This was a local derby between two sides with little in
common at the moment. Bath, in-form, chasing the title and solvent
following a fan consortium buy-out have already dished out two
comprehensive beatings to the Tigers this season. Gloucester,
demoralised, scrapping at the bottom, and in another financial crisis
with the fans in conflict with a board seemingly bent on
The Gloucester side showed
several changes and a little tactical manouvering from Hughes. Wyatt
played behind Smith and Rose in a floating role, and Griffiths earnt a
place in a combative midfield line-up. The early exchanges were as
you'd expect from a derby game, with City keen to push up as much as
possible and peg back the dangerous forward line.
The early exchanges were even,
Gary Thorne's header well saved from a corner and Griffiths
seeing a skimming shot going close. Bath saw Davis's scuffed shot
stopped by a combination of Abbott, King and Thorne. However Bath's
crucial player was Mehew, and they took the lead when he skipped past
Abbott and was able to cross from the six yard box for Davis to poke
home. Holloway then sent in a scorching shot from distance, but caused
more danger to the T-End barrackers than the City goal.
In many ways the match was
dominated by two incidents of early violence. First the ref missed a
straight arm from Matt Rose which saw Towler crumple to the floor.
That challenge saw the temperature rise, and within minutes Wayne
Thorne lost self-control and went through the back of David Mehew.
Having already been booked for a daft handball there was no doubt he
would go, and his dismissal left the side misshapen and Bungle
further contemplating improving his impulsive streak.
Despite being down to ten men City were able to grab a
vital equaliser when Skidmore's under hit back pass allowed Smith to
skip in and push the ball between the keeper's legs. The goal
galvanised Gloucester and the Bath defence looked very uncertain.
Wyatt forced Jackson to save at his feet and Smith almost added a
second with a curling shot that dropped just over the bar.
The second half saw bath briefly
show the qualities that could see them back in the Conference. The
Davis and Mehew combination caused problems, and King made a fine
flying tip over to deny Davis. Mehew saw a header fly wide and King
made a further fine stop onto the bar from a Davis header. However
while Gloucester were stretched the offside trap and determined if at
times unorthodox defending in numbers kept Bath's chances down.
Veteran Bath coach Steve White missed perhaps their best chance
dragging a shot wide towards the end.
Whilst Gloucester were largely
forced into a rear guard action they had a few chances of their own.
Casey was given the space to demonstrate his passing ability, and
Chenoweth was quite literally everywhere down the left flank. Smith
was still working tirelessly to chase down long balls and was in many
ways crucial in defending from the front. However the last few minutes
saw City come closest to snatching the points with sub Cox's pace
stretching the rocky Bath back line. The culmination of their problems
came three minutes from time when Cox cut across the penalty box and
was brought down by Clode. The look on the bath players faces showed
it was a clear pen, but the referee was gasping for breath half a
pitch away and failed to give it.
A draw was a fairer result and
Bath would have been hard done by had they lost, but none the less the
match ended with Gloucester being the ones who felt cheated. None the
less the players can be proud of a strong battling ten man performance
and a good point against a top side. What they need now is to convert
that home form into points away from Meadow Park.