Spot kick enough for league leaders Bath City as St Albans City’s losing run continues
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City served up another goalless and point-less performance as they were beaten 1-0 by Vanarama National League South leaders Bath City at Clarence Park.
Frankie Artus’ 31st minute penalty, following John Kyriacou’s foul on Jon Davies, was enough to see the Somerset side home but in fairness the scoreline slightly flattered the hosts.
Bath’s top scorer Nick McCootie twice hit the bar and strike partner Dave Pratt was denied on numerous occasions by luck and good Joe Welch keeping.
The Saints, in particular Billy Medlock, gave a much better account of themselves in the second half as they pushed for a leveller.
Both Medlock and Thomas struck the woodwork when it looked easier to scor, allowing Bath to keep their 100 per cent winning league start intact.
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Signs of slight improvement from Tuesday night’s tame 1-0 loss at Eastbourne but another game passes by without a precious first win, and perhaps more worrying, a lack of cutting edge in the final third.
Joint-managers Graham Golds and James Gray made four changes from the side that were beaten 1-0 on the south coast in midweek as Ben Martin and Simon Thomas dropped to the bench, while Luke Allen and Sam Corcoran were absent through injury. In came Lewis Hilliard, Darren Locke, Jack Green and Kyriacou.
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Inside the first two minutes in-form Bath almost made the perfect start. McCootie picked the ball up on the left-hand side of the box and aimed a cross to the far stick. However, it skewed off his boot and struck the bar. A lucky escape for the hosts.
That early let-off seemed to focus the Saints momentarily, as they plotted a way back into the game. Louis Theophanous’ 20-yard free kick, after Medlock had been fouled, was blocked by the wall. Minutes later, Hilliard’s attempt at a set piece on the left was wafted over the heads of his team-mates and out of play.
The home contingent would have been encouraged by City’s brief spells of endeavour but again they had the woodwork to thank for the game remaining goalless in the 12th minute.
Striker McCootie wriggled free from supervision and got a shot away but again a left-foot effort managed to strike the bar and not the back of the net.
Bath continued to knock on the door, and after being denied twice in a pinball goalmouth scramble moments before, they finally got their reward, although not from open play.
Kyriacou tripped Davies on the right corner of the box leaving Artus to coolly put Bath in front.
The Saints survived any further calamities before the interval and they would have been relieved to see the dangerous McCootie replaced at half-time by Andy Watkins.
However, McCootie’s withdrawal did not stop Bath continuing their dominance from the first moment of the second period.
Saints had Joe Welch to thank for denying Pratt and keeping the home side in touch.
St Albans slightly upped the ante and changed their shape with the introduction of Thomas and Ghassimu Sow.
It was midfielder Medlock who was showing the most promise though, first denied by a deflection which looped the ball onto the top of the bar and then, moments later, a header flashed straight at keeper Steve Phillips from a few yards out.
Wastefulness was to be the order of the day as Bath continued to throw away chances to double their lead and put the game firmly out of City’s reach. Luckily for the away side, they already had the decisive goal.
Pratt could have wrapped up the points in added time but inexplicably side-footed wide when one-on-one with Welch.
The struggling home side almost had the last laugh but Thomas spurned a final opportunity, hitting the woodwork once more with a header, as they sunk to a fourth defeat in five matches.
St Albans City – Welch, Kyriacou, Chappell, Scott Thomas, Gayle (Martin, 75), Locke, Green (Sow, 58), Comley, Theophanous, Medlock, Hilliard (Simon Thomas, 55). Substitutes not used – Swales, Harvey.
Bath City – Phillips, Gallinagh, Nicholson, Baldwin (Bowman, 79), Ball, Hemmings (Williams, 84), Kington, Artus, Pratt, McCootie (Watkins, 45), Davies. Substitutes not used – Allen, Perry.