Saturday 4 January 2014 - Mayday Trust Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Bowman, Brown, Gallinagh (c), Preece, Simpson, Allen, Connolly, Burnell (Adelsbury 77), Watkins, Low (Pratt 33). subs not used: Stearn, Jarvis, Keats.
|man of the match:
||A Laver, M Taylor, M Lee
|league position: 7th
||next match: Basingstoke Tn (A)
Report taken from
Bath City managed to beat the weather but not Staines Town as the visitors grabbed a 90th-minute equaliser.
Substitute Dave Pratt had scored ten minutes from time to seemingly ensure City - who hit the bar twice through Andy Watkins - would start 2014 on a winning note.
But their hopes were dashed in the dying stages when Mark Preece conceded a free-kick which was nodded home at the back post by visiting skipper Lewis Ferrell.
The City groundstaff performed wonders to ensure the game went ahead, with the heavy overnight rain putting paid to all but one other sporting fixture featuring local clubs - and that was played on Keynsham Town's all-weather pitch at Crown Fields.
The home management team of Lee Howells and Adie Britton stuck with the starting XI which performed so well in defeat at Eastleigh last week, with the only change being an enforced one as Dan Bowman came in for the injured Dan Ball.
The game kicked off in torrential rain - with City staff preparing re-entry vouchers in case of abandonment - and it was Staines who started the brighter, with an early effort from a corner fizzing across the face of goal.
But it was City who had the first goalbound strike, with Watkins hitting a clever snapshot on the turn which visiting keeper Kyle Merson did well to palm away.
Both teams went close to scoring own goals, with Mark Preece relieved to watch an overhit back pass go behind for a corner and Staines defender Chris M'Boungou seeing a sliced clearance in his own six-yard box spin just wide.
The pitch, all things considering, wasn't playing too badly, although there were unsurprisingly some awkward bounces as it began to cut up in midfield.
Staines - who had taken just one point away from home all season - had found their feet quite well, though, and a back-pedalling Jason Mellor had to produce a fine save after Louie Theonphanous's shot looped up off Preece.
Louis-Rae Beadle also found a yard of space on the edge of the City box but put his shot high and wide, while Lewis Ferrell forced another save from Mellor with a low drive.
In between those efforts, City went closest to opening the scoring as Watkins collected a throw and turned brilliantly before unleashing a shot which beat Merson but thumped back off the bar.
City were forced to make a change in the 33rd minute when Low pulled up holding his hamstring and was replaced by Pratt.
But it was Staines who were looking the better team and they twice went close to taking the lead in the space of ten seconds. Hesitant defending by Andy Gallinagh forced Mellor into a rushed clearance, which went straight to Theophanous. He rolled the ball towards the empty net but Sekani Simpson got back to clear off the line.
The ball was retrieved and played back to Sanchez Ming, whose skimming shot was brilliantly pushed around the post by the diving Mellor to finally clear the danger and ensure the half finished goalless.
City made a lively start to the second half and Joe Burnell should have done better when Watkins found him in the space on the edge of the box but he dragged his shot well wide - almost into the path of Aaron Brown but not quite.
There was an even better chance in the 51st minute when the impressive Watkins burst past Jerel Ifil and picked out Pratt in the six-yard box but he scuffed his shot wide of the near post.
And City went closer still to capping their excellent start to the second period when Watkins produced a dipping shot from 25 yards which left keeper Merson stranded but again bounced off the bar to safety.
Merson was able to get a hand on the next shot, a stinging drive by Pratt which looked certain to hit the back of the net before the visiting keeper brilliantly intervened.
Staines were a shadow of the team which had edged the first half and manager Marcus Gayle attempted to rectify that by taking off the quiet Beadle and sending on St Kitts & Nevis international Calum Willock up front.
There was a major let-off for City in the 65th minute when Pratt appeared to kick out at a Staines player in front of referee Andrew Laver but the man in black chose not to take any action.
Staines made their second change, with Kurtis Pykes coming on for Stephane Ngamvoulou, and had the ball in the net soon after through Theophanous but he was belatedly - and correctly - flagged offside.
City's second substitution saw Ben Adelsbury replace Burnell with 13 minutes to go - and it proved to be an inspired switch as he set up the opening goal.
Adelsbury beat Ming on the left and whipped in a right-footed cross which Pratt flicked on for Preece. His shot was blocked at close-range by Merson but fell invitingly for Pratt to slam home from four yards.
It was no more than City deserved for their second-half performance and they should have doubled their lead when Aaron Brown was found in space on the edge of the box but his shot lacked power and was saved by Merson before being scrambled clear as Pratt closed in.
Staines made their final throw of the dice when Bajram Pashaj came on for Max Worsfold with four minutes to go and put in a dangerous cross which the rock-steady Mellor did brilliantly to hold in a crowded goalmouth.
However, the visitors were able to conjure up one more chance as Preece conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position and Ferrell bravely headed home at the back post.