Bath City 7-4 Farnborough
By Kevin Porter
Bath City emerged with three points from a madcap encounter with Farnborough at a chilly Twerton Park this evening. Four goals from Nick McCootie and other contributions from Zak Evans, Ben Adelsbury and Chas Hemmings provided a sufficient cushion to see off a spirited late fight back from the visitors.
With Saturday’s FA Trophy semi final in mind, Lee Howells made several changes from the starting line up at Gosport on Saturday. Dan Bowman came back into the team after injury, and there were rare appearances for Pat Keary, Jim Rollo, Louis Perry and Zak Evans. Additionally, Connor Thompson was given his debut between the sticks.
City started the game brightly and the first chance fell to Rollo in the 2nd minute. Ross Stearn whipped in a dangerous free kick from the right with the veteran defender met on the half volley, but he was unable to find the power or direction to trouble Dillon Barnes in the Boro goal. Two minutes later Stearn’s deflected shot from 20 yards was comfortably held by Barnes.
Farnborough’s first attempt at goal arrived on 9 minutes, Phil Page shooting wide from the edge of the box after a free kick had been only partially cleared.
The visitors, however, took the lead after 12 minutes. Keary failed to deal with a through ball, allowing Page to break clear on goal. The forward was brought down by Thompson as he ran into the box, but the referee, Mr. Adrian Quelch, played the advantage, and Louie Theophanous slid the loose ball into the unguarded net. Thompson was cautioned for his challenge, and the sanction could well have been greater had a goal not resulted.
Boro began to show more belief and almost extended their advantage three minutes later. Dan Bennett’s shot took a deflection off a defender, and Thompson pulled off an outstanding save at full stretch to push the ball round the post.
Both sides were committed to pushing forward at every opportunity, and neither defence looked comfortable. It was no surprise, therefore, when Bath equalised after 21 minutes. McCootie was felled on the right wing and, when Stearn delivered an inviting free kick into the box, the unmarked Evans headed powerfully home from 6 yards.
Play continued to swing from end to end, but City forged in front in the 28th minute. McCootie won the race to reach Bowman’s ball over the Farnborough defence, the striker lifting the ball over the dithering Barnes and finding the net off the inside of the post.
The game remained an open affair, and Page shot wide of Thompson’s post on the half hour mark. At the other end, Bowman’s precise cross-field pass picked out Stearn, whose first time shot flew straight into Barnes’ arms.
McCootie struck again on 38 minutes, when he made full use of Adelsbury’s perfect through ball by tucking his shot just inside the far post beyond the advancing custodian.
Reece Beckles was well wide with a speculative effort from 30 yards, but the hosts were now rampant. Bowman did exceptionally well to send in a cross from the right touchline in the 44th minute and, when the Farnborough defence failed to clear their lines, McCootie pounced to slam his shot high into the net from close range.
The final action of a breathless half saw Adelsbury collect the ball on the left hand side of the penalty area and, with the goalkeeper hopelessly out of position, he clipped a measured cross-shot into the far corner of the goal.
If those in attendance were expecting some respite after the break, they were hugely mistaken. In the 53rd minute, Adam Brice collapsed in a heap out on the right touchline in what proved to be his final involvement of the night, and McCootie took advantage by bearing down on goal. The forward was calmness personified, as he slipped the ball past Barnes with consummate ease.
The away side came more into the game for a period, with Michael Richens striking a free kick straight at Thompson, and Matt Jones curling another free kick just wide of the near post.
The 62nd minute saw a double substitution with Chas Hemmings and Dave Pratt replacing Ashley Kington and Stearn respectively. Shortly afterwards, Hemmings headed narrowly over the crossbar from Adelsbury’s corner, and Thompson then did well to palm away a firm shot from Freddie Grant after the right back found space in the City box.
Chris Allen replaced McCootie with 20 minutes left on the clock as the home side continued to look for goals. Adelsbury fired just over the bar after Hemmings had laid the ball off and, on 76 minutes, the Farnborough defence was breached for the 7th time. Pratt made good ground down the right and picked out Hemmings on the edge of the box. The midfielder took one touch, and then comprehensively beat Barnes with a chip that was audacious and exquisite in equal measure.
Barnes made a useful save low down to keep out Perry’s shot but, thereafter, all the pressure was on the City defence, as the Somerset side took their foot off the proverbial pedal. The arrears were reduced in the 80th minute when Theophanous’ angled shot was deflected into the path of Bennett, who side footed home at the far post.
Three minutes from time the visitors were on the scoresheet again, when Bennett was allowed to dance through the home defence and tap the ball into the net from 6 yards. The final goal of a remarkable match came in the 93rd minute as Thompson punched the ball into his own net following a deflected cross from the left.
City ran out eventual comfortable winners, but this was a hugely eventful game where both teams played some good football going forward, but the defences were uncomfortable in the extreme. The hosts will reflect on a welcome victory, and also that no more crucial bookings were picked up ahead of the weekend. Certainly those on the terraces have no grounds for complaints of any lack of entertainment this evening.
BATH CITY – Connor Thompson, Dan Bowman, Naby Diallo, Jim Rollo, Pat Keary, Ashley Kington (Chas Hemmings 62), Ross Stearn (Dave Pratt 63), Zak Evans, Nick McCootie (Chris Allen 71), Ben Adelsbury, Louis Perry. Subs not used: Jacob Sloggett, Jason Mellor
FARNBOROUGH – Dillon Barnes, Adadeu Arnau (Freddie Grant 39), Matt Jones, Michael Richens, Adam Brice (Darryl Shaw 56), Jamie Hand, Dan Bennett, Harry Grant, Phil Page, Louie Theophanous, Reece Beckles (Roman Michael-Percil 60). Subs not used: Courtney Fearn
REFEREE – Adrian Quelch (Christchurch)
ATTENDANCE – 355
Videos from Chris Stone on Facebook and the photo is from Mark Stillman Football Photography from earlier in the season against Wealdstone away.