Vanarama Conference South
Tuesday 3 February 2015 - The Enclosed Ground - kick off 7.45pm
||Barrington, Diallo, Grosvenor, Adelsbury, Walsh, Keary, Stearn (c), Perry (Allen 64), McCootie, Gibbons (Pratt 66), Hutchison (Rollo HT). subs not used: none.
|man of the match:
||McCootie (42), Pratt (84), Diallo (tbc)
|league position: 10th
||next match: Dover Athletic (FAT) (A)
Report taken from
A much-changed Bath City side, featuring a host of youth-team players, put up a brave fight at high-flying Whitehawk before succumbing to their first defeat of 2015.
On the back of Saturday’s long-distance trip to Eastbourne Borough and ahead of this weekend’s FA Trophy quarter-final at Dover Athletic, the City management team of Adie Britton and Lee Howells elected to make a raft of changes to the starting XI.
Youngsters Josh Barrington, Nick Grosvenor, Louis Perry, Elliott Gibbons and Josh Hutchison were all handed starts, while Ross Stearn wore the captain’s armband.
And they acquitted themselves well for the first half-hour, with goalkeeper Barrington largely untroubled before Jake Robinson gave Whitehawk the lead.
Danny Mills doubled their advantage 20 minutes into the second period but any fears of a heavy defeat were forgotten soon after when substitute Jim Rollo and Naby Diallo combined to set up Stearn to pull one back.
City pushed for an equaliser after that, with the stand-in skipper going close, but Whitehawk held out to get the win which moved them up to third in the Vanarama Conference South table.
Whilst Whitehawk’s ground may be an attractive proposition on a fine day as it nestles into the Sussex Downs, on a sub zero temperature night it was more than enough to deter all but the most committed spectator with the Hawks recording their lowest league attendance of the season
As if to make matters worse the home side looked to deliberately delay their entry to the ground leaving the City players standing on the pitch waiting until referee Carl Brook went to get the home side out of the dressing room.
As City director of football Britton commented: “It has not been very hospitable here. We had to wait four or five minutes for the opposing team. I just said to the referee we will wait half a minute longer otherwise we will go and start warming up.
"On a cold night like that you cant just leave players hanging around. I don’t know whether it was deliberate or gamesmanship but it was unfortunate to say the least."
Perhaps not unexpected given City’s youthful line up, as well as the slope to contend with, the opening stages of this match were pretty much all one way traffic.
Before twenty minutes had gone City under 21 keeper Josh Barrington had already had three long range shots from Sam Deering and another two from the Hawks leading goal scorer Jake Robinson to contend with. One shot from Robinson kept low but then reared up to go over Barrington’s head narrowly missing the cross bar but whether caused by a divot or simply Barrington’s misjudgement was hard to tell. .
In the end the constant pressure took its toll on the City defence. Nick Arnold got round Nick Grosvener and raced towards the eighteen yard box before crossing for Robinson to fire the home side in front from about ten yards.
At that point it looked as if the visitors rear-guard action, often with ten men behind the ball, and only Nick McCootie left downfield would begin to crumble. However, the home side seemed to take their foot of the gas at least sufficiently for McCootie on 36 minutes to make his first real foray downfield. He even got behind the home defence although then electing to pass back to Stearn rather than putting in a cross with Gibbons lurking at the far post and so the move petered out.
So City went in at the interval only trailing by the solitary goal, a better positon than last season at the Enclosed Ground when even with a full squad they had conceded two in the first period.
But as so often this season on a sloping ground playing downhill can sometimes make a team seem better than they are. So when the visitors re-emerged after the interval they instantly began to look more competitive and at last playing the game in the oppositions half. Or could the real difference have been the introduction of veteran Jim Rollo for Hutchingson.
Within minutes Naby Diallo, Elliot Gibbons and Nick McCootie combined well for City’s first real attack only for the ball to be snatched from McCooties feet by Hawks keeper Craig Ross.
However, the home side still had opportunities. They had the ball in the net on fifty seven minutes but despite the home sides protestations for a goal or a penalty, referee Mr Brook disallowed the goal, booking winger Christian Nanetti instead, for diving.
The sparse collection of home fans need not have worried unduly as three minutes later they doubled their advantage. City gave the ball away just inside their own half and Danny Mills stepped up to fire home.
Yet within a minute the visitors halved the deficit when Naby Diallo raced down the right before putting in a cross for Ross Stearn to score with a powerful shot from the edge of the area.
By now City had introduced Chris Allen in midfield followed by Dave Pratt up front and the Whitehawk defence was beginning to get a taste of the medicine their side had dished out in the first half.
On 66 minutes Allen, Stearn and McCootie combined well with the latter ending up putting the ball in the side netting from a tight angle. Four minutes later and Pratt won a free kick, albeit thirty yards out from goal. It did little to deter Stearn from having a shot, although it was easily collected by Hawks keeper Craig Ross.
As the clock ticked down, both sides had further chances. A replica of the earlier City goal was attempted between Diallo and Stearn although this time with the captain putting his shot narrowly wide.
Meanwhile on the ninetieth minute at the other end Mills spurned a great opportunity when Phil Walsh (who had twice gone down with injuries) tangled with Pat Keary allowing Mills clear on goal. However, as Barrington advanced off his line, Mills put his shot wide.
There was finally just time for another booking for diving as this time Sam Deering took a poorly executed tumble in the eighteen yard box.
In the end City did not have just enough class to get back on level terms but nonetheless in the long term gain form the developing youth set up to have the chance to show what they could do.