Saturday 17 August 2013 - ProKit Stadium - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Simpson, Gallinagh (c), Preece, Ball, Keats (Allen 85), Adelsbury, Connolly, Pratt (Stearn 76), Watkins (Low 76), Brown. subs not used: Bowman, Burnell.
|man of the match:
||Watkins (43), Pratt (53)
||B Holderness, O Dolton, S Cheek
|league position: 5th
||next match: Eastleigh (H)
Report taken from
New strike partnership Andy Watkins and David Pratt were both on target as Bath City won on the opening day of the season for the first time in seven years.
Watkins fired in off the crossbar two minutes before half-time and Pratt nodded in a corner at the near post to put the visitors in control.
Kyle Asante gave Bishops Stortford hope when he pulled one back five minutes from time but City were not to be denied as they held on for three points.
Victory in a keenly-fought match was achieved down to the work of the visitors' two front runners. Watkins and Pratt harried the home defence like wasps round a jar of honey and deserved their goals.
Yet in the opening 15 minutes it was Stortford who looked the most likely to score, with striker Kyle Vassell using all his experience to probe the City back line.
His shot sailed just a yard wide inside the opening 60 seconds, with keeper Jason Mellor reduced to being a spectator. Midfielder Reece Prestedge repeated the feat with a shot that again missed the upright by no more than a couple of feet.
With the game being played at a frenetic pace, Stortford again went close in the 15th minute when Prestedge crossed for Vassell who, arriving late in the box, once again put the ball just wide.
However, this was no one-sided contest. City themselves had already won three corners by this stage yet with no great threat to the home goal.
And as time went on, the balance of play began to change as the visitors applied more pressure in midfield and used their set pieces to greater effect.
Aaron Brown had a free-kick well saved by Stortford goalkeeper Sam Cowler, then collected a ball from Watkins moments later before racing down the left and putting in a cross which Pratt was only inches from touching home.
City got their reward two minutes before the interval. It started with a crossfield pass from the impressive Ben Adlesbury picking out Sekani Simpson, who went round the home defence before laying the ball off to Adam Connolly. He in turn put it across goal for Watkins to fire home.
City then administered the killer blow with the second half only eight minutes old. Brown had already tried a number of near-post corners which either had failed to find their target or had turned into mis-hit daisy cutters.
However, this time the set piece worked perfectly. The ball was whipped in and Pratt, racing forward, flicked it home with a diving header to leave Cowler stranded.
That should have sealed a comfortable victory especially with Pratt, Noah Keats and Dan Ball all spurning good chances over the next 15 minutes.
Stortford, desperate to get back into the game, then moved first to a 4-4-2 formation and finally to three up front as George Sykes and Asante joined the fray.
Suddenly City began to look tired and, as Josh Low and Ross Stearn replaced Watkins and Pratt, their ability to hold the ball up also seemed to diminish.
Clearly the home side sensed they may yet get something from the game and, with just five minutes to go, they struck.
Mark Preece got his head to a Stortford corner but his clearance only fell as far as Asante. The substitute's shot was then cleared by Dan Ball, only for referee Barry Holderness to judge it had already crossed the line.
Cue a frenetic closing finale. Somehow City held out, with the highlight being Vassell making a despairing lunge for a penalty only for City to be awarded a free-kick and the striker a yellow card for diving.
It was a nailbiting end to what could have been a comfortable victory but nonetheless a result that will leave City in good heart for Tuesday’s home fixture against tile hopefuls Eastleigh (7.45pm).