Saturday 1 February 2014 - Mayday Trust Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Bowman, Brown, Gallinagh (c), Preece, Adelsbury, Allen (Stearn 61), Connolly, Pratt (Wilson 79), Watkins, Keats. subs not used: Low, Burnell, Rollo.
|man of the match:
||Keats (22), Allen (52), Wilson (89)
||A Serrano, E Moore, K Bailey
|league position: 5th
||next match: Hayes & Yeading (A)
Report taken from
Noah Keats struck twice as Bath City defeated Skrill South play-off rivals Bishops Stortford to collect their first win of 2014.
The midfielder finished off good work from first Andy Watkins and then substitute Ross Stearn as City completed a league double over a Stortford side they defeated by the same scoreline on the opening day of the campaign.
The City management team made three changes to the side beaten at Eastbourne seven days earlier, Josh Low, Joe Burnell and the injured Sekani Simpson making way for Dave Pratt, Keats and Aaron Brown.
After Chris Allen put the game’s first corner into the side-netting for the home side, Stortford twice went close to taking an early lead.
Harry Baker beat Dan Bowman all too easily on the left and saw a low shot turned behind by Mellor at his near post. The keeper got nowhere near the resulting corner from Matt Johnson, however, and Keats spared his blushes by booting Callum McNaughton’s rather tame header off the line.
Keats then set up Watkins for an under-hit shot straight at keeper Sam Cowler before the pair swapped roles to even greater effect in the ninth minute.
Adam Connolly’s driven pass from the back released the pacy Watkins on the left and he stole in behind the defence before rolling the ball across goal invitingly for the onrushing Keats, who was on hand to convert from eight yards.
Visibly lifted by the goal, City pressed for a second and Watkins dragged a shot just wide after Pratt flicked on Mellor’s long ball before setting up Connolly for an effort that sailed over the bar.
Stortford, with a gusty wind behind them, drew level on 20 minutes after Bowman fouled the dangerous Baker wide on the left and City’s weakness at set-pieces was exposed again. Johnson’s ball to the near post was flicked on and Richens, left all on his own, gleefully fired home the equaliser.
Keats was then yellow-carded for a foul on Baker before a backpedalling Mellor was forced to tip over a wayward but goalbound right-wing cross from Anthony Church.
Johnson’s accurate set-piece delivery caused plenty of alarm as Stortford forced eight first-half corners, while Brian Woodall dithered too long over his finish and was foiled by Andy Gallinagh’s block after a quick counter-attack left City outnumbered in defence.
Church shot just wide when Johnson’s low corner found its way to him ten yards from goal but City created opportunities of their own as the half came to a close. Ben Adelsbury went close to getting off the mark for the club with a looping header from Brown’s free-kick on the right.
Another Brown delivery, this time from a corner, found Gallinagh on the stroke of half-time but the skipper volleyed a difficult-looking chance wide of the target.
Mellor was called into action two minutes after the restart, pushing a deceptive, bouncing 30-yard strike from Richens behind for another Stortford corner.
Chris Allen entered referee Anthony Serrano’s notebook for a late challenge on Baker as both sides struggled to produce any cohesive football on an increasingly bobbly playing surface.
Watkins’ pace forced two corners on the left and he forced Cowler into a diving stop after racing on to Keats’ excellent first-time ball just past the hour mark.
Allen made way for City top-scorer Stearn soon afterwards, before a heavy downpour made life even more problematic for the players and had fans in the 547-strong crowd scurrying for cover on the Poplar Side.
Stortford’s George Allen had the ball in the net on 69 minutes, heading home Johnson’s free-kick, but the assistant had already flagged for offside.
With City adopting a more direct approach than usual, a very useful Stortford side looked to keep the ball on the floor and the tactic almost paid off when substitute Liam Enver-Marum was played into space inside the box. His flicked ball into the goalmouth beat Mellor but Bowman was in the right place to clear the danger.
Enver-Marum then fired wide from the edge of the box but, just as Stortford began to assert a hold on proceedings, Keats struck for a second time with 11 minutes to go.
Stearn charged into the area on the right and won the race to the ball with Cowler. Despite the keeper claiming unsuccessfully that he had both hands on the ball, the substitute managed to square it for Keats, who hammered his shot into an empty net from ten yards.
Keats was then denied a hat-trick when Cowler beat away his fierce 20-yard effort following more good work from Watkins on the left.
A third City goal always looked more likely that a second Stortford leveller, with Watkins a constant menace. He again broke clear of the Stortford defence on the right but his shot lacked the conviction to beat Cowler, with substitute Scott Wilson, on for his debut in place of Pratt, putting the rebound harmlessly wide.
Wilson was somewhat fortunate that his first appearance for the club was not cut short with a minute to go as he went in very late on Cowler as the Stortford keeper raced from his goal to clear his lines.
The former Gloucester striker was yellow carded and, after a nine-minute stoppage, Cowler stretchered off with his leg in a brace.
Wilson almost rubbed salt into the visitors wounds when he broke away in injury time but substitute custodian Joe Wright proved equal to his shot.