Blue Square Bet Premier
Tuesday 28 December 2010 - Twerton Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Pentney, Simpson (Murray 56), Ruddick, Jones (c), Webb, Connolly (Jeanne 73), Canham (Burnell 53), Hogg, Russell, Phillips, Mohamed. subs not used: Rollo, Harris.
|man of the match:
||Mohamed (pen 26), Phillips (68)
||A Bennett, A Bromley, M Whalley
|league position: 12th
||next match: Newport (A)
Report taken from
Bath City's first league game in more than a month ended in defeat after a poor defensive performance.
Inswinging free-kicks from Bradley Gray resulted in two goals for Forest Green Rovers, either side of a penalty from Kaid Mohamed.
And, right on the stroke of half-time, Reece Styche produced a wonderful finish to punish more sloppy defending from City and put the visitors 3-1 up.
Lee Phillips gave City hope of another inspired comeback when he forced the ball home midway through the second half but Ross Dyer killed the game off after being left with too much space as the home side pushed forward.
The end of Marley Watkins' loan spell from Cheltenham Town cleared the way for a first start in three months for Lewis Hogg, while Sekani Simpson came in at right back in the absence of Sido Jombati.
The match was preceded by a minute's silence in memory of City fan Albert Ball, who did many years of voluntary groundswork at Twerton Park, and Rushden & Diamonds keeper Dale Roberts, who took his own life earlier this month.
Piles of snow surrounded the pitch, illustrating how much work had been done by an army of volunteers to get the pitch in a playable condition for City's first home game since November 20.
Both City and Forest Green had played just twice since then due to the icy conditions but it was the home side who looked rustiest in the opening exchanges, falling behind with just four minutes on the clock.
Simpson conceded a free-kick on the left-hand corner of the box and Gray's whipped delivery was nodded home at the far post by Adam Quinn as he rose highest above Danny Webb.
Gray's next set piece almost led to a second goal, his 10th-minute corner being flicked across the six-yard box by Dyer and dropping just past the far post.
And there was another scare in the 16th minute when a long ball forward released Styche - who had been booked a couple of minutes earlier for a late challenge on Webb - but home keeper Carl Pentney raced off his line to clear the danger.
City were struggling to get their game going but they did almost grab an equaliser in the 20th minute. Hogg's corner was cleared back to the midfielder, whose cross-shot fizzed low across the box and forced a fine diving save from Rovers keeper James Bittner.
Kaid Mohamed then produced some good footwork to get away from Gray and into the box but, rather than fire across the six-yard box, he went for goal and scuffed a poor shot wide of the near post.
However, he did find the back of the net emphatically with his next shot - and it came from 12 yards after City were awarded a penalty following an unnecessary push by Rovers goalscorer Quinn on Webb as he went up for a header.
The goal visibly lifted City and they were generally on top for the next few minutes but it was Rovers who had the next chance of note, Styche finding some space on the edge of the box and thumping in a shot which warmed the hands of keeper Pentney.
Webb went in the book moments later following a mistimed challenge on Dyer and, from the resulting free-kick on the left touchline, Gray's cross was headed home from inside the six-yard box by unmarked Rovers skipper Luke Jones.
There was a feeling of deja vu about the goal and City boss Adie Britton will have been fuming at how easy it was for Jones to find space in a crowded penalty box.
And he would have been equally frustrated in first-half injury time when the visitors went 3-1 ahead. City defenders Gethin Jones and Webb appeared to leave it to each other to deal with Wayne Turk's through-ball, allowing it to reach Styche on the edge of the box.
There was still work to be done but the Rovers striker made it look easy as he produced a sumptuous lofted finish with the outside of his right foot, giving Pentney no chance.
Britton elected not to make any changes to the City side at half-time but, after a low-key start to the second period, he sent on former Bristol City duo Joe Burnell and Scott Murray to replace Marc Canham and Simpson.
Dave Hockaday used his first substitute in the 64th minute, taking off goalscorer Styche and sending on Kieron Forbes to partner the impressive Dyer in attack, but there was very little pattern to the play as both sides struggled to impose any control on proceedings.
However, City managed to get themselves firmly back in contention midway through the half as they cut the deficit, the goal owing everything to the persistence of Mohamed. He picked up the ball on the left and stormed into the box, somehow keeping possession despite a succession of challenges, before forcing the ball across to Phillips who steered his shot into the roof of the net from close range.
The goal seemed to lift Rovers more than City, though, and Dyer twice went close to restoring their two-goal cushion while Yan Klukowski - who started his career at Twerton Park - saw a driven cross fly across the six-yard box.
Britton made his final change in the 73rd minute, taking off Adam Connolly and sending on Leon Jeanne for his home debut, but any hopes of another comeback were dashed with 13 minutes to go when Rovers bagged their fourth goal.
It came from a City throw in the Rovers half which was intercepted by the visitors and played forward for Dyer, who got the wrong side of Webb and kept his composure to roll the ball past an exposed Pentney.
The home team's best opportunity in the closing stages fell to Murray, who was picked out in space by Burnell's quick free-kick but his second touch took him away from goal and the chance was squandered.
And City's stellar 2010 ended on a desperately disappointing note when Luke Ruddick was shown a straight red card in injury-time following a rash challenge on Rovers sub Forbes.