Bath City supporter Kevin Porter writes an excellent match report for nearly all the games he attends; sharing them on the Bath City forum. I intend to help make his work available to another audience, complete with Simon Howe’s pictures and the club footage from Romans on Demand. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do when I can’t watch City.
Bath City 2-2 Bishop’s Stortford
A stoppage time equaliser prevented Bath City from securing a valuable three-point haul from their encounter with Bishop’s Stortford at Twerton Park. Dave Pratt’s goal 11 minutes from time seemed to have won the game for the hosts, but they were unable to hold on for victory.
The early exchanges were largely uneventful, but City went in front in the 11th minute. Stortford full back De’Reece Vanderhyde was cautioned for pulling back Pratt on the left hand corner of the penalty box, and Liam Kelly curled the resulting free kick over the defensive wall. The shot lacked great power, but goalkeeper Craig King appeared to misjudge the pace and flight, and succeeded only in diverting the ball into the roof of his net.
Thereafter, the home side enjoyed the upper hand without seriously threatening to add to their advantage, as The Blues continually struggled to put more than two passes together.
A long diagonal ball from Ashley Kington in the 18th minute was expertly controlled by Kelly, but his angled shot was straight at King. Seven minutes later Kington worked his way into the Stortford area, but lifted his effort tamely over the crossbar.
With four minutes left on the clock before half time, a slick City move ended with Kelly curling his shot well wide of the far post. The visitors then had their first shot at goal after wide-man Frankie Merrifield raced into the Bath box, only to slice his shot high and wide into the Bristol End terracing.
The second period commenced with Stortford showing far more cohesion and intent, and Elliot Buchanan headed wide from a left wing cross within a minute of the restart. The hosts were being pinned in their own half, and Gary Owers introduced Dan Bowman at the expense of Chas Hemmings on 56 minutes as he looked for his side to gain some forward momentum.
It was, however, the away side that found an equaliser within four minutes. The home defence failed to deal effectively with a low shot, and the referee and former City player Mr. Sam Allison, pointed to the spot indicating that Pratt had tripped George Allen from behind. The award was, at best, questionable and the alleged offender was cautioned for his protests. Buchanan kept his calm, and duly sent Steve Phillips the wrong way from 12 yards.
Mr. Allison awarded a free kick to the Hertfordshire side on 64 minutes, booking Billy Murphy in the process, and Allen glanced his header wide of the far post from the resulting cross.
To his credit, the referee had allowed the game to flow before the break, but had now embarked on a strategy of awarding a series of extremely petty free kicks, and was indulging in a frenzy of yellow card waving at all and sundry that had all the hallmarks of a demented air traffic controller. He was somewhat fortunate that this was never an over physical game and, whilst clearly frustrated by his antics, the players of both sides showed remarkable restraint in the circumstances.
City were struggling to regain a foothold in the game as the visitors continued to dominate possession, but the tide turned when Nick McCootie came on for Tyler Harvey in the 75th minute. The substitute immediately imposed himself on the Stortford defence, and his powerful run to the by-line should have resulted in a goal for his side. Pratt stepped over the eventual cross from the left and the ball ran to the unmarked Bowman inside the six-yard box, but he somehow contrived to blaze over the unguarded net.
Bowman, however, atoned for his profligacy on 79 minutes when he delivered a cross from the right flank that was met by McCootie. The initial shot was blocked, but Pratt reacted quickly to slide the loose ball past King from close range.
Despite Stortford putting City under pressure as time ran down, it appeared that the home side would hold out for a much needed win. Alas, it was not to be, as a catalogue of defensive errors in the second minute of added time present Buchanan with a clear sight of goal. Phillips did well to block the first shot, but the ball ran kindly back to the forward, who stroked home into the corner of the net.
In a game that was dominated by City in the first half, and by Bishop’s Stortford after the interval, a draw was probably the right result. However, there will be an overriding feeling of disappointment amongst the home faithful that their side failed to hold on to all three points, and it is now crucial that Gary Owers’ men pick up a decent points haul from the games over the upcoming Easter weekend.
Bath City: Steve Phillips; Andy Gallinagh, Jack Batten, Dan Ball, Danny Greenslade; Chas Hemmings (Dan Bowman 56), Billy Murphy, Liam Kelly, Ashley Kington; Tyler Harvey (Nick McCootie 75), Dave Pratt. Subs not used: Brad Williams, Josh Hutchinson
Bishop’s Stortford: Craig King; De’Reece Vanderhyde, Johnny Herd, Ali Abdullahi (Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson 46), Kenzer Lee, George Allen, Corby Moore (Bryon Lawrence 83), Anthony Church, Elliot Buchanan, Robbie Wilmott, Frankie Merrifield (Josh Ekim 46). Subs not used: Tom Lovelock, Jack Fowler
Referee: Mr. Sam Allison