Weston-Super-Mare 1-1 Bath City
By Kevin Porter
Bath City’s 100% record in this season’s Vanarama National League South came to an end, as they had to settle for a share of the spoils in the Somerset derby at Woodspring Stadium. A goal five minutes from time ensured that Weston-super-Mare levelled the scores, and was certainly no more than they deserved for their overall dominance.
From the very start, City struggled to find any of the form and zest that has led to the five-goal demolition of Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday. Indeed, it was Weston who started brightly, and created a number of early chances. Jake Mawford shot high over the bar from the edge of the box on 5 minutes and, two minutes later, Ben Withey’s effort from similar distance suffered the same fate.
Bath were unable to retain possession in midfield, and any attacking movement was restricted to long balls for Andy Watkins and Dave Pratt to chase. Tsvetan Filipov fired over Steve Phillip’s crossbar from 20 yards and, on 29 minutes, Scott Wilson almost profited from Matt Coupe’s attempted back header. In the event, Phillips raced quickly out of his box to clear the danger.
City finally began to put the Seagulls’ deference under some pressure, and Kevin Nicholson’s curling free kick was hurriedly deflected behind the goal by a defender, only for the referee, Mr. Richard Hulme of Frome, to award a goal-kick. It was the first of a number of questionable decisions by the official that were to frustrate the visitors throughout.
It was against the run of play when City took the lead five minutes before the break. A high ball into the box fell to Ashley Kington, and the midfielder’s cross-shot was deflected into the corner of the net, with Nick McCootie seemingly applying the final touch.
The hosts tried to find response before the half time whistle, but Wilson fired wastefully over the bar from 18 yards, and Mawford dragged an attempted volley wide of the target.
Weston began the second period again looking to build from the back, with The Romans content to concede possession in their opponents’ half. Withey’s low cross from the right just eluded the onrushing Jacob Canes, and Wilson latched on to a ball over the top of the City rearguard, his powerful shot being expertly palmed away by Phillips at the foot of the near post.
The home side should have restored parity after 54 minutes when Mawford made good ground down the right and pulled the ball back invitingly into Canes’ path, who succeeded only in firing over the bar from a good position.
Dan Bowman replaced Watkins, and this move saw City withdrawing even deeper into their own territory, with Weston now enjoying almost total monopoly of possession.
Filipov’s shot from distance was comfortable held by Phillips and then, on 58 minutes, there was a moment of controversy. Home keeper Luke Purnell advanced out of his area to clear a through ball, but was clattered by McCootie in a bone-crunching clash. The forward was committed to the tackle but was undoubtedly a trifle late, and Purnell required lengthy treatment before verbally venting his anger on his assailant. Whilst there was no obvious malice in the challenge, the City man was perhaps slightly fortunate that his punishment was only a yellow card, and he was substituted by Ben Adelsbury minutes later.
The Seagulls continued to push forward in search of an equaliser, but Mawford shot high over the crossbar in the 65th minute. Wilson hooked an effort over the top from inside the box and, with five minutes left on the clock, Phillips pulled off an outstanding diving save low down to keep out another shot from the same player.
The resulting corner finally saw Weston back on level terms, when Ollie Barnes converted Dayle Grubb’s eventual cross at the far post from close range.
City were finally stung into action, and Pratt headed narrowly over the bar from Nicholson’s left wing cross. As the game entered stoppage time a poor defensive header fell to the unmarked Pratt inside the 6-yard box but, with the goal at his mercy, he somehow managed to skew his volley wide of the post.
This was a strangely lacklustre performance from City, and was in complete contrast to their showing of two days earlier. This could be put down to tired legs, or the absence of Jon Davies and Bradley Williams in midfield but, in reality, great credit must be given to the spirit and energy of Weston’s play. The visitors should have snatched victory in the dying moments but, in truth, those present would have witnessed a most outrageous example of daylight robbery.
It is said that the measure of a good side is in collecting points when not playing at their best, and Bath will take their unbeaten run into their next match at home to Dartford on Saturday with confidence intact.
Weston-Super-Mare – Luke Purnell; Ben Withey, Ollie Barnes, Pat Keary, Jamie Edge, Clayton Fortune, Tsvetan Filipov, Jake Mawford, Scott Wilson, Dayle Grubb, Jacob Cane.
Subs not used – Alex Byrne, Brad Ash, Danny Wring, Dan Jackson.
Bath City – Steve Phillips; Andy Gallinagh, Matt Coupe, Dan Ball, Kevin Nicholson, Chas Hemmings, Ashley Kington (Chris Allen 81), Frankie Artus, Dave Pratt, Nick McCootie (Ben Adelsbury 64), Andy Watkins (Dan Bowman 54).
Subs not used – Aden Baldwin, Luke Matthews.
Referee – Mr. Richard Hulme (Frome).