FA Trophy Semi-Final 2nd Leg
Saturday 28 February 2015 - Eon Visual Media Stadium - kick off 3.00pm
half-time: 1-0 result: D1-1 aet attendance: 1871
(City lost 4-2 on penalties)

team: Mellor, Simpson, Gallinagh (c), Walsh, Ball, Hemmings (Kington 118), Bowman (Stearn 75), Adelsbury, Pratt, McCootie (Watkins 65), Artus. subs not used: Allen, Keary.
man of the match: Jason Mellor
scorers: McCootie (2)
bookings: none
officials: D Webb, J Smith, S Feerick

league position: n/a form: WLWDLD next match: Basingstoke Town (A)

Report taken from

Bath City’s Wembley dream ended in penalty shoot-out heartbreak as North Ferriby United secured their place in the FA Trophy final after an emotional afternoon at Grange Lane. City got off to the perfect start when Nick McCootie headed in after only two minutes and impressive keeper Jason Mellor maintained their advantage with some excellent saves. However, the Villagers dominated the second half and when Tom Denton – who had hit the post just before the break – was held by Phil Walsh, Liam King was able to level from the penalty spot. Both sides had chances to win the game in normal time and an incredibly tense extra-time, in which Villagers midfielder Russell Fry was sent off after picking up a second booking. However, City could not find a winner – with Ross Stearn having a shot cleared off the line – and paid the price in the penalty shoot-out as Adam Nicklin saved from Dave Pratt and Stearn before Jason St Juste rifled home the winner. It was desperately tough for City, who had enjoyed their greatest-ever run in the competition and were hoping to reach Wembley for a first time in their 125th-anniversary season. City made three changes to the XI which had started the first leg, with McCootie – who scored the 85th-minute equaliser at Twerton Park – coming in for Andy Watkins. Ben Adelsbury and Dan Bowman got the nod in midfield ahead of Chris Allen and Ashley Kington. North Ferriby’s two changes saw Gregg Anderson start at centre-half ahead of Mark Grey, who conceded the penalty which kick-started City’s comeback from 2-0 down last week, and Ryan Kendall line up in attack ahead of Adam Bolder.

But it was City’s attacking switch which paid immediate dividends as McCootie headed the visitors into the lead with just one minute and ten seconds on the clock. It came at the end of a good passing move, which saw McCootie play the ball out to Sekani Simpson on the right and continue into the box before brilliantly heading the right-back’s cross into the bottom corner of the net. It was a dream start for City and sparked a breathless opening ten minutes which saw both sets of players shrug off any nerves they may have had to go hell for leather. The Villagers looked threatening down the right and almost equalised immediately as giant target man Denton met Sam Topliss’ cross with a textbook downward header back across goal which forced keeper Mellor into an outstanding save low to his left. Denton was screaming for a penalty in the 14th minute, claiming he was pulled by Walsh as he went to attack a cross. Referee David Webb ignored those appeals but the ball fell invitingly for home skipper King, whose drive was brilliantly blocked by opposite number Andy Gallinagh. Dan Ball then produced a superb clearing header when the ball was crossed back in as the visitors survived an onslaught of pressure in front of the vocal travelling army. City were looking threatening on the break, though, and caused a scare when Bowman’s cross to the back stick was nodded down by Pratt but wouldn’t quite fall for McCootie or Adelsbury. Pratt then did brilliantly to dispossess Anderson on the right touchline and surge into the box, jinking past a couple of defenders to work some space, but he elected to shoot when he could have squared to McCootie and saw his scuffed effort cleared to safety. City were asking for a spot-kick of their own in the 28th minute when Ball rose to meet a floated free-kick and got clattered by keeper Adam Nicklin, who didn’t seem to get any of the ball but escaped unpenalised. Any leniency the referee may have been showing worked in City’s favour soon after when Pratt caught King with a late challenge but only received a warning. It was a similar story when Kendall jumped into Mellor as the City keeper was heading a long ball to safety but King did not escape when he stopped a quick break by Frankie Artus. That came at the end of a manic minute of action which began with an onside McCootie losing his footing as he ran onto Pratt’s through ball. That allowed the Villagers to hack downfield towards Kendall, who collected the ball and cut in from the left before firing in a shot which Mellor parried. The rebound was worked back to Kendall, whose second shot looked destined for the top corner until Mellor – who was outstanding in the opening 45 minutes – somehow tipped it behind for a corner. The Villagers went even closer in the 42nd minute when St Juste’s cross from the left was headed back across goal by Denton but bounced off the post to safety.

