Vanarama National League South
Saturday 22 August 2015 - Clarence Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Phillips, Gallinagh (c), Nicholson, Baldwin (Bowman 78), Ball, Hemmings (Williams 84), Kington, Artus, Pratt, McCootie (Watkins HT), Davies. subs not used: Perry, Allen.
|man of the match:
||Artus (pen 31)
||A Serrano, P Forrester, C Pullin
|league position: 1st
||next match: Havant & W'ville (H)
Report taken from
Bath City survived a couple of late scares to grind out their fifth win in a row and achieve their best start to a season in 70 years.
Despite dominating most of the match on a sweltering day in Hertfordshire, profligacy and bad luck meant City only had one goal to show for their exertions - a scoreline which didn't fully reflect their superiority.
That it was another penalty which separated the two sides will be of some concern for Lee Howells and Adie Britton, since plenty of good chances were created either side of Frankie Artus' match-winning goal after 31 minutes.
The first half was a fairly tight, testy affair with neither side able to create too many meaningful chances.
Nick McCootie brought the game to live on the quarter-hour. Robbing Scott Thomas in midfield, he slalomed through the home defence and drove into the box on the left. Caught slightly off balance, he struck a powerful shot which cannoned off the angle of post and bar; the striker unfortunate not to see the net bulge after such diligent approach play.
The home side's fragile confidence was evidenced throughout the first period as countless passes failed to find their target. This meant a distinct lack of progress was made in the final third despite the best efforts of the forward-thinking full-backs John Kyriacou and Lee Chappell, who foraged nobly at both ends of the field to little avail.
It was unfortunate, therefore, that Kyriacou was the man responsible for the decisive moment in the game. Jon Davies squared the full-back up and was caught late as he approached the penalty area.
Whether he was inside the box was a cause of conjecture for the St Albans' management, but the defender was asking for trouble by diving in. Despite Artus not striking the penalty particularly well to the goalkeeper's left, Welch was unable to prevent the ball squirming under him and just over the line.
Dave Pratt had the ball in the net just before half time, but the whistle had long gone for a foul on Chappell, keeping the lead slender at the break.
Bath came out of the traps flying at the start of the second half and should have put the game out of sight. Kington drove over, Artus saw an on-target shot blocked and substitute Andy Watkins had a goal-bound effort cleared off the line as the second seemed inevitable. Despite several more attempts, it didn't come.
With both teams tiring in the heat, St Albans finally rallied and, but for a couple of goalmouth scrambles not going their way, could have found themselves level.
From the first, Simon Thomas twice saw efforts cleared off the line while from the second, Gassimu Sow was somehow denied by a combination of Phillips and his defenders before Thomas came even closer. He hit the bar with a header from the follow-up; a narrow escape for the Romans and clearly not Thomas' day.
In a last-gasp attempt to equalise, St Albans sent their centre-backs forward. Chappell's long throw led to more penalty-box ping pong, from which Billy Medlock had time to control the ball but lacked composure and drove his shot into the side netting.
With five minutes added on there was still time for Welch to brilliantly deny Kington, tipping his rasping 25-yard drive over the bar, and for Pratt to miss a sitter, somehow sliding wide when clean through.
The late miss didn't prove costly, though. It was five wins from five for Bath City and with it, a three-point cushion at the top of National League South and their best start to a season for 70 years. Not too many supporters would have been there the last time it happened.