Louie Theophanous wasted no time in announcing his arrival as the spearhead of St Albans Cityâ€™s attack this season when heading home the goal that clinched a stuttering 2-1 Herts Charity Cup 1st Round victory over a useful looking Ware at Wodson Park on Tuesday.
City were some distance away from the form that will be required for Jimmy Gray and Graham Goldsâ€™ side to make an impact in the forthcoming National League South campaign, but coming from behind to see off their Southern League Division One hosts is an encouraging start.
St Albans named an experimental back four with David Longe-King and Kayode Bola, both aged 20, filling the two central positions.
The youngsters had a testing opening 45 minutes, although Bola made two important interventions to deny Kieran Bishop early in the half.
Bishop has had trials with St Albans in recent weeks, as has Rod Young, and both showed up well for Ware.
But Bola blotted his copybook on 18 minutes when he was caught in possession out on the left City touchline by Young.
The winger darted to the goalline and cut the ball back towards the far post where Murat Karagul peeled away from John Kyriacou and smartly cushioned a left footed volley past Joe Welch.
Young had already gone close to opening the scoring when he collected a rushed clearance by Welch but sent his early shot from around 30 yards drifting gently away from the goal.
City hit back with a Lee Chappell corner being partially headed away by Jack Fowler but then being seized upon by Theophanous, who sliced his shot over the top.
Clear chances were in short supply and Lewis Hilliard found his path to goal blocked by Cooper with his follow up effort curling just wide of the target.
Hilliard had a fairly quiet evening overall but did still cause several problems for Ware.
From one good run along the goalline the former St Neots player slid the ball across the face of the goal where Danny Charles made good tackle to deny Billy Medlock a simple tap in.
City drew level on 41 minutes after Jack Green, hitherto virtually a spectator, won a corner on the St Albans right.
Saints captain Chappell clipped the set piece towards the near post where Theophanous sent a glancing header over keeper Jack Smith.
Ware defender Paul Cooper blocked the ball at the back post and sent it back along goalline where Smith clawed it forward only for the incoming Luke Allen to fire home on his debut from three yards out.
There was some dispute as to whether or not Cooperâ€™s attempted clearance had already crossed the line before Smith pulled it away but referee Lee Marshallsay insisted that this was not the case.
Ware were not far away from regaining the upper hand before the interval when Charles got the ball from Kyriacou with some ease and set up Nana Asamoah for a crisp drive that went a couple of yards wide of Welchâ€™s goal.
Moments later Young burst clear down the Ware left and forced Welch to save with his legs, Bishop was quickly onto the rebound but again Bola got across to block the shot.
Neither side made any changes during the interval and nine minutes after the restart City closed in on extending their unbeaten run against their county rivals to 21 games, a run that includes 15 wins in the past 16 meetings.
Allen had a shot charged down on the edge of the penalty area by Ben Crilley.
The ball ricocheted wide to Green who exchanged passes with Kyriacou before sending a precise right-footed cross to beyond the back post where Theophanous beat Smith a perfectly executed diving header into the roof of the net.
City, without really suggesting that they would add to their tally, saw out the remainder of the game in some comfort although Bishop went close to getting a freakish goal.
Young crossed from the Ware left and Bishop, with his back to goal, appeared to do little more than stick out a leg but he succeeded in sending the ball over his head and into the arms of a possibly surprised Welch.
A good chance did go begging for City when Medlock, picked out by Hilliardâ€™s cross, wanted too long on the ball and eventually laid it back to Allen who fired over.
Ware substitute Victor Osobu, who played six times for St Albans two years ago, added some threat down the left flank and forced Welch to dive forward and low to cut out a dangerous ball into the penalty area.
The City keeper followed that with an acrobatic push away at a cross by Cooper as Bishop waited to pounce from close in.
Welch, back from attending his brotherâ€™s wedding in Colombia, missed the final ten minutes of the match when taking an accidental knock to the head from Bishopâ€™s knee after diving at the strikers feet to gather a low cross by the lively Osobu.
Welchâ€™s replacement, Tom Coulton, is no stranger to these parts having joined Ware for a spell on dual-registration last season and had little to worry him during the final minutes on his return to Wodson Park.