Following on from an indifferent performance on Saturday, St Albans City very much played second fiddle to Chesham United on Boxing Day as the Generals handed the Saints a defeat which was far more emphatic than the final score suggests.
With former Chesham manager John Kendall now in charge of the Saints and former City player and manager Bob Dowie in charge of the home side, the game had been billed as some kind of grudge match but so ineffective were the Saints that United had little trouble in handing the Saints their tenth Premier Division reversal of the season - and with it finally extinguishing any lingering hopes of catching the table topping clubs.
On a bitterly cold and windy afternoon, it was clear from the off that Chesham were more 'up' for the game and it took St Albans a full 37 minutes before Spencer Knight conjured up the visitors first goalbound shot of the day. By then Chesham were two goals to the good and with veteran midfielder Dereck Brown running the show City looked to be heading for a sizeable defeat. Former Saint Brown was not the only Chesham player to catch the eye, the sheer physical presence of recent acquisition Mark Watson caused City countless problems as did the more darting approach of Dudley Campbell while after the interval Michael Gorman took up the running in midfield.
City's defence, which has shown increasing signs of vulnerability in recent weeks, looked particularly shaky but they were not helped by a midfield which was so easily brushed aside by the Generals. The City attack was non-existent save for Knight who offered the sole hope of salvaging something for Kendall's well beaten side.
Playing up the slope in the first half, Chesham required just 12 minutes to start City's downfall with a scrambled goal. Watson attacked down the Chesham left and worked his way through two soft challenges before somehow beating keeper Richard Hurst from a tight angle with a shot which bounced just inside the far post.
City had a let-off on 23 minutes when Craig Farley cross appeared to have eluded Hurst before bouncing out of play off the top of the crossbar but there no escape for City five minutes later. A poor pass from Mark Rooney conceded possession before the bustling Watson again unruffled the City backline. Just when Watson seemed to have lost possession the ball went wide to Farley whose low cross into the middle was soundly cracked home by Brown.
Just before the break Chesham broke quickly following a City attack with Brown sweeping the ball out to Watson whose low cross was met by Campbell, fortunately for the Saints his shot went straight at Hurst. After the interval Chesham keeper Delroy Preddie was called upon to make a couple of noteworthy the saves, the first, on 49 minutes, saw him tip over a Knight free-kick while in the 56th minute he got down well to smother an effort from the disappointing Chris Piper. Those high spots came during City's best spell in the game and once that was over it was clear that this was not to be the Saints day.
Chances for Chesham were equally scarce after the interval but by then the points were safe and City were on their to only their third defeat in the past 11 league encounters at the Meadow.
Report by Dave Tavener