Bath City 2-1 Staines Town
By Kevin Porter
Photos by Simon Howe
Videos by Steve Mellor
Bath City recorded their third consecutive home victory in Vanarama Conference South as basement club Staines Town returned to Middlesex empty handed. The Romans were indebted to Dave Pratt for two goals before the break which were just reward for a dominant first half performance, but they almost paid the price for not taking full advantage of their supremacy.
The early exchanges proved tentative and the first chance fell to Bajram Pashaj in the 3rd minute, but his firm rising shot cleared Jason Mellor’s crossbar. Two minutes later, the hosts were ahead when the Swans’ defence were unable to clear their lines following a corner kick. There appeared to be little danger as Dan Ball gained possession with his back to goal, but Stephane Ngamvoulou brought him down from behind with an injudicious challenge inside the box. Pratt stepped forward to find the bottom corner of the net with his spot kick despite keeper Jack Turner getting his hand to the ball.
City now began to find their rhythm and put the Staines rearguard under increasing pressure. Chas Hemmings delivered a cross from the right that was flicked on by Pratt, but Andy Watkins was unable to turn the ball home at the far post. Frankie Artus, who was having another influential game, cut inside from the right on 17 minutes and saw his shot from 25 yards deflected wide of the target. Ashley Kington found Hemmings with the resulting corner kick, but the midfielder’s header lacked the power or direction to beat Turner.
Watkins turned adeptly inside the Town box, and Turner produced an outstanding save to push the striker’s shot round the far post. Ben Adelsbury then sent in a cross from the left which Watkins nodded goalwards at the near post, but the ball flew straight at the grateful Turner. Artus picked up the ball inside his own half in the 23rd minute and picked out Watkins’ run towards the penalty area with a wonderfully accurate diagonal pass. Watkins took the ball in his stride but, as Turner rushed from his line, lifted his shot narrowly wide of the near post.
City were in almost total control, and the only effort that the visitors could muster was a long range shot from Ngamvoulou on the half hour mark that was well wide of Mellor’s goal. It was, therefore, hugely against the run of play, and somewhat out of the blue, when Staines equalised on 40 minutes. A corner from the left was flicked on at the near post, and skipper Max Worsford hooked the ball high into the net from close range.
To their credit Bath responded within a minute following Bowman’s cross into the box. Watkins squared to Pratt in front of goal and, despite Turner catching the latter’s point blank shot, the linesman indicated that the ball had already crossed the line.
The only remaining incident of the half was a lengthy injury to Ball who was pole-axed by his own keeper’s punch following a Town corner. The defender eventually rose back to his feet, but was substituted ahead of the resumption by Pat Keary.
The second period was completely different in character, as the home side struggled to regain their momentum, and The Swans pushed more men forward in their search for a second equaliser. Despite this, City still remained the more dangerous up front, and Turner had to gather Gallinagh’s long range shot at the second attempt on 57 minutes.
Worsfold was narrowly wide with his cross shot at the other end but the next opening was created by the hosts, Pratt latching on to Watkins’ pass, only to shoot straight at Turner.
Perhaps the best chance of the second half fell to the visitors when a cross from the right found substitute Joe Aribo completely unmarked in a central position, but he badly miscued his header.
Debutant Naby Diallo came on for Kington after 70 minutes, and Ross Stearn replaced Watkins four minutes later as Lee Howells sought to regain control of proceedings. Indeed, there followed a spell where a third and decisive goal threatened to materialize for his side. Pratt saw his header ruled out for offside and, on 77 minutes, the outcome should have been settled. Adelsbury’s cross from the right was nodded invitingly back across goal by Pratt but, with the goal at his mercy, the onrushing Artus headed over the crossbar from barely eight yards out.
The majority of the residual time was spent in City territory, but Staines lacked the composure or incisiveness to steal a point. Luke Neville headed wide of the far post from a promising position, and Worsfold scuffed a shot wide from the edge of the box. As the match entered stoppage time, Aribo found space inside the home box but, with home hearts in mouths, he succeeded only in dragging his shot wide of Mellor’s post.
City were worthy of their victory by virtue of their first half performance but, in truth, the three points should have been secure well before the interval, and their inability to convert their dominance into goals could have proved costly. However, despite their greater possession after the break, Staines were unable to exert any major pressure on the home defence, and the telling factor was that Mellor was not forced into a serious save throughout.
BATH CITY – Jason Mellor, Dan Bowman, Dan Ball (Pat Keary 45), Phil Walsh, Andy Gallinagh, Ben Adelsbury, Chas Hemmings, Ashley Kington (Naby Diallo 70), Frankie Artus, Dave Pratt, Andy Watkins (Ross Stearn 74). Subs not used, Nick McCootie, Chris Allen.
STAINES TOWN – Jack Turner, Tommy Brewer, Luke Neville, Stephane Ngamvoulou, Chris M’Boungou, Justyn Roberts, Ashley Lodge, Josh Ekim, Callum Willock, Bajram Pashaj, Max Worsfold. Subs, Elliott Buchanan, Harry Churchill, Joe Aribo, Danny Bassett, Erivaldo Felix.
Referee – Mr. Robert Hyde (Brentwood)
ATT – 570