Blue Square Bet Premier
Saturday 8 January 2011 - Twerton Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Pentney, Rollo, Jombati, Jones, Burnell (Webb 36), Simpson, Harris, Canham, Connolly, Mohamed, Phillips (Murray 79). subs not used: Robinson, Hart, Jeanne.
|man of the match:
||W Atkin (Crawley), D Cook (Gosport), S Finch (Southampton)
|league position: 13th
||next match: Darlington (A)
Report taken from
Bath City's first goalless draw of the season at Twerton Park felt more like a victory as they took a deserved point off former League Cup winners Luton Town.
The home players received a standing ovation from a 2,300-strong crowd after more than playing their part in an excellent game of football against the Conference's big boys.
Both teams hit the woodwork twice during the 90 minutes and City keeper Carl Pentney made three stunning saves but the draw was probably a fair result overall.
The sides went into the game unchanged from their Bank Holiday fixtures, which saw City slip to an unlucky 2-0 defeat at Wrexham and Luton win by a single goal at Hayes & Yeading United.
The match, hailed by Adie Britton as the biggest in City's history, was a glamour fixture in every sense of the word and even attracted a celebrity presence in Cerys Matthews.
The Catatonia singer was at Twerton Park with new husband Steve Abbott, who she married in Cardiff just yesterday. He is a Luton fan and the pair were interviewed on the pitch prior to kick-off.
The happy couple almost saw the visitors get off to a flying start as City found themselves outnumbered in the penalty box when Jake Howells whipped the ball in from the left. Fortunately for the hosts, Claude Gnapka was unable to control his header and it looped over the bar.
Luton were on top in the early stages but it was City who forced the first corner in the fifth minute when Sido Jombati's dangerous cross was uncertainly put behind by visiting skipper George Pilkington.
Jombati was posing problems down the left and he went on to earn two more flag-kicks in the opening 15 minutes, the second of which he was unlucky not to score from as he met Marc Canham's delivery with a flicked header which dropped just wide of the far post.
However, it was Luton who were looking the most likely scorers and it needed an outstanding reflex save from Pentney to deny Danny Crow in the 16th minute after the ball had broken kindly to him 10 yards out.
Not that it was all Luton. City kept the ball well when they had chance and it was at the end of a long period of possession that Adie Harris fizzed a shot just over the bar from the edge of the box.
Jombati then swung in another excellent cross, this time with his right foot, which Visiting defender Howells just managed to get a touch on before the onrushing Sekani Simpson.
Gnapka was looking Luton's most threatening player and he was unfortunate to see an excellent volley from an acute angle bounce just past the far post with Pentney beaten.
However, City were dealt a major blow in the 36th minute when Joe Burnell - who was looking solid at the back - had to limp off after pulling his hamstring as he made a last-ditch challenge on Matthew Barnes-Homer.
Danny Webb came on to partner Gethin Jones and almost got on the scoresheet within 90 seconds of his arrival. Jombati and Canham worked a short corner well between them but when the latter drove the ball across the six-yard box, it proved just too strong for Webb to divert home at the back stick.
That was a difficult chance but there was no excuse for Gnapka's glaring miss at the other end a minute later. Again the chance came from a short corner and when Andy Drury whipped the ball in, a goal seemed certain as it dropped to Gnapka four yards out but he somehow skewed his shot wide.
There was another scare in injury time when Pentney came out of his box to clear the ball but slipped as he made contact. Fortunately Crow was not alert enough to take advantage and the half deservedly finished all square.
It might not have stayed that way for much longer, though, as City could have been awarded a penalty two minutes into the second period when Simpson was brought down by Howells. Referee Warren Atkin blew his whistle but, bizarrely, awarded a free-kick outside the box for an earlier foul.
Howells' challenge looked mistimed but Webb produced a perfectly-executed challenge in the other box moments later to prevent Barnes-Homer getting a sight of goal.
City countered well from the subsequent corner through Adam Connolly and Mohamed but it ended with the latter blazing his shot over from a narrow angle.
And it was from another break that City should have taken the lead in the 55th minute. Connolly gained possession on the right of midfield and instantly released Lee Phillips, who found space between the Luton central defenders and burst into the box. However, with just the keeper to beat, the striker saw his shot skim the post.
It was a big miss and one that threatened to be costly, especially with the visitors posing a constant threat going forward. Indeed, Pentney had to make two good saves in the next couple of minutes to keep out Zdenek Kroca's close-range header and Barnes-Homer's curling shot from 18 yards.
City had a double let off on the hour mark. The hosts seemed to stop playing, expecting a foul to be awarded in midfield, but the whistle never came and Drury was allowed to surge forward and shoot from the edge of the box. However, the ball rebounded off the post and was then put over an empty net by Amari Morgan-Smith, who was off target again a couple of minutes later.
In between those efforts, Hatters boss Richard Money made his first change of the afternoon, replacing Barnes-Homer with Jason Walker.
And the substitute was heavily involved in the next major opening of the game, laying Keith Keane's pass off into the path of Drury. He raced through on goal but Pentney again came to the rescue with a superb save.
The on-loan keeper's heroics ensured City were still very much in the game and they again went close to opening the scoring in the 75th minute. A wonderful cross-field pass from Jim Rollo picked out Jombati on the left flank and the Portuguese cut into the box before letting fly with his right foot, only to see his shot smack the crossbar.
City boss Britton made a change with 11 minutes to go, taking off striker Phillips and sending midfielder Scott Murray on in his place.
The game was still very much in the balance and it was Luton who had the next chance, right-back Dan Gleeson's first-time shot flying narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
Connolly was equally close in injury-time after letting fly from 25 yards as both teams continued to go for the win.
And Luton thought they had nicked all three points in the dying seconds when Crow laid the ball off to substitute Alex Lawless but his thumping shot hit the angle of post and bar, meaning an enthralling game somehow finished goalless.