Vanarama National League South
Saturday 12 March 2016 - Twerton Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Phillips (c), Gallinagh, Greenslade, Ball, Taylor (Bowman 13), Hemmings, Artus (Kington 80), Kelly, Murphy, Pratt, Watkins (Williams 51). subs not used: Simpson.
|man of the match:
||Kelly (pen 89)
||S Plane, J Ainscow, M Underhay
|league position: 18th
||next match: Truro City (A)
Report taken from
A week after Bath City were denied three points by a late penalty, they turned the tables to snatch a draw from Ebbsfleet United.
When Jordan Parkes netted for Fleet 15 minutes from the end, it looked as though the Romans would take nothing.
However, they earned a point when Ashley Kington was barged over and Liam Kelly drilled home from the spot.
And it was no more than they deserved for a performance that made the league leaders look ordinary.
Two short spells aside they were the more fluid outfit, with only a lack of cutting edge in the final third and good goalkeeping from old enemy Nathan Ashmore preventing them from earning more.
There were two changes to the Romans line-up that drew at Oxford City last weekend as Matt Taylor replaced Dan Bowman, shifting to the heart of the defence and pushing Andy Gallinagh to right-back.
Bristol City loanee Billy Murphy also came into central midfield for Kington, while new signing Tyler Harvey had no place in the squad due to illness.
Taylor's comeback would not go to plan as he was replaced by Bowman only 13 minutes into the contest and, perhaps more worryingly for City, Andy Watkins also limped off gingerly in the second half.
The table-toppers looked exactly that for the first few exchanges.
As early as the second minute they were camped around the Romans box, with Aaron McLean eventually working the ball back for Bryan van den Bogaert to drill into a defender.
Danny Kedwell also headed wide for Ebbsfleet, but from then on City began to get more than a foothold in the contest.
They passed the ball around with confidence at times and Dan Ball almost unlocked the visiting defence twice with incisive through balls for Watkins.
The frontman was just unable to take the ball under his spell on ten minutes as it ran through to keeper Nathan Ashmore.
When Watkins latched onto a second pass from Ball, he was left to fight off a defender all-but climbing on his back and was unwilling to go down under the challenge when others would have.
He eventually twisted into enough space to attempt a cross from the edge of the six-yard box, by which time Ebbsfleet had got numbers back and the referee was uninterested in any potential infringement.
Watkins was awarded a free-kick when van den Bogaert hauled him over after Pratt sent a delightful ball in behind the defence.
Artus sent that dead ball straight out for a goal-kick, before which Ashmore – who wasted plentiful time when City lost out to Gosport Borough a couple of weeks ago – knelt to tie his shoelaces, drawing jeers from the home faithful.
Just past the half-hour Ebbsfleet carved out their best opportunity of the half with a burst down the right that ended in a cut-back for Sam Deering, whose drive was pushed over the crossbar by Steve Phillips.
Pratt flicked a near-post Kelly corner dangerously across goal, though nobody was there to get on the end of it as City continued to create opportunities.
Their best shot at beating Ashmore came when Watkins turned inside and drew a sharp, low save from the keeper.
The ball ran out for Pratt to follow-up, but it remained close enough for Ashmore to smother his strike.
Hemmings rose just too early to get another decisive touch on a corner while Kelly sent two volleys into a defender and the keeper's arms as the Romans finished the half strongly.
A deflection almost undid all their good work seconds after the restart as Dean Rance's shot hit a defender and spun past the upright with Phillips headed the other way.
At the other end, a low corner from Kelly somehow found a way past everyone, despite running three yards from the goal-line.
There was not quite the flow of chances in the second half, though still plenty of approach play.
Fleet defender Anthony Acheampong scythed down Gallinagh on a rare majestic run past two of his counterparts, with the free-kick coming to nothing.
There was some justice when Kedwell whipped a free-kick, given harshly against Danny Greenslade, over the bar, before Gallinagh cleared off the line from a Kedwell header minutes later.
Substitute Charlie Sheringham had a shot blocked after Deering had robbed Greenslade before the visitors eventually went ahead.
Ball misjudged, allowing Kedwell to get the loose ball at the byline and cross into the box.
At first it looked as though City would get a huge let off when Sheringham, with an open goal at his mercy, hit the crossbar from six yards, only for the ball to run for Parkes to drill through a clutch of bodies.
The Romans came forward without getting the ball into the penalty area as they hunted down a point, and were given a prime opportunity when Kington was barged over controlling a throw-in just inside the box.
Kelly confidently took the ball and stepped up to the spot, thumping past Ashmore to rescue a thoroughly-deserved draw.