t Albans City hailed a new hero on Sunday when 17-year-old Jack Green played a leading part in the Saints surprising 2-1 Conference South victory over promotion seeking Gosport Borough at a murky Clarence Park.
Young Jack was given a chance to show what he can do when central defender Darren Locke added his name to Cityâ€™s ever growing injury list right at the end of the first half.
He may look even younger than his tender 17 years but Jack played with a bravado and swagger that led to Gosport taking the law into their own hands in an attempt to stop both the former Sandridge Rovers player, and his fellow 17-year-old substitute Alex Yearwood.
How Boroâ€™ will rue the penalty for their actions, as they finished the game with just nine players on the pitch when defenders Lee Molyneaux and Mike Carter were despatched prematurely by referee Anthony Da Costa.
But this match was not all about Jack Green, for this was a City team, greatly weakened by injury, facing a Gosport side beaten just three times in 26 games and led by two prolific goal scorers, and yet the Saints deservedly ended a four-game winless league run.
Injury ruled out James Comley, John Frendo and Joe Welch for the New Yearâ€™s Day game at Hemel Hempstead. David Keenleyside, Sam Corcoran and Darren Locke took knocks into that game.
By the end of it Keenleyside and John Kyriacou had joined the sick list.
Cityâ€™s selection problems were well known and Gosport, possibly believing that an under-strength St Albans side would capitulate easily, played with a lacklustre air and paid the price.
The attendance was the lowest at Clarence Park for 13 months but there was no lack of scouts present.
The prime target was Boroâ€™ striker Matt Paterson but, other than for curling an early effort wide of the York Road goal, Gosportâ€™s leading goal scorer made little impact.
After a shaky opening spell, City settled down to play a decent passing game and Lee Chappell, captaining the side at Clarence Park in Conference South fixture for the first time, tested Boroâ€™s Nathan Ashmore with a powerful left-footed drive that the keeper took cleanly.
And it was Chappell, on 20 minutes, following a foul on the excellent Corcoran, who opened the scoring.
From around 25 yards out the left-back curled a wonderful set piece high to the left Ashmore who, despite being fully extended, could only look on as the ball clipped the inside of the upright before nestling inside the opposite post.
It was the kind of strike that Allan Cockram, possibly the most gifted midfielder ever to wear the Cityâ€™s colours and looking on from the main stand, will have positively purred over.
An immediate response was expected but little was forthcoming, with a firmly struck free kick over Tom Coultonâ€™s goal by Brett Poate being the nearest to a serious threat for some time.
City had an anxious moment though when a long cross-field ball by Tom Dunford tempted Coulton out of his penalty area. But the keeper did enough to delay Paterson whose eventual cross was headed away by Ian Gayle and slashed wide by Dan Smith.
Gosport did get the ball into the City net on 36 minutes when Sam Pearce smartly headed home from a Dan Wooden free kick only to be pulled back for a tight offside decision.
An intriguing incident occurred shortly after at the opposite end of the pitch when Elliot Bailey gave chase to a headed back pass by Poate.
Ashmore collected the ball with ease but then stepped to his right to barge into Bailey and was most fortunate to be awarded a free kick when a penalty would not have been unjust.
Gosport finally enjoyed a spell of sustained pressure on the home goal late in the half and City suffered a blow when Locke jarred his right leg whilst blocking a shot by Paterson.
While Lockeâ€™s injury was assessed City went down to ten men and during this spell Coulton got down well to smother a low cross by Rory Williams.
Three minutes into added time Williams provided the cross that led to Gosport equalising.
Beckles and Paterson challenged for Williamsâ€™ cross with the ball falling nicely to Justin Bennett just beyond the back post. With a clinical right-footed half volley to the left of Coulton the striker bagged his 26th goal of the season.
Boosted by that late goal and playing down the slope after the interval, Gosport will have eyed the three points in the thickening fog, but still Alex Pikeâ€™s side failed to find top gear.
Indeed their problems were only just beginning, as three minutes after the restart Carter was booked when unceremoniously ending a good run by Jack Green.
A brighter moment for the visitors saw Wooden block a Chappell clearance and race clear only to see his near post shot pushed away for a corner by Coulton.
Dunfordâ€™s corner sailed across the penalty area and was retrieved by Bennett whose cross led to Paterson going close with a header.
City hit back with Chappell firing narrowly wide, and Jack Green beating Molyneaux all ends up only for elder brother Danny Green to slice his shot well wide.
Molyneaux did not take kindly to being given the run-around and sent Jack Green flying with a shocking challenge right in front of the two dug-outs.
The defender did not bother to argue about his red card but the respective benches got into a heated exchange with Pike, somewhat ludicrously, accusing Jimmy Gray of getting Molyneaux sent off by over-reacting.
The irrepressible Jack Green was immediately back in the thick of the action with a wonderful dipping effort on 58 minutes that Ashmore did well to tip over for Cityâ€™s first corner of the match.
Chappellâ€™s corner was a poor bouncing one towards the near post. But when Williams and Ashmore failed to take control of the situation, Omar Beckles stretched to poke home his first goal for the club.
And still the argument continued between the two benches.
Wooden, one of the scorers when Gosport won 6-1 on their only other visit to the Park, tested Coulton with a long range effort that the keeper beat out with his legs and Chappell completed the clearance.
City began to exert greater authority over Boroâ€™s ten men with Charlie Gorman forcing Ashmore into making a full length save.
St Albans had a clear opportunity to put the result beyond doubt in the 90th minute when Corcoran slid a good ball through the Boro defence to the free Steve Wales who, after biding his time, was denied by Ashmore who had stood his ground well.
Any fast fading hope Gosport held of saving the game surely vanished four minutes into added time when Yearwood, on for Bailey, chased a pass back into the Boro half by Wooden only to be clumsily bundled over by Carter.
The defender knew his fate and was virtually off the pitch before his second yellow card was followed by the red.
The victory lifts City back into the top ten while Gosport, in eighth place, are two points adrift of the play-off positions.
Next up for St Albans are Conference South leaders Boreham Wood, whose 3-1 defeat on Sunday was their third reversal in five games since signing City captain Ben Martin.
Kick off at Clarence Park is at 3pm.
John Frendo is optimistic of returning for Saturdayâ€™s game but the news is less encouraging for the rest of Cityâ€™s walking wounded.
However, the club is hopeful of securing the services of Charlie Smith on loan from Luton Town for a second time this season, but any such deal is unlikely to be concluded until the latter part of the week.