Thursday 26 December 2013 - Mayday Trust Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Meller, Bowman, Ball, Gallinagh, Preece, Simpson, Stearn (Allen 67), Adelsbury, Pratt (Jarvis 76), Watkins (Low 90), Connolly. subs not used: Brown, Rollo.
|man of the match:
||S Knapp, S Oakey, C Smith
|league position: 7th
||next match: Eastleigh (A)
Report taken from
Ross Stearn sank former club Weston-super-Mare with a superb second-half header as Bath City extended their unbeaten Skrill South run to nine matches.
City's top-scorer settled a Boxing Day contest the home side edged in terms of goalscoring chances – if not possession – when he converted Andy Watkins' cross ten minutes after the break.
The build-up to City’s first match for almost three weeks had been dominated by a change of chairman at Mayday Trust Park, with Paul Williams replacing Manda Rigby after the B&NES councillor resigned due to a “breakdown in trust” between herself and the board.
A decent-sized crowd of 852 – City’s best home league gate of 2013-14 - turned out to witness the start of a new era and saw the hosts make the better start, despite their recent inactivity.
Dan Bowman’s excellent run and cross from the right set up Dan Ball for a shot that was gathered by Weston keeper Lloyd Irish, before Andy Watkins’ left-wing centre proved just too high for Dave Pratt.
Weston bossed the midfield battle for much of the afternoon as Dayle Grubb, Chas Hemmings and Ash Kington were afforded plenty of time on the ball, but the visitors failed to make it tell in the final third.
Grubb was particularly prominent throughout and his dangerous early run into the box ended with a low cross that was easily gathered by Mellor.
Kington fired high over the bar after benefiting from a ricochet off referee Simon Knapp and was also off-target with a 25-yard free-kick following a foul by Ben Adelsbury.
City then forced a series of corners, one after an excellent burst into the box by Bowman, but could not make any of them pay. Their fifth, on 25 minutes, was cleared as far as the young wing-back but his rising shot from distance whistled well over the top.
Stearn, back after a three-match ban and playing for the first time since November, clipped the top of Irish’s net with a 30-yard free-kick and then played in Bowman for a cross that Pratt headed into the Weston keeper’s arms.
Pratt then saw a deflected 40th-minute drive saved by Irish after being set free by the increasingly influential Stearn following a quick ball out from the back by Mellor.
Lone Weston striker Tristan Plummer had his work cut out against a resolute City back three of Andy Gallinagh, Mark Preece and Sekani Simpson but forced Mellor into action twice with low crosses in the opening minutes of the second period.
City were on the back foot but conjured up the only goal of the game in the 55th minute.
Watkins made a good run to receive the ball on the right of the Weston area and saw his initial cross blocked before volleying his second attempt into the danger zone. Stearn was alive to the situation and raced forward to meet it with a tremendous diving header that crashed into the net and left Irish with little chance.
Weston had played a patient, passing game until that point but committed more men forward in search of an equaliser and almost got it when Grubb’s terrific first touch gave him the space to produce a dipping long-range effort that a backpedalling Mellor needed to tip over the bar.
Pratt was upended by Ollie Knowles as he prepared to chase a loose ball on the edge of the Weston box, with the visiting defender’s cynical foul earning the game’s only yellow card. Stearn was unable to capitalise on the resulting free-kick and was replaced by Chris Allen soon afterwards.
New signing Nat Jarvis came on for Pratt with 13 minutes to go but could make little impression as Weston went on the attack in the closing stages.
City might have had a penalty when Knowles appeared to bring down Watkins but Knapp waved away a strong appeal and Weston broke swiftly upfield, with Kington's rasping drive pushed onto the post by Mellor.
Watkins then shot into the side-netting from a tight angle after a punt from the City keeper fell to him via Callum Laird’s back.
At the other end, Weston took their corner count to 12 but could find no way through as City moved to within two points of the Skrill South play-off zone ahead of Saturday’s tough trip to second-placed Eastleigh (3pm).