Vanarama National League South
Saturday 17 December 2016 - The Enclosed Ground - kick off 3.00pm
||O'Leary, Rigg, Welch-Hayes, Batten, Andresson, Hemmings, Murphy, Artus (c), McCootie, Morgan (Hutchinson 81), Watkins. subs not used: Diallo, Simpson, Hunter, Marshall.
|man of the match:
||Watkins (26, 72)
||A Laver (C Green 16)
|league position: 11th
||next match: Hungerford Town (H)
Report taken from
Two inspired finishes from Andy Watkins gave Bath City some early festive joy at managerless Whitehawk.
The attacker, reinstated to the starting XI in place of hamstring injury victim Tyler Harvey, proved to be the difference, though Gary Owers would have been further encouraged by an excellent team performance at the Enclosed Ground.
City started on the front foot with Nick McCootie shooting across the face of goal in the opening seconds.
The front man, buoyed by a recent hat-trick against Wellington in the Somerset Premier Cup, could easily have had a treble in the first half. His next chance arrived on four minutes, an acrobatic effort from Marvin Morgan's cross which sailed past the post.
Even when McCootie did find a way past keeper Lucus Covolan, a last-minute stand-in for Ross Flitney, he was denied by Ramon Marimon on the line. City's number nine nearly managed to force the ball home from Billy Murphy's flick-on but the well-placed defender was alert to prevent an opening goal.
Ahmed Abdulla was the first, and the last, to enter referee Andrew Laver's notebook for a body-check on Watkins. Within minutes, the referee pulled up with a calf injury, ending his involvement.
Following an appeal from the PA System, young Hawks fan Jamie Cogdell took on assistant duties, with Craig Green promoted to the middle. It was the fifth time in just over three years that such a request had to be made at a City match, with fourth officials not employed at National League South level.
The 15-minute break did little to harm City's momentum, as McCootie continued to threaten. Covolan had to be at his best to tip the striker's close range header over, but when another forward used his head, he was unable to perform further heroics.
Chas Hemmings was the creator-in-chief, dispossessing Mike West before delivering a pinpoint cross straight to Watkins, who nodded into the corner of the net from six yards.
Whitehawk's afternoon went from bad to worse on the half-hour when they were reduced to ten men in this fixture for the second year running. Abdulla's only method of ending a probing run from Watkins was to haul him down near the away dugout. Two yellows from two referees for the Saudi, leaving his side with an uphill battle.
The Romans attacked up the slope in the second half, but were penned back by their determined hosts.
Max O'Leary, barely troubled in the opening 45, was forced into a fine save at his near post swiftly after the restart. A fortunate ricochet fell kindly to Reece Connolly, whose drive was rebounded away by the sharp reflexes of the on-loan glovesman.
Further attempts by the hosts were largely snuffed out by the City back four, whose organisation and bravery was hugely commendable, keeping Danny Mills, a menace in previous meetings, at bay. The forward appealed ambitiously for a penalty after an Axel Andresson challenge, but stand-in referee Green was unmoved.
The visitors' defensive work was rewarded when the lead was doubled on 72 minutes. Watkins started the and finished the move, initially finding Morgan in space. The latter ushered off Marimon before his cross into the middle was met on the volley by his onrushing team-mate, with the power alone proving enough to beat the helpless Covolan.
Josh Hutchinson was introduced for Morgan in the closing stages. His driving run saw him seemingly clipped by Dan Harding, but referee Green waved away appeals.
Within seconds it looked like this would prove irrelevant, as Axel Andresson's header from Covolan's goal kick put McCootie, clearly onside, clean through on goal, but he lofted his effort over the advancing Brazilian keeper.
It proved to be the last chance of the game as messrs Andresson and Jack Batten dealt superbly with a catalogue of long throws to keep a clean sheet intact, and the best Christmas present the team, and management, could wish for.