Tuesday 4 March 2014 - Mayday Trust Park - kick off 7.45pm
||Mellor, Simpson, Ball, Gallinagh (c), Walsh, Keats, Allen, Burnell (Connolly 79), Pratt, Watkins, Reid (Stearn 81). subs not used: Bowman, Wilson, Low.
|man of the match:
||Watkins (21, 61)
||M Pottage, G Barter, B Cobb
|league position: 6th
||next match: Maidenhead Utd (A)
Report taken from
Andy Watkins staged his own goal of the season contest with two outstanding finishes for Bath City - but Skrill South play-off rivals Ebbsfleet United cancelled them out with quality goals of their own.
Both of Watkins' strikes came from the outside of his right foot, the first a wonderfully-flighted lob from the left flank and the second finding the top corner with unerring accuracy.
However, Fleet - who were largely on the back foot - replied with a thumping finish from Billy Bricknell and Anthony Cook's 25-yard free-kick late on to leave Mayday Trust Park with a share of the spoils.
City also drew 2-2 at the weekend with league leaders Bromley but made three changes to that starting XI, with Dan Bowman, Adam Connolly and Josh Low all dropping to the bench.
Into the team came Jake Reid, who was unavailable against his parent club on Saturday, and fellow striker Dave Pratt as the hosts employed an attacking 4-3-3 approach.
Midfielder Joe Burnell also came in for his first start in exactly a month, having limped off during the first half of the 2-0 win at Hayes & Yeading United.
Ebbsfleet were unchanged from the team which beat Farnborough 3-0 on Saturday but it was the hosts who started the brightest, particularly the front three.
Watkins was just off target with an angled drive over after good approach work by his attacking colleagues, then a sharp interception from Sekani Simpson released Pratt whose dangerous cross was headed narrowly over under pressure by Reid.
A wonderful dummy by Watkins also left Dan Ball in acres of space on the left flank and his thumping drive needed to be pushed away at the near post by Fleet keeper Preston Edwards.
However, when Watkins found himself in the same position moments later, the striker - full of confidence after Saturday's leveller at Bromley - controlled the ball with his left foot and then produced a sumptuous lob with his right which sailed over the helpless keeper into the net.
The goal was no more than Watkins and City deserved for their dominant start to the match but Fleet managed to level on the half-hour mark from their first real attack.
Burnell slipped as he attempted to clear Alex Osborn's low cross from the left, leaving Bricknell with space to rifle a well-timed shot past Jason Mellor.
The goal, completely against the run of play, briefly knocked City out of their stride but they lifted themselves and forced a couple of corners, one of which dropped perfectly for Watkins ten yards out. However, Edwards got down brilliantly to save his goalbound shot.
Fleet had been quiet but almost snatched the lead just before half-time when Ball's headed clearance dropped to Anthony Cook, whose instant dipping volley landed on the roof of the City net with Mellor scrambling.
The hosts should have restored their lead five minutes into the second half when Watkins, having seen a shot saved by Edwards, collected the rebound and coolly rolled the ball back to Reid - who completely missed his kick from eight yards.
Fleet, while more involved in the game than the opening half-hour, were still far from firing on all cylinders and manager Steve Brown made a formation change just seven minutes after the interval by sending on midfielder Michael Corcoran for quiet forward Ben May.
That left Bricknell on his own up front but he was almost on target again when, following a scuffed clearance from Phil Walsh, he turned the City defender smartly but fired his shot straight at Mellor.
Instead it was Watkins who doubled his personal tally - and it was another peach of a finish. A City corner caused havoc in the visiting box but was eventually cleared to the edge of the box, only for the in-form striker to send a shot - again with the outside of his right foot - arrowing into the top corner.
It was another stunning goal and put City firmly on the front foot again, with Fleet sending on Michael West for captain Daryl McMahon as they looked to get back into the game.
And they did just that 13 minutes from time when Walsh gave away a foul 25 yards out and Cook curled a low free-kick around the City wall into the bottom corner of the net.
The winger then almost put Fleet ahead when he cut in from the right flank and unleashed an early shot which Mellor did well to hold.
Having been pegged back twice, City made a couple of changes as Connolly and Ross Stearn replaced Burnell and Reid respectively for the final ten minutes.
And they almost grabbed the victory when Ball's dangerous cross from the left was sliced towards his own goal by Fleet defender Anthony Acheampong but straight into the hands of relieved keeper Edwards.