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Saturday 10 March 2007
British Gas Business Southern League Premier
(match 32)
at Twerton Park, Bath.
BGB Southern League logo

Roman stripes

Bath City


Gloucester City

New Tigers Badge: no-one knows why...

HT (2-2)

L.Tomkins (8 og), C.Davidge (14)
Bath home kitCity blue 3rd kit
A.Sykes (9), S.Griffin (28)
© J.Rollo
A.Sykes ©
M.Shaxton (for 4, 88)
(for 8, 63) A.Harris
(for 5, 81) M.Hall
Bath: P.Walsh (foul tackle 71)
City: T.Webb (foul trip 30), J.Reid (persistent fouling 61)
Dismissals: none

T-Ender City MotM: Tom Hamblin - at the heart of a robust City defensive display and grew in stature as match went on.

grass trim rule

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 4-0 win.

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 Bath keeper.

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.


grass trim rule
T-Ender Match Snaps
Webb & Wilko handbag Sekani Allard vs Bath City
Webb v Simpson I: City players get angry about an elbow. Allard cuts in to midfield with Sekani Simpson in hot pursuit.
Griff equalises at Twerton
Hamblin heads across goal
Griffin shrugs off Chris Holland and slots his shot past the Bath keeper Hamblin gets a header on a second half City corner.

Team Selection:

City were without skipper Neil Mustoe in central midfield, handing Alex Allard a chance to make his full debut for the club in midfield while youth team central midfielder Sam Ellis also got a first taste of the first team with a place on the sub's bench. Top scorer Jason Welsh also missed out with an ankle problem, so Tim Harris opted to play Sykes just off lone striker Soctt Griffin in a floating attacking role where he's worked so well in other away games.

Bath City had their own selection problems. Suspensions to midfielder Lewis Hogg saw Mike Green make a rare start, the former Forest Green player had once agreed to join City before backing out and heading to play for Cinderford instead. Up front strikers Darren Edwards and Scott Partridge missed out through suspension and injury respectively, meaning Phil Walsh lined up alongside Craig 'whippet' Davidge, recalled from a loan spell with Clevedon Town.

TBBM Said:

"Are they yours keeper? You've dropped everything else today."
More stick for Evans as the tannoy appeals for the owner of car keys found outside Twerton Park.

Tactics Board:
City look far more solid and organised away from home and the free role for Alex Sykes brings out the best in him, floating between the left flank and in front of the opposition defence he's impossible to pick up.
Anorak Corner:

Fact - according to the Bath City programme all these are - Facts:
John Freegard netted the winner the last time the sides met before this season, a 1-0 win in 1990. Erm?
This game produced the record Southern League attendance last season - 2,258. Surely we'd remember that?

Try this one - the last three league games at Twerton Park since we re-joined regular meetings with Bath City have all ended in draws, although we've been twice defeated at Meadow Park in those three seasons. The last time we lost to the Romans at Twerton was a 2-1 Trophy defeat in November 2003.

T-Ender Verdict

Not all draws are equal and this was another fine City away performance. We came with a solid tactical system and we stuck with it throughout in a thoroughly professional display. Despite twice falling behind to early goals the side showed self-belief to fight back and take advantage of some surprising defensive lapses from the team not only top of the league, but boasting the best defensive record in the division. Bath will probably point to missing their usual strike pairing and a key midfielder, but City too were missing our midfield lynchpin and our top scorer, and our squad looked to have the greater depth despite Bath's expansive resources. It was just a shame that our second-half finishing wasn't quite sharp enough to take all the points.

The only question Tim Harris will want to resolve is why we can do this consistently away from home but until recent weeks struggled at home. If its a matter of feeling pressured to put on a more exhilerating attacking show at Meadow Park we needn't - right now the City fans would take the points.

Highlights Elsewhere:

The home fans disappointm,ent with a point evaporated as other reults came in and this was one of those rare occasions that both sets of supporters left the ground feeling cheered - despite dropping home points Bath City extended their lead at the top of the table as nearest rivals and tenants Team Bath slipped to a 3-0 defeat at Yate, the ever popular David Elsey on the score sheet. The chasing pack are a good way behind now but they keep on Bath's coat tails with Hemel whipping Merthyr 3-0 with an Anthony Thomas brace, and King's Lynn coming from behind to beat struggling Northwood 2-1 at The Walks. Stamford also overcame relgation threatened Cheshunt 2-0.

Those results help City who now must wait over a week for our next game, a period when many of the sides below us could close the gap with many due to place twice in that time. Of the bottom few though only Wealdstone continue to show signs of life, winning 2-1 at home to Tiverton. Our next opponents are Wealdstone, it could be a big one for us...

Other Match Reports:

Bath City website match report
Gloucester Citizen match report
Tiger Roar post-match Tim Harris audio interview
Bath Chronicle match report

Further Reading:

BGB Southern League Premier Results & Website
BGB Southern League Table

Referee: M.Rushton (Pewsey) City League Pos: 10th (-1) City Form: DDLWWW

Ref Watch:

6 - Seemed reluctant to get involved, but kept Webby on...

Attendance: 917    
Conditions: bright and dry
Lorry Score:
Match Report:
by t-towel

Work commitments mean that we are keen to obtain other match reporters willing to provide details on some City matches. All text can be supplied by email, with no need to worry about web design or formatting. If you are interested please contact the T-Ender.

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