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22.08.2015 at 15:00 Clarence Park Attendance : 424
St Albans City
0 - 1
Bath City
Referee : Anthony Serrano (Hemel Hempstead) Varnarama National League South-match

None. Frankie Artus (31 pen.)
Opening squads
Joe Welch
Lee Chappell
John Kyriacou
Scott Thomas
Darren Locke
Ian Gayle
Jack Green
Lewis Hilliard
James Comley
Billy Medlock
Louie Theophanous
Steve Phillips
Andy Gallinagh
Kevin Nicholson
Aden Baldwin
Dan Ball
Chas Hemmings
Ashley Kington
Frankie Artus
Dave Pratt
Nick McCootie
Jon Davies
Ben Martin
Oran Swales
Matt Harvey
Ghassimu Sow
Simon Thomas
Dan Bowman
Brad Williams
Andy Watkins
Chris Allen
Louis Perry
Simon Thomas -> Lewis Hilliard (56)
Ghassimu Sow -> Jack Green (58)
Ben Martin -> Ian Gayle (75)
Andy Watkins -> Nick McCootie (46)
Dan Bowman -> Aden Baldwin (79)
Brad Williams -> Chas Hemmings (84)
Yellow cards
Darren Locke (27)
Lewis Hilliard (55)
Red cards
None. None
Match report

Billy Medlock and Simon Thomas are denied by the Bath City goalkeeper.
St Albans City shuffled the pack but there was still no sign of an ace as the Saints succumbed 1-0 to National League South leaders Bath City at a sweltering at Clarence Park on Saturday.

A first half penalty condemned St Albans to a fourth straight league defeat, as City’s worst ever start to a season, one point from five games, was equalled.

It is obvious that there are problems with this current City squad but it may well be that just fine tuning is required to kick-start their dreadful campaign.

The defence is relatively sound and supported, in Joe Welch, by an outstanding goalkeeper. The problems are to be found further down the pitch.

One goal in five games suggests that the attack is not up to the job, this may be true, but the biggest problem appears to be in midfield where there is a worrying lack of creativity.

Striker Louie Theophanous, although he had an ineffective afternoon on Saturday, is a proven goalscorer but the service he has received has been poor.

Four changes were made for the visit of Bath but on the whole City’s ability to create chances from open play was, once again, lamentable.

It was encouraging to see the team playing the ball along the ground more than in previous games this season, but once in an area that could hurt the opposition St Albans were found lacking the quality to do so.

The changes made by joint managers Graham Golds and Jimmy Gray were partly forced by injury and partly to try something different.

Injury ruled out midfielders Sam Corcoran and Luke Allen, while there was also no place in the starting XI for Ben Martin – on the day his father’s company were match sponsors – and Simon Thomas.

Darren Locke joined Ian Gayle in the middle of the back four, while John Kyriacou returned at right back, a move that allowed James Comley to strengthen the midfield.

Jack Green came in for his first starting appearance of the season and striker Billy Medlock joined Theophanous in attack.

Medlock caught the eye with several darting runs and also struck the crossbar as he gave the opposition defence problems.

Medlock certainly did his long term prospects no harm and the same can also said for substitute Ghassimu Sow, as the 20-year-old added new vitality to the side with assured passing, speed and a sharpness to assist in defence when defending set pieces and to lead counter-attacks.

As for Bath, the start made to the season by Lee Howells side has been spectacular and they certainly can create chances – but for Welch their margin of victory could have been significantly higher – and in five games have conceded just three goals.

That said, they do not pass and move with the same fluidity of Oxford City and they cannot match the strength in depth that Ebbsfleet United possess. They certainly work hard but they would be the surprise package if they are still challenging for the title come April.

Bath announced their attacking intentions inside the opening 20 seconds when David Pratt won a corner off Lee Chappell.

As City struggled to clear their lines from the set-piece the powerful Nick McCootie crossed from the left and the ball skimmed the top of the crossbar before going out of play.

Ashley Kington, a busy and effective figure in the middle of the park for the visitors, had the Romans first on-target shot of the day but it caused Welch little fuss.

McCootie showed his strength in holding off Gayle 15-yards inside the Saints half and then riding three challenges to get in an angled drive that clipped the apex of crossbar and upright.

A spell of sustained pressure on 28 minutes led to the deciding goal.

McCootie had a header blocked and a shot saved on the goalline by Welch following a corner.

The ball was cleared briefly before Jon Davies came in from the left flank and was sent crashing to the ground by Kyriacou who slipped as he went to challenge.

Beaten in only two of previous eight meetings between the two clubs Bath moved closer to extending that good record when Welch, despite partially blocking the resulting penalty, was unable to stop Frankie Artus from becoming the Romans joint top scorer on two.

With two-thirds of the game still to go there was now an air of the inevitable around Clarence Park, even so the overall performance still offered more optimism than that garnered from the midweek defeat at Eastbourne.

Attacking the York Road goal after the interval Bath, who sent on Andy Watkins for McCootie, set out to secure victory as quickly as possible.

Early pressure ended with a cross by Kington being glanced to Watkins and then headed on by Pratt but straight at a grateful Welch.

St Albans hit back with a measured passing move that saw Medlock involved three times before collecting a touch from Chappell and driving in a shot from 22-yards that clipped Kevin Nicholson and dipped over keeper Steve Phillips before hitting the crossbar.

But Bath were once again soon pounding away at the home goal with Welch keeping out a header from Pratt following a corner and instinctively using his leg to keep out an Ball’s follow up.

Welch was immediately back in action to superbly tip over the top a volley by the experienced Pratt from a cross by Nicholson.

Moments later Welch thwarted Pratt once more after the striker had virtually stumbled his way past Locke.

On 65 minutes St Albans finally called Phillips into action with an effort on-target.

The Romans keeper punched away a Chappell corner, Sow’s off-target shot was headed across goal by Medlock and retrieved from going out of play by Locke who headed it to Simon Thomas, but the City substitute saw his header gathered easily by Phillips.

Seven minutes from time St Albans had probably their best opportunity to stave off defeat.

Ghassimu swept a perfect ball to the right to Medlock who in turn arrowed a pass down the side of the penalty area to Kyriacou whose cross was diverted to Sow.

After taking precise aim the former Crystal Palace youngster saw his powerful shot saved by Phillips, but the ball flew up off the keeper for Theophanous to head it wide to Simon Thomas and his time his header went wide of the keeper but against the crossbar.

Both sides had chances in the remaining time with Medlock firing into the side-netting.

Welch made one more high quality save to keep out Kington’s shot from 25 yards while Pratt shot tamely wide after breaking clear.

St Albans remain one place off the foot of the table and head for Chelmsford City next Saturday again without Corcoran who is facing a lengthy lay-off.

Luke Allen stands a better chance of being fit as the Saints head to Melbourne Park looking for their first win of the season, first away goal and first goal, home or away, since the second game of the season.
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