Better days to come for City in 2017

Opinion piece

I had to give myself time to think about how to put my feelings into words after Bath City crashed to a 5-1 home defeat to table topping Maidenhead United on Saturday 1st. It can’t even be an April Fools joke as it kicked off at 3pm!

The day didn’t start well with Axel Andresson was left out of the starting XI after Reading have recalled the defender to play in a under 21s cup competition. I mean really?!

Why have a FA under 21s cup competition in the first place? It doesn’t prepare them for the real thing, unless god forbid they start placing ‘B teams’ in the actual FA Cup!

It would have benefited the recent Icelandic under 21 player to test himself against Dave Tarpey of Maidenhead. The striker scored three for his team on Saturday taking his season’s league goal tally to 41. Tarpey has been linked with a number of football league clubs so having Andresson face him would be a good measure of how far he has progressed in his time at Bath.

Although on the flip side of that it shows how far his reputation is reaching the right people at Reading and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in and around the first team next season for club and country.

Then there was the game itself. The Maidenhead team were excellent in their approach play and seemed very up for the challenge. It should be a challenge for most teams coming to Twerton Park as our reputation goes before us in the non league circle. Maidenhead could only manage a draw in their last 9 away games against us with 8 defeats.

However they were 3-0 up at half time and looked at ease. Granted we did hit the woodwork twice towards the end of the half through Marvin Morgan and Shawn McCoulsky both from set pieces. This is why it was strange to see McCoulsky go off at half time, along with the hard working Andy Watkins, with Gary Owers introducing Sekani Simpson and Nabby Diallo to try and change the game.

It looked as if City went 3 at the back or 5 at the back when defending with Diallo and Miles Welch-Hayes acting as wing backs. Maidenhead were soon 4-0 up and City lacked a telling pass in the Maidenhead half. Nick McCootie chased every ball in vein and Billy Murphy harried and chased in midfield alongside Frankie Artus. It was noticeable how much the play was broken further when Artus came off with a knock, being replaced by Lee Marshall.

Diallo did pull one back but had to go alone after creating his own opportunity on the left hand side beating three players. Unfortunately with ten minutes left City gifted Maidenhead a goal with a looping ball which split the defence for a cool volley home by Jordan Cox.

Now good football is one thing, but it was manner of how the players performed is another thing. Heads were clearly down at 3-0 and the switch in formation only made the players more confused as to where they were and where they needed to be.

I’m not sure if this is a training issue, dressing room issue with personnel on the pitch or players just losing their fight for the game.

That is why I was encouraged to see Owers in the press today stating that if he sees individuals putting in that kind of effort again then that is the end of their Bath City careers. Five games left and all but four should be fighting tooth and nail for a contract for next season.

McCootie, Artus, Murphy and George Rigg are the calibre of players that Owers wants around the club and that is a very decent bench mark for the rest of the squad. We can’t rely on loan players to do the bulk of the hard work season after season, it’s sad to see that Andresson is regarded by some fans as our player of the season!

Don’t get me wrong it’s great for lad and I think he will have a long and happy career in the football league and even internationally. Unfortunately it doesn’t show the rest of the squad in a great light. MOTM by the sponsors, Bath City Supporters Society, was Welch-Hayes – another loan player. Unofficially Nabby won MOTM by some fans Twitter and he only player 45 minutes.

So you can see that Owers has an eye for talent and I am very excited to see who comes in to the squad this summer.

This Saturday supporters who had bought community shares had an opportunity to pick up their certificates and share badges. It also marked the first day for our new General Manager, Carole Banwell. There were also around 80 children and parents in the family stand which helped boost he crowd to over 700.

So there are plenty of good things happening behind the scenes but the ‘good times’ for Bath City won’t happen over night. We are building something special down in Twerton and it will only reach its full potential if fans, players, management and staff all pull in the same direction.

In Bath (sweeping generalisation alert) everyone wants to think they are important, better than the other person, more suited to this that or the other. It’s time to put petty differences on committees, on social media and in person behind us now and concentrate on working together to make Bath City FC as strong as it can be.

There are opportunities to volunteer available at the club, make sure you put your money where your mouth is and help.

Up the City!

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