Vanarama National League South
Saturday 9 April 2016 - The Aspect Arena - kick off 3.00pm
half-time: 1-0 result: W2-1 attendance: 232

team: Phillips (c), Gallinagh (Bowman 58), Ball, Batten, Hemmings, Murphy, Artus, Kelly, Harvey, Pratt (McCootie 74), Watkins (Hutchinson 72). subs not used: Williams, Kington.
man of the match: Chas Hemmings
scorers: Watkins (9), Kelly (pen 82)
bookings: Harvey (57), Artus (90)
officials: A Serrano, D Skipper, D Sotimirin

league position: 16th form: LDLWLW next match: Eastbourne Borough (H)

Report taken from

On Grand National Day, Bath City overcame one of their toughest remaining hurdles to boost their survival hopes in National League South. Hosts Concord Rangers, still maintaining fleeting play-off hopes, rarely produced the sort of form which has seen them cement a place in the top half of the table, as Gary Owers' men picked up a deserved three points at the Aspect Arena, overcoming their Essex hoodoo in the process. The City boss made two changes following last week's defeat at Chelmsford with the two Andys, Gallinagh and Watkins, in place of the departed Danny Greenslade and Ashley Kington, the latter having to settle for a place on the bench. Chas Hemmings was also switched to centre-back alongside Jack Batten.

Following a promising opening which saw Dave Pratt's shot from distance comfortably held by Ben McNamara, City took the lead on 11 minutes. Dan Ball's lofted delivery forward just evaded Pratt and ran towards the keeper, who elected to clear rather than gather the ball inside his area. This proved a critical mistake as the Australian stopper only scuffed it straight to Watkins, 25 yards out. He duly accepted the gift, expertly lobbing the ball into the unguarded net to give his side the ideal start. Watkins, lively on his return from injury, nearly doubled his tally on 18 minutes when Liam Kelly's corner was helped on by Hemmings to the number 11, whose attempted header over McNamara was well claimed by the glovesman. Steve Phillips was a virtual spectator at the other end, with Max Cornhill's header the only effort on target in the first half for the Essex side. City, on the other hand, continued to threaten. Tyler Harvey headed Pratt's cross narrowly wide and Watkins fired just over having escaped the attentions of Jay Dowie. Pratt himself got in on the act five minutes before the interval. After breaking clear of the Beachboys' defence, his driven shot was parried by the legs of McNamara. The keeper was then somewhat perplexed to see the ball loop back towards him via Hay Dowie's horribly sliced clearance, forcing him to palm behind for a corner. The same forward also saw his header right on half-time claimed by the overworked Concord number one.

Having looked resolute at the back in the first half, Hemmings in particular stable alongside Batten, City undid their good work by conceding five minutes after the break. Joao Carlos, largely anonymous in the first half, sprung into life with a mazy run on the left wing. His low cross was dummied by Steve Cawley, allowing the ball to run loose for Lewis Taaffe, who calmly side-footed home his first league goal since Boxing Day from close range. The same player should have added a second three minutes later. This time it was Ben Greenhalgh's clever flick which set Carlos clear and he squared to Taaffe, who wastefully blazed over. City were forced into a change on the hour with Gallinagh limping off, replaced by Dan Bowman. Seconds after his introduction, a free-kick from Liam Kelly found Batten at the far post, his volley well held by McNamara. Rangers responded with top scorer Cawley having a low, curling shot turned around the post by Phillips after good work by Greenhalgh. To spark some life into the forward line, the tiring Watkins and Pratt were replaced by Josh Hutchinson and Nick McCootie respectively with around a quarter of an hour remaining. The former made a near immediate impact, earning City a penalty on 82 minutes. Ball's pass found Hutchinson, who in attempting to knock the ball past Jack Lampe, was needlessly clipped by the defender. Having converted a penalty against Ebbsfleet in March, Kelly stepped up again to repeat the trick, hammering his well-struck spot-kick to McNamara's right. Rather than hang on for the closing stages, City looked the likelier to increase their lead. McCootie was denied by a brilliant Tom Stephen challenge as he was about to shoot, and Kelly wasted a glorious opportunity to put the game to bed, capitalising on Harvey's persistence by being left with a near open goal from 12 yards, but the hosts' keeper emerged from nowhere to divert the ball behind with an outstretched leg. Concord's final attempt was in the closing seconds, Taaffe firing a free-kick high over the bar to sum up his side's afternoon. City's players and management clenched their fists with joy at full-time to acknowledge a hard-earned three points which could prove crucial as they look to avoid the relegation trapdoor.