Bath City 2-1 Bishop Stortford
Mayday Trust Park
First 3 points of 2014 pushes Bath City back into the playoffs
Bath City came away with all 3 points at Mayday Trust Park in a scrappy game in some extreme weather. Box to box midfielder Keats managed to put City into the lead twice by being in the right place at the right time. However Bishop Stortford found the net through a free glancing header from Michael Richens to level the score in the first half. This must win game lifts Bath City back into a play off place where they will look to stay for the remainder of the season.
The game started brightly for both sides with Bath keeper Jason Mellor saving well from 0. Stortford were still very much in the game with Baker giving young defender Dan Bowman problems all half. A result of this was a free kick conceded by Bowman on 20 minutes, which was crossed into the area with Michael Richens rising to glance a free header past Mellor to make it 1-1.
The lively Stortford midfielder Richens forced a smart stop from the back peddling Mellor with his cross come shot from 30 yards with 27 minutes gone. Ben Adelsbury then headed just over from an Aaron Brown free kick for Bath on 31 minutes. The rest of the half was very even with both sides going close. Stortford had two good chances from Brian Woodall and Richens. 36 minutes in Woodall twisted the Bath defence inside out only for his shot, inside the box, to be blocked by a last ditch tackle from the Bath captain Andy Gallinagh. A few minutes later Richens went close from a scramble in the Bath box from a corner. Bath then narrowly missed out on taking the lead when Galinagh’s mishit shot, from a corner, almost fell to Mark Preece right on the stroke of half time.
The second half saw the Stortford keeper, Cowler, called into action a lot more. Watkins saw his one on one shot, from a Keats through ball saved on 62 minutes. Then Lee Howells saw the opportunities starting to open up for Bath so they introduced top goal scorer Ross Stearn from the bench. It was Stortford to fine the net though on 69 minutes through George Allen up from the back for a free kick. His free header inside the 6 yard box beat Mellor but not the linesman who flagged for offside much to the relief of the home faithful. Stortford introduced a goal threat of their own in the form of Liam Enver-Marum who had a chance blocked by Bowman on 74 minutes and went close again a minute later. Bath found the winning goal on 80 minutes when Stearn was played through only for his one on one to be saved, but Keats followed up on the shot and fired home the winner.
Enver-Marum went close again on 86 minutes as the game really opened up for the last few minutes. Scott Wilson was introduced by Bath on 81 minutes and his first chance came on 87 minutes. Watkins had another one on one saved, similar to Stearn’s shot, only this time Wilson followed up only for his nervous shot to go wide. Wilson then collided with Cowler on 89 minutes forcing the number one to be stretchered off. Then in injury time stand in keeper Wright pulled off a good save to deny Wilson with a debut goal from another one on one.
Bath will be pleased with the amount of chances created on their own turf but still need to work on defending set pieces and high balls into the area. Stortford on the other hand will be annoyed that they went down 2-1 to Bath for the second time this season and will have to improve to keep pace with the chasing pack for a playoff place. The Conference South play off race is still wide open with Bath sitting on top of 6 teams with just 2 points between them.