St Albans City have received several heavy defeats over the past five years during their slide down the non-league pyramid but seldom have they been so completely overwhelmed and outclassed as they were during Saturday’s 6-0 drubbing at the St James Park home of newly crowned Southern League champions Brackley Town.

Three weeks ago City were looking forward to next season with confidence but after three, at best lacklustre, but in reality shocking, performances the character of the side has been thrown into question.

Such problems are not something facing Town boss Jon Brady as the Northampton village side of barely 13,000 look forward to life in the Football Conference.

With the championship already secured Brackley could so easily have taken life easy on Saturday but instead played with great determination and a will to win that never seemed to cross the minds of their visitors.

So timid was St Albans’ performance that one supporter, standing close to the City dug out, waved a white handkerchief in mock surrender as the goals began to mount up against David Howell’s side.

Brackley made their intentions known from the early minutes and it was soon evident that City, particularly during the opening half when facing a strong and surprisingly cold wind, would have their work cut out.

Inside two minutes Brackley gave a taster of what was to come when an Owen Story free kick from close on 30 yards flew and spun off the turf at a ludicrous angle in front of City keeper Nick Jupp before deflecting via him for a corner.

St Albans never did get to grips to Story and while Town striker Elliot Sandy was a three-goal hero it was the manner in which Story tormented City that made for gripping viewing.

As the pressure was maintained, Cedric Ngakam deflected narrowly wide a shot from Glenn Walker and following a Story cross from the Brackley right City captain James Gray headed towards his own goal.

Jupp excelled to tip the ball onto the crossbar and pull off a stunning point blank save as Walker looked to fire home the rebound.

City enjoyed a brief respite when a low effort from David Ijaha forced Billy Turley to concede a corner but Brackley, playing some delightful, well-constructed, passing, possession football went close again with Gray blocking a fierce shot by Story.

The visitors would have needed probably something even greater than divine intervention to hold out much longer and on 21 minutes Brackley’s celebrations stepped up a gear with the opening goal.

Story swung an angled free kick in from the Brackley left and Brett Solkhon beat Gray to the ball 12 yards out to send a glancing header to the left of Jupp and into the net off the inside of the keeper’s left hand upright.

Nine minutes later Brackley doubled their advantage with a sweetly struck left-footed effort from around 15 yards by Sandy, again to Jupp’s left, after Gray had blocked Gary Mulligan’s path to goal.

Looking to end the half on a high City went on an attack through the middle of the pitch but they were in trouble once Ryan’s Watts attempted pass to Sean Shields was intercepted by Walker.

The ball was quickly played up to Sandy who, from the middle of his own half, powered his way unchallenged over the halfway line.

As Ngakam moved across to challenge Sandy pulled back his left leg and unleashed a magnificent curling effort from fully 30 yards that flew wide of the fully extended Jupp before crashing into the back of the net. It was most certainly a goal worthy of champions.

There was just sufficient time before the half ended for City to go close with an effort from Sakho Bakare.

With the wind behind them in the second half there was a hope that St Albans might make a better fist of things after the break. Sadly the response was pitiful and the goals continued to pile up.

Nine minutes after the restart Story was blocked as he let fly from just outside the penalty area.

The ball went out to the right to substitute Steve Diggin, his first cross was charged down but his second picked out the unmarked Marvin Robinson at the back post and with great generosity he squared the ball for Sandy to roll a simple shot past Jupp to complete his hat-trick with his 19th goal of the season.

With the crowd, at 535 it was Brackley’s second highest of the season, baying for more goals a fifth duly arrived on 62 minutes courtesy of a piece of quick thinking and slack defending.

Town won a free kick out on their right and while City dithered about what to do Story whipped the ball into the goalmouth and Robinson, without a defender within three yards of him, placed a perfect header to the right of the exposed and static Jupp.

City handed a touch of Southern League experience to Youth team players Joe Zazzera and Matt Taylor midway through the half and for a while the Saints rallied with Shields testing Turley with a ground shot and Bakare sending a looping header onto the roof of the net.

But Brackley were not done yet and eight minutes from time Diggin did well to hold Gray off just outside the penalty area, which is no mean feat, before sending an exquisite curling right-footed shot wide of Jupp for the sixth goal.

After the final whistle sounded Brackley celebrated on the pitch with the magnificent Southern League shield and City slid away to face a prolonged ‘chat’ with manager Howell.

Brackley Town: B.Turley, J.Clifton, C.McDonald (T.Winters 75), C.Palmer, J.Green, M.Robinson, O.Story, B.Solkhon, G.Mulligan (S.Diggin 37), E.Sandy, G.Walker, subs; J.Magunda, E.Myles, T.Kemp.

St Albans City: N.Jupp, M.Cutchey (J.Zazzera 67), N.Bernard, D.Ijaha, J.Gray, C.Ngakam, Se Shields, R.Watts (A.Lansiquot 78), S.Bakare, C.Henry (M.Taylor 67), H.Newton, subs; M.Diarra, P.Furlong.

Goals: 21 1-0 Solkhon, 30 2-0 Sandy, 44 3-0 Sandy, 54 4-0 Sandy, 62 5-0 Robinson, 83 6-0 Diggin.

Referee: Michael Bingham (Whitnash).

Att: 535.