FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round
Saturday 11 October 2014 - Twerton Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Simpson, Gallinagh (c), Keary, Ball, Adelsbury, Watkins, Patten (Stearn 53), Pratt, Hemmings, Kington. subs not used: McCootie, Rollo, Taylor.
|man of the match:
||Adelsbury (76), Hemmings (87)
||A Quelch, M Underhay, D Berry
|league position: n/a
||next match: Shortwood Utd (FAC) (A)
Bath City face a midweek trip to Meadow Bank in Stroud after twice coming from behind in the last 15 minutes to force a FA Cup replay against lower-league Shortwood United.
The visitors led through a Lewis Sommers header until the 76th minute when Ben Adelsbury bundled in an equaliser, only for Tim Haddock to restore Shortwood’s advantage.
But with just three minutes to go, Chas Hemmings popped up with his first goal in City colours to spare his team’s blushes and give them a second chance of reaching the fourth qualifying round.
Kyle Patten came in for the injured Dan Bowman in the only change to the City starting XI which recorded an impressive 3-1 win at Sutton United in Vanarama Conference South last weekend.
The scale of City’s injury crisis was illustrated by the fact they could only name four substitutes, which included University of Bath student Beau Taylor.
Southern League Division 1 South & West side Shortwood arrived at Twerton Park on the back of an excellent run which has seen them win six and draw three of their last nine games.
And they started confidently, forcing a corner straight from the kick-off which City keeper Jason Mellor had to palm away as it swung towards goal.
Andy Watkins with a superb solo run at the other end which set the tone for a lively opening ten minutes, with both teams committed to attack.
Sekani Simpson’s superb cross-field pass found Watkins, whose dangerous cross was bundled behind for a corner. The subsequent set-piece saw Ashley Kington get the ball across the six-yard box but an unsighted Pat Keary could not hit the target from close range.
Hemmings then forced a near-post save from Shortwood keeper Tom King as the home side continued to pose a threat.
After a brief lull the chances continued to come, with Adelsbury finding time and space 25 yards from goal but this time lacking the accuracy to replicate his howitzer at Sutton last week.
Dan Ball then put in a deep cross from the left which took a slight deflection and landed on the crossbar before bouncing behind for a corner, much to keeper King’s relief, and Simpson tried his luck with a rare left-footed shot which wasn’t too far off target.
Hemmings also put a firm header across goal which strike partner Dave Pratt couldn’t convert as City continued to have the better of the chances.
However, they were hit by a sucker-punch eight minutes before half-time as Simpson failed to close down left-winger Matt Bennett, allowing him to put in his only decent cross of the afternoon for Lewis Sommers to head home from close range.
City struggled to find their rhythm for the remainder of the first half but were again the better side in the opening stages of the second period.
Adie Britton and Lee Howells added to their attacking options in the 53rd minute by replacing Patten with Ross Stearn, whose first touch was a thumping 30-yard free-kick which King had to push onto the bar and over.
Shortwood reminded City of the threat they posed on the break as the subsequent corner was cleared and a quick attack ended with Sommers’ header falling perfectly for midfielder Haddock, who had made a great run into the box but lifted his shot over the bar.
For all their possession, City were struggling to create chances and Shortwood – whose first change on 66 minutes saw Josh Egan replace Ross Langworthy - were looking fairly comfortable.
They survived a strong penalty appeal when Pratt burst down the right and put in a deep cross to the back post, where Watkins’ header appeared to strike the hand of right-back Sam Rawlings.
The referee was unmoved but the incident seemed to fire City up and, moments later, it was Watkins’ turn to cross but Hemmings’ close-range header was straight at King.
The Shortwood keeper made another crucial block when Pratt challenged for a header and the ball fell to Kington, whose shot was deflected behind for a corner.
But the equaliser finally came from the subsequent set-piece, with Hemmings header smashing against the bar before Adelsbury bundled in the rebound.
Dominique Njoya – who had come on as a substitute just before that goal – forced a save from Mellor but City felt they had the momentum and King was again called into action to deny Hemmings.
However, it was the visitors who regained the lead nine minutes from time following a quick break led by Sommers. His cross-field ball found Egan, whose mis-hit shot rolled perfectly for Haddock to steer past Mellor.
City had to lift themselves again and looked certain to equalise when the ball fell for Pratt in the box but defender Jake Lee capped an outstanding afternoon by somehow blocking the goalbound shot.
However, the home side were not to be denied and they levelled once more with three minutes to go as Hemmings picked his spot from just inside the box to register his first goal for the club.
It was one-way traffic in the closing stages as City went for the winner but it would not come. Instead, it was Shortwood who nearly snatched in the dying seconds as Bennett's shot hit the post.
That slick of luck means City now face a tricky trip to Stroud on Tuesday (7.45pm).