Bath City & Ross Stearn
Why has he only started 8 of the 26 games so far?
By Mark Tanner – Videos Steve Mellor – Picture Simon Howe
This is what it means to come off the bench and score your second goal in extra time in the cup. Ross Stearn changed the game when he was introduced on the 58th minute for Dan Bowman on Tuesday night to set Bath up with an away tie against Bristol Rovers FC.
Bath were firmly on the back foot in the second half with confidence low after Jason Mellor let the ball slip through his fingers in the last minute of the first half for Gloucester’s equaliser. The crowd could tell there would only be one winner of that game with Gloucester still yet to bring on their top goal scorer in ex Roman Charlie Griffin. However Stearn came on and caused the Gloucester defence all sorts of problems with some direct running.
One other thing Stearn did very well, apart from score two goals, was to play as a natural winger with a heavy focus on getting balls into the box. Sometimes when he’s come on in the past he’s tried to score with nearly every touch. This time was different though as he tried to beat his man to the by-line and deliver a varied ball into the box. He was still able to get into goal scoring positions when play was on the other side of the pitch and from these positions he was able to bag himself a brace.
The tricky winger has been in and out of the team all season, and last season, but has contributed well when on the pitch with goals and assists. He has only started 8 games but has come off the bench 16 times so far this season which has seen Bath play 26 times. So he has featured in nearly every game so far but many of these 16 sub appearances have been with little time remaining. In the last league game he was brought on with a minute left!
Bath have looked more likely to score when Stearn has been on the pitch with 4 of his 6 goals coming when he’s started; a goal every two games. It was thanks to extra time that he was able to get a brace on Tuesday as he had more time on the pitch to create chances and get in good positions. If there wasn’t extra time then he would have gone 375 minutes without scoring from his 16 sub appearances.
So why isn’t he starting more games? The theories on the fans forum is that the management are always falling out with the player that’s why he doesn’t get a run in the team. Tracking back and working hard for the team have been reasons used in the past as to why he doesn’t start more but these aspects of his game have vastly improved in the last 12 months he’s been at the club. He excites the crowd and causes panic in the oppositions back line each time he gets on the ball going forward.
He will take a shot rather than pass the ball, he isn’t 6 foot tall and he will tell a player what he thinks of them on and off the pitch but if all this could change would he be at Bath City? Not a chance! He’ll be playing league football maybe as high as League One. Bath are very lucky to have someone who has put up with the amount of stick he’s taken so far and who is passionate about scoring for Bath City.
It will be great to see him unleashed from the start against St Albans on Saturday in the same starting XI; with Bowman making way for him. Andy Watkins on the left wing and Stearn on the right feeding Pratt would worry any defence in this league or the league above. Pratt is a natural hard working goal scorer with Watkins being the most gifted player Bath have at the moment since Scott Partridge; all three can pressure the defence and put Bath on the front foot.
Throw in the mix the likes of Nick McCootie, Dan Bowman, Ben Adlesbury and the much improved Chas Hemmings with the experienced Andy Gallinagh and every position is covered on the bench. So Saturday should be a great game of football with the Bath squad full of confidence again and everyone hoping to impress enough to feature against the Gas.
The supporters coach leaves Twerton Park at 10.15 on Saturday, make sure you’re on it!