FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round Replay
Tuesday 2 December 2014 - Twerton Park - kick off 7.45pm
||result: W3-1 aet
||Mellor, Simpson, Ball, Keary, Walsh (Gallinagh 106), Allen, Watkins, Kington, Pratt (Adelsbury 116), Artus, Bowman (Stearn 58). subs not used: Perry, McCootie.
|man of the match:
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||Watkins (19), Stearn (95, 108)
||Keary (26), Mellor (44), Allen (80)
||A Quelch, M Greenwood, P Knight
|league position: n/a
||next match: St Albans City (A)
Report taken from
Two extra-time strikes from substitute Ross Stearn finally helped Bath City overcome Gloucester City in the FA Trophy and set up a mouth-watering visit to Bristol Rovers on Saturday week.
The replay was not as bad as Sunday’s dour goalless draw in the original fixture but not much better, especially in a poor second half.
City had taken the lead after 19 minutes through Andy Watkins but Jason Mellor’s own goal allowed Matt Groves to equalise.
Extra-time looked inevitable after that, and so it proved, but Stearn ensured there would be no need for penalties with a deflected strike and a thumping finish.
City made three changes to the team which started Sunday’s bore draw at Whaddon Road, with in-form Chas Hemmings a surprise absentee from the matchday 16.
Ashley Kington replaced him in midfield and Frankie Artus came in for Ben Adelsbury, who dropped to the bench.
He was joined among the replacements by Nick McCootie, with front-man Dave Pratt being flanked in attack by Watkins and Dan Bowman, who pushed forward from the right-back role he occupied on Sunday.
Sekani Simpson, wearing the captain’s armband, moved across to right-back and Dan Ball came into the left side of defence.
Gloucester – who featured former City players Charlie Griffin and Adam Connolly among their substitutes – also freshened up their starting XI.
But they settled much quicker than the hosts, with Chris Knowles going close with a dipping strike inside the first 27 seconds.
Harry White saw a snap-shot hit the side-netting, while City keeper Mellor had to make saves – albeit fairly routine ones – from Groves and Tom Webb as Gloucester bossed the opening stages.
City had to wait until the 19th minute for their first shot – and it resulted in the opening goal as Watkins collected a throw from Simpson and was given time to turn before picking his spot superbly from the edge of the box.
The hosts had the goal advantage and felt they should have had a numerical one when Marc Richards clattered Artus and left him in a crumpled heap.
Referee Adrian Quelch deemed the tackle worth no more than a booking and also showed City defender Ball the yellow card for his protest.
The goal had settled City and a good passage of pressure play down the left ended with Pratt laying the ball off for Kington, whose well-struck drive was straight at keeper Jasbir Singh.
Chances were fewer at the other end, although White did have a sniff of goal eight minutes before half-time but he scuffed his volley wide of the far post.
City should have doubled their lead soon after when Pratt charged down an attempted clearance by Lewis Hall and whipped in a cross from the right which fell perfectly for Artus, only for the usually cultured midfielder to shank his shot over the bar.
Home keeper Mellor had a mixed couple of minutes just before the break, picking up an unfortunate booking when the referee deemed he had fouled Nathan Modest while coming out of the box to clear.
Groves’ free-kick found Richards at the back post but Mellor reacted brilliantly to tip his close-range header over the bar.
However, just seconds before the half-time whistle, the keeper allowed a weak shot from Groves to go straight through him for the softest of equalisers.
It was a timely lift for Gloucester, who sent on Bristol Rovers loanee Jamie Lucas for the injured Modest after the break.
However, they should have been behind again inside the opening seconds of the restart as Artus did brilliantly to trap a Bowman cross into the box and turn his defender, only to lift his shot over the bar.
Bowman had done OK down the right but was replaced in the 58th minute by Ross Stearn, a more natural attacking threat.
City were marginally on the front foot, forcing a series of corners having won none in the first half, but Gloucester looked lively on the break and White tested Mellor’s handling and confidence with a skimming drive just after the hour.
There was slightly more passion on display than in Sunday’s lifeless affair, with Gloucester’s Webb and Matt Williams being booked in quick succession for fouls on Artus and Pratt while Allen saw yellow following a challenge on Jack Harris.
But that was also indicative of an increasingly scrappy game and neither team was able to assert any authority the longer the half went on.
White tried his luck with a free-kick which Mellor pushed wide and Lucas had a shot well blocked by Phil Walsh but extra-time seemed inevitable – and so it proved.
It needed just five minutes of the additional time for the stalemate to finally be broken, albeit with a massive slice of good fortune.
And it went City’s way after some patient build-up saw the ball worked across to Stearn, whose angled drive the right took a massive deflection and looped up before dropping in at the back post.
Gloucester’s response was to finally send veteran striker Griffin – who still coaches for the Bath City Foundation – on for White in the 100th minute.
Both sides made changes for the second period of extra-time, with Walsh – still finding full fitness after a long-term injury – being replaced by Andy Gallinagh and Gloucester replacing Chris Knowles with George Miller.
City should have killed the game off when Stearn whipped a great cross in from the right that Pratt just had to turn in from close range but his effort went over the bar.
But the decisive third goal followed soon after, with Stearn lashing the ball into the top corner – and then celebrating in bizarre style as he ran past his team-mates back to the halfway line before sliding on his knees towards the home dugout.
The winger was clearly making the point that he should be used more often – whether he makes the starting line-up for Saturday’s league trip to St Albans City remains to be seen.