Bath City (0) 0 St Albans City (2) 3 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 8 February 2020 – Twerton Park
Report by Kelston Koppite
Bath City fell to a hugely disappointing defeat to St. Albans City at Twerton Park. The Hertfordshire side produced a performance that belied their lowly National League South standing, and the three goal winning margin was just reward for their overall superiority.
The Romans began with great promise and Brunt was twice narrowly off target with headers. Firstly, he met Alex Hartridge’s cross from the left but was wide of the near post, and then he nodded narrowly wide of the far post from Joe Raynes’ deep ball in from the right.
The momentum of the game suddenly changed on 11 minutes when a misdirected crossfield ball fell to Zane Banton who raced into the home box, rounded Ryan Clarke, but saw his eventual shot cleared off the line by Dan Ball.
The hosts created another opening on 18 minutes when Hartridge’s cross from the left picked out Adam Mann, but his deflected header flew narrowly over Dean Snedker’s bar. The referee, Mr. Andrew Humphries, mysteriously awarded a goal kick despite the ardent appeals for a corner by the home players and supporters alike.
The Saints went ahead on 20 minutes when Noah Chilvers was robbed of possession midway inside his own half, and Solomon Nwabuokei took full advantage by planting an accurate shot into the corner of the net from the edge of the area.
Bath were struggling to find any rhythm in their play, but they continued in their attempts to push forward. Frankie Artus had a goalbound shot blocked by David Longe-King, and the home side came to close equalising in the 31st minute when Mann’s low drive from the point of the box passed just wide of Snedker’s far post.
St. Albans were successfully stifling the home side’s midfield play, and they were looking threatening on the break with their pace. Longe-King nodded well wide of Clarke’s goal following a 33rd minute freekick into the box, but his side’s lead was doubled a minute later. Giuseppe Iaciofano showed great tenacity to run half the length of the pitch, shrugging off a couple of challenges from home defenders en route, before finding the net via the inside of the far post.
Five minutes before the break, Mann’s corner from the right found Artus, but the midfielder headed wide of the near post.
Connor Riley-Lowe replaced Chilvers ahead of the restart but, with St. Albans now content to defend in numbers, the early stages of the second half witnessed Bath continue to struggle for a breakthrough. Ross Stearn came on for Artus on 59 minutes, and he almost had an immediate impact when Tom Bender was forced into heading the ball just over his own crossbar from the substitute’s cross. The ensuing corner resulted in a quick breakaway by the visitors, only for Iaciofano to blaze wildly over Clarke’s bar from close range.
Jerry Gill made his final substitution in the 67th minute by withdrawing Mann to allow the introduction of Louis Britton, but still his side could find no forward momentum. Indeed, the final nail was put in the coffin by The Saints on 71 minutes. Banton gained possession on the left, cut inside, and then beat Clarke at his near post with a low snaking shot.
Iaciofano had the ball in the net again after 78 minutes, but was denied by an offside flag, and then Nwabuokei fired high and wide from the edge of the box.
The final chance of the afternoon fell to Brunt when he met a cross from Tom Smith, but the forward volleyed the ball high into the Twerton dusky evening sky.
This was indisputably a poor performance from Bath who were unable to produce any of their customary passing game, but credit must be given to St. Albans who closed down their opponents throughout, played some neat football of their own, and always looked threatening on the break. The Somerset side will now look to rediscover their form when they travel to Concord Rangers’ Canvey Island ground next Saturday.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, T Smith, Bowry, Artus (Stearn 59), Mann (Britton 67), Chilvers (Riley-Lowe HT), Brunt, Ball, Pearson, Hartridge. Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Simpson.
Scorers: City – none; Saints – Nwabuokei (20), Iaciofano (34), Banton (71)
City Bookings: Hartridge (56), Ball (67)
Officials: A Humphries, A Berrow, O Spender