Vanarama National League South
Saturday 20 February 2016 - Twerton Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Phillips (c), Gallinagh, Ball, Batten, Taylor, Artus, Murphy, Kelly (Williams 82), Richards (Bowman 65), McCootie, Watkins (Greenslade 77). subs not used: Hemmings, Kington.
|man of the match:
||A Ricketts, R Cottle, S Shaw
|league position: 16th
||next match: Havant & W'Ville (A)
Report taken from
Bath City secured their first home win since late October the hard way as they ground out a slim victory over relegation rivals St Albans City.
Andy Watkins had them in front midway through the first half with his fifth goal of the season, but the Romans should arguably have been out of sight well before the 90 minutes were up.
Eliot Richards drilled a first-half penalty onto the terraces before Nick McCootie had a spot-kick of his own kept out by Saints keeper Joe Welch after the break.
Young Reading loanee Liam Kelly also struck a post late in the piece, but City still notched a first home triumph since beating Chelmsford 2-0 on October 31.
In truth they rarely found themselves troubled by a St Albans outfit that will quickly be doomed if their National League South form does not pick up in a hurry.
Gary Owers – in his first match back at Twerton Park – made just one change to the team with veteran centre-half Matt Taylor replacing Danny Greenslade, sliding Dan Ball out to the left-back spot.
The opening minutes were dominated by City, who had the visitors penned into their own third for a good five minutes.
Frankie Artus had the first dig at goal when he latched onto a half-clearance and blazed over from 25 yards.
But after that the game became scrappy, somewhat predictably for the two out-of-form teams.
Passes were misplaced, touches went astray and Steve Phillips was forced to battle a strong wind with any kicks from the Bath end.
He was not alone dealing out troubling kicks as, ten minutes in, Saints keeper Welch scuffed a first-time clearance straight to McCootie.
The frontman drove to the byline and hooked a dangerous cross in from the left that was cleared with two striped shirts waiting in the centre.
City would break the deadlock eventually, taking the lead in a game for the first time since December's win at Ebbsfleet United.
A looping high ball from Andy Gallinagh was nudged into the path of McCootie, who in turn flicked Watkins through to slot under the advancing keeper.
St Albans still knocked on the door occasionally, predominantly from set-plays and long throws from Lee Chappell.
Occasionally the hosts struggled to get the ball away, at one point just holding out from a double chance for Chappell and Ben Martin.
But when that move was deterred City went on the counter, starting with a well-placed pass down the right touchline from Richards for Kelly to dash onto.
The move proceeded with the ball swept across the box to Artus, who was acrobatically upended by a defender.
Richards – on the back of his successful spot kick at Sutton last week – stepped up to take it, only to slip and blast into the rear of the Bristol End.
Taylor almost cost City a goal when he let former Brentford man Charlie MacDonald through, with Phillips forced to come swiftly off his line to shut down the danger.
Saints skipper Sam Corcoran shanked an effort wide of the near post after beating three defenders and substitute Jonathan Edwards scuffed across goal for the visitors as the half wore on.
The final chance for City came from a Kelly free-kick. His dead-ball narrowly evaded a leaping Jack Batten and almost snuck past Welch, who grabbed hold of the ball at the second attempt.
It took a good 12 minutes for the second period to warm up before Tom Bender drilled into a wall of City bodies.
Then came the Romans' second penalty miss. The chance was earned by an intricate through pass for Richards, whose run was halted by the rash slide of Welch.
This time McCootie stepped up, sauntered towards the ball and saw his effort pushed away by the keeper, diving to his right at a comfortable height.
Extraordinarily, it was the third time this season that City had missed two spot-kicks in a game following double failures by Ashley Kington at Basingstoke, and Artus against Hayes & Yeading.
Chappell hoofed a free-kick way over the bar at the other end, but that was about the best Saints could muster.
Kelly came close to capping an excellent display with a goal when he burst through the centre and crashed a 25-yard shot off the right-hand post.
Late on, the attacking trio of Richards, Kelly and Watkins were all replaced as Owers looked to shore up his defence with three much-needed points on the horizon.
Yet the closing stages remained perfectly even, with Welch even forced to tip an in-swinging Artus corner over his crossbar as the visitors failed to trouble Phillips and his defence.
That was helped in part by the combination of McCootie and Dan Bowman holding the ball in the top-right corner to see out the clock and secure the win.