Vanarama National League South
Saturday 2 April 2016 - Melbourne Stadium - kick off 3.00pm
||Phillips (c), Bowman, Greenslade, Batten, Ball, Hemmings (McCootie HT), Artus, Kington (Murphy HT), Harvey, Pratt, Kelly. subs not used: Gallinagh, Williams, Hutchinson.
|man of the match:
||C Pollard, P Quick, G Laflin
|league position: 18th
||next match: Concord Rangers (A)
Report taken from
It was a case of After the Lord Mayor's Show for Bath City as they failed to build on Easter Monday's memorable win over Weston-super-Mare.
Gary Owers' men produced a disjointed performance at the Melbourne Community Stadium, home of Chelmsford City, who quelled their own National League South relegation fears with a well-earned three points.
The Romans made one change from Monday's victory, with Liam Kelly returning from illness to replace Nick McCootie. Billy Murphy also returned to the bench, giving Owers the rare luxury of five substitutes to select from.
Ashley Kington showed a few early signs of attacking intent for the visitors, seeing a few efforts from distance sail off target before, as has happened regularly this season, City undid their promising start by conceding an early goal.
In the 13th minute, Bagasan Graham's long throw wasn't fully cleared and from Mark Hughes' nod on Billy Bricknell managed to loop a header back over Steve Phillips from a tight angle to give his side the lead. It was a first goal in nine matches for the otherwise prolific marksman.
It was the 14th time City have conceded in the opening 15 minutes of a league match this season and, having not won from a losing position away from home in 18 months, the omens didn't look good.
Other than an ambitious effort from distance from Jack Batten which drifted just wide, City were looking rather unassured and they were made to pay for their indecisiveness by conceding a second on 26 minutes.
The influential Jack Bridge, on his return from injury, got the better of Danny Greenslade down the Chelmsford right and pulled the ball back across to Bricknell. The forward intelligently let it run across his body, leaving Graham in space just inside the penalty area, and he made no mistake; taking a touch before rifling the ball into the top-right corner past the helpless Phillips.
City's front men - Tyler Harvey and Dave Pratt - came the closest to halving the deficit before the interval. The latter laid the ball off to Harvey just inside the penalty area and, after getting the better of Rob Girdlestone, drove in a shot which Christian Dibble in the Clarets' goal showed exceptional reactions to save by tipping it onto the underside of the bar.
Pratt was denied from close range from a last-ditch Marvel Ekpiteta clearance as he looked to pounce from Greenslade's throw-in. City's leading scorer then headed wide from 10 yards, following Frankie Artus' pinpoint cross as Owers' men couldn't find the breakthrough they needed.
They were made to pay for this soon after the restart. City made a double change at half-time; replacing Kington and Chas Hemmings with Murphy and McCootie. It didn't have the desired effect, as four minutes after half-time, slack defending from a Graham throw cost City dear.
This time the ball ran loose to Hughes and the former Northern Ireland international kept his composure to stroke home from 15 yards away from Phillips' desperate grasp.
If anything there was more fight shown in the dugouts than on the pitch, when Owers held onto the ball too long for Jason Williams' liking and the home striker tried to wrestle it out of his hands. It provoked a few words of war across the two benches, which soon settled down.
Dibble had rarely been troubled in the second half, but was left picking the ball out of his net with just under 20 minutes remaining as City pulled a goal back.
Artus' ball from the left was cushioned inside by Pratt to Harvey, some 20 yards from goal. He allowed the ball to bounce before unleashing a terrific shot which dipped in, via the underside of the bar, past the static home glovesman.
It was not quite as spectacular as his moment of magic on Monday, and not celebrated quite as extravagantly, but a fourth goal in three games nonetheless for the Plymouth loanee.
Chelmsford appeared to fear another Weston-esque comeback by the Somerset side; withdrawing lively attacking players Bridge and Bricknell, but they were rarely troubled in the remainder of the match.
Instead, they could have added a fourth when substitute Luke Daley sent in a low ball from the right which eventually found Graham, whose shot on the angle was well tipped over by Phillips.
A third consecutive 3-1 defeat away from home will give the City chief plenty to ponder, as will finding a solution to resolve his side's miserable record in Essex.
In the last five trips to the eastern county, four have been lost and one drawn, and the Romans have conceded 17 goals. With a visit to Concord next week, he'll be hoping this miserable sequence comes to an abrupt end.