Bath City 2-2 North Ferriby
FA Trophy Semi Final 1st leg
By Kevin Porter
Bath City fought back from two goals down to ensure that they travel to South Yorkshire next Saturday with honours even and all to play for in the 2nd leg of this FA Trophy semi final. A game that began in cagey fashion finally ignited in the second half into a typically competitive cup tie, and was graced with an equaliser five minutes from time from substitute Nick McCootie that would not have looked out of place in the Barclays Premier League.
Despite a lively atmosphere created by the large crowd of 1,730, the early exchanges proved to be low key with neither side able to take the initiative. It was not until the 13th minute that there was an attempt on goal and, in the event, Adam Boulder’s shot from 20 yards was well wide of the home goal.
North Ferriby were then awarded a free kick on the edge of the City box after a foul by Phil Walsh on the towering Tom Denton, but Russel Fry’s dead ball kick drifted tamely wide of the target.
City were struggling to make any real impression on the lofty United rearguard, but they had a presentable opening after 23 minutes. Chas Hemmings played the ball into the visitors’ area with the outside of his right boot, and Dave Pratt’s header from 6 yards out was just wide of the post.
The hosts were made to pay for this miss two minutes later, when tricky St. Kitts & Nevis winger Jason St. Juste advanced to the byline, and his low cross ricocheted over the line off Dan Ball’s leg for an unfortunate own goal.
City were visibly knocked back by events and, consequently, The Villagers gained the upper hand in midfield for a period. Despite this, Ashley Kington found space for a shot from 20 yards, but his effort rolled wide of the far post.
North Ferriby almost increased their advantage after 35 minutes when Danny Clarke’s cross-shot narrowly evaded the head of the diving Denton.
As the first half was reaching its conclusion, vociferous penalty claims for a trip on Andy Watkins were waved away by the referee Mr. James Linington of the Isle of Wight.
Lee Howells brought on McCootie for Chris Allen ahead of the resumption, as he looked for his side to put United under more pressure. Despite this, it was the visitors who found the greater momentum from the re-start. They forced a number of early corners, from two of which Denton headed over the crossbar from promising positions. The centre forward, however, was exceedingly lucky to be shown only a yellow card on 51 minutes following an horrendous challenge on City skipper Andy Gallinagh.
The Villagers doubled their lead after 55 minutes when St. Juste chased a pass into the City box and, after shrugging off Ball’s challenge, he calmly side-footed his shot into the net with Jason Mellor stranded.
A heavy sustained hailstorm ensued that appeared to have a galvanizing effect on the home team. McCootie raced on to a long ball over the top of the United defence, only for his eventual shot to be blocked away for a corner, but City were handed a lifeline on 61 minutes when Mr. Linington pointed to the spot as Pratt was nudged to the floor by Mark Grey. It was seemingly a soft penalty award, but Pratt took full toll by clattering the ball high into the net from 12 yards, giving Ferriby gloveman Adam Nicklin no chance.
The hosts now had the bit between their teeth as they sensed that they could salvage something from the game. Watkins’ cross from the left was met by McCootie, but the striker’s glancing header flew straight at Nicklin.
On 67 minutes, Artus delivered a corner from the right to the near post, where Walsh’s powerful header was narrowly wide. City’s final two substitutions saw Ben Adelsbury and Ross Stearn replace Kington and Watkins respectively, as the Somerset side continued to press for an equaliser.
McCootie received the ball inside the area in the 72nd minute and, with a clear sight of goal, his fierce low drive was repelled by the diving Nicklin and, shortly afterwards, Artus shot wide of the post from 18 yards out.
In a rare raid into City territory, St. Juste almost found his way through again but, this time, Mellor made a good smothering save at the wideman’s feet. It was an action that proved crucial as, with five minutes left on the clock, Bath restored parity in spectacular style. Gallinagh’s raking through ball fell into McCootie’s path, and the forward unleashed a breathtaking volley that dipped wickedly over Nicklin, and entered the far corner of net off the underside of the crossbar.
Thereafter, the hosts laid siege on the Ferriby goal, but were unable to find a winner. The closest they came was a firm strike from Adelsbury that brought another good blocking save from Nicklin.
At the final whistle, those on the terraces gave their sides generous acclaim for their respective performances and, on balance, the men from Yorkshire will feel that they are now in the slightly better position. However, City will take great heart from their spirited late comeback as they go into next week’s second leg at Grange Lane. Certainly, matters are far from decided, and neither team will be able take anything for granted.
BATH CITY – Jason Mellor, Sekani Simpson, Andy Gallinagh, Phil Walsh, Dan Ball, Chas Hemmings, Andy Watkins (Ross Stearn 73), Chris Allen (Nick McCootie 46), Dave Pratt, Ashley Kington (Ben Adelsbury 71), Frankie Artus. Subs not used: Dan Bowman, Pat Keary
NORTH FERRIBY UNITED – Adam Nicklin, Sam Topliss, Josh Wilde, Liam King, Mark Grey, Danny Horne, Danny Clarke, Russel Fry, Tom Denton, Adam Boulder (Jon D’Laryea 66), Jason St Juste. Subs not used: Matt Wilson, Tom Nicholson, Ryan Kendall, Nathan Peat
REFEREE – Mr. James Linington (Isle of Wight)
ATTENDANCE – 1,730
There is a great set of photos by Simon Howe you can access by clicking here.