Bath City 5-0 Havant & Waterlooville
By Kevin Porter
Photo by Simon Howe
Bath City continued their stunning start to the season by recording their six consecutive victory, as they comprehensively blew away the challenge of a much-fancied Havant & Waterlooville side at Twerton Park this afternoon. The hosts scored five times without reply, and consequently moved five points clear at the top of the fledgling Vanarama National League South table.
Despite the final margin, matters could have been very different if former City loanee Ben Swallow had not spurred a golden opportunity in the 3rd minute. Good work by Adrian Clifton teed up Swallow 8 yards from goal, but he somehow contrived to poke his shot wide of Steve Phillips’ post.
Thereafter, The Romans began to turn on the style, with swift passing movement in midfield and producing exciting, incisive play going forward. Jon Davies caused problems down the left and, on 11 minutes, his dangerous cross was glanced goalwards off the head of defender Brian Dutton, forcing Havant keeper Ryan Young into an excellent flying save to turn the ball round the far post.
City took the lead from the resulting corner as the ball eventually fell to Dave Pratt, whose first shot was brilliantly saved by Young, only for the striker to gleefully hammer the rebound high into the net.
Kevin Nicholson’s delicate free kick in the 14th minute was headed wide by Pratt, and then Young was relieved that Ashley Kington’s fierce rising shot flew straight into his arms.
Pratt flicked the ball into Andy Watkins’ path in the 24th minute, presenting his fellow forward with a clear run at goal, but the final shot was wide of the far post. Havant stirred themselves momentarily with Clifton’s effort from 20 yards bouncing wide of Phillips’ goal, and Matt Paterson burst through into the City box, only to be denied by a smart save low down by the home custodian.
It was City, though, that were enjoying the majority of possession and looking the more threatening going forward. It was no surprise, therefore, when their advantage was extended after 29 minutes. Andy Gallinagh played the ball into the Hawks’ area after performing an audacious nutmeg on Dan Strugnell, and Watkins made the most of defensive hesitancy by drilling his shot into the net beyond the static Young.
The home side continued their attacking intent and, when Pratt found Watkins in a useful position, Young was relieved to see the final shot directed straight into his chest. At the other end, Clifton headed over the bar from 10 yards out, but Bath again went close when Frankie Artus nodded wide of the far post after the midfielder was found by Nicholson’s accurate cross.
As half time approached Dan Bowman came on for Davies, who appeared to have sustained a strained muscle in his leg.
The second period began with Havant looking more determined and they almost reduced the arrears in the 46th minute in, what would have been, fortunate circumstances. A long punt over the home defence resulted in Dan Ball attempting a header back to his keeper, but he succeeded only in diverting it past Phillips and watched in relief as the ball bobbled narrowly wide. Paterson volleyed high over the bar from the resulting corner kick.
Swallow’s 51st minute shot was deflected behind for a corner, and Clifton’s speculative attempt from 30 yards was hopelessly wide of the target.
At this stage, City were struggling to rediscover their rhythm from the first half, and only had Artus’ under-struck shot from 20 yards to show for their efforts. The Hawks continued to push forward, but Paterson’s low drive from the edge of the box on 62 minutes was comfortably collected by Phillips.
The home side came close to increasing their lead in the 63rd minute when Young’s clearance from the edge of the box dropped to Kington. The midfielder struck his first time half volley well from inside the centre circle, but the ball dropped just wide with the keeper completely out of position. Two minutes later, the game was effectively put beyond the visitors when Pratt forced his way into the area from the left wing, and sent a rasping shot into the net between Young and his near post.
Ben Adelsbury replaced the cramp laden Aden Baldwin on 68 minutes as the home side began to turn the screw. Phillips gathered Scott Donnelly’s awkward shot at the second attempt with 20 minutes left on the clock, but City struck again in the 73rd minute. The Havant defence failed to deal with a corner and, after a short spell of pinball, Watkins had the simplest of tasks to side foot home from inside the 6-yard box.
That was Watkins final contribution as he made way for the introduction of Nick McCootie, and the visitors finally managed to find the net on 79 minutes, only for substitute Marvin Morgan to be penalized for a clear push on Phillips.
The scoring was completed 10 minutes from time when the tireless Pratt drove into the box and picked out Artus, who powered an unerring volley into the corner of the net.
The final action of the game saw Marley Ridge’s powerful stoppage time shot strike the inside of Phillips’ post, and bounce away to safety.
This was an emphatic victory for Lee Howells’ men, and was just reward for their flowing and enterprising play, particularly during the first 45 minutes. Havant will feel that nothing went their way, and they were certainly made to pay a heavy price for failing to take the early chance that fell to Swallow. Indeed, today City delivered a stark lesson in clinical finishing and driving home an advantage, and they will now go to Weston-super-Mare on Monday in search of further points.
Bath City – Steve Phillips; Andy Gallinagh, Kevin Nicholson, Aden Baldwin (Ben Adelsbury 68), Dan Ball, Bradley Williams, Ashley Kington, Frankie Artus, Dave Pratt, Andy Watkins (Nick McCootie 76), Jon Davies (Dan Bowman 43).
Subs not used – Louis Perry, Chas Hemmings.
Havant & Waterlooville – Ryan Young; Dan Strugnell, Daniel Blanchett, Brian Stock, Brian Dutton, Manny Monthe, Ben Swallow (Rod Young 61), Scott Donnelly, Matt Patterson (James Hayter 79), Adrian Clifton (Marvin Morgan 61), Nic Ciardini.
Subs not used – Warren Cummings, Harry Medway.
Referee: Mr. Adam Penwell (Weston-super-Mare).