Saturday 22 March 2014- Mayday Trust Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Simpson, Ball, Gallinagh (c), Walsh, Adelsbury, Stearn (Burnell 80), Allen, Low (Connolly 71), Watkins (Bowman 85), Pratt. subs not used: Wilson, Keats.
|man of the match:
||Adelsbury (27), Stearn (55), Watkins (70), Pratt (90+3)
||A Coggins, K Howick, S Piret
|league position: 6th
||next match: Havant & W'ville (A)
Report taken from
Mayday Trust Park’s biggest crowd of the season certainly had their money’s worth as Bath City made it three Skrill South wins on the bounce at the expense of a generous Chelmsford outfit.
The club’s community day – which saw fans naming their price at the turnstiles in order to raise funds for the RUH’s Forever Friends Appeal – attracted a bumper gate of 1,374.
As well as five goals, they witnessed chances aplenty, a penalty save and the sight of City midfielder Ben Adelsbury – who opened the scoring – in the home goal for the final 15 minutes following a red card for keeper Jason Mellor.
Ross Stearn, Andy Watkins and Dave Pratt were also on the scoresheet for the hosts, whose victory maintained their lingering play-off hopes ahead of Monday night’s key trip to Havant & Waterlooville (7.45pm).
The City management team clearly set out to entertain the bumper crowd, with Josh Low, Stearn, Pratt and Watkins all named in the starting XI.
After Chelmsford striker Kieron St Aimie blazed the game’s first chance over the bar, three of that number combined at the other end. Pratt released Watkins on the left but his cross to a totally unmarked Stearn was over-hit and drifted to safety.
City were handed an even better chance in the tenth minute when Watkins was brought down by advancing keeper Tommy Forecast after latching on to Low’s flick and referee Anthony Coggins pointed to the spot. Watkins looked to have lost control of the ball as he touched it past Forecast but the Chelmsford number one atoned for his mistake by throwing himself to his right to parry away the resulting penalty from Chris Allen.
That was as good as it got for the shaky Forecast, who punched a right-wing cross from Stearn to Watkins on the edge of the box soon afterwards. The striker’s effort lacked power and direction, as did a header from Phil Walsh following a 16th minute corner taken by the same player.
City skipper Andy Gallinagh almost turned the ball into his own net when Mellor failed to cut out Ward’s centre from the right but managed to steer it behind for a corner.
The hosts enjoyed much the better of the first period, however, and Chelmsford’s defence – who arrived with the second-worst record in the division – never looked entirely convincing.
It was breached in the 27th minute when Forecast blotted his copybook by palming Watkins’ left-wing cross into the path of Adelsbury, who accepted the gift to open the scoring with his first league goal for the club.
Mellor comfortably held a low 25-yarder from Mark Hughes as the former Northern Ireland international produced the visitors’ first effort on target just after the half-hour.
But it was City who continued to press for the game’s second goal as the interval approached, coming closest when Justin Miller hacked Stearn’s teasing right-wing cross off the line with Forecast in no-man’s land and Watkins waiting to apply the finishing touch.
Stearn, operating behind a front three of Low, Watkins and Pratt, was always a threat and got his reward ten minutes into the second half.
Pratt rode two robust challenges but was felled by a third, courtesy of Hughes. Stearn’s initial free-kick from the right of the box hit the bottom of the wall but he drove the follow-up brilliantly through a crowded area and into the far corner of the net.
With the bit between his teeth, Stearn curled a shot wide from the edge of the box and then had another free-kick from a more central position blocked after being felled by Hughes.
Chelmsford responded by throwing on attacking pair Robert Edmans and Luke Callander in the 63rd minutes and the latter pulled a goal back with probably his first touch, lifting the ball over a stranded Mellor after the home defence failed to clear a driven free-kick.
Their hopes of a comeback were dealt a decisive blow with 20 minutes left, however, as Adelsbury unleashed a 25-yard strike that Forecast failed to hold and Watkins – from a virtually prostrate position – converted the rebound to make it 3-1.
Adelsbury was then forced to don the City number one jersey and gloves for the final 15 minutes after Mellor suffered a sudden rush of blood to the head following a late challenge by Callander. The substitute caught him as he chased a lost cause and Mellor reacted by raising an arm, giving Coggins little choice but to brandish the red card while Callander saw yellow.
Michael Cheek forced Adelsbury to push the ball behind before Callander produced a tame effort from a short Christian Smith free-kick.
With Chelmsford committing more and more men forward, a fourth City goal always looked on the cards at the other end. Substitute Dan Bowman went close twice before Pratt was thwarted by a magnificent last-ditch tackle from Smith.
Pratt was not to be denied, however, and capped a hard-working display in the third minute of stoppage time when he galloped on to Joe Burnell’s searching ball before finishing past Forecast with aplomb.