Make no mistake a draw was a result City would have happily grabbed
at the start of the match, but having weathered early home pressure
our Gloucester boys were a little disappointed not to have nicked
a victory after some good second half chances were spurned. None
the less the whole team worked tremendously hard in a solid disciplined
defensive display that underlined the battling credentials that
have earned us such a good record on the road this season. The
largely silent home support seem unexcited by it, but despite
this set back City can almost certainly reflect on a creditable
point against the eventual title winners. It certainly put right
memories of the dismal display at Meadow Park in January when
the Bath side cruised to a comfortable
It looked as if the Twerton team intended to start this game
exactly where they left off in that earlier fixture, recollecting
our previous weakness to high crosses they subjected our back
line to a series of aerial bombardments. A few solid headers by
Tomkins and a good catch by Ray Johnston seemed to have settled
early nerves, but then we suffered an early blow. City conceded
a soft free kick on the right and McKeever planted his free kick
on the head of another former Gloucester loanee star Chris Holland.
The big defender's knock down seemed to have been cleared by Hamblin
but his clearance smacked on to the head of Lyndon
Tomkins and the unfortunate City player could only watch as
the ball flew in past a wrong-footed Johnston.
You can do without goals like that when you're away to the league
leaders and it was great credit to the players that they bounced
straight back. Alex Sykes
was skipper for the day, partly in recognition of his return to
the club where he'd spent several happy years, so he can hardly
have been any happier to pull his new club level. The goal had
an element of luck about it as Sykes struck in a looping volley
from Griffin's cushioned pass it seemed that keeper Paul Evans
had it well covered. However the usually impressive South African
stopper seemed blinded by the low sun and unfortunately for him
he was stood in completely the wrong position. As he clutched
thin air the ball flew past a yard wide of him and into the goal.
Whilst City fans busied themselves ripping into the shame faced
keeper his team mates profited almost immediately from another
moment where McKeever seemed to have trouble staying on his feet.
Again we seemed to lose our marking and Holland won the header,
this time nodding it down for Craig Davidge to reach with a low
header into the net from close range. He seemed suitably pleased,
but for the travelling fans it was a real sickener and it was
tough to see us coming back into it.
This time though we did steady the ship, and while Davidge slipped
away and fired in a low shot across goal and just wide of the
post we were starting to compete in midfield with Wilkinson winning
more of the ball and Webb's runs the catalyst for some pressure
on the Bath defence. Even so it was still a little of a shock
when a low Thommo ball down the wing found it's way through. Chris
Holland looked the most reliable defender in the division when
on loan with us last season, but this time he kindly fluffed his
block with an air kick that allowed Scott
Griffin to race clear. The bustling forward has impressed
since joining from Cirencester, but he's let himself down a little
in front of goal. He had plenty still to do and time to reflect
on previous misses, but this time he kept his composure and produced
a slide rule finish to beat Evans with a low drive to the near
post. Griff had claimed his first City goal and the leaders were
pegged back a second time.
Determined not to repeat the previous lapses City were now first
to the loose ball and fierce in the tackle. Tom
Webb was lucky his enthusiasm didn't see him red carded. He
was booked for a late tackle on the half hour mark having already
escaped from an altercation with Bath right-back Sekani Simpson
that could have seen both players booked for exchanging shoves.
Things looked bad for Webb as he caught the same player on the
edge of the Bath box as he cleared his lines. The player had nicked
part of the ball, but it was a lunge and a needless one so deep
in the Bath half. Fortunately for Webby the ref was backed up
by the linesman who also suggested he'd nicked the ball, most
to the consternation of the Bath supporters. It hadn't been a
malicious tackle, but it was rash and Tom was a lucky boy.
The second half saw neither side add to the goal tally, partly
because of some excellent defending at both ends of the pitch.
Although we had less of the ball we actually carved Bath open
on a couple of occasions on the break and enjoyed the better chances.
First a firm Allard drive was deflected wide after a Sykes free
kick, then came a flurry of chances as Bath struggled to clear
their lines. First Sykes saw a half-volley well blocked by Gethin
Jones, with Hamblin's follow-up ricocheting back out and finally
Wilkinson's effort gathered in by Evans. A Webb cross was only
taken out of Sykes path by a fingertip from Evans, but the best
chance fell to Griffin. Reid's through ball looked to have found
him offside, but the flag stayed down and Griff was perhaps in
two minds as his final shot was too weak to really trouble the
The real stars of the City show were at the other end though.
Despite being sometimes turned inside and out neither Reid or
Thommo gave up on tracking McKeever down the left flank, while
Buttery gave another assured performance on the other flank. Allard
will have dismissed a few doubters with a solid hard-working display
in midfield where Wilko ran himself into the ground once again.
In the centre both Tomkins and Hamblin were excellent and in the
second half were able to cope with a succession of crosses as
Bath ran out of ideas, Johnston also perhaps producing his best
display yet between the sticks for us. The only time of real danger
came in the final few minutes of endless stoppage time when Davidge
looked to have wriggled free, only for Tomkins to put him under
pressure and Ray Johnston
to make a good block, Reid chasing back to finally hook the ball
out of the goalmouth to safety.