Bath City 1-0 Dorchester

Bath City 1-0 Dorchester Town
Conference South
Mayday Trust Park

A win would mean a lot for both sides but it was Bath who took all 3 points at Mayday Trust Park. The narrow victory against Dorchester means Bath are still in the hunt for a play-off place ahead of their big community day next weekend; thanks to a Joe Burnell strike.

The spirit and energy of the Dorchester players took Bath by surprise in the opening few minutes with the bottom club craving out two great chances. Just two minutes in Nathan Craig, up for a corner, pounced on a poor clearance only to see his curling shot go just over. Then shortly after Charlie Losasso broke free of the defence but his shot went just wide of the post.

Bath’s first attack was on seven minutes when a Chris Allen free-kick from the right found Phil Walsh in the area but he couldn’t connect well enough to find the net; with his effort straight at the keeper. The keeper, Alan Walker-Harris, was busy a minute later when he received a yellow card for bringing down Jake Reid on the right outside the box; the free-kick coming to nothing. Jason Mellor’s kicking suspect all game and his first mis-clearance, on 14 minutes, fell to Ashley Yeoman who played through Warren Byerley. The striker could only fire over much to the relief of Mellor as Dorchester saw their 3rd decent chance of the half go begging.

Chris Allen then saw his powerful free-kick hit the wall with his equally powerful follow up hit the head of Mark Jermyn to go over for a corner on 17 minutes. Just after the half an hour mark Allen saw another chance disappear in front of him as his couldn’t quite reach a Reid knock down in the area as his was closed down by a determined Dorchester defence. Sekani Simpson got forward a few minutes and wriggled away from his marker to put in a decent cross from the right but Andy Watkins saw his header go wide of the far post.

So after a cagey first half where both teams would have felt annoyed not to go in with a goal the game took a different turn in the second half. This time it was Bath who came out with great energy from the off and were duly rewarded for this attacking intent, going 1-0 up with just two minutes gone. Scott Wilson put in a cross from the right which Walker-Harris failed to control with Watkins closing in. The striker showed quick feet to pass it back into Reid but the defender got there ahead of him but his clearance only found Watkins again on the byline; who expertly controlled the ball with his first touch and his second knocked the ball back into the area. Reid heard the shout from the arriving Joe Burnell to leave it and Burnell finished well, hitting his shot into the roof of the net; registering only his second goal in 109 appearances for Bath!

This knocked Dorchester for six and the 555 spectators could now see why they are in trouble this season and the yellow cards started to come out. Bath now had a firm grip on the game and the bench made the decision to introduce fans favourite Ross Stearn, who replaced Wilson on the right. However a first time strike from Losasso rattled the post on 58 minutes to remind Bath that a one goal lead is a slim one. On 70 minutes Bath had a great opportunity to double their advantage but Walsh couldn’t get his free header right, heading onto the bar, from a Stearn free-kick. Lee Howells saw that the game needed freshening up on 73 minutes and made a double substitution to take off the tiring Burnell and Reid for Ben Adelsbury and David Pratt. Bath then had another good chance but it was only the throat of Jermyn that stopped a fierce Stearn shot from going in, after Allen’s ball allowed him a clear run at the defence.

So Dorchester’s resolve and determination was serving them well to keep in the game but those yellow cards and niggling challenges proved costly on 76 minutes when the experienced Nick Crittenden was sent off for a second yellow. Bath started to create even more chances now and two minutes later Watkins was able to pull a good ball back to Allen but the lively midfielder couldn’t quite connect well enough with Walker-Harris saving well. A moment later saw the midfielder unlucky again as his volley from distance went just wide, with Stearn causing Dorchester all sorts of problems on the right.

Stearn had a number of mazy runs in the last ten minutes but often couldn’t find a way past the defence, who were quick to close him with numbers. Stearn’s best chance was just a minute from time when the impressive Watkins played him in for a one on one but he blazed his shot narrowly over but the game finished 1-0 to Bath after an additional 3 minutes played.

Lee Howells will be pleased with his Bath side having extended their unbeaten run to 4 games with two wins and draw. However he will know that his side will have to take their chances in the next few games which see them play Chelmsford at home, in a pay what you want game, and two away games. Dorchester will now be without Nick Crittenden for at least a game and will have to concentrate on their finishing if they are to have any chance of staying up.

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