Vanarama National League South
Saturday 13 February 2016 - Gander Green Lane - kick off 3.00pm
||Phillip (c), Gallinagh, Greenslade, Batten, Ball, Artus, Murphy (Kington 62), Kelly, Richards (Bowman 66), McCootie (Hemmings 75), Watkins. subs not used: Williams, Simpson.
|man of the match:
||Richards (pen 43)
||D Cook, D Austin, E Heward
|league position: 18th
||next match: St Albans City (H)
Report taken from
Gary Owers' first game back at the Bath City helm ended in a draw as his side recovered from yet another early goal.
They fell behind 90 seconds in when former player Ross Stearn converted from a corner, but Eliot Richards' penalty shortly before the interval was enough to leave Gander Green Lane with a point.
In his first selection, Owers handed debuts to midfielders Billy Murphy and Liam Kelly, bringing the total of loan players in the starting line-up to five.
It made little matter, as City were once again struck by the type of early goal that has plagued them for the past three months.
It began and finished with Stearn. He won a corner through a shot blocked by Danny Greenslade, with Dan Wishart's flat flag-kick nodded past Steve Phillips by the former City wideman.
Stearn – who had also netted in the reverse fixture earlier this season – continued to tease Greenslade throughout the first half as Sutton dominated the first 25 minutes.
Twice he almost doubled the lead with crosses that threatened the City goal; one flashing wide of the far post and the second tipped over.
A long throw from Kevin Amankwaah also bounced Stearn's way, but Phillips pushed his firm prod over the bar.
The outstretched boot of Craig Dundas also came inches shy of turning home a second when Wishart drove a low shot past the back post.
It took the best part of 24 minutes for the Romans to take a swipe at goal, with a neat team move ending in an Andy Watkins effort dribbling through to Ross Worner via a deflection.
Shortly after, Kelly came to attention for the first time, turning down a wide option to fire narrowly past the top corner.
That proved the start of a decent end to the half for the visitors. Kelly almost set Watkins in behind with a ball over the top that Worner reached first, as shots on goal remained rare.
Stearn toyed the duo of Greenslade and Watkins, and still found space for a cross that was scrambled clear.
But it was City that drew level after Watkins raced onto a long clearance and was wiped out by Worner for a penalty.
The Sutton stopper remained floored for the next three minutes, not that it made a difference to Richards, who stepped up and slotted home the first goal of his loan spell.
They almost had an opportunity to take a lead into the break as the hosts stood and watched, expecting a foul to be given against McCootie.
Nothing was given, but Frankie Artus was unable to thread an intricate pass through the final defender to set Richards away.
Kelly chipped in a deep free-kick that McCootie awkwardly shot wide in the early runnings of a second half that would be a more even contest throughout.
Determined and desperate City defending kept out a concerted spell of pressure that saw them penned in their own penalty area as goalmouth action was lacking.
Richards and McCootie worked a neat one-two that saw the latter in behind, his stretching shot forced behind a chasing defender.
Watkins fired wide from distance, while Sutton had the ball in the net at the other end when Dundas got to the byline and pulled back for Tommy Wright, only for the linesman to deem it had been run out of play before the cross.
As the final minutes played out, one of the more encouraging signs of the day was the sight of City players - often in twos, sometimes in threes - swarming over Sutton players to win the ball back in the opposition half.
That said, the hosts still had the better opportunities to win the game in the closing stages.
Stearn looked to curl an effort towards the far corner that Wright came close to diverting past Phillips, who held the ball well with the frontman running across his eyeline.
Another substitute, Reyon Dillon, then almost found himself in behind before Greenslade tore across to boot clear.
Watkins had a tame shot held comfortably by Worner at the other end as Sutton continued to make most of the running, but they were unable to find a way through the defence as the clock ran down.