Vanarama Conference South
Sunday 4 January 2015 - York Road - kick off 3.00
||Mellor, Bowman, Simpson (c), Keary (Watkins HT), Walsh (Gallinagh HT), Ball, Allen (McCootie 76), Kington, Pratt, Stearn, Artus. subs not used: Adelsbury, Rollo.
|man of the match:
||I Fissenden, N Dunn, J Packman
|league position: 11th
||next match: Wealdstone (FAT) (A)
Report taken from
Ross Stearn lashed home an 80th-minute free-kick to earn Bath City a deserved point in a game of two halves at Maidenhead United on Sunday.
The home side had much the better of the opening period and led through an early strike from Adrian Clifton.
City made a couple of changes at half-time and went on to boss the second period. with Stearn's too-hot-to-handle free-kick ensuring they left York Road with some reward and an unbeaten record during the festive period.
Maidenhead had won just one of their previous 13 meetings with City and were dispatched 4-0 at Twerton Park in November but went into the game unbeaten in five matches.
On opening the scoring after just four minutes it looked like the ghost of past defeats was about to be laid to rest.
Unitedís goal probably owed as much to the slope of the York Road ground, which City gradually came to terms with, and the atrocious surface, which they did not, as much as any other factor.
Pat Keary judged the bounce of the pitch incorrectly just inside his own half. The ball was picked up by the lively Lanre Azeez who racing down the right put the ball back across goal for Clifton to fire home.
City keeper Jason Mellor actually got a hand to the ball diving to his left but it was not enough to prevent the goal.
From then on United dominated the first half with Azeez and Johnathan Hippolyte - son of manager Johnson - causing all sorts of problems with Mellor twice being called upon on to make point-blank saves and Phil Walsh and Keary struggling at the back to contain the pace of the forwards.
The visitors did have half chances, none better than on 17 minutes when keeper Will Britt raced off his line only for Stearn to intercept the ball. However, Stearn then tried to lob the keeper but only succeeded in putting the ball into Brittís hands.
Just three minutes later Stearn had another good chance when he got on the end of a Frankie Artus cross, only this time for his goalbound shot to be blocked by defender Harry Pritchard.
The second half was a different story with City playing down the slope. Again the City management made a decisive choice taking off their centre-back pairing of Keary and Walsh to reshuffle the back line by putting Sekani Simpson and Dan Ball in the centre and introducing Andy Gallinagh on the left. They also added Andy Watkins to the attack.
Instantly City looked a different side, with Watkins providing a constant outlet down the left flank leaving more opportunities for Stearn through the centre. Yet the diminutive forward spurned chance after chance.
Ten minutes into the half he slid the ball over the bar after a good cross from Watkins. Watkins then joined in the might-have-beens when on 65 minutes he fired straight at Pritchard when through on goal. Three minutes later and again it was Stearn who looked certain to score but somehow managed to head the ball away from goal.
Finally, came Cityís last throw of the dice, introducing Nick McCootie to in effect make it a four-man attack. It was just the right move, at just the right time, for while his bustling style meant he never quite looked like scoring it was enough to occupy the home defence.
After a third foul in a row and with 12 minutes to go, McCootie was eventually upended some 25 yards from goal and dead centre. Stearn stepped up to take the free-kick, curving the ball with power. Whether, it would have gone in or not remained academic as the hapless Britt, in reaching for Stearnís shot, somehow managed to turn it into his own net.
City pressed forward again in the closing stages but could not force the winner and it was the home side who had the last chance.
A free-kick by the corner flag after Gallinagh had fouled substitute Dave Tarpey came right on the 90th minute. However, United wasted their chance and the ball was easily cleared by the City defence.