It was a pulsating first half – so impressive from both teams considering the massive prize at stake – and the second half promised even more of the same. However, a couple of early injuries made it a stop-start opening and it wasn’t until the 54th minute that either side had a sight of goal. It came to Villagers dangerman Denton, who should have done better with his free header from ten yards but failed to get any power into it. City were under pressure but home midfielder Fry became the second player in the book when he stopped an attempted break by Chas Hemmings – that would come back to haunt him later. Kendall had the Villagers’ next chance when Ball failed to deal with a long ball down the inside-right channel but the defender got back to pressurise the striker, who lifted his shot over the bar. City were unsurprisingly being pushed back by the home side and the defending became increasingly desperate – too much so in the 65th minute as Walsh appeared to wrap his arms around Denton as the Villagers striker tried to attack a cross from the right. Referee Webb this time pointed to the spot and, after some arguing from the visiting players, Villagers captain King lashed in the penalty. City’s management duo of Lee Howells and Adie Britton made an immediate change, with Watkins providing fresh legs up front in place of the tiring McCootie. The visitors definitely needed an out ball to relieve the pressure but it was the Villagers who were continuing to create chances and Mellor had to come to the rescue once again when he changed direction, arched his back and tipped a shot over the bar after Clarke’s shot had taken a big deflection off Ball. A rare City break ended with home left-back Josh Wilde hacking down Watkins and taking a booking for the team, with Kendall also shown a yellow card for encroaching on the subsequent free-kick. That had been taken by Stearn, who replaced Bowman on the right of midfield with 15 minutes remaining. Fry curled a free-kick just wide from 25 yards as the visitors threatened again and Mellor kept out a St Juste shot which went through Simpson’s legs as the tie remained deadlocked. The first change by Villagers boss Billy Heath saw Nathan Jarman replace Kendall in attack with nine minutes to go. That came just before a break in play as Gallinagh again received lengthy treatment but the City skipper picked himself up and, moments later, tried his luck with a drive which wasn’t that far off target. He then produced heroics at the other end as Denton cut onto his right foot and drilled in a shot which the magnificent Mellor got a hand to before it hit Gallinagh on the line. City were struggling to get any time on the ball but roused themselves enough to earn their first corner of the game in the 89th minute. Sadly Artus’s delivery was over-hit and easily cleared to safety by Denton at the far post. Then came the visitors’ best chance of the second half, just as the board had gone up for four minutes of injury-time. Tenacious play by Pratt saw the ball break to Adelsbury in the box but, with time to pick his spot, he put his right-footed shot wide of the far post. The two substitutes combined to create another opening for City moments later as Stearn pushed the ball through to Watkins but he couldn’t keep his shot down under pressure from Topliss.

That meant the tie went to extra-time, something City – despite those late chances – would have been grateful to take after the pressure they came under in the second period. Denton was proving a real handful once again but was wasteful in front of goal, somehow squandering another glorious chance four minutes into extra-time as he touched St Juste’s driven cross wide of a gaping net. It was a huge escape for City, whose first opening of the additional period saw Simpson patiently work some space on the right before clipping the ball to Stearn, whose ambitious volley was looping towards the top corner before Nicklin plucked it to safety. That was City’s first shot on target since McCootie’s goal way back in the second minute and came during an improved spell for the visitors. And their fortunes were boosted even further in the 103rd minute when Fry tripped Watkins as he looked to break and picked up his second yellow card. City were suddenly on the front foot for the first time since the first half and Adelsbury looked full of belief when he beat Topliss on the left and surged into the box before firing in a shot which pinballed around before being cleared. There was still no separating the teams going into the second half of extra-time but some of the home fans were prematurely celebrating in the 107th minute when Anderson met a free-kick at the back post and the City net rustled – fortunately it was the side-netting. City thought they’d scored soon after when, after tireless work by Pratt to earn a throw, the ball fell to Stearn on the edge of the box but his goalbound shot was brilliantly cleared off the line by Danny Hone. Anderson, who had picked up a knock while hitting the side-netting, was replaced in the Villagers’ defence by Matt Wilson in the 111th minute. There was still nothing between the teams going into the dying stages, with Adelsbury unable to get enough on his close-range header from Pratt’s cross. With penalties looming, City sent on Kington for Hemmings, while the Villagers probably had spot-kicks in mind as well when they sent on striker Bolder for Clarke. City had a chance to ensure it didn’t go to the lottery of penalties when they earned a free-kick in a great position but Stearn overcooked his cross and the opportunity was wasted.

And so it was that City’s biggest-ever game went to the nerve-shredding tension of a penalty shootout. The visitors got off to a terrible start, with Nicklin saving spot-kicks from both Pratt and Stearn. King and Jarman made no mistake with theirs and while Kington and Artus kept City in contention, Mellor could not get close to efforts from Bolder and St Juste as the Romans’ Wembley dream ended in heartbreak.