Blue Square South
Saturday 8 August 2009 - Chelmsford Athletic Stadium - kick off 3.00pm
||Puddy, Jombati, Rollo (c) (Cornwall 84), Coupe (Jones 45), Holland, Browning (Perrott 74), Simpson, Connolly, Edwards,
Badman, Evans.subs not used: Caldwell, Gwinnett.
|man of the match:
||Evans (34), Edwards (pen 44), Perrott (82)
||Edwards (42), Jombati (43), Holland (45), Badman (50), Simpson (74)
||A Parker (Stanford), J Mitchell (Ipswich), M Potkins (Woodbridge)
|league position: 16th
||next match: Maidenhead Utd (H)
Report taken from
Will Puddy had the debut from hell as Bath City lost by the odd goal in seven during an extraordinary start to the new season.
The young keeper, on loan from Cheltenham Town, was at fault for three goals as City found themselves 4-0 down after just 24 calamatious minutes.
He did save a penalty, though, to prevent Chelmsford City going 5-0 up before a Richard Evans goal and Darren Edwards penalty gave the visitors a glimmer of hope before the break.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 73rd minute when Mark Badman was shown a second yellow card but pulled another goal back through sub Mike Perrott and went close to snatching a point, making that disastrous spell in the first half all the more damaging.
Having been unable to add to his goalscoring options before the season opener, City boss Adie Britton went into the game with just Edwards - his sole available striker - up front.
The 4-5-1 formation, however, was likely to have been Britton's tactics for this match anyway given how well it worked in the corresponding fixture last season, which City memorably won 3-2.
Puddy, right-back Sido Jombati and experienced midfielder Marcus Browning were handed league debuts by the visitors against a Chelmsford side featuring eight new faces, including a complete back four.
The game was preceded by a minute's silence in memory of Sir Bobby Robson and Don Walker, the respected Chelmsford president who passed away in the summer.
City, resplendent in their new red away kit, got the game under way and made a confident start, applying some good pressure in the opening stages.
However, it was Chelmsford who took the lead against the run of play after a dreadful blunder by Puddy. He initially made a good save after Daniel Bunce's free-kick had been prodded goalwards by Jason Hallett but then let the ball squirm away from him and Danny Hockton pounced to smash it home from four yards.
The City defenders were furious and they had more reason to be upset with Puddy four minutes later when he gifted Chelmsford a second goal.
He seemed to be taken by surprise when Hallett volleyed in a looping cross-shot from virtually on the right byline and could only push it into the back of his own net.
City were stunned - but there was worse still to follow as Chelmsford grabbed a third goal in the 18th minute.
Sadly Puddy was again too blame, twice being at fault in the build-up. First he allowed a free-kick to drift across the box and be knocked back across goal to Hockton, whose shot was blocked on the line by Rollo. However, the ball was only partially cleared and when it was played back in from the right, Hallett soared above the flapping Puddy to head home.
The City defence was now in total disarray and Chelmsford took full advantage again in the 24th minute to extend their lead.
The goal again came from a set piece, with Puddy receiving no protection when a free-kick was floated in. He did manage to block a Ricky Holmes shot but the ball was forced home from an acute angle by Anthony Cook.
Puddy's every touch was being cheered by the home fans but that was not the case on the half-hour mark when he flung himself to his left to keep out Hallett's penalty kick after Jombati had handled in the box.
It was a response full of character by the City goalie and the rest of the team were also handed a confidence boost in the 33rd minute when Chelmsford gifted them a goal. A defensive error saw Ben Martin nod a header past onrushing keeper Craig Holloway and while Daniel Bunce was able to get back and clear off the line, Sekani Simpson was on hand to tee up Richard Evans for a close-range finish.
Martin had to be replaced by Ryan Carolan after colliding with his keeper during the mix-up but Chelmsford were soon back on the attack and Hallett was unfortunate not to complete his hat-trick when he turned a Holmes cross against the bar.
The only thing that had been lacking from an extraordinary game so far was a bit of handbags and that duly arrived in the 39th minute when Edwards appeared to be punched by Simon Glover. He went down somewhat theatrically, which earned the City striker a yellow card, and Glover was also booked with the relieved reaction from the home fans suggesting they were expecting a red.
Referee Mr Parker took centre stage again in the 44th minute when he awarded City a generous penalty after Browning was caught by keeper Holloway as they challenged for a loose ball.
Edwards sent Holloway the wrong way with his spot-kick to somehow get the visitors back in contention.
There was still time for a minor melee following a tackle by Browning, which resulted in Britton having to be dragged from the pitch as he reacted to a comment from the Chelmsford bench, and a booking for Chris Holland before a breakneck half finally came to an end.
Britton sent on Gethin Jones for Coupe at the start of the second half in an attempt to bring some stability to the visitors' defence, with Simpson also dropping to right-back and Jombati - who had been booked for dissent in the opening 45 minutes - pushing forward into a three-pronged attack with Edwards and Evans.
The break had not taken the edge from the game, though, and Mark Badman found himself in the book three minutes after the restart after a late challenge on John Martin.
But City looked to have cleared their heads and clearly felt there were more goals in the game against a Chelmsford defence which was also looking ropey.
There was almost a repeat of City's first goal when Glover headed the ball past his own keeper but this time it went out for a corner.
Another unconvincing clearance almost fell for Browning on the edge of the box but he had to stretch and could not get any power on his shot, which rolled harmlessly wide.
Perrott came on for Browning just after the hour mark and, with his first meaningful touch, almost picked out Jombati with a cross but Glover was able to force the ball behind for a corner.
The substitute was then thwarted at the back post himself as he tried to get a head on Evans's teasing cross, only for left-back Bunce to get there just before him and clear to safety.
With City now playing 4-2-4 as they chased a third goal, they found themselves susceptible on the break and Simpson became the fifth visiting player in the book for a foul on Cook.
A sixth booking followed in the 73rd minute. Sadly it was a second one for Badman, following a foul on Glover, and City were reduced to 10 men.
But that did not stop them attacking and they cut the deficit to just one goal in the 78th minute when Rollo's superb cross was headed home at the back post by Perrott.
The most unlikely of comebacks was now very much on and Holloway had to be quick off his line to save with his feet after Perrott beat the Chelmsford offside trap. Evans also perhaps should have done better when he had space on the edge of the box but blazed his shot high and wide.
An injury to Rollo forced Britton to make his third change of the afternoon, with lively winger Aaron Cornwall coming on for his City debut.
It was all City in the closing stages as a nervous Chelmsford side clung on but the equalising goal would not come.
And the visitors were almost caught on the break twice during injury time but Robert Edmans' volley was deflected behind for a corner and fellow sub Bertie Brayley fired wide.