Bath City 2-2 Bromley
By Kevin Porter
Photos by Simon Howe
Bath City produced a rousing second half come back at Twerton Park to earn a well deserved point, cancelling out a two-goal half time lead held by Bromley. The Kent side were sitting proudly at the top of the Vanarama Conference South going into the match, but their eagerness to waste time and employ spoiling tactics after the break, alongside a determined effort by the hosts, resulted in their prime position being relinquished.
The opening stages were evenly contested with both sides playing some neat football, but the first effort on goal came from Bromley in the 10th minute. A free kick was awarded to the visitors by the referee, Mr. John O’Brien of London, and Ali Fuseini unleashed a fizzing shot from 25 yards that skidded awkwardly off the greasy surface. Jason Mellor did particularly well to parry the ball, and then gather at the second attempt to avert any further danger.
City responded five minutes later through Ross Stearn, who struck another low powerful shot from distance that forced Lillywhites’ keeper Alan Julian to save with his feet.
The home side were made to pay for defensive indecision after 18 minutes which allowed Bradley Goldberg to advance unchallenged goalwards and, as Mellor came off his line, the striker planted the ball unerringly into the top corner of the net.
This reverse was slightly harsh on City, and they continued to enjoy an even share of possession, although pressurizing the lofty Bromley defense was proving difficult. The gargantuan away centre half and skipper, Rob Swaine, headed wide of Mellor’s far post following Joe Anderson’s cross from the left on 26 minutes.
At the other end, Nick McCootie beat Callum McNaughton to a long ball down the right but, after racing into the area, he fired wide of the near post with his angled drive.
Goldberg curled a shot straight at Mellor from 15 yards in the 33rd minute, but his side doubled their lead two minutes later. Ashley Kington lost possession inside his own half and, as Anthony Cook jinked his way into the box, his progress was halted by Pat Keary’s challenge. Mr. O’Brien pointed to the spot, from where Cook confidently found the corner of the net beyond Mellor’s dive.
The remainder of the half was largely uneventful, but continued to be punctuated by a series of inconsistent and baffling decisions by the referee, which was a cause of much frustration and angst amongst the home faithful.
City emerged after the interval showing an increased level of urgency as they closed down the opponents quickly, using the slope and blustery conditions to their advantage. Chas Hemmings struck a low shot from distance that was cleverly deflected by Dave Pratt, forcing the wrong footed Julian into a near miraculous one handed save.
Stearn’s free kick from 20 yards was deflected over the crossbar for a corner off the defensive wall, as Bath began to find some forward momentum. Indeed, their enterprise was rewarded on 59 minutes when they reduced the arrears. Pratt turned adeptly inside the area and found Naby Diallo, whose shot was turned into the roof of his own net by Anderson.
With Bromley now slowing down the game at every opportunity, aided to a large extent by the referee’s lack of punitive action, City sensed that they could salvage something from their afternoon. Stearn was too high with another free kick from outside the box.
Kington was now pulling the strings in midfield, spraying accurate passes to either wing, and it was his run into the Bromley area in the 74th minute that almost resulted in an equaliser. In the event, the ball ran to Stearn in a useful position, but he was unable to keep his shot down.
In a rare Bromley foray into home territory, Fuseini tried his luck from distance, but was well wide of the target.
Andy Watkins replaced the tiring McCootie on 81 minutes as the hosts continued their attempts to gain parity but, despite their dominance of possession, they could not force Julian into serious action. They were almost caught on the break with two minutes left on the clock when, after a partially cleared corner, Cook’s low driven cross heralded a frantic goalmouth scramble, with the ball eventually being hacked to safety.
City immediately launched an attack of their own, with Stearn finding space out on the right wing. The wide man turned Anderson inside out, and his cross was deflected on to the bar by a defender. The ball fell to Watkins beyond the far post, and he calmly drilled his shot into the net from close range, sparking celebrations on the terraces.
Bromley were finally stirred from their defensive shell for the minutes remaining, as they pressed forward in search of a winner. However, the closest they came was in the 6th minute of stoppage time when Danny Waldron headed narrowly over Mellor’s crossbar, but it was too little, too late, for them to maintain their position at the summit of the table.
This was another City performance full of character, as they refused to accept defeat and dominated their high-flying opponents for long spells. It is possible that Bromley will live to regret their negative approach in the second half and, in many ways, they handed the initiative back to the home side. However, this should in no way be allowed to detract from City’s recovery against strong, physical, and confident opponents.
BATH CITY – Jason Mellor, Dan Bowman, Sekani Simpson, Pat Keary, Dan Ball (c), Naby Diallo, Ross Stearn, Chas Hemmings, Dave Pratt, Nick McCootie (Andy Watkins 81), Ashley Kington Subs: Chris Allen, Andy Gallinagh, Jim Rollo, Louis Perry
BROMLEY – Alan Julian, Paul Rodgers, Joe Anderson, Ali Fuseini, Rob Swaine (c), Callum McNaughton, Moses Ademola, Reece Prestedge, Jamie Slabber, Bradley Goldberg, Anthony Cook. Subs: Danny Waldren, Louis Dennis, Mitchell Pinnock, Pierre Joseph-Dubois, Ben May
REFEREE – John O’Brien (London)
Attendance – 515