Blue Square Conference South
Saturday 29 March 2008 - Cressing Road - kick off 3.00pm
||Evans, Simpson, Rollo (c), Coupe, Holland (Foley 68), Harris, McKay (Wood 62), S Jones, Edwards, Gilroy, McKeever (Ledgister 62).
subs not used: Walsh, G Jones.
|man of the match:
||N Hair, R Allum, C Phillips
|league position: 8th
||next match: Yeovil Town Res (A)
Report taken from
Bath City's hopes of playing Blue Square Premier football next season look to be fading after they went down to play-off rivals Braintree Town at Cressing
Road. Goals from Billy Burgess and James Hawes consigned John Relish's men to their ninth Blue Square South defeat of the season and one which saw their
hosts leapfrog them in the table, with City dropping to eighth spot.
The visitors enjoyed a huge slice of the possession in a game that was seen as key to their chances of finishing in the top five come the end of April, but
could not make their chances count. A solid, well-organised Braintree side showed them the way by scoring from the two shots on target they had in the 90
minutes and City now face make-or-break home matches with Cambridge and Thurrock in which to revive their promotion push. Midweek signings from Cheltenham
Sam Foley and Aaron Ledgister started their loan spells with City on the substitutes' bench, while Justyn McKay replaced the suspended Lewis Hogg in the
starting XI in the only change to the team that beat Basingstoke 4-0 on Easter Monday. City had a strong diagonal wind in their favour in the first half
and the trusty Mark McKeever-Chris Holland combination created the game's first chance, the winger chipping a second-minute free-kick into the box for the
defender to head just over the bar. The visitors made all the early running and Dave Gilroy had a great chance to add to his 21-goal tally for the season
in the ninth minute, but miscued horribly over the top from 12 yards out after a Darren Edwards lay-off found him in space. It was therefore against the
run of play that Braintree took a 16th-minute lead. Adie Harris fouled Brad Quinton just inside his own half and the home skipper floated his delivery into
the area and towards Ryan Moran, who had peeled off to the left. Moran's header into the danger zone fell invitingly for centre-back partner Burgess and he
slid in to beat Paul Evans from six yards out. City picked themselves up and forced a corner that home keeper Nicky Morgan spilled before Edwards put a
free header from a left-wing McKeever cross straight at the 6ft 7ins Braintree No 1 in the 21st minute. Evans did well at the other end to come out and
foil Lee Burns as he raced beyond the City back-line, but was assisted by the forward's heavy touch. The remainder of the first period saw City controlling
possession as they searched for an equaliser, but a 15-minute period of torrential rain made life difficult for both sets of players, not to mention the
City fans gathered on open terracing behind the goal their heroes were attacking. Jim Rollo drilled a shot wide from distance in the closing minutes of the
half, before Gilroy curled a low drive into the side-netting after Harris found him on the edge of the area. Edwards then fired weakly at Morgan, but
Braintree almost went in at the break two goals up as Quintion's pass held up in the wind for Burns to cross for Chris Sullivan, who planted a header just
over when he should have at least tested Evans in the City goal.
With the wind at their backs, Braintree made much the brighter start to the second half and a dangerous whipped free-kick from the impressive Quinton caused problems for the City defence as first Adrian Deane had a shot blocked before Andy Porter screwed the follow-up wide.
City's first attack of the half saw them force a corner off Burgess' head and Holland, who is clearly relishing having McKeever back in the side, forced Morgan to palm a header behind from the wideman's accurate delivery from the right.
But it was Braintree who always looked the more threatening going forward and they doubled their lead after forcing their fourth corner of the half.
City failed to clear their lines with a header from Deane's short corner and midfielder Hawes sent a crashing 20-yard volley through a crowded area and into the net, giving Evans absolutely no chance.
It was almost 3-0 two minutes later when Deane headed inches wide from a right-wing Quinton cross and City boss John Relish sent on Jason Wood and debutant Ledgister for McKeever and McKay in a bid to reverse the tide.
After Edwards headed a Gilroy centre over, Foley joined the fray for Holland, who was clearly struggling with a calf injury as he left the field.
And the young Irishman, playing in an advanced midfield position, almost made a dream start to life in City colours, arrowing a shot inches past the angle of post and bar after a neat exchange of passes with Gilroy 25 yards from goal.
It was a rare moment of invention from the visitors going forward as they struggled to pierce a home defence almost as mean as their own in the league this season.
And, operating with a three-man back line, City looked exposed whenever Braintree went forward, with the pacy Sullivan posing a real threat. His cross from the left found Deane in acres of space, but the striker was let down by a poor first touch with only Evans to beat.
All of the City substitutes showed promise as their side forced the pace in the closing stages, with Ledgister probing from the left and Foley impressing with some neat touches.
Wood was the pick of the bunch, though, on the right flank and offered the width City had lacked during the first hour.
He had a shot blocked and then set up Steve Jones, probably City's stand-out performer on the day, for a drive which Gilroy diverted over the bar with his head.
The chances kept coming City's way as the game entered stoppage time, but Morgan did magnificently to keep out another Gilroy header low to his right from Wood's cross and Jones saw a shot blocked from the resulting corner.