Blue Square Conference South
Saturday 12 April 2008 - Priory Lane - kick off 3.00pm
half-time: 0-0 result: D0-0 attendance: 1118

team: Evans, G Jones, Rollo (c), Coupe, Holland, S Jones, Simpson (Foley 67), Harris, Walsh (Paul 83), Gilroy, Ledgister (Wood 80). subs not used: Edwards.
man of the match: Paul Evans
scorers: none
bookings: none
officials: T Mason, S Finnigan, M Argile

league position: 8th form: DWLWWd next match: Thurrock (H)

Report taken from

Bath City kept a clean sheet against Blue Square South's leading scorers for the second time this season at Priory Lane as they picked up a point that could prove invaluable to their push for a play-off place. As in November's stalemate at Twerton Park, City and second-placed Eastbourne Borough cancelled each other out on a day when a strong wind blowing down the pitch proved the real winner. Aaron Ledgister went closest for the away side with a fierce 19th-minute drive that keeper Lee Hook tipped onto the bar. But City were unable to take advantage of having the wind at their backs in the second half and were indebted to a couple of smart saves from Paul Evans, who denied Pat Harding and substitute Ross Treleavan.

City's management team made one change to the side that beat Cambridge City 2-0 a week ago, Jason Wood dropping to the bench after suffering a hamstring strain in that game and being replaced in the starting XI by fit-again Chris Holland. Holland took his usual place alongside Matt Coupe in defence, with Gethin Jones moving to right-back and Sekani Simpson filling a more advanced role on the same flank. While the fixture represented a daunting challenge for City on paper, Eastbourne were without nine players through either injury or suspension, including banned 28-goal leading scorer Andy Atkin and his strike partner, the highly-rated Scott Ramsay. The hosts had the wind in their favour in the first half and Andy Ballard's long throws into the box tested the City defence early on. Nathan Crabb, one of three Crabb brothers in the home matchday squad, put the game's first shot tamely wide before Jay Lovatt's effort from distance was easily claimed by Paul Evans. Eastbourne forced three corners in the first 15 minutes, the second of which coming when Holland headed a dangerous left-wing Adam Wilde cross behind from virtually under his own crossbar. Teenager Evan Archibald, making his first league start for the Sussex side, should have done better when Crabb flicked Ballard's deep ball from the back into his path eight yards out, but mis-timed his header from an unmarked position when the opening goal of the game looked likely. City forced their first corner on 18 minutes when Dave Gilroy's cross was headed behind by Ballard with Aaron Ledgister lurking. Eastbourne failed to clear their lines sufficiently and the ball came out to Ledgister 25 yards out on the right. The on-loan Cheltenham winger hammered a superb effort towards goal which Lee Hook got a hand to before it crashed off the top of the Eastbourne bar. The young winger's effort gave City hope after a slow start and Phillip Walsh forced Hook into action a minute later, the keeper saving at the second attempt after Gilroy found his strike partner in space. Holland just failed to connect properly with Ledgister's right-wing corner, sending a header just wide, but the hosts almost scored from the resulting goal kick. Not for the first time, Hook's huge boot downfield turned the visiting defence, with Coupe this time misjudging the flight of the ball, but Crabb saw his weak effort blocked by Evans' legs and the City custodian was well positioned to field Archibald's follow-up effort. Despite winning another couple of corners, it proved to be the home side's final real opening of a half in which they would have hoped to make their advantage pay.

City had shown enough going forward in the face of the elements, with Ledgister and Gilroy looking particularly lively, to indicate that they would ask even more questions of a depleted home back-line after the break and manager John Relish's thumbs-up to his bench after the goalless first half said it all. But his side might have fallen behind within three minutes of the restart, Archibald again being presented with a headed chance from Pat Harding's right-wing cross, but only managing to put his effort over when Ballard looked better placed to score. City struggled to keep their through balls on the field of play during a quiet start to the second half, but won possession when a Hook goal kick held up in the wind and Ledgister moved the ball on to Walsh. The big forward bore down on goal, but was denied by Darren Baker's block tackle, with the ball ricocheting off Walsh and over the bar. Simpson was struggling on the right and made way for substitute Sam Foley, a pre-match doubt due to a virus, on 68 minutes. Eastbourne threw on Matt Crabb and Treleavan for Wilde and Archibald at the same time. Matt Crabb was involved straight away with a neat turn and pass to send lanky full-back Lovett clear on the left. Lovett's centre found Harding at the far post, but Evans turned his shot behind for a corner. Jason Wood replaced the tiring Ledgister on the left flank, but it was a home substitute who almost broke the deadlock with 10 minutes left. Ballard's ball into the area fed Treleavan and his rising shot whistled over the top with the aid of the faintest of touches from Evans. The hosts appeared to be playing the conditions better, with a high defensive line catching City - and Gilroy in particular - offside on numerous occasions and some neat passing along the floor helping them build from the back. But City had a late flurry up their sleeves and, with a minute to go, Matt Crabb hacked behind for a corner with Gilroy preparing to pull the trigger after Hook spilled a high left-wing cross under pressure from substitute Martin Paul. The corner, only the visitors' second of a half which they had hoped to dominate, came to nothing and City picked up a point that they will need to build on with all three against Thurrock on Tuesday night to keep the pressure on the sides in possession of a play-off place. The last of those is now Fisher Athletic, who are three points ahead of City but with a hugely inferior goal difference after they beat Thurrock and all of the other sides in and around the top five drew.