St Albans City (1) 2 Bath City (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 7 October 2017 – Clarence Park
Non-League Day was also All Saints Day in Hertfordshire. Home manager Ian Allinson ended his personal hoodoo against the Romans; securing his first win in ten against Bath City, and few could say they didn’t deserve it. Following an unbeaten September, City’s October started on a flat note against a young, vibrant side who were rewarded for their efforts. Rhys Murrell-Williamson’s goal right on half time knocked the stuffing out of the visitors, who gifted a second to Charlie Walker on the hour to seal all three points for St Albans. Although labelled as Jerry Gill’s first game in charge, the new boss opted for a watching brief, with Jim Rollo directing proceedings from the dugout.
City started brightly with Nat Jarvis prevented in the opening two minutes by the alert Dean Snedker, who raced off his line to snuff out any opening. Jack Compton also placed a free-kick narrowly wide, before the hosts squandered a glorious chance to open the scoring. Murrell-Williamson’s cross from the right was met by Zane Banton, but he placed his header wide from close range when he should have tested Luke Southwood. Jarvis again forced Snedker into a relatively comfortable save following good work by Andy Watkins, but it was the home side that looked more in control. Jack Batten received the game’s first caution for upending the instrumental Solomon Sambou, with Shaun Lucien’s resulting free-kick deflected just wide with Southwood stranded. And the City stopper was given little chance to prevent an opening goal on the cusp of half-time. Lucien and Banton carved an opening for Murrell-Williamson, who nonchalantly passed the ball into the net from 12 yards – a tidy finish to round off a flowing move.
Compton and Nick McCootie failed to test Snedker just after the restart, as the Saints nearly put the game out of reach when Banton’s lay-off found Walker in space on the edge of the box, but he put his strike inches wide. Snedker’s most difficult save of the afternoon turned out to be a rather routine one; patting away Compton’s well-placed free-kick. Within a minute he was celebrating as his team-mates capitalised on indecision at the other end. After initially coping well against Lucien, Batten’s attempted back-pass to Southwood was horribly under-hit; allowing Lucien to nip in and prod the ball forwards with Walker gleefully tapping in his first goal since August. With former Arsenal and England forward Alan Smith in attendance, he undoubtedly would have smiled at this poacher’s finish. Although the Romans have rescued ten points from losing positions this season, there appeared a lack of spark to worry most of the bumper crowd at Clarence Park. George Rigg and Jamie Lucas were introduced but had little impact as St Albans could have put the game further out of reach. Lucien’s tricky run ended in a shot driven wide and substitute Sam Merson was bravely denied by the onrushing Southwood. It took until stoppage time for the City fans to acknowledge another foray forward; Watkins’ jinking run preceding an arrowed effort which flew inches over. But that was as good as it got for Jerry Gill’s men, who will undoubtedly use this as a learning curve as he looks to stamp more authority on his side next week.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Amankwaah, Straker, Batten, Ball, Case (Rigg 72), Watkins, Artus (c), Jarvis (Lucas 72), McCootie, Compton. Subs not used: Jones, McNulty, Wollacott.
Scorers: City – None; St Albans – Murrell-Williamson (45), Walker (60)
City Bookings: Batten (39)
Officials: J Richardson, C Reeson, D Hutton