FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round Replay
Tuesday 13 November 2012 - Mayday Trust Park - kick off 7.45pm
||Mellor, Ball, Brown, Preece, Jones (c), Keats, Connolly, Allen, S Canham, Griffin, Cummings (Morgan 80), subs not used: Rollo, Hopkinson, Garner.
|man of the match:
||Griffin (36), Allen (73)
||S Knapp, A Gibbons, K Gould
|league position: n/a
||next match: Sutton Utd (A)
Report by Kelston Koppite
Bath City progressed to the 1st Round of the FA Trophy with, what eventually proved to be, a comfortable victory against Leatherhead. However, in order to earn their progression, the hosts had to endure a tense first 45 minutes, during which the Ryman League outfit played some neat football and could rightly consider themselves unfortunate to be in arrears.
The visitors started the game brightly and could feasibly have been two goals ahead within the opening five minutes. Tom Bradbrook shot just wide of Jason Mellor’s post from 20 yards in the 2nd minute and then, three minutes later, the same player unleashed a low shot that was well saved by the young custodian at full stretch.
City, whilst looking rather tentative, were attempting to put together some passing movement in the midfield areas but, all too often, possession was lost through a badly placed ball. They produced their first attempt on goal on 10 minutes, when Charlie Griffin’s looping shot from the edge of the box was clutched by keeper Gareth Williams high above his head. Adam Connolly then saw his raking shot from 25 yards fly straight into Williams’ grateful arms.
Despite Leatherhead’s territorial advantage, it was Bath who posed the greater threat in front of goal. Cummings delivered an inviting cross from the right flank in the 19th minute, but Griffin was unable to keep his header under then crossbar.
At the other end, Tommy Hutchings burst forward and his shot-on-the-run was saved low down by Mellor, who had replaced Glyn Garner in the starting line up. The home team continued to threaten on the break, and a swift raid down the right resulted in a dangerous cross from Griffin that was headed wide of the near post by the onrushing Chris Allen.
Mark Simmons volleyed wide of Mellor’s post from distance for ‘The Tanners’ and, on the half hour mark, Aaron Brown’s probing free kick was glanced just wide of the far post by Sean Canham.
City forged in front nine minutes before the break, when Brown’s accurate corner kick was nodded powerfully into the roof of the net by Griffin from close range.
The hosts sensed an opportunity to put the game beyond their opponents, and Noah Keats’ stinging drive from 25 yards flew straight into Williams’ midriff. Leatherhead responded with a 20-yard effort from Sam Blackman, which drew an awkward diving save from Mellor, the keeper having momentarily lost his footing on the slippery surface.
The final action of the half saw Griffin bring the ball down adeptly on the edge of the visitor’s penalty area, but his clever chip dropped over the crossbar with Williams back peddling.
Leatherhead continued to push forward as the second period commenced, and City hearts were in their mouths as Simmons’ searching free kick curled across Mellor’s 6-yard box, and beyond the far post to the safety of a goal kick.
Hutchings tried his luck from 20 yards in the 56th minute, but his fierce effort was too close to Mellor, who held on to the ball comfortably. With an hour gone, Brown’s corner kick from the right picked out Griffin beyond the far post, and Williams produced a useful block to repel the striker’s downward header.
Connolly was well off target with a shot from outside the box, but the lead was finally doubled after 73 minutes. Danny Ball embarked on one of his characteristic surging runs into the heart of the Leatherhead defence and found Luke Cummings with his eventual pass. The wide man directed an incisive ball into the path of Allen, who turned his marker and expertly found the far corner of the net, beating the outstretched arms of the advancing Williams.
The visitors were visibly deflated by this further setback, and City finally illustrated their superior league status, confidently retaining possession and finding more momentum in their play. Connolly was once again wayward with his shooting, another effort from 20 yards flying well wide of the target.
Kerry Morgan, who had replaced the tiring Cummings, almost stretched his side’s advantage in the final minute of stoppage time, but his curling shot passed narrowly wide of Williams’ far post.
At no stage did this replay come close to reproducing the drama of the first meeting between the sides on Saturday, but Leatherhead one again impressed with their overall effort and the style of their football. City’s defence, although distinctly shaky in the early stages, did not come close to repeating the benevolence of four days earlier, and looked more solid in the second half when they dealt adequately with any threat that could be mustered by the visiting forwards.