Bath City 3-3 Plymouth Argyle
Pre season Friendly
By Liam Shaw & Sam Feierabend
Bath bravely battled back from a seemingly impossible 3-0 deficit against Plymouth Argyle at Twerton Park on Tuesday 21st July to draw 3-3 against their League Two opponents. Jake Jervis struck twice either side of a Ryan Brunt header before Jon Davies, Dave Pratt and Andy Watkins secured a well-earned draw for the National League South side.
Plymouth started brightly as new signing Graham Carey crossed for fellow summer recruit Jake Jervis who flicked a shot over the bar. New manager Derek Adams adopted a more attacking style than predecessor John Sheridan and this paid off on 6 minutes when Gregg Wydle – another of Adams additions- ran down the left before sending in a looping cross which was headed powerfully home by Jervis.
The early exchanges continued in Plymouth’s favour as Frankie Artus gave away a sloppy free kick on the edge of the box and the lively Carey- a former Celtic first teamer- struck his free kick against the upright leaving Bath goalie Steve Phillips motionless.
Bath looked to counter immediately and the pressure put on the Pilgrims defence nearly worked as captain Curtis Nelson’s stray pass fell straight to the hungry Andy Watkins who blasted the ball high over the bar from a one on one position.
However it was the League side who struck next, this time from a corner. Carey’s in swinging corner found the head of Ryan Brunt whose tame header bounced up and found its way past the scrambling Kevin Nicholson on the line and in.
Nicholson himself was playing his fourth game for Bath and his first since signing a contract for the season ahead. His 25 yard free kick was struck just over as he put in another solid performance for the Romans, perhaps not as assertive as previous appearances but his experience will prove vital for his team mates in the upcoming season.
Yet again, Argyle played with a relentless high tempo attacking approach to the game which created chances. The influential Wylde played a neat exchange with his new midfield partner Carey before whipping in a seemingly weak cross which averted the boot of Artus and fell into the path of the lively Jervis; who smashed home his 5th pre-season goal.
Although Plymouth’s attacking play was almost faultless, defensive frailties that were a forefront of their campaign last year came back to haunt them from then on in as Watkins easily dispossessed Gary Sawyer on the right and charged towards the box. He then laid off for Jon Davies who took a touch and curled a stunning effort into the top right corner past the hapless Luke McCormick for his first City goal.
Almost immediately from the kick off, Bath could have got a second as Ashley Kington chipped a delightful ball into the path of Davies who couldn’t connect but the ball fell at the feet of Watkins whose shot was saved expertly at point blank range by McCormick.
The second half didn’t immediately follow the upbeat tempo that riddled the first forty-five. The first effort of the second period came after 10 minutes when Carey’s left footed ball into Wylde was controlled by the 24 year old but the shot was fired over the bar.
11 minutes later, City managed to half the deficit when a corner from Nicholson was half cleared by McCormick and fell nicely for City substitute, Dave Pratt, who clinically managed to turn in the crowded box and volley the ball into the top right corner to make the score line 3-2.
A few minutes later, Davies made a run into the box before laying the ball back to Pratt who nearly managed to bring the Romans on level terms as he flashed a shot across goal from the right hand side; narrowly missing the post.
Bath trialist Luke Matthews played the full 90 minutes and once again, very much impressed the City faithful and his potential new team mates with his consistent defending, physical presence and aerial threat. Despite being a centre back, his most important contribution to the game came at the other end of the pitch.
On 74 minutes, a deep cross from Nicholson travelled through the crowded box and through to the back post where Matthews was lurking, he managed to roll the ball back across the face of goal. Man of the match, Watkins was on hand to slid the ball into the empty net to bring City on level terms with their ambitious Football League opposition.
Neither side came close to stealing a winner in the closing 15 minutes and the game ended 3-3. The Bath City management, players and fans can all feel very satisfied with a hard earned draw over tough League Two opposition. As for Derek Adam’s side, they departed Twerton Park feeling rather disappointed and asking themselves ‘what could we of done to keep our lead?’
Midfield trialist, Bradley Williams, entered the game at half time and replaced midfield wizard, Frankie Artus. Williams looked very bright during his 45 minutes of the field, making some nice runs on the ball and constantly looking to get forward and start or join the attack. This was his third appearance for the Romans with this being his longest period on the field. Is he likely to be offered a contact come start of the season? Well, with Ben Adelsbury and Chris Allen out injured in midfield, he could be a possibility.
New City signing, Jon Davies netted his first goal for his new club and once again showed his capabilities and proved why many higher league clubs were taking a good look at him. His incredible strength and ball control enabled his to take firm control of the midfield area and constantly troubled the Argyle defence with his strong attacking presence. As well as showing his ability in the final third, he often tracked back to help out the defence. A very exciting prospect for the coming season.
The City bench consisted of a trio of youth academy products: Jake Sloggett, Ryan Bole and Louis Perry. Despite this trio taking up nearly 50% of the bench, only striker Sloggett made an appearance, coming on after 79 minutes replacing goal scorer Andy Watkins. Although the young forward made some nice runs and found himself in good attacking positions, he struggled to cope with the physical presence of the experienced Plymouth team and found himself shrugged off the ball on a few occasions.
Absent from the game was Kelvin Douglas whose previous performances in his 3 cameo appearances clearly were seemingly not enough to win over City’s management team.
After the game we got an interview with man of the match Andy Watkins.
Big thanks to Andy Watkins for the interview and congratulations once again on your man of the match performance.