Wednesday, 17 April 2019

13/04/19 Review: Bath City vs St Albans City

Bath City 0-3 St Albans City (National League South)
Twerton Park

Finally, the much awaited trip to Twerton Park happened last weekend and although the game itself was a massive disappointment I was still over the moon to be visiting one of the greatest grounds in non-league. Just a couple of months on from my encounter at the National North's historically beautiful equivalent, Bootham Crescent, I was this time making my merry way down to the South West of the country in search of my old pal Tom- and, of course, the high stake clash between playoff hopefuls Bath City and St Albans City.

Twerton Park, bring it on!
With a wealth of grounds already ticked off in this part of the world, twelve in total before this outing, it was a delight to be spending the weekend in Severn Beach and although we were equally as quick to get the hell out of there as we boarded the train towards Bristol, to be honest we were both just glad to be out and about with a pack of beers and a full day of frivolities ahead. Neither of us have a track record of smooth travelling and the first test of the day would be at our first transfer at Bristol Temple Meads as my partner in crime got us off to a good start by losing his wallet. I won't reveal where he lost it (*cough* his coat pocket *cough*) but it was fairly embarrassing and it meant that we missed our rail replacement bus by a whisker and instead had to settle with landing in Bath centre around 2pm. Still plenty of time to make the game though, so no really worries.
Chill out lads, it's the weekend
By the time we'd faffed around, completed our half a dozen stubbys, jumped in a taxi driven by a Steaua Bucharest and been dumped out at the ground, we still had twenty minutes to spare and so decided to surprise the readers and check out the clubhouse! Rammed with pre-match drinkers, a tradition that will hopefully never die, we had a swift one and even wolfed down some free quiche which may or may not have been for people other than us. As much as I'd have loved to stay and bask in the glory of pastry and pints, we soon found ourselves inside the walls of Twerton Park and ready to cheer on the Romans. As is the norm, I made my prediction and I forced Tom into one too. Safe to say that with us both predicting a Bath win, 3-2 and 3-1 respectively, we were soon to be surprised by the purple wearing boys from Hertfordshire who had made a 120+ journey across the M4 in search of glory. The Romans opened proceedings with some attacking play and hit the post early through Adam Mann, but despite the roar of the thousand or so in attendance, the opener would come through a visiting attack. Clovis Kamdjo, who I'd noted as a good player when he visited the Moss Rose with Forest Green during our National League days, made a clever stride into the box from a corner and his head was the one to meet the ball and he was able to watch it nestle in the host's goal in the 15th minute. Bath 0-1 St Albans. The match, being labelled as "the Roman derby", had got off to a great start for the visitors.

Would the promotion push be steered off-track today?
The last time I watched a National League South game was at the opposite side of the country and it was quite fitting that after visiting Rookery Hill, arguably the worst ground in the league, I would be taking in a game at undoubtedly the most beautiful piece of stadium in the South West. As I walked around the ground with Tom, a Gashead and for obvious reasons a massive fan of Twerton Park, I was in awe of the olden style ground and how well it has aged. In the corners there are some fab corner terraces which give the stadium a wonderful round shape and these only add to the stone-laid raked standing areas in the surrounds of the pitch. A proper ground- hopefully the proposed changes won't take too much of the character away.

Okay, maybe they should give this Rovers bought stand back...
Speaking of Rovers-Romans connections, back on the pitch the game was winding down towards half-time and despite ex-Gas lad Sean Rigg looking good in the City midfield, there was nothing too much for the crowd to shout about and as a result we made the call to rush straight back to the bar on the blow of the whistle. With the next fifteen minutes stood nattering about how delighted we were at being down at Twerton, despite the game being poor so far, we got so involved with boozing and chatter that we almost missed the early second goal. Thankfully I arrived at pitchside just in time to see Sam Merson, son of former Premier League star Paul, tuck home a crucial goal that gave the travelling fans a bit of leverage for the remainder of the game. Bath 0-2 St Albans. Just before that, the Albans keeper had gone into the book for time wasting and I think it's safe to write that the game plan of the visiting side, who leapt into the playoffs as a result of this away win, would only become more and more about escaping Twerton Park with the three points and a clean sheet.

We returned to stand with the home fans on the off-chance of a comeback
Although we were optimistic about the home side's chances of a dramatic fightback, it would in fact be the ultimate kick in the nads for Bath at the end of the afternoon as Ben Wyatt rounded off a great break with a finish that put the full stop on proceedings and made for a dismal day at the office- the Romans had fallen. Bath 0-3 St Albans. Soon after this the Hans Moleman of referees decided he'd seen enough and that meant for us it was time to continue our pub crawl and of course get ourselves mentally prepared for Sunday's action in South Wales as we crossed the border for Goytre's Plough Road. All that's left to say is that Twerton Park has to be one of the best grounds at this level and with everything bar a result, it was a near-perfect experience for Pint of Football!

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