Bath City 0-1 Wealdstone
Sat 20th Dec 2014
By Kevin Porter
Bath City were desperately unlucky to suffer defeat to Wealdstone at Twerton Park with the visitors scoring against the run of play deep into stoppage time. The first half was a fairly even competitive affair but, as the game wore on, City gained almost total domination but were made to pay for not converting their superiority into goals.
The visitors came close to opening the scoring in the very first minute, when a ball into the City box was met with a looping header from Matt Ball that was just too high. It was the hosts, however, that began brightly and applied the early pressure. Frankie Artus sent a free kick well over the crossbar from 18 yards in the 2nd minute after Ashley Kington had been fouled.
Wealdstone responded with a free kick of their own from which Jason Mellor made a useful diving save following Shaun Lucien’s well struck effort. At the other end, Chris Allen’s goal-bound shot was blocked after a good move between Artus and Andy Watkins down the left.
Watkins then pulled the ball back into Allen’s path in the 6th minute, but the midfielder was too high with his shot from the edge of the box. Watkins was also just wide of the far post with a cross shot three minutes later.
With the home side continuing to press, Kington’s fierce drive from 20 yards was met with an excellent diving save by Stones’ keeper Jonathan North at the expense of a corner.
Thereafter, the visitors came more into the game and started to dominate possession without posing a serious threat on Mellor’s goal. Indeed, it was City who had the next opportunity on 25 minutes. North’s poor clearance under pressure fell straight to Kington, but his lofted effort from distance lacked the elevation to clear the stranded goalkeeper, who was able to clutch the ball gratefully.
Wealdstone continued to enjoy the territorial advantage, and Dan Brown fired just wide of the far post after some hesitant home defensive play. The best chance of the half fell to Joe Turner on 32 minutes who had a clear sight of goal, but he struck his angled shot too close to Mellor, allowing the custodian to make a good save with his legs.
The second period started quietly with neither side being able to immediately generate the urgency shown before the break. It was City, though, that were now showing the greater attacking intent. Chas Hemmings delivered a cross from the right in the 49th minute, from which North gathered the ball following Dave Pratt’s flick-on.
Jefferson Louis, who was constant menace to the City rear-guard, turned cleverly inside the home box, but shot straight at Mellor. However, the game’s flashpoint arrived on the hour mark, when Dan Bowman was rightly penalised for a foul on the right flank, but was then the victim of an abysmal challenge from Turner in the immediate aftermath. The referee, Mr John O’Brien of London, could not have had a clear view of the incident as he belatedly produced only a yellow card to the Wealdstone player, who was incredibly fortunate to remain on the field of play.
The home team were now in the ascendancy and came close to taking the lead on 68 minutes following a long clearance from Mellor. Watkins latched on to the ball, outpaced two defenders, but then saw his shot pass agonizingly wide of the far post with North beaten.
Ross Stearn replaced Allen on 70 minutes and, three minutes later, his free kick from outside the box looped into the air off the defensive wall, with North doing well to gather under pressure from Pratt. The substitute then sent over a deep cross on 74 minutes which dropped just beyond the far post, and Pratt could only bundle the ball into the outside of the side netting.
Nick McCootie came on for Watkins after 76 minutes with City switching to a 4-3-3 formation as they sought a winning goal, and all the pressure was now on the Wealdstone defence.
With three minutes left on the clock, Stearn’s firm rising drive from the edge of the area was held by North above his head, and the keeper produced the best save of the afternoon two minutes later. Pratt found space inside the box, but North reacted brilliantly to repel his shot at full stretch.
The Stones took full advantage by snatching the points four minutes into stoppage time. City were caught out by a long punt forward, but Mellor did extremely well to reach the ball ahead of the onrushing Richard Jolley. However, the ball squirmed from the keeper’s grasp and, after being found by Jolley, Turner drilled his shot into the net through a crowd of defenders, sending the numerous and vociferous away supporters into raptures.
This was certainly a game that City did not deserve to lose against a side that had essentially settled for a draw in the second half. The home team played some good football at times and their endeavour throughout cannot be questioned.
To be fair to Wealdstone they were neat in midfield, strong in defence, and harried City at every opportunity, but they appeared to tire in the closing 20 minutes and were indebted to the keeper for some outstanding saves. Ultimately, Lee Howells’ side paid the price for not taking their chances, and they will look to gain revenge when the sides meet again shortly in the FA Trophy on Jan 10th 2015.
BATH CITY: Jason Mellor, Dan Bowman, Andy Gallinagh, Phil Walsh, Dan Ball, Chas Hemmings, Andy Watkins (Nick McCootie 76), Chris Allen (Ross Stearn 70), Dave Pratt, Ashley Kington, Frankie Artus
Subs not used: Pat Keary, Ben Adelsbury
WEALDSTONE: Jonathan North, Carl Martin, Ryan Watts, Wes Parker, Tom Hamlin, Elliott Godfrey, Shaun Lucien (Jonny Wright 69), Dan Brown, Jefferson Louis (Richard Jolly 84), Matt Ball (Luke O’Nien 80), Joe Turner
Subs not used: Warren Carter, Scott McGeish
Referee: John O’Brien (London)
Picture by Simon Howe
Video by Steve Mellor