Vanarama Conference South
Saturday 22 November 2014 - Melbourne Stadium - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Simpson, Gallinagh (c) (Bowman 36), Keary, Ball, Hemmings, Watkins, Allen (Stearn 78), McCootie, Artus, Kington. subs not used: Walsh, Adelsbury, Rollo.
|man of the match:
||Bowman (45), Keary (69), Hemmings (83)
||A Young, J Block, T Hancock
|league position: 14th
||next match: Hemel Hempstead (H)
Report taken from
A freak goal by Bath City keeper Jason Mellor was not enough to save his team from sliding to a second Vanarama Conference South defeat in a row, this time against Chelmsford.
Like the recent losses to both Bromley and Gosport it was a game marred by controversy, this time with the visitors’ defence and management alike claiming referee Alan Young was at fault for the Clarets’ opening goal.
City failed to make the best of their early opportunities. By the 23rd minute they had already had four free-kicks within 20-yard range yet failed to score from any of them, with Chris Allen and Frankie Artus either firing into the defensive wall or going wide.
The fourth of them found its way through the defence, with Chas Hemmings’ well-placed effort saved well by Chelmsford keeper Bradley Watkins, low to his right.
Just minutes later came the game’s chief talking point. From the home side’s first corner the ball was swung into the heart of the City defence. One shot was blocked by Allen and then another by Mellor. Yet as the ball was cleared, and with the home side appealing vehemently, referee Young indicated for a goal.
Now it was the turn of the City players to appeal. They surrounded the referee, urging him to go across and talk to his assistant, but Young was having none of it and instead turned to jog back to the centre circle still surrounded by a bevy of City players. The confusion then continued as first the goal was announced as having been awarded to captain Mark Hughes, later to be amended to Jason Williams.
However, it did little to stem City’s attacking intent, although the absence of the suspended Dave Pratt became more evident as they looked increasingly goal-shy.
With 27 minutes gone Andy Watkins had space in the penalty area but instead of shooting pulled the ball back to Nick McCootie. He had little space but managed to find Hemmings, who eventually shot wide.
Five minutes later it was the unlikely figure of Sekani Simpson who found himself in the penalty area. Again he opted not to shoot and tried to find Watkins, the ball was given away and City were immediately exposed to danger. The lively Williams got free down the right against an injured Andy Gallinagh, only for his shot to sail miles over Mellor’s goal.
Yet City were to equalise before half time, and again in somewhat strange circumstances. The attack started with Mellor under pressure at the back from John Sands, courageously dribbling past the forward before picking the ball up.
Mellor hesitated for a moment before taking one almighty kick down the centre of the park. It bounced once, just on the edge of the home side’s 18-yard box and as Watkins in the home goal rapidly peddled backwards he was left to watch in horror as the ball sailed over his head before nestling in the back of the net.
The Chelmsford players surrounded the referee, alleging that McCootie had fouled the keeper, but in truth the ball was in the net well before the City striker arrived on the scene.
If the first half had excitement and controversy, the second was something of a damp squib.
Twice McCootie had chances but on both occasions his shots cannoned off defenders to go behind for a corner. For the home side Williams squandered a good opportunity and Christian Smith had a well-struck free-kick that Mellor did well to hold.
The winner arrived with just under 15 minutes to go. Just as with City’s goal, a long clearance downfield came close to the edge of the penalty area. Mellor could have come for the ball but instead left it to his defence and substitute Michael Cheek stole in to head home.
City brought on Ross Stearn for Allen but it had little impact other than at times to endanger the defence as twice he gave the ball away on the halfway line. City had one more free-kick when Watkins was fouled by Girdlestone about 20 yards out but again the it failed to penetrate the home defence.
In the end, first-team coach Lee Howells was left cursing the luck that in recent weeks has seen City on the end of more than one harsh refereeing decision.