In missing two penalties Bath City tried their utmost to keep alive St Albans Cityâ€™s National League South survival ambitions but, ultimately, an Andy Watkins goal has all but condemned the Saints to relegation whilst giving the Romans genuine hope of avoiding the drop.
Joe Welch saves one of 2 penalties awarded to Bath
With a dozen games to go St Albans still have time to extend their two-year stay in National League South, but an 11th game with a win, a sixth successive away league defeat â€“ the clubs worst run for 33 years â€“ the lowest scorers in the Division and only eight goals from 16 away games, all combine to suggest that City will kick off next season at a lower level.
This comes after a close season in which the Saints paid their record transfer fee to bring in renowned goal scorer Louie Theophanous, but the fault cannot be laid at the feet of one player.
Allinson has highlighted Cityâ€™s inability to send in good crosses from the flanks, and when the recently appointed captain Sam Corcoran has a quiet day then the creativity from midfield virtually dries up.
And creativity was most certainly in short supply at a windswept Twerton Park on Saturday. The hosts produced just two on-target efforts all afternoon while City failed to muster as much as one for a second successive match.
The appointment of Ian Allinson as manager looks to be one of more competent decisions of the club over the past year but it probably came too late to give the former Boreham Wood boss any real chance of staving off the drop.
Twerton Park has never been a good hunting ground for the Saints â€“ they had not scored during five previous visits â€“ but with this seen as one of their last hopes of keeping in touch with the clubs just above the relegation zone, a do-or-die approach was expected.
St Albans had the wind to their backs during the first half but such was its strength that it was of no real benefit to the Saints cause.
For the opening 20 minutes, with new signing Harry Anderson looking lively and threatening down the right, St Albans appeared capable of extending Bathâ€™s own miserable run.
But once the Romans had taken the lead midway through the first half the Saints fate looked to be sealed.
Probably unsurprisingly it was Bath, despite the Saints reasonable start to the game, who had the first shot of the match when Frankie Artus fired over from 25 yards.
The visitors won the first corner on five minutes but Lee Chappellâ€™s set-piece was ushered into the near-post side-netting by the strong wind that did little to aid the entertainment.
Chappell did, however, cause a couple of anxious moments with long throws from the opposite flank.
When the second throw was returned to him Chappell clipped a high looping ball into the penalty area that neither Charlie MacDonald nor Eddie Oshodi could get on the end of and the ball landed in front of Steve Phillipsâ€™ goal before bouncing high for a goal kick.
Gradually attention was turning towards the opposition goal and howls from the home support for a penalty when Watkins went down most dramatically â€“ when supposedly fouled by Ugo Udoji â€“ were as far-fetched as any title dreams the Saints may have held last August.
But on 22 minutes Watkins was more impressive as his fifth goal of the season secured the Romans first home win since October.
Ben Martin tackled the muscular Nick McCootie to concede a throw on the Bath right.
Andy Gallinaghâ€™s throw was returned to him by Eliot Richards. The right-back then sent a hopeful high ball to around ten yards outside the Saints penalty area.
McCootie pulled away from Martin and flicked a header on for Watkins to nip between the surprised Eddie Oshodi and Udoji to fire the deciding goal to the left of the advancing Joe Welch.
Two minutes later Bath counter-attacked in style following a St Albans corner.
McCootie led the breakaway down the Bath right before Liam Kelly, Richards and Watkins worked the ball across the pitch to Artus, who went down to win a penalty under a challenge from Martin.
It was harsh on the former Saints captain who had done little more than stand his ground.
But Bathâ€™s elation was short-lived though as Richardsâ€™ skied the spot kick high over Welchâ€™s goal with the ball only staying in the ground thanks to a wall at the top of the steep terrace.
St Albans were almost gifted a way back into the game when Matt Taylor ducked under a ball into the box by Udoji and Chappell darted behind the defender, but as Chappell touched the ball wide of the keeper Phillips just managed to get a hand to it and grab it before Chappell could turn it in.
Visiting supporters were treated to the rare sight of a St Albans shot at goal but Corcoranâ€™s effort, after evading three tackles, bounced comfortably wide.
Bath came close to adding a freak second goal just prior to the interval when a Kelly free kick sailed over the head of Jack Batten and looked set to bounce inside the far post but Welch was alert and got down to smother the ball on the goalline.
St Albans lost Michael Thalassitis to injury on 40 minutes but his replacement, Jonathan Edwards, back with the Saints at the start of a second loan spell, caused some concern for the home side with a low effort that curled across the face of the goal and out for a goal kick.
City did get the ball into the home net early in the second half when Anderson sent Charlie MacDonald away but the whistle had blown for shirt-pulling by MacDonald on Batten long before the ball entered the goal.
Just after the hour Bath should have wrapped the points up when an excellent through ball by Kelly sent Richards clear of the St Albans defence only to be brought down by the sprawling Welch.
The Saints â€˜keeper escaped a booking and made an excellent save to his right to beat out McCootieâ€™s well-struck spot kick.
Remarkably, it is the third occasion this season that Bath have missed two penalties in the same match, but it was from a penalty that they bagged the points at Clarence Park back in August.
With that second let-off St Albans now had around 25 minutes in which to launch a serious bid to avoid being left stranded at the foot of the table, yet the response was, at best, limp, with a double substitution failing to inject any sense of urgency.
Indeed it was the home side, showing signs of a recovery under Gary Owers at the start of his second spell in charge at Twerton Park, who came closest to adding to the score.
Kelly dispossessed Chappell on the halfway line and raced forward unchallenged before sending a wonderful effort from 25 yards against the apex of crossbar and post.
The rebound was hacked away by Udoji but collected by Bath substitute Dan Bowman whose low out-swinging cross only just evaded Kellyâ€™s lunge in front of goal.
Seven minutes from time Bath finally won their first corner of the day and seconds later had their second as Welch was forced to palm over the top Artusâ€™s in-swinging dead-ball kick.
The points were Bathâ€™s and instead of closing the gap on the home side to four points the Saints are now ten points adrift of the Romans and remain seven points behind the first side above the relegation zone, having played two, and three, games more than the sides they need to chase down.
It looks a forlorn task.
St Albans now have three successive home league games in which to mount one final push towards safety starting with the visit of Brighton side Whitehawk next Saturday, 27th February. Kick off at Clarence Park is at 3pm.