Blue Square South
Saturday 24 April 2010 - Twerton Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Robinson, Jombati, Rollo (c), Coupe, Jones, Connolly, Simpson, Badman, Edwards (Evans 90), Mohamed, Bartlett (Mackie 78).
subs not used: Douglas, Caldwell, Perrin.
|man of the match:
||T Wood (Quedgeley), S Oakey (Cheltenham), D Leach (Witney)
|league position: 4th
||next match: Chelmsford City (H)
Report taken from
Bath City negotiated a nervy afternoon to get the point they needed to clinch their place in the end-of-season play-offs.
It was a far-from-vintage performance from the hosts, who looked inhibited all afternoon and only created a handful of chances.
But despite Woking and Havant & Waterlooville winning elsewhere, a point was enough to secure fourth place and a play-off showdown with Chelmsford City. The first leg will take place at Twerton Park on Tuesday night (7.45pm).
With Chris Holland ruled out with a knee infection and midfield duo Lewis Hogg and Adie Harris suspended, City boss Adie Britton elected to play a 3-5-2 formation with Matt Coupe, Jim Rollo and Gethin Jones at the back.
Sekani Simpson and Sido Jombati were the wing-backs, while Scott Bartlett - playing despite dislocating his shoulder just four weeks ago - sat in front of the back line.
The main excitement in the opening 15 minutes was the news that play-off rivals Braintree, who started the day level on points with City, had already conceded two goals at home to Newport County.
It took until the 18th minute at Twerton Park for the first shot at goal to be registered, Kaid Mohamed's 25-yard strike which keeper Paul Bastock saved comfortably.
Bastock was rather less convincing with his next involvement, pushing Darren Edwards' weak near-post header out for a corner.
St Albans had to make their first change in the 24th minute, the injured Chris Sullivan coming off for Ian Dunn, but they almost took the lead 30 seconds later when Gary Cohen's cross found James Fisher unmarked 10 yards out. However, his header was saved in unconventional style by Ryan Robinson, using his feet rather than his hands.
That was a rare attack from the visitors, though, as City began to dominate possession without really threatening to score. They did force three corners in quick succession but were clearly missing the aerial presence of Holland as all were easily cleared.
And the hosts should have gone behind on the stroke of half-time when Dunn worked his way into the box and picked out Ross Dedman with a low cross but the visiting midfielder somehow put the ball wide from two yards.
The second half began in equally low-key fashion but news from elsewhere meant things were getting a bit more jittery. Havant & Waterlooville - who had been trailing 2-0 to Chelmsford City - scored three times in 10 minutes, meaning City would miss out on the play-offs if they lost.
A goal would have eased the tension but Mohamed was denied by Bastock and Edwards put a header over before Gethin Jones was thwarted by a goalline clearance from Peter Smith at a corner.
Nerves weren't exactly frayed but City were looking inhibited so it was no surprise when Britton decided to shake things up with 12 minutes remaining, sending on Hector Mackie against his old club to replace Bartlett.
There was a roar of anguish a minute later when Sido Jombati did brilliantly to win possession in the St Albans area and rolled the ball back to Edwards inside the six-yard box. The striker could have controlled the pass and tapped it home or hit it first time - instead he tried to flick it and failed to make any meaningful contact.
Further goals for Havant and Woking elsewhere meant City had absolutely no room for error, making the desire for a goal even greater. However, Mackie was denied by Bastock and Mohamed tripped over his feet as the rebound came back to him.
Richard Evans came on for Edwards just before three minutes of injury-time was signalled, which City managed to see out without any major scares.
The final whistle was greeted with a mighty roar, mostly relief, and a standing ovation from the excellent crowd of 1,030.
City will be hoping for an equally good turnout when they entertain Chelmsford on Tuesday before travelling for the second leg next Saturday.