Vanarama National League South
Tuesday 21 March 2017 - Privett Park - kick off 7.45pm
||O'Leary, Rigg (Hunter 65), Welch-Hayes, Batten, Hemmings, Artus (c), Watkins, Murphy, McCootie, Morgan (Diallo 65), McClousky. subs not used: Simpson, Hutchinson.
|man of the match:
||Batten (79), McClousky (90)
||A Ricketts, C Green, T Greaves
|league position: 9th
||next match: Wealdstone (H)
Report taken from
To say that Privett Park is an unhappy hunting ground for Bath City would be quite an understatement.
Six times they've visited in the league – five times they've lost. This fifth successive defeat at Gosport in all competitions may have closed the sequence of four 3-1 losses beforehand, but also appears to have ended any lingering play-off hopes.
City made one change to the 2-1 win at Eastbourne at the weekend, with Marvin Morgan recalled for Axel Andresson with the Icelander away on international duty. Chas Hemmings reverted to centre-back against a home side buoyed by a 4-0 win over St Albans at the weekend, their first victory in 18 outings.
Their confidence nearly took a hit on three minutes. Billy Murphy's hanging free-kick saw Shawn McCoulsky somehow find space in a packed penalty area, but he headed against the post from close range before the ball was scrambled clear.
Gosport were less forgiving at the other end. Joe Lea picked up the ball on the right, rolled it into the centre for the onrushing Sam Lanahan, who neatly guided the ball into the bottom corner from 15 yards to give Alex Pike's men a shock lead.
The Romans nearly replied instantly. McCoulsky slipped the ball through to Morgan in front of goal but Nick Jordan rushed off his line and did just enough to flick his effort behind.
Both teams struggled to get to grips with a difficult, hard surface. Possession switched quicker than a tennis rally at Wimbledon, with the pitch resembling Centre Court after a testing fortnight in SW19.
Frankie Artus blazed over from distance with Ben Harding following suit at the other end as a disappointing half ended.
Gary Owers sent his troops out early for the second half, leaving the players to gather their thoughts on a mediocre first-half display before the hosts returned to the field. With Gosport having conceded a league high 55 goals after the break, Bath had every right to be confident in turning around the half-time deficit.
But it proved difficult as the home side went back to basics in protecting their lead, throwing men behind the ball and resorting to hopeful clearances to alleviate danger momentarily. Not pretty, but effective, particularly with the Romans leaving their shooting boots at home.
Opportunities arose. Morgan failed to prod home from a scramble and Andy Watkins couldn't fully connect with Nick McCootie's driven ball from the right, as the visitors looked far more threatening than the first half.
Gosport had their moments on the break. A sustained spell of pressure eventually ended with Lee's cross met by Joe Lea, but his instinctive header flew inches wide.
Owers rolled the dice, replacing George Rigg and Morgan for Naby Diallo and Shaquille Hunter, switching to 3-5-2.
The man light in defence almost cost them on 68 minutes. O'Leary's needlessly rushed clearance left Artus in trouble 35 yards from goal. He was robbed by Ben Wright, who worked his way into a shooting position but wastefully struck wide.
City fought back. McCootie outmuscled the defence and attempted to round Jordan before a combination of the keeper and Joe Oastler kept the ball out. It ran loose to Watkins, who somehow failed to hit the target from just inside the penalty area.
Gosport were sensing it could be their night. Hemmings' piledriver of the free-kick appeared destined for the postage stamp corner of the net, but Jordan superbly reacted in time to palm the ball over. He was also grateful for Tom Bird in deflecting Diallo's strike wide, who failed to capitalise on McCootie's lay-off and a rare opening behind the packed defence. Alex Pike saw this as a sign to shore up his team further, introducing defender Adam Brice for forward Wright.
With a minute to go, it appeared City had their lifeline. McCootie's flick found McCoulsky who, when trying to touch the ball past Jordan, was cynically upended by the stopper. It was his third penalty concession in two matches, and he was booked for his protests.
With Andresson not in the country, another loanee, the fouled McCoulsky, stepped up, and seconds later wrote his name as the latest entry of catastrophes from the spot for the Romans, Jordan saving with his legs to keep the score at 1-0.
City's fifth miss out of 12 penalties this campaign had proved costly. What Gosport lacked in quality they made up for in spirit, illustrated after surviving three minutes of stoppage time for their second win in a row, sparking scenes of jubilation as their hopes of avoiding relegation were lifted by this win.
As for the Romans, they're already mathematically safe from the drop and have matched last season's points total. But how they failed to surpass it in Hampshire will leave Owers extremely frustrated.