Bath City (0) 0 St Albans Town (1) 2 – Saturday 26 October 2021 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Bath City suffered a third defeat in a row as the division’s top scorer Shaun Jeffers proved the difference for St Albans.
The striker notched his 13th and 14th goals of the season in all competitions with a strike at the end of each half to see off Jerry Gill’s men.
Cody Cooke had a penalty shout turned down and Lloyd James curled wide from 20 yards in two of City’s best openings.
While the performance was improved from the FA Cup exit to Banbury, it wasn’t enough to prevent a fourth successive loss at Twerton Park in the league.
St Albans started brightly but City began to gain the upper hand and thought they’d won a penalty on 19 minutes.
Alex Fletcher’s threaded pass saw Cooke clean through with the visitors appealing for offside. In attempting to round goalkeeper Michael Johnson, Cooke tumbled and referee Dale Wootton hesitated before waving away appeals.
The Saints took the lead on 39 minutes. Johnson’s goal-kick was flicked on by Mitchell Weiss and Jeffers remained onside before calmly side-footing across the onrushing Clarke from 15 yards to separate the sides at the break.
Bath’s frailties this season have been conceding in the middle third of games, leaking 10 of their 23 in all competitions this season between 35 minutes and 55 minutes. They were nearly caught napping just after the break.
Dave Diedhiou’s ball down the line saw Romeo Akinola beat Callum Wood in a tussle. His lay-off found Liam Sole inside the area, Clarke did enough to parry and Jeffers’ attempted follow-up deflected off Joe Raynes into the goalkeeper’s grateful grasp.
City were agonisingly close to equalising five minutes later. Tom Smith’s bravery charged down Diedhiou’s attempted clearance, Elliott Frear’s cross from the byline was only half cleared and James’ deliberate attempt to bend the loose ball in flew inches wide with Johnson beaten.
The recalled James, making his first league start since January, also warmed Johnson’s gloves with a free-kick as City enjoyed enough possession but often lost their way in the final third, unlike the visitors who made the game safe with 13 minutes remaining.
Akinola picked the ball up in space in midfield, stabbed it through to Jeffers who eyed up his options and caught Clarke out with a firm hit inside his left-post to delight the travelling contingent in the Bristol End.
Smith had a chance to claim his first goal of the season. Jack Batten’s superb lofted ball bypassed the visiting midfield and saw Smith bring it down well, but his shot was brilliantly blocked by the alert Joy Mukena who threw himself in the way and preserve their clean sheet.
It also helped extend their unbeaten run to 11 and while their performance, and game, wasn’t a classic, it would have satisfied Saints boss Ian Allinson who now sees just four sides above them in National League South, whereas four sit below Bath City in 17th.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Ball, Batten, Wood, Fletcher (Touray 69), Cooke, Smith, Frear, James, Owers. Subs not used: Holness, Fuller, Richards, Cannings.
Scorers: City – none; St Albans – Jeffers (39, 77)
City Bookings: none
Officials: D Wootton, M Senior, R Clarke