Looking to extend their lengthy undefeated run through to the end of the season on Saturday St Albans City could hardly have concocted a more abject performance as Chippenham Town cemented their own Southern League Premier Division survival for another year with an easy 4-1 victory at Clarence Park.
The Wiltshire side not only ensured that a good Clarence Park attendance of 457 went home deflated but also had the satisfaction of being the only side to complete a league double over David Howellâ€™s side, and with an aggregate of 8-1 the margin could have been more emphatic.
Whether the City players had their minds on the post match awards ceremonies, or their end of season night of the town, or even if four changes to the aside contributed to the shambolic display is unknown, but what is certain is that it was out of kilter with the way St Albans have played during the second half of the season.
Howell was without the injured trio of Simon Martin (groin), Micah Hyde (trapped nerve) and Sean Shields (ill) and the City boss also chose to leave leading goal scorer on the sidelines.
City brought in right-back Anton Blackwood for his debut. The former Arsenal and Tottenham youngster signed for City in January, after making one appearance for Aveley, and became the Saints tenth international player when he played for Antigua and Barbuda against Trinidad & Tobago in February.
In fact, the whole of the Cityâ€™s right side had an international flavour as Guyanese winger Howard Newton, eight caps, also played on the right wing.
Danny McGonigle was recalled to the centre of the midfield, Paul Furlong led the attack and Narada Bernard filled in at left back.
Since beating the Saints 4-0 at Hardenhuish Park back in November Chippenham have suffered a dire run of form â€“ 11 games without a win - partly due to injury and partly due to losing some players to Salisbury City.
If the Bluebirds were feeling sorry for themselves then it must be said that City went to extraordinary lengths to lift them up with some truly horrific defending.
The biggest farce came with the opening goal after just 82 seconds. Cityâ€™s exciting winger Howard Newton appealed for a penalty as he went to ground when chasing a ball through to Town keeper Kevin Sawyer.
No penalty was forthcoming and Sawyer quickly launched the ball the length of the pitch, Cityâ€™s defence was happy to let it bounce through to keeper Nick Jupp but Chippenham striker Ross Stearn nipped in and, although he appeared to nudge the ball from Juppâ€™s hands, was allowed to stroke the loose ball into the Hatfield Road goal.
City hit back swiftly and drew level on seven minutes following a spell of heavy pressure.
Newton, fed by Blackwood, stormed down the flank and cut the ball back to David Ijaha who slid a good ball into Furlong. The former Chelsea striker twisted only for his goal-bound shot to be blocked by the outstretched leg of Sawyer.
Chippenham wasted two opportunities to clear their lines and allowed Blackwood and Newton to again link down the right, this time Newton played a short pass into Chris Henry who spun away from Steve Casey and fired, right-footed, across Sawyer for his third goal in two games.
It was already evident that this was going to be no ordinary end of season kick-around and City went close when Furlong headed down a Newton cross and Henry stabbed the ball narrowly wide but on 15 minutes Town added a second bizarre goal.
James Guthrie curled an excellent corner towards the back post that flew over the head of Alex Kite and was met with the knee of bustling striker Alan Griffin. As the ball bounced up off the rough goalmouth Jupp grabbed the sphere but was leaning into his goal and eagle-eyed linesman Andrew Williams was quick to signal a goal.
St Albans did not play too badly for much of the rest of the half and used the wings to good effect with Newton, Ryan Watts and Henry, when he moved wide, causing problems.
But the closest City came to a goal was when Town defender Steve Casey dived in to clear a Newton free kick only to head the ball just under the crossbar, forcing Sawyer to stretch well to tip it over the bar.
Chippenham almost added a third when a Guthrie corner was helped on by Kite and then Griffin with only the determined effort of the retreating Gray keeping the ball out.
But the Chips were not to be denied for long and in the third minute of added time Stearn cut in from the left and flashed a right-footed drive past Jupp from 22 yards for his second goal of the half.
The Saints second half showing was simply dreadful and a Chippenham victory was never in doubt.
Soon after the restart Jupp had to be alert to flick over the bar Caseyâ€™s well placed header from Stearnâ€™s free kick and then the City keeper moved smartly to save a low effort from Guthrie.
If there was any doubt as to the outcome during a mistaken ridden second half it vanished on 63 minutes when Guthrieâ€™s free kick on the Town right was glanced past the diving Jupp by Griffin for the visitorâ€™s fourth goal.
Before the game restarted Bernard was replaced by Rob Haworth who, 16 years after his debut, came on for his 200th game for the Saints and maybe should have celebrated with a goal but failed to get a firm contact to an in-swinging Newton corner.
Stearn was unlucky not to complete his hat-trick when cleverly beating Cedric Ngakam only to screw his shot across the face of the York Road goal.
And Griffin also went close to claiming his third goal when Guthrie won the ball off Ngakam and drove towards the back post but just too far in front of his team-mate who dived in in vain.