Saturday 15 February 2014 - Crabble Athletic Ground - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Bowman, Ball, Brown, Preece, Gallinagh (c), Keats, Adelsbury (Allen HT), Pratt (Watkins 64), Reid (Stearn 69), Low. subs not used: Connolly, Rollo.
|man of the match:
||L Betts, M Chalkley, J Block
|league position: 5th
||next match: Weston SM (A)
Report taken from
Bath City returned empty-handed from their long trip to Kent as they suffered a fifth successive defeat at the hands of Skrill South play-off rivals Dover Athletic.
The visitors had three great chances on the break during a goalless first half but couldn't take them and paid the price as they conceded to Barry Cogan and Ricky Modeste during a sluggish start to the second period.
Striker Jake Reid - who returned to City on loan from leaders Bromley yesterday having spent a brief spell at Mayday Trust Park during the 2010-11 season - hit the post in between those goals.
He started the game in place of Andy Watkins, who limped off during last week's win over Whitehawk. Adam Connolly was also only fit enough to appear on the bench and was replaced in the starting XI by the fit-again Aaron Brown.
The game kicked off in bright sunshine but with a blustery wind and on a heavy pitch, with a lot of sand used to soak up the water around the centre circle.
And the visitors nearly got bogged down inside the opening three minutes when Mark Preece's back header fell well short of keeper Jason Mellor, allowing Tom Murphy to nip in but the Dover winger's shot was well off target.
At the other end, an excellent run down the left by Josh Low ended with him picking out Noah Keats on the penalty spot but the midfielder dragged his shot wide under pressure from a defender.
Dover, playing into the wind, had another glorious chance when City failed to clear their lines and the ball fell to Cogan inside the box but Mellor got down brilliantly to block his low shot.
Another home attack was broken up by a strong interception from Andy Gallinagh, whose pass then sent Dave Pratt racing through the inside-right channel but his angled drive was pushed around the near post by keeper Mitch Walker.
City continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack and, after Dan Ball made a timely interception at one end, Keats launched a rapid break before playing a superb one-two with Low to get a clear sight of goal. However, with Walker racing off the line to narrow the angle, the midfielder stabbed his shot millimetres wide.
Play became scrappy in the second quarter as the wind picked up again and there was also a lengthy delay when City midfielder Ben Adelsbury had treatment for a knee injury.
He was able to see out the half, which finished goalless, but did not reappear for the second period and was replaced by Chris Allen.
Whether it was that change which had an effect or the fact they were playing into the wind, City just did not get going in the opening stages of the second half and found themselves behind within eight minutes.
The goal was desperately unlucky on Mellor, who made a fantastic double save to twice deny Murphy from close range but could not prevent Cogan tapping home the rebound from two yards.
City went mighty close to an immediate equaliser as Low crossed from the right towards Reid, who improvised well to deflect the ball goalwards only to see it hit the base of the post.
But apart from that effort, Dover were the dominant force and it needed another save from the excellent Mellor to prevent Tom Wynter making it 2-0.
City's management team sent on fresh legs up front in the shape of Watkins, who replaced Pratt in the 64th minute.
However, straight from the restart, City were caught cold by a quick through-ball and Modeste raced through before coolly lifting his shot over the advancing Mellor to make it 2-0.
With City's three-match winning run under threat, City sent on leading scorer Ross Stearn for new arrival Reid with 21 minutes of the game remaining, while Dover's first change saw Richard Orlu replace goalscorer Modeste soon after.
Nathan Elder also came on for striker Jeff Goulding, who had scored seven times in his last four games, while Elliot Charles replaced Murphy on the left as Dover comfortably saw out the win. Indeed, both squandered great chances to add to the winning margin.
City, who never looked like pulling a goal back in the closing stages, make the shorter journey to Weston-super-Mare on Tuesday (7.45pm).