Blue Square Bet South
Saturday 17 November 2012 - Gander Green Lane - kick off 3.00pm
half-time: 0-1 result: W2-0 attendance: 512

team: Mellor, Ball, Brown, Jones (c), Preece, Keats (Burnell 67 (M Canham 80)), Low, Connolly, Allen, S Canham (Morgan 80), Griffin. subs not used: Cummings, Rollo.
man of the match: Mark Preece
scorers: Preece (24), Morgan (89)
bookings: Brown (42), S Canham (72)
officials: D Cook (Portsmouth)

league position: 6th form: LWWDWW next match: Chesham Utd (A)

Report by Kelston Koppite

Bath City produced a dogged and determined performance to return home with three valuable points from this match at The Borough Sports Ground against Sutton United. A goal in each half from Mark Preece and Kerry Morgan respectively, proved sufficient to stave off the challenge of the willing hosts.

Sutton began the game on the attack, but City succeeded in carving out the first opening after three minutes. Aaron Brown delivered a free kick into the penalty area, which was nodded over the crossbar by Preece. It was the home team, however, who were showing the greater intent going forward, with Sam Rents and Stefan Payne providing the width that was stretching the City rearguard. Harry Ottaway headed wide of the target on 6 minutes following good work down the right by Payne and Gareth Gwillim and, four minutes later, Craig Watkins had the ball in the City net only for the assistant’s offside flag to deny him. Rents cut in from the left flank in the 10th minute, but his angled shot was deflected over the bar for a corner off a City defender. As the home pressure continued, Watkins blazed wastefully over Jason Mellor’s crossbar from a useful position. Bath were being reduced to raids into home territory, and Josh Low provided some respite for his defenders with his elusive running down the right flank. It was somewhat against the run of play, therefore, that the visitors took the lead on 25 minutes. Brown’s deep free kick from the right was expertly nodded back across goal by Charlie Griffin, and Preece profited by heading home from inside the 6-yard box, the ball rising into the roof of the net via keeper Kevin Scriven’s fingertips. The game continued much in the same fashion, with Sutton responding well to their setback. They were largely kept at bay by a resolute City defensive line, and when the ball was crossed into the danger area, Mellor dealt competently with any threat. Consequently, United found clear-cut chances hard to come by and it was not until nine minutes before the break that they produced another shot at goal. In the event, Harry Beautyman’s rising drive from the edge of the box flew comfortably over Mellor’s bar. The final chance of the half came in the 43rd minute when a free kick was played into the City area. The ball bobbled around in the heart of the visitors’ defence momentarily, which afforded Ottaway the time to back heel goalwards, only for Mellor to save without undue difficulty beneath his crossbar.

The second period commenced largely in the same vein, with City being pinned in their own half for prolonged periods in the face of some concerted attacking by the home team. Craig Dundas’ shot from 25 yards rose just over the crossbar on 51 minutes and, on the hour mark, the same player caused problems on the left flank before crossing into the box, but Watkins sliced the ball wide of the near post from 6 yards. Despite their dominance of possession, aided to a certain degree by City’s inability to retain the ball, the hosts were still unable to seriously threaten Mellor’s goal. Kyle Vassell fired wide from 18 yards on 77 minutes, and Ottaway’s cheeky back header looped wide of the post with Mellor back peddling. Joe Burnell replaced Griffin as Lee Howells attempted to shore up the midfield areas, but the substitute lasted only eight minutes before being forced from the field of play, prompting the return of Marc Canham. Sean Canham, who was having a quiet game, was also withdrawn, heralding the introduction of Morgan. The diminutive wideman almost had an immediate impact when he charged down Scriven’s attempted clearance, the gloveman being relieved to see the ball fly wide of his post. Sutton should have been on level terms in the 83rd minute when two players closed in on a cross from the right, the home faithful groaning in disbelief when Simon Downer somehow slid the ball wide from inside the 6-yard box. On 84 minutes, a low shot was driven towards goal through a sea of legs, and Mellor did extremely well to smother the ball with numerous home players eagerly waiting to pounce. United began to run out of ideas with their attacks becoming increasingly desperate, and City suddenly found some forward momentum. With four minutes left on the clock, Noah Keats cut inside from the left but his shot was well wide of the far post. However, the points were secured two minutes later when City were awarded a free kick on the halfway line. Marc Canham took the kick quickly and cleverly found Chris Allen, who showed great awareness in picking out Morgan with his neat pass. The substitute found himself unmarked on the edge of the box, and calmly side-footed the ball into the corner of the net with a precise finish beyond Scriven’s dive.

The travelling supporters greeting the final whistle more by way of relief than joy, but clearly showed their appreciation for a tenacious performance by their team. It was a display that lacked the attacking abandon of recent games, but was more than compensated by a sense of grit and fortitude in defence, which harked back to the successes of recent seasons. No doubt, Sutton will feel that they did enough to earn at least a share of the spoils, but they failed to make the most of their chances, and City proved more than clinical in this respect.