Tuesday 10 February 2015 - Twerton Park - kick off 7.45pm
||Mellor, Simpson, Gallinagh, Walsh, Ball, Hemmings, Allen (Kington 78), Diallo, Pratt (Stearn 83), Watkins (Adelsbury 88), Artus. subs not used: McCootie, Keary.
|man of the match:
||Pratt (24), Hemmings (29)
||Pratt (37), Diallo (41)
||L Swabey, R Dabbs, I Parsons
|league position: n/a
||next match: Gosport Borough (A)
Report taken from
Bath City are through to the semi-finals of the FA Trophy for the first time in their 125-year history after coming through a nerve-wracking second half to beat Dover Athletic in Tuesday’s quarter-final replay.
A brilliant first-half display saw City take a deserved two-goal lead through Dave Pratt and Chas Hemmings, who also rattled the woodwork with a thumping free-kick.
However, Conference Premier side Dover – who had recovered from a two-goal deficit to earn a 3-3 draw in Saturday’s original tie – laid siege to City’s goal after the break.
They pulled one back through Tyrone Sterling but City managed to hang on, despite having Naby Diallo sent off with five minutes to go.
City will now face North Ferriby United in the last four, with the first leg at Twerton Park on Saturday, February 21 and the away leg the following weekend.
Dover’s Stefan Payne was suspended following his red card on Saturday but City’s Diallo, who was also sent off at The Crabble, was able to play due to the Vanarama Conference South’s different rules on when bans begin.
That meant the only change to the City starting XI saw Andy Watkins replace fellow striker Nick McCootie, with Ross Stearn – a two-goal hero off the bench at the weekend – again having to settle for a substitute’s role.
Payne’s replacement was Jake Reid, the former City striker who came back to haunt his old club with the late equaliser in the original tie.
Whites keeper Andy Rafferty also made way for Mitch Walker in the only other change made by visiting boss Chris Kinnear Sr.
And the visiting number one almost had a nightmare start as he flapped at Frankie Artus’s inswinging free-kick and allowed Watkins to head home at the far post. However, to Walker’s relief, referee Lee Swabey blew for a foul on the keeper.
There was another escape for Dover in the tenth minute as City striker Pratt appeared to be shoved over in the box by Richard Orlu but the referee gave the defender the benefit of the doubt.
Walker also had to push away a dangerous cross from Diallo and Phil Walsh was just millimetres away from making contact with another inviting Artus free-kick as City asked plenty of questions of their higher-league visitors in the opening stages.
The hosts clearly had no hangover from the disappointment of Saturday and their confident approach was typified by a slick one-two between Artus and Watkins which ended with the former’s near-post drive being blocked.
So it was fully deserved when City finally took the lead in the 24th minute. Watkins looked marginally offside as he collected a pass down the left from Hemmings but the flag stayed down and he was able to get to the byline before whipping in a great cross which Dave Pratt glanced home at the near post.
And it was 2-0 within five minutes as Dover conceded another free-kick on the edge of their box and Chris Allen’s delivery was guided into the far corner of the net by the head of Hemmings.
City were in dreamland while the Whites were clearly rattled, with captain Connor Essam lucky to escape with just a yellow card after clattering into Diallo.
And only the angle of crossbar and post prevented them going 3-0 down when Hemmings unleashed a thunderbolt of a free-kick from fully 30 yards.
The only blot in an outstanding first half for City was a harsh booking for Diallo following a trip on Chris Kinnear Jr.
They did have to see out some pressure from Dover just before half-time but a timely close-range block from Diallo ensured Nick Deverdics was unable to pull one back, while Walsh was relieved to see his sliced clearance drop onto the roof of the net with keeper Jason Mellor stranded.
Dover chief Chris Kinnear Sr was clearly unhappy with his side’s performance in the first 45 minutes and made an attacking change for the second period, with Ricky Modeste replacing the ineffective Tom Wynter.
And the visitors laid siege to the City goal in the opening stages, with the hosts struggling to get out of their own half.
Dover defender Sean Raggett twice went close to scoring in a matter of seconds but saw his first header tipped over by Mellor and his second from the corner fly over the bar from close range.
Pratt had a shot blocked by Essam at the other end but it was Dover who were on the front foot and Mellor had to make a smart reflex save at his near post to prevent Barry Cogan heading home from a free-kick.
That was to be Cogan’s last involvement in the game as he was replaced by James Poole as Dover looked to capitalise on their dominance.
And Poole made a big impact in the 69th minute as he capitalised on a costly slip by Walsh to drive into the box from the right and tee up Sterling for a precise finish from 18 yards.
The goal had been coming and the Whites went mighty close to an equaliser moments later when Chris Kinnear Jr’s cross-goal header narrowly evaded Tom Murphy and the far post.
The final Dover change saw Solomon Taiwo replace Reid in attack with 14 minutes to go, followed moments later by City’s first switch as Ashley Kington came on for fellow midfielder Allen.
Pratt – who had ran himself into the ground up front for City – then came off to a standing ovation with seven minutes to go as Saturday’s star Stearn was finally introduced.
And he was appealing for a penalty within seconds after tricking his way past two defenders before taking a tumble in the box.
The referee turned that down and then, when play went down the other end, produced a second yellow card for Diallo following an innocuous trip.
It was the second time Diallo had been sent off in the tie, having also seen red on Saturday, and meant City had to see out the last five minutes with just ten men.
Ben Adelsbury came on for Watkins to bolster midfield but Dover should have been level by then, with Poole somehow glancing a header wide of the far post from inside the six-yard box.
With Dover throwing everything forward, they were susceptible to the counter-attack and were almost caught when Stearn went racing through on goal but Walker made a great save with his legs.
City had a couple more scares late on but held on for a famous victory, which was greeted with a chorus of Que Sera Sera from the home fans and a standing ovation for their heroic team.