Blue Square Bet South
Saturday 26 January 2013 - Kingsfield Stadium - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Simpson, Ball, Jones (c), Preece, Burnell, Canham, Connolly, Griffin (Keats 74), Allen (Brown 79), Low. subs not used: Walker.
|man of the match:
||Preece (30), Low (68)
||Burnell (70), Preece (83)
||A Sunnerude, J Block, T Power
|league position: 14th
||next match: Welling Utd (H)
Report taken from
A determined Bath City side were denied victory by Adam Bygrave’s late leveller after twice going ahead at the Kingfield Stadium.
City coach Lee Howells was only able to name three substitutes for his team’s first game in 11 days, with Kerry Morgan ill with food poisoning and a number of development squad players unavailable.
Yet the visitors demonstrated no lack of commitment to the cause and probably should have returned home from Woking with all three points in the bag.
City could have gone in front in the seventh minute when a fine move started by Josh Low saw the ball played into the centre, where Charlie Griffin flicked on for the fit-again Chris Allen to shoot narrowly wide.
Four minutes later Allen crossed for the cultured Low, who fired straight into keeper Brandon Hall’s hands from close range.
Perhaps the more remarkable fact was that, while Hayes opted for the long downfield lob to little effect, City elected to pass the ball around with a skill that belied a surface closely resembling a sponge pudding that had spent too long immersed in custard.
Although the home side rarely threatened they did go close just before the half-hour. Daniel Wishart crossed from the right to Daniel Braithwaite, who flicked the ball across to the far post for Luke Williams. Despite being unmarked and only ten yards from goal, the midfielder managed to balloon his shot horribly wide.
It clearly served as a wake-up call to City and, after two corners in quick succession, and they were in front. The first saw a shot from Griffin blocked but Mark Preece headed home the second, his effort flicking off the crossbar before settling in the net.
City could have then added to their advantage nine minutes later when Low struck a powerful volley, only for Hall to tip it on to his crossbar and over for yet another corner.
Despite Hayes looking to get amongst the play-off positions, their a first-half performance smacked of relegation contenders. In the closing stages of the half, their main activity seemed to be kicking the lively Allen, something that went largely unpunished by referee Adrian Sannerude.
They improved after the break, though, and within two minutes of the restart the hitherto anonymous Alasanne N’Diaye combined well with Dan Spence to set Wishart, whose header sailed over the bar.
Five minutes later the home side were back on the attack with Wishart running on to a well-timed through ball, only for City keeper Jason Mellor to push it aside with his feet for Sekani Simpson to clear.
Hayes drew level just before the hour, though, when a repeat move saw a pass find N’Diaye, who slid the ball beyond Mellor at pace.
There have been times this season when the fight has gone out of City after conceding a goal but, despite the energy-sapping surface, that was not the case here as they surged forward looking to restore their lead.
The mightily impressive Low found the energy to skip past three defenders as he moved from the halfway line into the 18-yard box. Just when it looked as if he might shoot he elected to pass and Adam Connolly found the net, only for his effort to be disallowed for offside.
Minutes later City made no mistake and again Low was the central figure. Danny Ball was fouled on the halfway line but, as Hayes hesitated, the referee rapidly waved play on. Marc Canham played a perfectly-weighted pass and Low powered towards goal and drew the keeper to the left before sliding the ball under his body to put the visitors back in front.
That is probably the way it should have remained. However, as Hayes pressed forward in the closing stages they won three free-kicks in quick succession.
The first two were easily defended but the third, played deep, sailed over the defence and the outstretched hand of Mellor. With the goal at his mercy, Bygrave made no mistake through a crowd of players.
At the end, City reflected on two points lost rather than one gained but the team were greeted to warm applause from the travelling fans who made up a significant proportion of the sparse crowd.
With games coming thick and fast in the weeks ahead, City may well need a few more determined performances like this before they can again feel comfortable in what is rapidly becoming a closely-contested Blue Square Bet South table.