Frendo ends goal drought to down Bath

The Saints celebrate John Frendo's winner, which came in the first minute, against Bath City. Pictur

The Saints celebrate John Frendo's winner, which came in the first minute, against Bath City. Picture: Bob Walkley - Credit: Archant

John Frendo’s winner, his first league goal in five games, secured the 10 men of St Albans City back-to-back home wins to defeat Bath City in the Vanarama Conference South.

Top scorer Frendo got the Saints off to the perfect start with a goal after 60 seconds which set the tone for an impressive first half performance.

Just before the hour mark Charlie Gorman received a straight red for a high challenge in a second half dominated by Bath. The plucky hosts showed their resilience to secure a second straight home league win to bolster their top six aspirations.

One place and one point separated the two play-off hopefuls, St Albans ninth and Bath City 10th, where a win for either side could catapult the victor into the top six if results went their way.

Joint manager James Gray described his side’s heavy 3-0 midweek defeat to Wealdstone as ‘embarrassing’, so it was unsurprising that three changes were made with Omar Beckles, Joel Nouble and Charlie Smith returning for the Saints.

St Albans, synonymous with the Romans, welcomed Bath City, known as the ‘Romans’, to Clarence Park with both sides experiencing indifferent spells of form, registering a combined four wins between them from 12 games.

Frendo secured the Saints an early Christmas gift, taking the lead in the first minute after some calamitous Bath defending with a first time left footed finish from 10 yards, for his first goal in open play at home since August.

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A shell shocked Bath were chasing shadows in the opening 10 minutes and Frendo almost doubled their advantage with a thunderous shot that Jason Mellor did well to save.

Frendo was dictating proceedings, superbly orchestrating another flowing move before again forcing Mellor into a fine save down to his left.

As the game approached half-time, the unsettled visitors were failing to create anything of consequence and faced a barrage of attacking forays from the runaway buffalo James Comley, who was having a fine game.

Bath began the half just as they had finished the first, enjoying the lion’s share of possession but this time producing more substance to match their style as Andy Watkins and Dan Ball went close.

The injury and suspension ravaged Saints, with seven players unavailable before the game, added to their tally when Gorman was sent off in the 57th minute following a rash high lunge.

A lengthy delay occurred when the linesman limped off injured, with the home side extending an invitation for any qualified linesman amongst the 448 attendees in the crowd to rise to the occasion.

The game resumed 10 minutes later and right from the off warning shots were fired as the visitors upped the pressure, aided by the increasingly retreating home side.

The Romans, clearly in the ascendancy, were a whisker away from claiming a deserved equaliser as substitute Ross Stearn’s curling free-kick cannoned off the cross bar late on,

With 13 minutes of added time, the home side’s dogged display was clear to see, effectively keeping Bath’s full complement of players at bay in impressive fashion.

After waiting over two months for a home league win, the battered and beleaguered Saints earned a second straight win at a freezing Clarence Park.

St. Albans City line-up: 1) Joe Welch (2) John Kyriacou (18) Nathan Green (4) Charlie Gorman (5) Ben Martin © (6) Ian Gayle (7) Omar Beckles (8) James Comley (9) John Frendo (Lancaster ’67) (10) Joel Nouble (Wales ’55) (11) Charlie Smith (Corcoran ’63)

Subs: 12) Steve Wales (14) Sam Corcoran (15) Cameron Lancaster (16) David Longe-King GK) Tom Coulton.

Bath City line-up: 1) Jason Mellor (2) Sekani Simpson (3) Andy Gallinagh © (4) Pat Keary (5) Phil Walsh (Allen ’70) (6) Ben Adelsbury (7) Andy Watkins (8) Ashley Kington (9) Nick McCootie (Stearn ’65) (10) Dan Ball (11) Frankie Artus (Pratt ’60)

Subs: 12) Ross Stearn (14) Dave Pratt (15) Chris Allen (16) Louis Perry (17) Jim Rollo

Referee: Lee Betts

Attendance: 448