FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round
Saturday 28 September 2013 - Mayday Trust Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Simpson, Gallinagh (c), Ball, Preece, Low (Stearn 80), Connolly (Adelsbury 87), Burnell, Pratt, Chamberlain (Allen 72), Brown. subs not used: Keats, Rollo.
|man of the match:
||Pratt (14), Stearn (86)
||Low (48), Connolly (69)
||D Eaton, R Morris, J Whittington
|league position: n/a
||next match: Chelmsford City (A)
Report taken from
Dave Pratt's first-half goal and a late second from substitute Ross Stearn sent Bath City through to the third qualifying round of the FA Cup.
Their first win over Gosport Borough in four attempts - and £4,500 in prize money - was well deserved on the basis of their first-half performance, although there was some growing anxiety before Stearn finally killed the visitors off.
Following last weekend's dismal home defeat to Dover Athletic, City head coach Lee Howells made four changes to his starting XI and switched to a 3-5-2 formation.
Out went Stearn, Ben Adelsbury, Noah Keats and Will Salmon, the latter not even on the bench, and in came Sekani Simpson and Aaron Brown as wing-backs. Joe Burnell came into midfield and striker Elliott Chamberlain - who returned to Mayday Trust Park on loan from Exeter City yesterday - partnered Pratt in attack.
It looked a potentially defensive line-up but City made a bright start and got into some good early positions, with Pratt firing into the side-netting from Simpson's clever pass and Chamberlain not quite able to fully connect with a volley.
But the hosts did not have to wait too long before their early pressure paid off. Andy Gallinagh, playing on the left of the three-man defence, launched a long ball forward which found Pratt in acres of space. His first shot was brilliantly saved by Gareth Barfoot but the City striker coolly steered home the rebound.
City remained in control and should have doubled their lead midway through the half when Gosport failed on numerous occasions to clear a corner and the ball dropped to Dan Ball, who smashed his volley over from eight yards.
Chamberlain also failed to make full contact once again from Josh Low's inviting cross and the only disappointment of the first half was that City were unable to get the second goal their intent and invention deserved.
The visitors had offered no threat and had to wait until the 51st minute for their first attempt of note, with Andrew Forbes being left unmarked at a free-kick but volleying against the bar. He would have been offside anyway but it was a poor miss.
Gosport tried to shake things up, replacing right-sided players Paul Hinshelwood and Sammy Igoe with Jack Barton and Daniel Woodward in the 57th minute, and they were certainly much more in the game - although that wasn't difficult.
City were not at the same level they were in the first period but had a sniff of a chance midway through the half when visiting keeper Barfoot fumbled the ball at Pratt's feet and was grateful when the striker's second touch knocked it back into his hands.
An understandably tiring Chamberlain was replaced by Chris Allen with 18 minutes remaining, while Gosport's last change saw Dan Wooden come on for Thomas Dunford.
Allen's first involvement saw him gifted the ball on the right wing but, with a back-pedalling keeper out of position and Pratt unmarked in the middle of the box, the substitute put his cross out of play.
Low also got into a good position down the right thanks to a neat body-swerve but his cross was pushed away by Barfoot, while Brown's through-ball sent Pratt into space but his shot was comfortably saved.
The inability to grab a killer second goal was starting to cause anxiety on the terraces and another City change saw Stearn come on for Low with ten minutes remaining.
And the substitute finally put the tie to bed with four minutes remaining. A mistake by full-back Brett Poate left Stearn with a clear sight of goal and he kept his nerve to lift the ball over the advancing Barfoot and into the net.