Whitehawk 0-1 Bath City
The Enclosed Ground
By Mark Tanner
Photos by Simon Howe
Bath City made it three wins from three in their opening games after snatching all three points from Whitehawk. City made the break through eleven minutes after the restart thanks to Nick McCootie; giving City their best start since the 2005/06 season.
Before looking at Bath’s stand out performers from the game credit must be given to the staff and fans of Whitehawk. It was great to see a club with ambitions to climb the leagues. Looking around their club house there was an impressive array of newspaper clippings, player/staff profiles and action shots of the ground and their fans. The ground is being improved with extra seats behind both goals giving a great view of the action from the top.
There were free publications of a local football magazine in the bar and anti homophobic leaflets around the place. The turnstile operators were friendly and efficient along with the bar staff. Although there weren’t many people at the game they did have a good hard-core of singing supporters. This added some much needed atmosphere to the game in a ground that hasn’t established it’s identity yet. Although next time try singing without the drum!
Also their stand out player was Sergio Torres who covered every blade of grass on the pitch. Dropping out of the league the flamboyant player won’t have come cheap and if he can stay on his feet more he will chip in with a lot of goals and assists this season.
Back to Bath City: Sam Stevens has written a fantastic match report for the Bath Chronicle so do check that out for a traditional match report.
The goal itself looks like it was rather fortunate to be credited to McCootie from behind the goal. Ashley Kington’s corner was punched clear by the Hawks keeper straight into the path of McCootie and two Hawks players. There was a bit of a scrambled reaction to the ball hitting McCootie and a defender. The goal is being credited to the forward was the least the powerful forward deserved as he held the line well and making intelligent runs into space.
Kevin Nicholson also impressed along with fellow new signing Steve Phillips in goal for City. Nicholson’s free kicks and crosses are a big part of City’s improved form adding a new threat which has been missing in recent seasons. City fans haven’t seen such qualities in set pieces by a left footed player since Mark McKeever.
Since his spell with City his footballing career has changed a bit (taken from his Wiki page):
Bath City sent Mark on loan in January 2008 to Mangotsfield United, but he was soon transferred to fellow Conference South club Weston-super-Mare in March 2008 for his second stint with the club.
On 18 August 2009 he was forced to retire following injury.
McKeever was spotted by agent/talent scout Pauly White in the summer of 2009, and then joined East Worle FC. He won the second medal of his career lifting the Hospital Cup in May 2010 and followed that up with a Weston and District Division 1 winners medal in 2011. At East he was a firm fans favourite and could often be seen mixing with the fans in the bar after the game. McKeever decided to retire from Weston and District football at the top, throwing his future up in the air. Rumours have begun circulating that he may follow his old manager to Banwell. Until then McKeever can be seen dominating the 5aside league at priory school on a Thursday night.
Steve Phillips has also been a big difference in the way he controls his box and organises his defence. He also pulled off another top draw save in injury time to preserve City’s 100% record this season. There was a strike at the death that looked destined for the top left hand corner but Phillips threw himself across to get a strong hand on it; the defence then clearing the danger.
It will always be a mystery why he joined up with Shepton Mallet last season in the Western League (well friends with the manager but still!) but all City fans will be grateful that he is with us this season. In these first few games he has already contributed 4 points that we maybe wouldn’t have had last season.
One unsung hero of this rich vein of form City are enjoying at the moment is Matt Coupe. A few eye brows where raised on social media and the fans’ forum when City decided to sign on the former fans favourite as defensive cover but he has delivered more then even the management could have expected.
In his first spell at the club, back in the old Southern League, Coupe was a tough tackling no nonsense defender. His disciplinary record was suspect to the frequent yellow cards and odd over the top challenge resulting in his fair share of reds. However during his time with the club he curbed this habit and played in nearly every position across the back line. He was a firm fans favourite thanks to his 100% commitment to the club and his leadership qualities.
This season he has come on as a sub in the first game and played two full 90 minutes in the last two. He has brought a calm but strong voice to the back four adding to Phillips influence over some of the younger players. It’s something this City side has lacked since, since Jim Rollo stopped playing regularly.