Vanarama Conference South
Saturday 1 November 2014 - Twerton Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Simpson, Ball, Keary, Gallinagh (c), Artus (Perry 90), Stearn, Hemmings (Allen 60), McCootie (Pratt 84), Watkins. subs not used: Kington, Mitchell, Perry.
|man of the match:
||Stearn (47), Pratt (87)
||Hemmings (14), Artus (35), Ball (40), Allen (80)
||R Atkin, P Staynings, J Ainscow
|league position: 16th
||next match: Ebbsfleet Utd (A)
Report taken from
If last Saturday’s 7-1 FA Cup trouncing at the hands of East Thurrock was seen as a collective failure of Bath City’s team – as indicated during the week by the club’s management – then this victory over St Albans City in Vanarama Conference South was every bit as much a collective triumph for a side looking to heal the wounds of that punishing defeat.
With St Albans also having lost in the Cup, albeit by the somewhat smaller margin of a solitary goal against Concord Rangers, it was perhaps unsurprising that both sides looked somewhat nervous. Even Twerton Park was strangely quiet, more like a concert audience awaiting the arrival of a temperamental diva than a crowd anticipating a football match.
Yet despite the nerves it was the home side who started the stronger with a good opportunity wasted by Ross Stearn within the opening minutes when he fired an Andy Watkins’ cross high over the bar.
Seven minutes later and it was Nick McCootie with a shot which visiting keeper Joe Welch was forced to put over the cross bar.
Gradually the Saints came back into the match, mainly through the lively Lee Chappell who caused all manner of problems down the left flank. On 19 minutes he had a shot sail just wide of Jason Mellor’s upright. Three minutes later he took a quick throw-in to set John Frendo free only for his shot to be fired straight at Mellor, who gathered at the second attempt.
Mellor was again called into action just seconds after Frendo’s shot when this time a goalbound effort from Sam Concoran was deflected and the Bath keeper had to quickly readjust to collect the ball.
Yet despite plenty of possession the Saints still struggled with the final ball into the box against a City side that looked much more resolute in defence and with McCootie up front causing more problems in the opening ten minutes than he had done for 60 or more the preceding Saturday.
With half-time reached and no goal conceded it was undoubtedly the home side that would have felt the more relieved.
Yet clearly relief was not quite what was in the management’s mind as again at the start of the second period it was the home side that looked the stronger and they quickly got their reward.
Within minutes of the restart St Albans failed to clear from a simple Andy Gallinagh throw and Watkins was quickest to react. He took the ball to the bi-line, before crossing to the far post towards Stearn. The diminutive forward climbed exceptionally well to head the ball powerfully back across goal and into the net.
Suddenly the game opened up and for a spell it looked as if the Saints were the team most likely to take advantage.
They should have restored parity on 67 minutes when a long throw into the box from Lee Chappell, bounced into the area only for Frendo to put the ball over the bar. It was to be the visitors’ last real opportunity.
With both sides making a succession of substitutions in the closing stages the introduction of new players seemed to do little to encourage the visitors, while Chris Allen on for Chas Hemmings, who had taken a knock, galvanized the home midfield.
On 76 minutes Stearn brought out a good save from Welch from a 30-yard free-kick after Watkins had been brought down.
A minute later and again Stern was in the thick of the action this time having his shot blocked after good work from Sekani Simpson down the right.
In the end, with the home crowd brought to life, it was left to substitute Dave Pratt to add the cherry to top of the cake. Yet if Pratt added the decoration, it was Watkins who was clearly the baker.
With three minutes of normal time to go he again switched on the afterburners to leave defender John Kyriacou behind him. His cross dipped into the box and Pratt, charging for the line, scored with the ball looking to come off both his knee and defender.
It was a result which even if it could not reverse the disastrous Cup exit looked to have done much to restore confidence and to give City their most welcome home scoreline to date.