FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round
Saturday 17 September 2016 - Twerton Park - kick off 3.00pm
||O'Leary, Rigg, Ball (c), Bowman (Morgan HT), Monthe, Batten, Diallo, Murphy (Hemmings 87), McCootie, Hunter (Hutchinson HT), Artus. subs not used: Fleetwood, Marshall, Hickford.
|man of the match:
||M Whaley (M Clayton), P Eddie, S Fearnley
|league position: n/a
||next match: Oxford City (FAC) (A)
Report taken from
Bath City scrambled a replay as once again they found Oxford City a tough nut to crack at Twerton Park.
Mike Fondop's terrific header, his third goal against the Romans in 11 days, gave the visitors a lead right on half-time, but substitute Marvin Morgan was equally adept with his head late on to earn a second bite at the cherry.
The stalemate will mean a third meeting in a fortnight between the National League South rivals, as they'll do battle again at Marsh Lane on Tuesday evening.
In terms of a footballing contest it was a poor spectacle, with a few refereeing decisions earning most of the talking points.
There was controversy as early as the first minute when Godfrey Poku held back Nick McCootie as he chased Naby Diallo's pass.
Referee Marc Whaley deemed that the offence had taken place just outside the penalty area, and added further fuel to the fire by only cautioning the right back for his professional foul, the recent change of laws regarding such offences doing little to clear up the situation. Diallo took the resulting free-kick and sent it inches wide.
Given City's failings against 10 men recently, the fact that Oxford retained their full complement of players could have worked as an advantage.
McCootie was at the centre of attention again on 13 minutes. Again he raced clear and, rather than shoot first time, tried to weave inside of Freddie Grant when closing in on goal. The Oxford number three appeared to clip the heels of the forward, who tried staying in his feet, which possibly cost a spot-kick as Whaley waved play on much to the fury of the Bath players and management.
The City forward gained ample revenge within 180 seconds. Tussling with Grant again, he wrestled for the ball on the floor and when both rose to their feet, McCootie appeared to grab his opponent by the face before being restrained. Astonishingly, after consultation with a nearby assistant, only a yellow card was produced.
It could be viewed as this and the Poku flashpoint being evened out, but in truth it seemed both teams were hugely fortunate to still have 11 men on the pitch.
After these misdemeanors the match settled down. Fondop had a header disallowed for offside midway through the half, whilst at the other end Dan Bowman warmed the gloves of Jack Stevens with a daisy cutter some 25 yards out. His first save of the match and a comfortable one at that.
The ever-involved Grant sent a header just over five minutes before the break, but the next headed effort on goal, right on half-time, found a way past Max O'Leary.
Jonny Giles, who tormented City 11 days ago, and impressed again throughout at Twerton, fired in a teasing cross which was met by Fondop, who did tremendously well to direct the ball past the keeper, who stood no chance.
There was still time for McCootie to flash a shot just over in the last moments of the first half, and at the interval Gary Owers rang the changes.
Marvin Morgan and Josh Hutchinson were introduced for Shaquille Hunter and Bowman respectively to try and spark some life into a performance which lacked penetration at times.
Oxford's Fondop blazed a shot over just after the restart, and was also denied a clear shooting chance from a vital Dan Ball interception as he closed down on goal.
On 64 minutes, the game was brought to a standstill as referee Whaley, who'd enjoyed an incident-free second half, couldn't continue owing to a calf injury, and following an appeal to the crowd, Michael Clayton took over as assistant with Stephen Fearnley promoted to the middle.
If anything the disruption benefitted City as it gave Owers the chance to address his players as they waited for the switchover between officials.
Jack Batten saw a header brilliantly tipped over by Stevens as Billy Murphy's precise free-kick caused problems for the away defence.
It was his first meaningful save of the game, but he was powerless to prevent another header coming his way on 79 minutes.
This time it was George Rigg with the assist, his hanging cross found Morgan six yards out, whose downward header bounced out of reach of the Oxford glovesman.
City had to defend a couple of long-throws as the game opened up during 11 minutes of additional time, but O'Leary wasn't called upon once as both sides went for the jugular.
Morgan turned creator in stoppage time, firing a low cross for the onrushing McCootie, but he hammered over the bar when under pressure.
It would have been an undeserved winner and despite the inconvenience of another fixture in a hectic start to the season, in the circumstances Gary Owers will be the happier of the bosses on Saturday night.