St Albans City’s play-off hopes pay the penalty on dramatic afternoon at Bath City
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City missed out on the Vanarama National League South play-offs after a 2-1 defeat at Bath City in a dramatic afternoon which saw three penalties.
A win was needed to give Saints the chance of getting into the end of season showdown.
And when Zane Banton got St Albans City’s first ever goal at Twerton Park on the stroke of half-time to cancel out Tom Smith’s opener for the hosts, hopes were raised.
But with Saints on top a sliding tackle from Jamie Snedles-White with 13 minutes to go upended Andy Watkins and Matt Richards, who had earlier missed from 12 yards, chipped into Dean Snedker’s left hand corner.
There was still more drama as a handball decision brought a third spot-kick, this time for St Albans but Sam Merson didn’t hit it well and Luke Shortwood made the comfortable save.
It left Saints in eighth with Braintree Town and Truro City both making sure of their place
Ian Allinson had tinkered with the personnel if not the system before hand.
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Ben Herd came back into the side although in a much more advanced position, playing almost as a winger on the right.
But there was almost a familiar start with an early goal against St Albans.
Percy Kiangebeni bundled into the back of Antoine Semenyo and the referee had no doubt about the award of the penalty.
But Bath have had problems scoring from the spot this season and Snedker added to the list of misses with a wonderful save, diving full-length to his right to palm Matt Richards’ effort away.
It was the first of a string of saves from the newly-crowned St Albans’ players’ player of the year.
He denied Andy Watkins with his legs and then deflected a Semenyo header wide.
And there was a third good save as Bath broke following a poor David Noble free-kick.
The keeper though could do nothing about the opening goal though, a superb strike from Tom Smith from about 25 yards which arrowed inside Snedker’s right-hand post.
But just as it seemed as if St Albans would trail at half-time, Banton got the historic goal.
A long Sam Merson throw caused trouble in the box. It finally was shifted to the left angle of the six-yard box and the Saints winger slotted it through numerous legs into the far corner.
A spat between the two benches, with plenty of shouting and finger pointing, made it a fiery end to the half but things had calmed down by the start of the second half.
And Saints’ mood was flattened further with news of a Braintree goal early in the half but a positive substitution bringing on Rhys Murrell-Williamson for Tom Gardiner picked the spirits up.
And they still had the best chances.
Kieran Monlouis wriggled through in his best moment of a disappointing game but stopped before getting on to the end of Merson’s one-two.
And the two players were involved in a horrible miss on 68 minutes.
Monlouis was put through but slipped before the keeper came out. The loose ball ran to Banton who decided not to shoot and lay it across to Merson.
But somehow City’s top scorer missed the empty net from a central position seven yards out, almost nonchalantly side-footing it over the top.
It proved costly as Sendles-White’s challenge allowed Richards the chance to make amends and send Saints’ play-off hopes tumbling.
Merson could have made it an interesting last five minutes but his miss was the final nail in the coffin.
It will be no comfort at all that even a victory wouldn’t have given them a top-seven finish and instead it is time to reflect and look forward to a new season.
St Albans City: Snedker, Gardiner (Murrell-Williamson 56), Bender, Noble (Lucien 78), Sendles-White, Kiangebeni, Herd (Walker 78), Sambou, Merson, Monlouis, Banton
Subs (not used): Moore-Azille, Bradbury
Goal: Banton 45+1
Bath City: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Straker, Richards, Batten, Ball, Buck (Rigg 72), Morton, Semento, Smith, Watkins
Subs (not used): Amankwaah, Ollis, Hodges
Goals: Smith 32, Richards (pen) 77
HT: Bath City 1 St Albans City 1
Referee: Tom Reeves (Coventry)