Vanarama National League South
Saturday 16 April 2016 - Twerton Park - kick off 3.00pm
||Phillips, Bowman, Ball, Batten, Hemmings, Murphy, Kington (Williams 90), Kelly, McCootie (Perry 79), Pratt, Watkins (Hutchinson 90). subs not used: Bole.
|man of the match:
||T Wood, J Ainscow, D Wootton
|league position: 16th
||next match: Whitehawk (H)
Report taken from
Jack Batten struck an 81st-minute winner as Bath City notched three critical National League South points against Eastbourne Borough after an otherwise profligate outing.
Liam Kelly had cracked a penalty against the Eastbourne bar – the team's seventh missed spot-kick of the season – while Andy Watkins saw a pointblank header saved and later missed the target from four yards out.
But central defender Batten popped up for his first Romans goal, showing striker's instincts to find space in the penalty area, control and slot home the winner.
The first half had been a fairly even contest, although it was City that carved out the best chances.
They watched the visitors pass up the opening chance on ten minutes, however, as Elliott Romain headed a Ryan Worrall corner over the crossbar unmarked.
Nick McCootie's strong running carved out the first of two strong chances the Romans had before the break.
He robbed Sports skipper Ian Simpemba, skipped unchallenged along the byline and knocked the ball back for Dave Pratt to stab into the side netting with defenders closing in.
McCootie then chased down a chip over the top from strike partner Pratt, beating the first defender but just edged out by the last man as he looked to hustle goalward.
Within a minute, Ashley Kington slipped Kelly to the byline with an intricate pass. The diminutive midfielder clipped the ball back and crossed to Watkins on the edge of the six-yard box, only for Eastbourne keeper Lewis Carey to somehow keep out his goalbound header.
Chas Hemmings made another appearance at centre-back and played well, barring a missed header that led to a blocked shot for Gavin McCallum from a Nathaniel Pinney lay-off.
City continued to play the ball around well among midfield and strikers, and made a few incursions made into the Eastbourne box without shots created.
At the other end, McCallum teased Dan Ball on the right and bent a cross-shot around Steve Phillips' far post.
The wideman then almost created the opening goal with a free-kick that glanced off a defender's head and ran through for Nathan Collier to draw a save out of Phillips from a tight angle.
In the early exchanges of the second half, City's season-long penalty woes came to the fore yet again.
Hurtling into the box, Pratt fell down after being muscled off the ball, but was adjudged to have been fouled by Sam Beale as he got to his feet to retrieve.
Kelly, who had been successful with his two penalties in a Romans shirt, drilled his shot onto the underside of the crossbar and out.
Their wastefulness continued in the 66th minute as Kelly chipped a free-kick to the back post, where Watkins ghosted in completely unmarked and volleyed wide – albeit from a tight angle – four yards out.
Calm, patient defending from a well-positioned Dan Ball prevented the visitors making the most of a two-on-one break into the Romans box, while Hemmings drilled a shot into the midriff of Carey as the game threatened to open up.
That never came to pass as chances remained rare and little came of the build-up play, but in the end City claimed the narrow victory their performance deserved as Batten plundered the winner.
A Kelly free-kick had been initially turned away by Eastbourne, only for the midfielder to collect the ball and clip it into a waiting Batten, who showed great composure to beat Carey.
Another dead-ball from Kelly drew an awkward save from the Eastbourne keeper as the hosts saw out the majority of the remaining time in relative comfort, although there was one last Eastbourne attack to repel.
Borough substitute Jack Evans nodded back across goal for Darren Lok. He looked to turn and volley in one movement after his first touch flew up in the air, but Ball made a bold diving header – receiving a boot to his face and a free-kick in the process – to ensure there was no shot on goal.