BATH CITY 1 MAGPIES 0
VETERAN midfielder Nick Crittenden saw red as Dorchester Town saw a three-point gap open up between them and the rest at the foot of Skrill South.
The Magpies started brightly at Mayday Trust Park but faded as the match progressed, with Crittenden’s frustration boiling over as he produced three rash challenges in as many minutes – two of them earning yellow cards.
City bossed possession in the second half but only had one goal to show for their efforts from the unlikely source of Joe Burnell – the former Bristol City midfielder bagged only the fifth goal of his 14-year playing career.
Dorchester were unchanged from the team which were only denied victory at Bishop’s Stortford in midweek by a late equaliser.
And they made a lively start, with City keeper Jason Mellor punching a second-minute cor-ner as far as Nathan Craig whose rising drive just cleared the bar.
Charlie Losasso also managed to find some space behind the City defence moments later but dragged his shot wide of the far post.
City’s first major threat saw Chris Allen’s free-kick find ex-Magpie Phil Walsh in the box, but the defender seemed surprised by how much space he had and could only scuff a tame shot straight at Alan Walker-Harris.
The Magpies’ keeper found himself in the book in the ninth minute after racing out of his box to bring down Jake Reid as he broke down the right.
Both sides were contributing to a decent opening quarter, with City defender Dan Ball doing well to head Losasso’s dangerous cross to safety as Ashley Yeoman waited to nod home at the back post.
Dorchester also forced seven corners during the first half, while City earned a handful of free-kicks around the box, but clear-cut chances began to dry up and it remained deadlocked at the interval.
That changed less than two minutes into the second half as City took the lead.
Wilson’s cross was fumbled at his near post by Walker-Harris and while Craig did well to block Andy Watkins’ follow-up, the ball broke for Burnell to calmly pick his spot through a crowd of players.
It was a fine finish from the defensive midfielder, who had scored just once for City in his previous 114 appearances.
His effort set the tone for the rest of the half as Dorchester struggled to get going.
However, they almost equalised out of the blue when Yeoman’s shot struck Walsh and spun across to Losasso, who unleashed a thunderous angled drive which beat Mellor but smacked the upright and went behind.
It was City’s turn to hit the woodwork in the 70th minute when substitute Ross Stearn’s corner was met with a firm header by Walsh from six yards, only for it to rattle the bar.
The Magpies were on the back foot and their frustration showed when they were reduced to 10 men with 15 minutes to go.
Crittenden, who had been booked for a challenge on Adam Connolly a couple of minutes earlier, then went in from behind on Ball and referee Simon Knapp had no option but to show a second yellow when the midfielder clattered into Watkins on the touchline.
City were dominating possession and went for the jugular but were unable to find a second goal.
Allen thumped a left-foot volley just wide while Watkins’ clever back-heel from eight yards went straight at Walker-Harris.
Substitute Jake McCarthy also produced a brilliant defensive header from virtually underneath his own bar.
Another glorious chance went begging in the first minute of injury-time as Watkins sent Stearn racing clear but the winger blazed over.
However, Burnell’s goal proved to be enough for City to complete a league double over Dorchester.
Bath: Mellor, Simpson, Ball, Gallinagh, Walsh, Burnell (Adelsbury 73), Connolly, Allen, Reid (Pratt 73), Watkins, Wilson (Stearn 57). Subs not used: Bowman, Low.
Magpies: Walker-Harris, Lanahan (McCarthy 62), Smeeton, Jermyn, N Walker, Craig, Crittenden, Gleeson (Makoni 80), Yeoman, Byerley (Munday 62), Losasso. Subs not used: S Walker, Twyford.
Bookings: Bath – None
Magpies – Walker-Harris (foul, 9), Lanahan (foul, 43), N Walker (foul, 69), Crittenden (foul, 72 and 85)
Sent off: Magpies – Crittenden (two bookable offences, 85)
Referee: Simon Knapp (Pucklechurch)