FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
Saturday 10 November 2012 - Fetcham Grove - kick off 3.00pm
||Garner, Ball, Brown, Jones (c), Preece, Keats, Low (Morgan 43), Connolly, Allen, S Canham, Griffin (Cummings 90). subs not used: Rollo, Howells, Mellor.
|man of the match:
||Allen (9), S Canham (29, 70), Brown (35)
|league position: n/a
||next match: Leatherhead (H)
Report by Kelston Koppite
Bath City and Leatherhead produced an entertaining and, at times, exasperating draw at Fetcham Grove, in an FA Trophy match which saw both sides not only possess a potent threat in attack, but also an equal vulnerability in defence. Eight goals shared, some brilliant, and others resulting from defensive lapses, mean that the teams meet again in a replay at Mayday Trust Park on Tuesday evening.
The hosts took the lead as early as the 3rd minute when City keeper Glyn Garner sliced his attempted clearance behind for a corner. The resulting kick was allowed to bounce the 6-yard box affording Jerry Nnamani ample time to prod home his shot from close range.
City were suddenly stung into action and they began to pressurise the Leatherhead backline. The scores were levelled in the 8th minute when Sean Canham won the ball in the air from Aaron Brown’s cross. The forward found Chris Allen 12 yards out, who calmly lifted the ball over home shot-stopper Gareth Williams, and into the net.
This appeared to inject confidence into the visitors, but they were made to pay for a failure to deal with another home corner on 12 minutes. The initial delivery was flicked high into the air off a defender’s head and, with the Bath defence static, the unmarked Tom Bradbrook had the simple task of nodding in at the far post.
The away side reacted well to this renewed adversity and dominated the midfield areas for a period, although ‘The Tanners’ always remained a threat on the break. Williams was forced into an awkward tip over his crossbar following a teasing ball into the box by Allen, but Charlie Griffin was far too high with his attempt at goal after 21 minutes.
The Conference South outfit restored parity in the 27th minute when Nnamani failed to deal with Griffin’s flick on, and Sean Canham profited by slipping the ball through Williams’ legs as the keeper rushed unsuccessfully from his line.
The tables were turned completely on the half hour mark when Brown tried his luck from 25 yards, and his powerful shot dipped viciously into the far corner of the net, beyond the rooted and bemused Williams.
Leatherhead now enjoyed more possession in the middle of the park, and were still causing problems for the City rearguard. Tommy Hutchings had the ball in Garner’s net in the 32nd minute, but his effort was ruled out by the assistant’s flag, which had been raised for an offside offence.
As the interval approached, Griffin was again too high with a shot from distance, and Garner needed to be alert to tip Kevin Terry’s rising angled drive over the bar. Worryingly Josh Low, who was having a quiet game, appeared to suffer a recurrence of his hamstring problem and was duly replaced by Kerry Morgan.
City emerged after the break looking lively, and intent on driving home their advantage. Williams poor clearance on 47 minutes fell to Canham, but the striker was unable to keep his rather hurried shot down, and the chance was lost.
The hosts weathered the storm and began to push forward in search of an equaliser. Hutchings low shot from the edge of the box was comfortably held by Garner, and Elliott Thompson saw his angled effort drop just wide of the far post. Their reward came after 56 minutes when Brown was penalised for a foul committed on the point of the City box. Hutchings stepped forward to drill his low free kick round the defensive wall, beating Garner at his near post.
The balance of play was now fairly even and the next opening arrived on the hour mark. Morgan’s effort from distance was spilled by Williams, but the goalkeeper was able to recover in sufficient time to smother the loose ball. However, the Somerset side were back in front in the 69th minute, when Brown’s inviting cross was met with a precise header by Canham which found the corner of the net.
The lead was almost stretched with 13 minutes left on the clock when Adam Connolly’s shot eluded Williams, but was cleared away from the danger area by Nnamani.
Thereafter, the Bath defence was put under increasing pressure. Twice, substitute Greg Andrews had shots deflected behind for corners, and Nnamani’s overhead kick on 81 minutes looped tamely over Garner’s crossbar following a free kick into the box from the left.
The hosts deservedly drew level in the 87th minute with a well worked goal. Thompson nipped in behind Brown down the inside right channel, and his low cross was tucked neatly away at the near post by Hutchings.
The final whistle was met with great joy by the home faithful, who greatly appreciated an enterprising display by their team. There was no tangible evidence of the two division gulf between the sides, and they managed to expose some alarming frailties in the City defence. For their part, until the final equaliser arrived, Lee Howells’ men will probably feel that they had done enough to secure victory but, whilst their performance provided a constant threat going forward, their propensity to hemorrhage goals at the back remains a major cause for concern.