Lee Chappell was the toast of St Albans City on Saturday when the left-back scored a stunning hat-trick as visitors Maidenhead United pressed the self-destruct button during a highly entertaining Conference South encounter at Clarence Park that saw City run out emphatic 4-1 winners.
Chappellâ€™s first hat trick in senior football crowned an attack-minded display by the Saints that bodes well for the coming months.
That said, Maidenhead did assist the Saints cause by having goalscorer Adrian Clifton sent off when leading, whilst goalkeeper Elvijs Putnins committed a remarkable blunder that allowed Chappell to ease the Saints towards a welcome two-goal interval advantage.
City made three changes from the side that battled to draw with Bromley in their previous outing.
â€˜Giantâ€™ Geoff Mitchell was laid low by illness while Lee Clarke and Loick Pires were relegated to the bench; these changes led to recalls for James Comley, Sean Shields and Steve Wales.
St Albans propensity for conceding early goals was maintained with the Magpies taking just seven minutes to open the scoring.
City captain Ben Martin picked up a booking when conceding a free kick that the talented Danny Green floated into the York Road penalty area.
Charlie Gorman headed away only as far as Ashley Nicholls whose shot was blocked by Martin. Again the rebound went to a Maidenhead player and Clifton, who posed a genuine threat during the opening exchanges, blasted an excellent volley into the net from 12 yards.
A swift response was almost found when Chappell swung a hanging free kick in from the City right that James Kaloczi, under heavy pressure, was just unable to apply a firm enough touch to trouble Putnins.
A better chance went begging when Wales slid a perfect low ball through the middle of the defence to send Shields away. Putnins did well to save on this occasion and was generously awarded a free kick as John Frendo attempted to pounce on the rebound.
The momentum appeared to be shifting in Cityâ€™s favour and on 18 minutes the Magpies suffered a big blow when Clifton was dismissed.
The midfielder was about to be booked for a clumsy challenge on John Kyriacou but when given a one-handed shove by Kaloczi pushed out forcibly on Tom Ward and left referee Lloyd Wood with little option but to produce the red card.
Ward was cautioned for confronting Clifton after the initial foul.
City often struggled when faced with just ten men last season but this time they kept the tempo high and it just seemed a matter of time before the Magpies would crack.
Chappell looked to have pulled City level when scoring direct from a free kick but a bit of pushing in the penalty area rubbed that effort out.
Chappell was also involved when his long throw was helped on by Martin to Frendo who spun swiftly only to be denied by Putnins excellent save low to his right.
Unitedâ€™s resistance was finally broken on 28 minutes as City scored their first of three goals during 12 dramatic minutes.
Maidenhead repelled a Chappell throw but City built again with Kyriacou striking a long ball from just inside his own half that Martin, still in an attacking position, headed across the edge of the penalty area to Wales who beat Putnins with a sweet half-volley to the left of the diving keeper.
Five minutes later a foul by Leon Solomon on Wales just in front of the dug-outs paved the way for the second City goal.
Chappell hit a high in-swinging set-piece towards the edge of the six yard box that Putnins completely misjudged and moved too far forward.
As the ball dropped the Latvian-born keeper arched in mid-jump but could only help the ball on its way into the Hatfield Road goal.
St Albans secured a firm grip on the outcome on 40 minutes when Chappell superbly controlled a pinpoint crossfield pass from Ward, and darted into the penalty area before firing past Putnins left-footed to give the Saints a two-goal cushion at the interval.
But United were still far from finished and rallied well with Ashley Nicholls crossing low to Stefan Brown whose shot on the turn thudded into the crossbar. Green latched onto the loose ball but was thwarted in quick succession by Chappell and then Joe Welch.
The visitors enjoyed a far greater share of the possession after the interval but City defended well and went close to adding a fourth when Wales forced Putnin into a diving save.
On 61 minutes City joined Maidenhead in having just ten players on the pitch when Ward received a second yellow â€“ and the first red of his career â€“ for bringing down Ryan Upward following Greenâ€™s through ball.
In support of the City defender it did appear that Upward went downward a touch too easily.
From the free kick, cleanly struck by Green, Welch stretched high to his right to catch the ball.
Further chances came Unitedâ€™s way with Brown shooting across the goal, Jacob Erskine forcing Welch to move quickly to save a rising header, and Green firing straight at Welch.
At the opposite end of the pitch Putnins saved with ease from Comley while Pires, set up by David Keenleyside, shot wastefully well off target.
City, in the second minute of added time, made certain of their biggest win in Conference South for five years â€“ ironically a 3-0 win at Maidenhead on Boxing Day 2009 â€“ with a stylish goal that sent the very high number of children in the attendance of over 700 home very happy.
The Magpies struggled to clear a Kyriacou free kick and when Erskine headed the ball wide Keenleyside seized possession.
Shackled out to the City left by Mark Nisbet and Daniel Brown, Keenleyside, almost telepathically, back-heeled the ball past the two defenders and into the penalty area.
As the ball rolled into his path the advancing Chappell stroked a right-footed shot between Erskine and the diving Putnins to complete the Saints first league hat-trick at Clarence Park for two years.
While it may have been a left-back that grabbed the headlines the final word belonged to a goalkeeper as Welch made a spectacular tip-over to deny Nicholls.
Following the final whistle, the Norwegian Branch of the Saints Supporters presented Steve Wales with the August Player of the Month award.
Cityâ€™s win lifts them back up to ninth in Conference South and the Saints will be looking to chalk up a second successive victory next Saturday, 20th September, when visiting Jimmy Grayâ€™s old club Wealdstone at Grosvenor Vale, Ruislip.