire Police and with the consent of the FA, would have been switched from Clarence Park back to Kenilworth Road.

Luton Town: M.Tyler, D.Gleeson (E.Asafu-Adjaye 55), F.Murray, K.Keane, G.Pilkington, A.Morgan-Smith, M.Barnes-Homer (G.Poku 63), Z.Kroca, J.Howells, C.Gnakpa, D.Crow (D.Walker 72), subs; T.Atieno, S.Blackett, P.Besta, K.Pilkington.

St Albans City: P.Bastock, J.Fisher, P.Smith, A.Martin (JM Sigere 38), R.Frater, A.Everitt, H.Beautyman, D.Deeney, S.Shields (B.Martin 63), I.Effiong, M.Odubajo (R.Martin 73), subs: M.Peters, S.Barker, R.Dedman, G.Kweme.

Booked: Deeney.

Goals: 1-0 23 Morgan-Smith, 2-0 32 Crow, 3-0 38 Morgan-Smith, 4-0 84 Morgan-Smith.

Referee: Stuart Burt (Northampton).

Att: 4,144 (537 away).