Romans On March
December 7, 2014
MATCH REPORT: St Albans (Frendo 1) 1 Bath City 0
If possession is nine-tenths of the law then Bath City had enough of it to just about fill every court in the land at St Albans.
Yet at the end of the day some traditional frailties returned in this match. A defensive error gifted St Albans a goal and despite 89 minutes in which to mount a recovery, City huffed and puffed but failed to breech a resolute home defence down to ten men for 30 minutes of the game.
City started with a somewhat unusual formation. Favouring Nick McCootie and Andy Watkins up front rather than Dave Pratt and Ross Stearn, they also pushed Dan Ball into midfield, playing just in front of the defence, in for the suspended Chas Hemmings.
However, the formation had little to do with the visitors’ disastrous start as they conceded a goal which defender Phil Walsh readily admitted was down to him and came before most of the players on the pitch had even had a touch.
The ball, which was lobbed long into the City penalty area, saw Walsh back-pedal towards his goal. He got too much height on his header in attempting to steer it back to Jason Mellor and in stepped forward John Frendo to put the ball in the net.
From then on City pressed forward but lacked the killer touch. In the fourth minute McCootie got into a good position but headed over the crossbar, while a minute later Ball got in a shot but it skidded along the frosted Clarence Park pitch, presenting little threat to Joe Welch in the home goal
The Saints only occasionally sallied forward, but when they did the threat of Frendo leading their attack always looked more dangerous than anything the visitors had to offer.
In the eighth minute the lively forward was given too much room by the City defence, putting in a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box which Mellor did well to turn behind for a corner.
City then retaliated five minutes later, this time with Frankie Artus pressing forward but again his shot was easy for Welch to collect.
Despite the amount of time on the ball the visitors had, it was still the Saints who threatened next. After first Walsh and then Ball had failed to clear out of defence, Charlie Smith put in a shot which again Mellor did well to turn behind.
Next up came Artus and Watkins spurning chances – Artus heading over and then Watkins, from a tight angle, putting in a shot which again Welch easily collected at his near post.
The second half continued with more of the same as City controlled the game but lacked the final punch. Either side of the hour mark Pratt came on for Adelsbury followed by Stearn for McCootie, yet it did little to change the pattern of play.
In fact the biggest difference came just before Pratt’s substitution when Charlie Gorman and Ball went in for a tackle, but the former – with his foot high – was dismissed by referee Lee Betts, leaving the Saints with more than 30 minutes to play one man short.
Betts’ dismissal was not the only drama as a minute later one of the referee’s assistants signalled he could not continue and play was suspended for more than ten minutes as an acceptable alternative was asked for, and then found, from the Clarence Park crowd.
Yet despite the substitutions and playing against ten men, the visitors could not force home their advantage.
They went close with two minutes remaining when Ross Stearn won a free-kick 20 yards from goal and dead centre. His curving kick went round the wall and ricocheted back off the crossbar.
St Albans: Welch, Kyriacou, Green, Gorman, Martin (Corcoran 61), Gayles, Beckles, Comley, Frendo (Lancasteer 66), Nouble (Wales 55), Smith. Subs not used: Longe-King, Culton.
Bath City: Mellor, Simpson, Gallinagh, Keary, Walsh (Allen 78), Adelsbury (Pratt 59), Watkins, Kington, McCootie (Stearn 64), Ball, Artus. Subs not used: Rollo, Perry.
Referee: Lee Betts (Norwich).
(Adapted from the Bath Chronicle with thanks.)