Blue Square Conference South
Saturday 15 March 2008 - Champion Hill Stadium - kick off 3.00pm
||Evans, G Jones, Rollo (c) (Paul 75), Coupe, Holland, S Jones, Hogg, McKay, Edwards (Simpson 33), Gilroy, Wood.
subs not used: Dunn, Howells.
|man of the match:
||C Miller, A Stevens, J Mellor
|league position: 8th
||next match: Havant (H)
Report taken from
There is little doubt that John Relish has enjoyed better weeks in his three years at the Bath City helm. And, if luck really does even itself out over the
course of a season, then the Twerton Park chief can at least look forward to a marked change in fortune as the club's Blue Square South fate is decided over
the next month or so. Given the torrid build-up that preceded last Saturday's trip to London to face a pacy and skilful Fisher Athletic side, then there
was an air of inevitability about only City's eighth league defeat since winning promotion last year. Reeling from the loss of their two Scotts - Partridge
and Rogers - for the season in midweek, City were also without the suspended Adie Harris as well as loaned-out pair Mark McKeever and Phillip Walsh.
When Luke Prince marked the end of a desperately disappointing two-month loan spell by pulling out of Saturday's game at the last minute with a stomach bug,
Relish was left to name a bench including one match-fit player - Sekani Simpson. The only others he could muster were the dependable Martin Paul, a man who
only features for the club in an emergency these days, coach Lee Howells, whose distinguished non-league career is a few years behind him at the age of 39,
and young keeper Owen Dunn. The situation spoke volumes for City's readiness for the step up to Blue Square Premier that their fans still crave despite
their disappointing form since the end of January. But, with their resources stretched to breaking point by a thigh injury to Darren Edwards 10 minutes
before half-time, City dominated the second half against one of their play-off rivals and almost clawed back a two-goal interval deficit for an
against-the-odds draw that would surely have had a galvanising effect going into a crunch Easter double-header with Havant and Basingstoke. A rare Simpson
goal rocked the hosts and restored the visitors' belief, but Fisher held on to become the first team to record a league double over City since Chippenham
pulled off the feat in 2005-06, despite having defender Lewis Tozer in goal for the final 14 minutes after keeper Simon Overland suffered a broken left arm
and dislocated shoulder.
Had City started with the same confidence rather than with the look of a side with only two wins in their previous nine outings and none in their last three,
then the outcome may well have been different. Fisher had impressed in a 1-0 victory at Twerton Park on January 26, the day City opened a 'Promotion
Turnstile' for their fans to help with the push for a play-off place, and the away side again struggled to contain the pacy Shaun Batt, Gavin Tomlin and
Wesley Thomas early on. It was the lanky Batt, surely one of the division's fastest players, who started and finished the move that led to the opening goal
just past the half hour mark, playing a ball down the left before arriving 20 yards out to drill Jeff Goulding's lay-off low past a seemingly unsighted
Paul Evans. Edwards left the action moments later, forcing Lewis Hogg to play as an emergency striker alongside Dave Gilroy for an hour, and Relish was left
wondering whether the team bus had run over a black cat en route to the capital when Fisher took a 2-0 lead three minutes before the break. Again Goulding,
an England C international, was the provider with a flick towards Thomas, but the striker looked a couple of yards offside as he beat Evans at the second
attempt from close range. The manager earned himself a ticking-off from referee Mr CJ Miller after he and sidekick Adie Britton fumed at the assistant
official who kept his flag down, but City were spurred on by the injustice.
Five minutes after the break, Jason Wood, who turned in another promising display, arrowed over a superb cross from the left and substitute Simpson, playing on the right wing, cashed in on some non-existent defending to power a header past Overland from 12 yards.
City forced a host of corners after that, but again missed McKeever's expert delivery, while they looked punchless in open play despite enjoying the vast majority of the possession.
Hogg collected a harsh 15th booking of the campaign as his determination to win the ball from Mark Wright on the byline got the better of him and now faces the prospect of missing a good chunk of City's remaining games while serving a fourth ban of the campaign.
Overland's double injury came five minutes from time after he claimed a Steve Jones corner, and, although the length of the stoppage meant the clock had almost reached the 100 mark by the time Mr Miller blew his final whistle, City could not seriously test his rookie replacement.
The result leaves City needing a minimum of five wins - one more than they have managed since the turn of the year - from their last eight games to make the play-off frame.
And while injuries and suspensions are clearly conspiring against them, last Saturday's gutsy effort offered proof that Relish's battered and bruised squad still have the heart for the fight ahead.