Vanarama National League South
Saturday 18 February 2017 - Clarence Park - kick off 3.00pm
||O'Leary, Rigg, Welch-Hayes, Batten, Hemmings, Artus (c), Watkins, Murphy, McCootie (Simpson 80), Morgan (Diallo 80), McCoulsky (Hutchinson 90). subs not used: Hunter, Marshall.
|man of the match:
||Morgan (3), McCootie (22), McCoulsky (60), Watkins (89)
||E Kaye, N MacKenzie, S Gil
|league position: 9th
||next match: Weston SM (SPC) (A)
Report taken from
Bath City went goal crazy at Clarence Park as Gary Owers' attackers produced the goods against a shell shocked St Albans City.
The Romans chief included Marvin Morgan, Nick McCootie, Shawn McCoulsky and Andy Watkins in his starting line-up, and they all found the scoresheet in a fine afternoon.
While they played their part in front of goal, Max O'Leary between the sticks proved just as significant, making his third penalty save of the year, which proved a turning point late on.
City made one enforced change from Tuesday's draw at Oxford, Morgan reinstated to the starting line-up at the expense of Axel Andresson, following the Reading loanee's recall from his parent club.
His absence was hardly ideal, which was a total contrast to the visitors' flying start to proceedings.
Inside three minutes, Morgan found Miles Welch-Hayes on the left, who returned the favour with a floated cross for the front man as in the penalty area.
The experienced forward took a touch before beautifully cutting his shot across James Russell from almost on the penalty spot.
It was his first goal in 11 matches and a neat way to end the drought.
St Albans' leading marksman, Louie Theophanous, nearly replied swiftly. Shaun Lucien's drilled corner found the onrushing striker, who thumped a shot against the upright before it was ushered away.
The home side forced several corners early on, with O'Leary dealing well with a succession of deliveries just under the crossbar, and his calmness proved vital as City doubled their lead on 21 minutes with a lovely goal.
The tireless McCootie won the ball in the right back position and switched play to Watkins on the opposite side.
After skipping inside and evading those that tried to halt him, Watkins intelligently cut the Saints defence in half with a telling through ball to McCootie, who timed his run perfectly to delicately loft the ball over the advancing Russell – a sumptuous finish.
This second goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of the hosts, with mistakes creeping into their game.
Said errors were also forced by the high pressing of Owers' charges, with Watkins and McCootie in particular barely letting the back four settle.
McCootie blazed over following a Watkins lay-off after Billy Murphy's quick free-kick caught the hosts' defence cold, before McCoulsky was guilty of a more glaring miss on the stroke of half-time.
Morgan's flick found the on-loan forward with just Russell to beat, but he side-footed against the legs of the St Albans custodian when in hindsight he should have dinked the ball over.
It was the final chance of an entertaining first half, and the excitement rose a few further levels after the interval.
Soon after the restart, Chas Hemmings' effort was scrambled off the line, with Watkins' follow-up well saved by the unsighted Russell.
City's constant chasing and harrying paid off further on 56 minutes when they were gifted with a third goal.
Tom Bender's attempted backpass provoked a breakdown of communication between Ben Martin and Russell, which allowed McCoulsky to benefit and gleefully nip in before rolling the ball into the empty net.
The three-goal lead lasted less than 180 seconds. Sam Merson, son of former Arsenal legend Paul, beat Jack Batten in the air and helped the ball on to Charlie Walker, who caught out O'Leary by drilling home from just outside the penalty area.
St Albans reshaped soon afterwards with Lee Chappell replacing Martin, as they looked for further inroads in the game and to add to their first goal against City in over 400 minutes of football.
Instead it was Bath who almost edged further ahead. Morgan slalomed between defenders, allowing himself space to shoot, but he poked his effort wide from ten yards.
McCootie was prevented a fourth goal for the visitors, as referee Elliott Kaye penalised him for dangerous play when his raised foot tried to prod the ball past Russell.
Former Bristol Rovers man Jamie Cureton, now 41, was brought on to try and help salvage a point for the hosts.
The nomadic forward's first involvement saw a stinging volley fisted away by O'Leary, with Bender unable to convert the rebound as it flew back at him.
Despite being under the cosh, it looked like City were going to see the game out with their two-goal lead intact until, with around ten minutes remaining, the home side had a lifeline.
Welch-Hayes' interception resulted in the ball ricocheting back towards O'Leary, who sprinted off his line to gather.
Whilst doing so, Hemmings was harshly adjudged to have upended Merson off the ball, with a penalty awarded.
Shaun Lucien stepped up and drilled his spot-kick to O'Leary's right, but the on-loan stopper reacted superbly to parry and then deny David Noble on the follow-up.
Sekani Simpson and Naby Diallo were introduced for McCootie and Morgan as City went to a back five. It didn't have an immediate effect as the City keeper had to be alert again to tip over Bender's header as Ian Allinson's men probed further, with a few other scrambles rushed clear.
But in throwing men forward, St Albans left gaps at the back. Diallo took advantage initially, his through ball finding McCoulsky, played onside by Scott Thomas.
The forward burst clear and saw his shot flicked onto the post by Russell, with Watkins following up to slam the ball into the empty net, his 12th goal in 13 games to sew the game up.
The misery was further compounded for the Saints, who saw substitute Sam Corcoran limp off near the end, leaving them with ten men for the dying stages.
For the visitors, though, it was a job well done on the road, and a statement of intent on the sides above them with approximately a third of the season left.
In a campaign where the Romans have proved so lethal from set-pieces, four goals from open play, and nine goals in three matches, will leave the club believing that perhaps the play-offs aren't quite out of reach.