St Albans City (2) 3 Bath City (0) 0 – Saturday 26 November 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Clarence Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Lethal front man Shaun Jeffers notched a double to consign luckless 10-man Bath City to their heaviest defeat of the season.
Having scored 34 last season, Jeffers’ first half brace took him to 13 this, converting a penalty and free-kick as two major decisions went the way of the Saints.
Luke Spokes was harshly penalised for upending Jeffers on 11 minutes to pave the way for the opener, with Jordan Dyer’s first half stoppage time dismissal preceding a precise converted free-kick from the forward.
Mitchell Weiss glanced in the hosts’ third as City failed to net away from home for the first time in the league since March.
Jerry Gill’s men started on the front foot with Dan Hayfield firing just wide inside a minute.
The visitors looked confident on the ball and more than matched a St Albans side in a play-off spot, before they were undone by a dubious penalty awarded in the hosts’ favour.
The home side worked a short corner well and Jeffers cleverly span away from Joe Neal’s pass then appeared to go to ground before contact from Spokes. Referee Samuel Read instantly pointed to the spot and Jeffers drove his kick through the luckless Josh Gould, with the debutant’s first act to pick the ball out of the net.
Dylan Berry prevented an instant leveller as Spokes’ clever ball set Elliott Frear one-on-one but from a tight angle the keeper stood his ground well.
Gould collected Kyran Wiltshire’s daisy-cutter with ease while Berry was worked harder from Spokes’ sweet volley from 20 yards after Chris Lines’ corner wasn’t cleared, the on-loan keeper parrying well low to his left.
The heavily involved midfielder saw his low curler turned away by Berry as City continued to play the better football but their afternoon unfolded in added time at the end of the first half.
Kieran Parselle’s sliced clearance was led to Jeffers and Neal exchange passes before the latter burst away from Dyer. The centre-back’s desperate lunge for the ball on the edge of the box was horribly mistimed and punishment was inevitable, but a red card seemed overzealous with Dan Greenslade swiftly on the scene as cover. Referee Read was unmoved and Jeffers added further retribution as he effortlessly bent home the free-kick away from Gould’s reach from inches outside the penalty box.
Gill introduced Jack Batten for Spokes at half-time and opted for a 3-4-2 formation. Like the first half they threw out of the traps with Hayfield feeding the ball to Scott Wilson but he was hurriedly closed down by a retreating backline with Hayfield slashing the loose ball over.
With the man advantage the Saints inevitably found gaps to exploit. Munashe Sundire found room down the right before his pull-back found Wiltshire whose 20-yarder was gloved away by Gould.
Weiss guided a shot narrowly wide and just before the hour he and Jeffers combined to tee-up Neal, who hesitated when about to pull the trigger which allowed Greenslade to storm in and produce a superb block at the expense of a corner.
Unfortunately his defensive heroics weren’t followed up. From the resulting delivery, Neal picked out Callum Adebiyi who had time to mis-control before playing it back across to Weiss who dived in to head home from six yards.
David Noble’s side almost gifted a goal back to the Romans when Berry’s awful free-kick from the byline saw Hayfield cushion the ball for Callum Ebanks, who fizzed across goal and only the outstretched Joy Mukena denied Wilson a tap-in as he knocked the ball away from the forward. The resulting corner saw Lines’ delivery glance off the head of Parselle onto the top of the bar and away.
Substitute James Morton tried his luck from 25 yards but Berry threw himself to his left to keep it out and deny a consolation which the visitors would have deserved.
Ultimately one didn’t arrive as City will hope to bounce back on Friday night against Welling United in their first home fixture since Alex Fletcher’s horrific accident against Dulwich Hamlet on 8 November.
City’s Line-Up: Gould, Raynes (Morton 66), Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c), Hayfield, Frear, Lines, Spokes (Batten HT), Wilson, Ebanks (Mannings 82). Subs not used: Smith, Clarke.
Scorers: City – none; St Albans – Jeffers (pen 10, 45+2), Weiss (58)
City Bookings: Greenslade (75)
City Dismissal: Dyer (45+1)
Officials: S Read, M Setakovic, S Barry