Former Rover gains Bath local bragging rights
Pat Keary came back to haunt his old club nodding in a late Ross Stearn corner to give Bath City a 1-0 victory over their new non league rivals Bristol Rovers at a sunny Twerton Park.
Bath City 1-0 Bristol Rovers
19th July 2014
Bristol Rovers saw this game as a good opportunity to cast their eye over their young professionals to see if they can cut it at Conference level. There were just two first team players in the starting line up in Jake Gosling and Jamie White, with trialist Pierce Mitchell representing the only other senior figure in a very young Rovers side. Rovers started brightly in the first ten minutes but Bath also looked dangerous from set plays with Danny Ball heading wide from an early corner.
On the 15 minute mark Rovers showed their former football league quality with Gosling skipping away from three challenges and linking up well with Ryan Broom but a clear cut chance didn’t materialise as the City defence held firm. Then City showed some quality of their own when David Pratt played a great through ball to Andy Watkins however his fierce shot was parried by Rovers keeper Kieran Preston and his defence was on hand to clear on 18 minutes. Jason Mellor had to be alert for City on the 25th minute when Andy Gallinagh conceded a free kick for a foul on White. Gosling’s free kick was calmly collected by Mellor who read the direction of the ball well. The best chance of the half for City came just four minutes later when Pratt was crowded out on the touch line and sought out a hopeful long ball to Watkins. Mitchell looked to be able to deal with it but just slipped and Watkins was clean through with just Preston to beat but the keeper narrowed the angle and Watkins’ shot just grazed the far post going wide.
Gosling then found Mellor in good form on 36 minutes with the keeper reading his second free kick of the game for an easy save. Chas Hemmings suffered an injury two minutes later for Bath and Ross Stearn was introduced to the game. His contribution to the game was almost instant when he hit a great shot a few moments later, from an Ashley Kington pass, but Preston pulled off the save of the game touching it over the bar at full stretch. Aaron Ward-Baptiste then had the miss of the game when the ball came in from the right and he had a free header from 4 yards out, but the young midfielder some how put it wide. Broom then had a long shot on the stroke of half time with both teams going in relatively pleased with their first half performances despite the lack of goals.
Both teams came out at half time and failed to create many chances until both managers made changes on the 53rd minute. Watkins played in Stearn a few minutes later with a lifted through ball over the Rovers backline but Stearn’s well take volley could only find the side netting. On 65 minutes Pratt was played in but again Preston impressed in goal to save well from City’s top goal scorer from last season. Even though Rovers weren’t creating many clear cut opportunities this half the young side could still break with pace. On 70 minutes they did just that from a Bath corner with Jamie Lucas, on as a sub, made enough space for a well struck shot only for Mellor to pull off a smart stop with his feet. Five minutes later Ellis Harrison, also on as a sub for Rovers, got on the end of a long throw but couldn’t direct his header on target.
City’s goal then came with just 9 minutes left on the clock. Stearn’s corner was lofted in to the back post and Pat Keary, on trial with City, jumped highest to give City the slender lead. It was then Bath on top for the last few minutes with Zak Evans getting another 7 minutes to impress the City management. Evans did just that with a great run into the box, he then got his head up and spotted Stearn arriving in space but Stearn blasted the ball wide of the left hand post.
A very entertaining game for the 837 that made it out to watch it after rail problems getting into Bath due to the weather. Bath will be the happier of the two sides with very good showings against strong teams in the last three home games, whilst Rovers will still have to keep looking for that top striker after failing to net in their past two friendlies. Best of luck to Rovers this season in the Conference Premier, hopefully it won’t be a long stay there and they can get back to where they belong!