Bath City 1-0 Eastbourne April 2016

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 1-0 Eastbourne Borough
Conference South
Twerton Park
16/04/16

Report by Kevin Porter
Photos by Simon Howe
Videos on Romans On Demand

Bath City emerged with a hard fought victory from a nerve jangling encounter against Eastbourne Borough at Twerton Park. A well taken goal by centre half Jack Batten nine minutes from time proved sufficient to earn the home side three highly valuable points in their search for National League South survival.

With the visitors also hovering dangerously above the relegation zone and seeking points to ensure their safety, it was unsurprising that the first half was largely uneventful as the two sides struggled to gain the ascendancy. Borough had the first real opportunity of the game in the 9th minute when the unmarked Elliott Romain headed over the bar following a corner from the left.

City responded with a couple of surging runs from Nick McCootie that failed to create clear openings, but his side should have taken the lead on 14 minutes when the same forward robbed Ian Simpemba out wide on the left. The City man raced down the byline and pulled the ball back to Dave Pratt, who could only find the outside of the side netting with his stabbed effort.

Liam Kelly then delivered a measured cross from the right that found Andy Watkins in front of goal, but keeper Lewis Carey produced a miraculous one handed save to keep out the striker’s point blank header.

There followed a prolonged spell of midfield stalemate until the 35th minute, when Gavin McCallum created some space before curling his shot wide of Steve Phillips’ far post from the point of the box. The visitors were finishing the half on the front foot, and the City custodian was forced into a brave blocking save to keep out Nathan Collier’s shot after the midfielder had been picked out by a dangerous free kick to the far post.

The second period began with City attacking the Bath End and they gradually began to gain the upper hand, with Ashley Kington seeing his shot from 20 yards fly over the crossbar. Indeed, the hosts had the perfect opportunity to go in front on 51 minutes, when a typically determined run into the area by Pratt was halted by Sam Beale, with the referee Mr. Timothy Wood having no hesitation in awarding a penalty kick. Kelly, who struck the winner from 12 yards at Concord Rangers last week, stepped forward confidently but crashed his spot kick against the underside of the bar, and the ball was cleared to safety.

The home side continued to push forward and Billy Murphy drove a shot wide of the post from 25 yards. Chas Hemmings, who was having another commanding game at the heart of the City defence, picked out Kelly with a long ball into Eastbourne’s half on 64 minutes. The youngster latched on to the ball as it came over his shoulder, but his first time shot was high and wide of the target.

Two minutes later, Kelly’s searching free kick from the right found Watkins beyond the far post, but his angled shot went agonisingly across the face of goal. As the pressure continued McCootie laid the ball off to Hemmings, whose firm drive from the edge of the box flew straight into the grateful arms of Carey.

Louis Perry replaced the hobbling McCootie on 78 minutes, and City finally made their superiority tell with nine minutes left on the clock. Kelly’s free kick was only partially cleared by the Borough defence, and Murphy lifted the loose ball into the path of the onrushing Batten. The defender, although appearing suspiciously offside, displayed some neat control and slotted the ball into the net past the advancing Carey.

Thereafter the home faithful had to endure a nervous finale as the away side pressed forward for an equaliser. The anxiety could have been alleviated had Kelly’s curling free kick not been pushed round the post by Carey, but there was to be a heart stopping moment deep into added time. A free kick into the box was headed down to substitute Darren Lok, who seemed certain to score until Ball’s courageous intervention, which saw the left back take a painful blow to the head. The referee awarded a free kick in City’s favour, much to the relief of the majority of those on the terraces, and his final whistle sounded shortly afterwards.

This was a vital three points for The Romans, and the victory was deserved by virtue of their general second half dominance. However, their escape from relegation is not yet complete, and they will be looking for further reward from their match against a resurgent Whitehawk side on Tuesday evening. Certainly, if the team continues to show the resolve displayed over recent weeks, there is great cause for quiet optimism.

Bath City: Steve Phillips; Dan Bowman, Dan Ball, Jack Batten, Chas Hemmings, Billy Murphy, Ashley Kington (Brad Williams 90), Liam Kelly, Nick McCootie (Louis Perry 78), Dave Pratt, Andy Watkins (Josh Hutchinson 90).

Subs not used: Ryan Bole

Eastbourne Borough: Lewis Carey; Craig Stone, Sam Beale, Ryan Worrall (Jack Evans 82), Ian Simpemba (Kiran Khinda-John 60), Callum Buckley, Gavin McCallum, Nathan Collier, Nathaniel Pinney, Jamie Taylor (Darren Lok 64), Elliott Romain.

Subs not used: Kane Haysman, Bouwe Bosma

Referee: Mr. Timothy Wood

Attendance: 533

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