FA Trophy 1st Round
Saturday 24 November 2012 - Amy Lane - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Ball (Cummings 66), Brown, Jones (c), Preece, Keats, M Canham (Morgan 55), Allen, S Canham, Nichols, Low (Griffin 63). subs not used: Garner, Rollo.
|man of the match:
||A Coggins (Oxford)
|league position: n/a
||next match: Eastbourne Boro (H)
Report by Kelston Koppite
Bath City’s FA Trophy campaign came to a juddering halt at the hands of Southern League Premier Division outfit Chesham United at The Meadow. There were some concerns that the match may fall victim to the weather which had served to drench the southern half of England over recent days, but the pitch stood up well to all that the heavens could offer.
It was the hosts who adapted better to the conditions from the outset, and immediately caused problems for City down both flanks. In the very first minute a cross from the left was nodded narrowly wide of the far post by Chris Watters. The lively Simon Thomas then burst through on goal, but was foiled by an excellent sliding save by the advancing Jason Mellor.
The Bath shot stopper was forced into further action on five minutes when he did well to push a rising shot from Matt Bevans round the post at the expense of a corner.
The visitors failed to pose any threat to the Chesham defence until the 12th minute when Gethin Jones looped a header goalwards following a corner kick, but keeper Shane Gore held the ball with some ease under his crossbar.
Bevans caused further alarm for the City rearguard on 14 minutes when he cut inside from the right, and saw his powerful shot clip the top of Mellor’s bar.
The Somerset side were struggling to make any impact on the game and it was not until the 16th minute that they mustered a further attempt at goal. In the event, Chris Allen’s shot from distance lacked the power to trouble Gore. Jones then produced a surging run at the heart of the home defence and his eventual shot was deflected high into the air. The ball dropped to debutant Tom Nichols, but the youngster failed to take advantage, allowing Gore to gather.
Chesham finally made their superiority pay in the 18th minute when Watters found space down the right, cut inside two challenges, and found the far corner of the net with his low shot from 18 yards.
The lead was doubled seven minutes later, this time the hosts exposing City out wide on the left. Dave Fotheringham outpaced Josh Low and delivered a low cross, which was converted from close range by the unmarked Thomas.
Bath tried to respond to their adversity, but were still unable to exert any real pressure on United. Allen again tried his luck from distance following a neat move, but Gore collected without undue difficulty. The home keeper then made a good save at his near post to keep out Low’s shot and, from the resulting corner, Sean Canham lifted his effort over the crossbar.
Chesham continued to press forward and, on 39 minutes, James Potton met another cross from the left, but headed just wide of the far post. At the other end, Aaron Brown played a ball into the home box that was flicked on by Nichols, only for Low to balloon his shot high over the bar.
The final action of the half saw Potton clean through on goal, but City were again indebted to Mellor who made a fine blocking save with his legs.
The second period commenced with Bath trying to exert some authority on proceedings, and Low forced Gore into an excellent save to keep out his curling shot. However, the referee, Mr. Anthony Coggins, bizarrely awarded a goal kick, much to the chagrin of the travelling supporters behind the goal.
Marc Canham was replaced by Kerry Morgan as Lee Howells tried to fashion a way back into the game for his team. Morgan made an almost immediate impact when his cross picked out Low beyond the far post, but the midfielder sliced his shot wide of the target. The diminutive winger then caused further problems down the left, but his misdirected cross in the 58th minute dipped narrowly over Gore’s bar, and on to the roof of the net. Another change was made as Charlie Griffin came on for Low shortly afterwards.
Chesham remained dangerous going forward and their midfield play belied their lower league status. Indeed, Mellor made another useful save on the hour mark, when he repelled Potton’s low effort at full stretch following a neat move by the hosts.
City finally began to gain some momentum and pushed the home team back deeper into their own territory. Nichols scuffed his 65th minute shot from the edge of the box allowing Gore to hold on comfortably, and then Luke Cummings came on for Danny Ball, as Bath made their final substitution.
Griffin tried his luck from 18 yards, but his shot was under-hit and Gore saved once again, but the visitors finally reduced the arrears on 74 minutes when Gore produced a great save to keep out Nichols effort. The ball fell to Morgan, who drilled home from a tight angle to give his side a lifeline.
City now sensed that the game could be saved and they came desperately close to equalizing in the 80th minute. Gore tipped a Griffin shot round the post and, from the resulting corner, Nichols’ flicked header struck the face of the near post with Gore beaten. Griffin’s drive from 30 yards three minutes later flew high and wide of the target, as Bath searched in vain to restore parity.
Beyond that, Chesham regained control of possession and expertly ran the clock down without further alarm, and they were able to celebrate a notable victory.
This was a desperately disappointing defeat for City and, in truth, they deserved nothing from the game given their overall performance, which was disjointed and, at times, lethargic. The conditions were undoubtedly difficult, but cannot in any way be used to excuse such an ignominious exit from this competition. Chesham showed the greater appetite throughout, and were completely deserving of their progression to the next round.