Bath City 1-2 Bromley
Mayday Trust Park
Bromley came away with all 3 points in a game with 2 penalties and two very different styles of play at Mayday Trust Park.
High flying Bromley extended their lead at the top of the Conference South by picking up 3 hard fought points away to Bath City on Saturday 18th January. Goals from Goldberg and Joseph-Dubois in each half was enough to seal it for Bromley with City’s only reply coming from Keats with Stearn missing a penalty in the first half.
The game started well for Bath as they looked to play open attacking football from the off, opting to start with Dave Pratt upfront with Andrew Watkins and Ross Stearn in support. The first real chance of the game came on 7 minutes when Bromley gave away a free kick 25 yards out, with Stern hitting a fierce low shot through the wall and out for a corner. An even better chance for the home side to take the lead came on 15 minutes. Ross Stearn played a long ball forward, which flicked off of a defenders head straight into the stride of Pratt. However Pratt took too long to get the ball out of his feet and Joe Anderson got back with a well timed tackle to concede a corner.
It was Bromley that took the lead in the game two minutes later with the first penalty of the game. There was a free kick on the edge of the box with the Bromley captain, Rob Swaine, going down under a challenge from Mark Preece, and the referee pointing to the spot. Bradley Goldberg had no problem from the spot dispatching the ball, putting it to the left of Jason Mellor who chose to dive right. This goal only spurred Bath on to attack more with several efforts going wide, but it was on the half an hour mark that the 755 crowd saw the referee award a second penalty of the game. This time it was the home team though. Adam Connolly had two volley’s in quick succession at goal with the second striking a Bromley defenders hand which the referee deemed at hand ball. The duty of penalty taker feel to this season’s top goal scorer Stern. Unfortunately for the hosts his side footed effort went sailing over the bar in a poor effort.
Stearn went some way to redeeming himself just five minutes later then he peeled off at the back post to hook the ball goalwards from a cross into the box. The shot went into a crowd of players and the arriving Noah Keats managed to get a back heel on to it, wrong footing Joe Welch in goal, creeping in under him making it 1-1 going into the break.
Managing Director Adie Britton and Player-coach Jim Rollo, in the absence of an ill Lee Howells, gave the team talk to Bath at the break and they came out much stronger in the second half. After a tightly contested 10 minutes Bath came closest to scoring from an Aaron Brown corner finding the head of Watkins only for his header to be cleared off the line by a well placed Bromley defender. Bromley still strived to get forward on the counter attack and were ahead once more on 59 minutes when they had a free kick awarded on the right hand side. The ball was crossed into the Bath penalty area with Joseph-Dubois rising well to glance the ball into the net out of the reach of Mellor. From this goal Bromley sought to time waste and run down the clock for the win with their players going down under 50/50 balls very easily, with their captain leading by example.
Bath still tried to play the ball round Bromley and their patience almost came off on 69 minutes with the combative midfielder Joe Burnell forcing a smart save from Welch. Both managers made changes to refresh their squads who were running themselves ragged on the heavy rain soaked pitch. The game then came to life again in the last 5 minutes with both teams going close. Bromley seized on a poor clearance by Mellor with the impressive Joseph-Dubois racing clear only for the Bath captain Andy Gallinagh to make a well timed tackle on 84 minutes. Goal scorer and Man of the Match Keats had another great opportunity to add to his tally on 88 minutes as he stooped to meet a Brown corner but the Bromley defence produced another clearance off the line. Mellor then had to be at his best to keep out Joseph-Dubois in the final minute. There was then 4 minutes of extra time with the pressure on Bromley to keep their lead. Keats went close again when he beat the offside trap but put his header in the keeper’s grateful arms.
So Bromley stay top with an 11 point lead over second placed Eastleigh, whilst Bath slip down to 9th still just 2 points off the playoffs.