FA Trophy Semi-Final 1st Leg
Saturday 21 February 2015 - Twerton Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Mellor, Simpson, Gallinagh, Walsh, Ball, Hemmings, Watkins (Stearn 73), Allen (McCootie 46), Pratt, Kington (Adelsbury 71), Artus. subs not used: Bowman, Keary.
|man of the match:
||Pratt (pen 61), McCootie (85)
||J Linnington, A Serrano, C Green
|league position: n/a
||next match: Paulton Rovers (SPC) (H)
Report taken from
Bath City fought back from 2-0 down to ensure they will go into the second leg of their FA Trophy semi-final at North Ferriby United all square.
Wembley was looking a long way away when St Kitts & Nevis international Jason St Juste forced a Dan Ball own goal in the first half before doubling the lead with a clinical finish.
However, a soft penalty allowed Dave Pratt to get City back in contention just after the hour before substitute Nick McCootie unleashed a stunning dipping half-volley in the 85th minute.
That means there is all still to play for when City make the long journey north to Grange Lane near Kingston-upon-Hull next Saturday for the second leg.
Just one of the team which began the remarkable 7-4 midweek win over Farnborough retained their place in the City starting XI, with Ashley Kington replacing the suspended Naby Diallo.
That was the only difference to the team which started the quarter-final replay win over Dover Athletic, with Nick McCootie – who scored four goals on Tuesday – having to make do with a place on the bench.
And it was City who made most of the early running, although they only had a couple of half-hearted penalty appeals – for a handball from Sekani Simpson’s cross and a stumble in the box from Frankie Artus – to show for their efforts.
The Villagers looked as billed – a big, strong, physical side – and produced the first real scare in the 16th minute when Chas Hemmings was adjudged to have fouled giant striker Tom Denton but Russel Fry’s driven free-kick from a central position went just wide of the post.
Andy Watkins and Pratt were producing their usual good work down the channels for City and the latter had a glorious chance to open the scoring in the 23rd minute.
The visitors only partially cleared an Artus corner as far as Chas Hemmings, who used the outside of his right foot to curl the ball back into the danger zone but Pratt – under pressure – headed wide from inside the six-yard box.
Instead it was the Villagers who took the lead just two minutes later as St Juste got the better of Simpson and drilled in a low cross from the left which pin-balled off both striker Adam Boulder and City defender Ball before crossing the line, evading the desperate attempts of keeper Jason Mellor to clear.
The goal appeared to take the wind out of City’s sails and they could have fallen two goals behind in the 36th minute when Denton met Boulder’s cross with a diving header which skimmed wide of the far post.
City had been flat on and off the pitch since the goal, so the interval arrived at a good time for the hosts to regroup and refocus.
Adie Britton and Lee Howells also made an attacking switch for the second half, with midfielder Chris Allen being replaced by McCootie.
He went to the right of a front three, with Watkins on the left and Pratt as the focal point, but City found themselves firmly on the back foot in the opening stages of the second half.
Denton – who had five goals on the Villagers’ FA Trophy run so far – twice headed over from corners and Mellor had to be quick off his line to beat Danny Clarke to a through ball.
City were incensed in the 52nd minute when Denton was late in on Andy Gallinagh, picking up the first booking of the game, and the second followed soon after when Watkins was upended by Danny Horne.
The free-kick was in an excellent position but came to nothing, with Phil Walsh flagged offside.
And City found themselves 2-0 down in the 55th minute as St Juste collected a Denton flick and managed to shrug off Ball all too easily before slipping the ball underneath Mellor.
It was a classy finish from the dangerous winger and left City under a cloud, both metaphorically and literally as a huge hailstorm hit Twerton Park.
City needed a break and it came in the 61st minute courtesy of referee James Linington, who adjudged that Mark Grey had pushed over Pratt in the Villagers’ box.
It was a harsh decision but City were not complaining and Pratt picked himself up to smash home the resulting penalty.
It was the first goal the Villagers had conceded in five matches and it was almost a second soon after when McCootie’s header from a Watkins cross was saved by keeper Adam Nicklin.
Villagers boss Billy Heath made a tactical change, sending on midfielder Jon D’Laryea for striker Boulder, while City’s final throws of dice saw Ben Adelsbury and Ross Stearn come on for Kington and Watkins respectively.
City were enjoying their best spell of the game and McCootie had a sight of goal but thumped his shot straight into the midriff of keeper Nicklin.
The visitors had clearly settled for the 2-1 scoreline and were prepared to sit back, content to soak up whatever City could throw at them – particularly the long ball and crosses which were food and drink to the big centre-halves.
But it was a long ball down the channel by Gallinagh which led to City’s priceless equaliser minutes from time, a stunning dipping half-volley from McCootie which went in off the underside of the bar.
It was a magnificent strike and gave City huge confidence for the closing stages. They pushed the visitors back but Adelsbury had a fierce shot well saved by Nicklin, then saw his cross headed over by Liam King inside his own six-yard box.
However, despite a late siege of the Villagers goal, City could not find a winner meaning the tie is perfectly balanced for the second leg.