Bath City 3-0 Weston Super Mare
By Kevin Porter
Bath City began the New Year with a victory at Twerton Park against struggling local rivals Weston-Super-Mare. Although the final score-line suggested a convincing win for the home side, they were made to work for their three points, particularly during a first half where the Seagulls held the balance of play for long periods.
Weston began proceedings looking the livelier and more eager of the sides, dominating possession in midfield. The first opening of the match fell to Joe McClennan in the 11th minute but his shot from 20 yards was partially blocked, allowing Jason Mellor to collect comfortably. The same player tried his luck with an angled drive seven minutes later, but the City keeper was well positioned to gather.
Bath were unable to retain the ball for any sustained period, and were failing to make any impression on the Weston rear-guard. However, they almost found a route to goal on 20 minutes when Dan Ball’s cross from the left eluded a crowd of players inside the six-yard box, and was eventually cleared for a corner beyond the far post.
The visitors broke quickly downfield and Ollie Watkins, with a clear sight of goal, shot wastefully straight at Mellor from 20 yards. At the other end, Frankie Artus also shot straight at the goalkeeper from the edge of the box.
Neither side were able to mount any pressure, with Ben Adelsbury having City’s only other first half attempts, both of which were shots from distance that passed wide of the target.
The best chance fell to Ollie Watkins two minutes before the break when he found himself in space in the home box, only for Mellor to make a smart save at the near post to repel his well-struck effort. Tom Jordan headed towards the far corner from the resulting corner but, again, Mellor preserved parity.
Lee Howells replaced Adelsbury with Ross Stearn during the interval in an attempt to provide some width to his side, a move that was to prove crucial to the final outcome. City immediately began to look more dangerous going forward and displayed more urgency. Despite this, it was the visitors who had the first opportunity of the half, but Dayle Grubb lifted his shot well over the bar from the edge of the area.
The hosts forged in front in the 51st minute following a low drive by Ball from 25 yards that was brilliantly pushed round the post by Weston stopper Luke Purnell. The resulting corner was flicked on at the near post by Dave Pratt, and Nick McCootie bundled home from close range.
The Seagulls had the chance to respond almost immediately, but Grubb’s free kick from 20 yards was too high to trouble Mellor. It was the home team, however, who were now in the ascendancy and Ball’s neat pass found Artus who, after turning adeptly, saw his shot fly just over the crossbar.
Disaster almost struck on 64 minutes when Mellor’s attempted clearance was charged down by Bradley Ash, and there was palpable relief amongst the home ranks as the referee, Mr Simon Knapp, awarded the keeper a free kick as he tried to claim the ball that had spiralled high into the late afternoon air.
McClennan was a constant worry to the City defence and he broke away down the right flank in the 66th minute. He rode a couple of challenges and bore down on goal, but the angle eventually beat him and Mellor made a brave smothering save at his feet.
City lead was doubled after 73 minutes when Sekani Simpson’s persistence won a corner on the right. The ball was cleared only as far as Stearn whose goal-bound volley was blocked by a defender, and McCootie reacted quickly to find the net with an acrobatic and spectacular overhead kick.
The goal scorer was substituted shortly afterwards with Andy Watkins joining the action. A neat exchange of passes between Artus and Allen resulted in the former’s shot being deflected narrowly wide of the far post for a corner as City continued to dominate.
There was a further scare for the home side six minutes from time when Jordan beat Mellor to a long punt over the top of the defence, but the ball rolled agonisingly wide of the unguarded goal to spare the keeper’s blushes.
Dan Bowman replaced the hardworking Pratt as the game entered stoppage time and the final icing was applied to the cake in the 92nd minute. Andy Watkins expertly collected the ball out wide on the left and found Stearn with his pass. The wide-man took the ball in his stride and curled a sumptuous shot into the far corner of the net via the inside of the post.
Whilst City were undoubtedly well worth their victory, the final margin was perhaps slightly flattering. Certainly, Weston more than held their own for long spells in the midfield areas, but they failed to seriously threaten the home goal. The hosts looked more dangerous and direct going forward after the break and, in the final reckoning, their more clinical finishing was the deciding factor.
BATH CITY – Jason Mellor, Sekani Simpson, Pat Keary, Phil Walsh, Andy Gallinagh, Dan Ball, Chris Allen, Ben Adelsbury (Ross Stearn 45 mins), Frankie Artus, Dave Pratt (Dan Bowman 90), Nick McCootie (Andy Watkins 80 mins); Subs not used, Ashley Kington, Jim Rollo.
WESTON-SUPER-MARE – Luke Purnell, Pierce Mitchell, Jake Llewellyn, Jamie Edge, Tom Jordan, Clayton Fortune, Joe McClennan, Jacob Crane, Matt Jay, Dayle Grubb, Ollie Watkins. Subs; Oliver Barnes, Aaron Brown, Jake Mawford, Bradley Ash, Kane Ingram.
REF – Mr Simon Knapp
ATT – 712
Picture of goal scorer Nick McCootie scoring his second by Simon Howe
Videos by Steve Mellor