Bath City (0) 1 East Thurrock United (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 12 January 2019 – Twerton Park
The returning Sean Rigg ensured Bath City notched the fifth win of their seven-game unbeaten streak with East Thurrock United edged out at Twerton Park. Five weeks on from his last start, Rigg rifled home from 12 yards as the ball dropped perfectly for his third goal in as many starts, albeit spread over near two months apart. With goalkeeper Ryan Clarke dominating at the back and a lack of ideas from East Thurrock, City’s only real defensive worries were of their own makings on a couple of occasions. Tom Derry also drew gasps from the home support with a speculative effort that rebounded off the post, but in truth an equaliser never truly looked likely as City continued their fine form.
City opened the game playing Joe Raynes among a three-man defence, with Ross Stearn at right-wing back. That, however, changed within 15 minutes as East Thurrock’s hard pressing 4-3-3 drew Jerry Gill into a matching system, Stearn moving to the left wing and Raynes to right-back. In that time the visitors created the first opportunity when a low ball towards the back post was turned over by the sliding Sam Ashford. Freddie Hinds was inches away from latching on to chances on a couple of occasions, including one early when Adam Mann’s header on was snaffled by keeper Jack Giddens. Their best opening of the first period perhaps fell to Tom Smith. Posted at the edge of the area, he dragged wide from a low Straker centre that swept through a number of players in the box. Smith was also close to connecting with a Rigg cross after the midfielder produced a neat piece of trickery to work half a yard and deliver. After Giddens again just beat Hinds to the ball, after the Bristol City loanee had not quite controlled a difficult, hard-hit forward pass, Thurrock were almost presented a chance. Robbie Cundy gave away possession 25 yards out and facing his own goal, but worked in combination with Jack Batten to prevent the danger two-on-two. A left-footed Hinds shot trickled wide, before Raynes forced his way past two defenders and sent in a cross Giddens tipped over from in front of his crossbar. Reece Prestedge smashed a sweet 30-yard volley down the throat of Ryan Clarke as the first period drew to a close – but that was not before the most exciting period of play for the home crowd. Mann drilled a shot at Giddens from the edge of the box, with the away keeper parrying back to Smith. He tried to head the ball on to a better-placed City man, though the offside flag went up nevertheless to end the attack.
A spell of concerted attack handed the Romans a lead early after the restart. Giddens was forced into a save first of all, Cundy’s flick-on from a long throw almost deflecting into the bottom corner off a defender. Instead it was turned for a corner and though the Rocks cleared Frankie Artus’s goalbound header, the ball ran out for Rigg to thump in with a deflection en route.
A second almost arrived within minutes as Batten saw a header cleared off the line. Stearn also leapt higher than ever to send a header comfortably into Giddens’ hands. That wasn’t to say the visitors were out of the contest. They had some spells in the City third including a number of set pieces, but found Clarke in commanding form in the home goal. Clarke also had to be on hand to thwart Derry running on goal after Artus and Mann got themselves in a mess on halfway, the keeper sliding out to smother. The biggest scare of all came from Derry when he swivelled and shot from 25 yards, and rattled the inside of the far post with Clarke desperately diving across goal. Ashford also tried to beat Clarke from range, only to find the keeper’s mitts. City, meanwhile, still looked lively going forward as East Thurrock put more bodies into attack. Substitute Andy Watkins had their best shot at a second but failed to get the required whip to bypass Giddens.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Straker (c), Batten, Artus, Rigg, Hinds, Stearn (Brunt 75), Mann, Cundy, Raynes, Smith (Watkins 69). Subs not used: Richards, Ball, H Wiles-Richards.
Scorers: City – Rigg (54); East Thurrock – none.
City Bookings: Artus (62), Hinds (83)
Officials: T Bishop, N Clinton, N Whitfield