Bath City (0) 3 Reading U23s (1) 1 – Pre-Season Friendly – Tuesday 18 July 2017 – Twerton Park
Three goals in the last nine minutes capped a Bath City comeback that earned their first win of pre-season. Trailing at the break to Chris Regis’ rocket strike, trialist Lucas Capoue sparked the turnaround by converting at a Frankie Artus corner on 82 minutes. He then capitalised on a dreadful clearance to play in Jamie Lucas for the Romans lead, with a late deflected strike from Reece Misso completing the scoring. Gary Owers gave three trialists the chance to impress in his starting line-up, including new face Francois-Papis Mendy at centre-back. Former Reading academy man Harrison Bennett and keeper Matt Cafer started, while Capoue, Palo Mendez and Ryan Case were new names on the bench. And among the Reading number there was a welcome Twerton Park return for brief cult hero Axel Andresson, who played the first hour and dominated in the air against Nat Jarvis over the first period.
Reading set out their stall early, passing the ball around neatly from kick-off and creating a chance before City had got a touch, frontman Ogo Obi nodding over from a Teddy Howe centre. But the hosts were equally happy to press high up the pitch in a frenetic start. Athough Reading wobbled, goalkeeper Gabe Rosario conceding a corner under pressure from Nick McCootie, there were few shots on goal. Cafer had to take control and punch clear when Sorba Thomas knocked a cross back across goal following a cross from Ramarni Medford-Smith. For City, Andy Watkins ran onto a perfect Jarvis flick-on, but was unable to get away from his defender. A Jordan Holsgrove free-kick, following a Mendy foul, was straight down Cafer’s throat, while a sliding Jarvis was unable to prod home as the hosts countered. The opening goal arrived with a thunderous Regis effort borne out of nothing as he got half a yard from Mendy and hammered past Cafer. Two free-kicks almost gave City their maiden goal of pre-season. The first came from an audacious Jack Batten attempt from within his own half, but Rosario had awareness enough to scramble back and pluck the ball from the air. It was Harrison’s dead-ball that gave them their best chance though, as Rosario pushed his low, raking shot out to Jarvis, who could not jab on target from the edge of the six-yard box.
There was a raft of changes from Owers at half-time, with Case, Mendez and Capoue getting a look in. The young Rs’ insistence on playing out of the back almost cost them as a wayward cross-field ball was knocked down to Jamie Lucas. He was unable to get of a shot with Rosario nowhere to be seen, eventually twisting away to draw a low, sharp stop from the keeper. Fellow sub Marvin Morgan was also denied on a bustling run as the defence combined to charge down his shot. Reading changed their entire team on the hour mark, a move that upped their impetus. They quickly carved out an attack, when Ben House punted a shot that Cafer pushed out to Cameron Green, who thumped into the side netting. New visiting stopper Chris Harris was called into action himself when Capoue had space to move in from the left, weave away from a defender and hit one straight into his stooping breadbasket. Capoue got plenty of time on the ball, then going on to jink away from a defender and exchange passes with Misso, only to curl his final effort into the Bath End terracing. With eight minutes to go he did find the target – and made it count to boot. A right-flank Frankie Artus corner skimmed a couple of heads and dropped at for Capoue to stab into the roof of the net from five yards. Immediately there was a double chance for Reading, with House released on the right-hand side of the box but thwarted twice by Cafer. City appeared to have missed their chance at a winner when Morgan skipped around the goalkeeper, somehow seeing his shot rebounding off the near post with the goal gaping. Yet they would go ahead on 88 minutes when a horror Harris clearance was picked up by Capoue, who took his time before picking out a perfect pass for Lucas to slot in. And the scoring was completed when Misso’s long-range effort wrong-footed Harris and dribbled into the net.
City Line-Up: Cafer, Welch-Hayes (Case HT), Ball (c), Mendy (Mendez HT), Batten (Straker HT), Bennett (Artus HT), Rigg (Christopher HT), Diallo (Misso 70), McCootie (Capoue HT), Jarvis (Morgan HT), Watkins (Lucas HT). Subs not used: Forster.
Scorers: Capoue (82), Lucas (88), Misso (90)
Officials: R Hulme, R Cockle, Barlow, Gross