Saturday 28 December 2013 - Silverlake Stadium - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Simpson, Ball (Bowman 72), Preece, Gallinagh (c), Burnell (Stearn 83), Allen, Connolly, Low, Watkins, Brown (Pratt 88). subs not used: Jarvis, Adelsbury.
|man of the match:
||Preece (65), Low (85), Watkins (90)
||M George, J Block, J Marin
|league position: 7th
||next match: Weston SM (A)
Report taken from
Bath City's nine-match unbeaten run in Skrill South came to an end as they slipped to an unlucky defeat against ten-man Eastleigh.
The visitors were the better team over the 90 minutes and, having recovered from conceding an early goal, looked the most likely victors after second-placed Eastleigh had Stuart Fleetwood sent off in the second half.
However, substitute Jamie Collins came off the bench to head home an 81st-minute winner and leave City with no reward for an impressive display.
And there was a further setback for the visitors as defender Dan Ball had to be stretchered off in great discomfort after falling awkwardly.
Coming just 48 hours after the hard-fought 1-0 Boxing Day win over Weston-super-Mare, the management team of Lee Howells and Adie Britton chose to freshen up the City starting line-up.
Out went Ross Stearn, the goalscorer on Thursday, striker Dave Pratt and midfielder Ben Adelsbury, while in came Josh Low plus defensive duo Joe Burnell and Aaron Brown.
Burnell was listed at number six but ended up wearing 18 as City were forced to field an unusual red and yellow combination after the kit they had travelled with was deemed to clash with Eastleigh's colours.
Despite the unfamiliarity, the visitors made a bright start as Mark Preece's header from a corner forced a near-post save from Eastleigh keeper Ross Flitney inside the opening two minutes.
Andy Watkins also made the keeper work after getting in behind the home defence but the offside flag had gone up anyway.
Eastleigh - who had won seven of their previous eight matches in all competitions - produced their first major threat in the tenth minute when Will Evans was allowed to cut back onto his right foot and rifle in a 25-yard shot which went just wide.
The top corner of Jason Mellor's net was found five minutes later, though, as Ben Strevens rose brilliantly in the box to meet Damian Batt's whipped cross with an unstoppable header which almost wedged in the stanchion.
It was slightly harsh on City but they responded well to the setback, with Low's cross being just behind Watkins and Sekani Simpson's goalbound shot from the clearance hitting a defender.
A barnstorming run from Brown then ended with him sliding Watkins through but his shot was superbly cleared off the line by Chris Dillon.
Ball also headed narrowly wide from a corner, while Watkins saw a snapshot deflected behind from six yards as City strived for the equaliser.
And it finally came in the 29th minute as Watkins got the better of Eastleigh right-back Batt and played the ball across the six-yard box, where Low showed great determination to get in front of Dillon and prod home.
It was no more than City deserved and they almost edged in front moments later as, from another dangerous Chris Allen corner, Eastleigh defender Chris Todd was forced to head clear from under his own bar.
The visitors had a mighty let-off in the 35th minute, though, when Brown was caught in possession by Jai Reason. The City wing-back got back to shepherd out Reason's pass to Stuart Fleetwood but was knocked over by the Eastleigh forward, who then fired home. However, the linesman had flagged for a foul.
Home keeper Flitney also breathed a sigh of relief just before half-time when his scuffed clearance went straight to Adam Connolly but the City midfielder couldn't quite get enough loft on his shot and it was comfortably saved.
The visitors had had the better of the first half and started the second in confident fashion, twice going close in the space of a minute as Connolly first put a free header over from 12 yards and then forced a great reflex save from Flitney.
Eastleigh boss Richard Hill made the first change of the afternoon, replacing right-back Batt - who had struggled to contain Low and Watkins - with Michael Green.
But it was City who continued to look the most likely side to score next and only a desperate clearance off the line by Southam during a goalmouth scramble from another well-delivered corner prevented them edging ahead.
Their chances were given another boost in the 64th minute when Eastleigh winger Fleetwood was shown a straight red card for foolishly kicking out a City defender in front of the referee.
However, City suffered a setback of their own in the 70th minute when Ball landed awkwardly after heading narrowly wide and had to be stretchered off the pitch.
He was replaced by Dan Bowman, while Eastleigh sent on Collins for the ineffectual Yemi Odubade.
And it was Collins who gave the ten-man hosts the lead, largely against the run of play, as he headed home a superbly-flighted inswinging free-kick from Jai Reason.
City responded by sending on Stearn for Burnell and the substitute almost had an immediate impact, drilling in a trademark free-kick from 35 yards which the diving Flitney had to push behind.
Pratt also came on for Brown with two minutes to go as City threw everything forward in search of an equaliser.
And it looked like they would have chance to grab one in the fifth and final minute of injury-time when Watkins, clean through on goal, appeared to be brought down by keeper Flitney.
However, instead of pointing to the penalty spot, referee Michael George booked Watkins for diving as City's chances of a point disappeared.