Bath City (0) 1 Braintree Town (0) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 21 October 2017 – Twerton Park
Bath City took the lead with ten minutes to go, but were left holding on for a point against National League South leaders Braintree Town. A wildly deflected George Rigg strike had the Romans in front with ten minutes to go, only for the visitors to haul themselves level through Karl Oliyide. And as Braintree finished on top, Rigg was given his marching orders for a second yellow card courtesy of a sliding foul, though neither side could find a winner. In an ultimately even first period, City could not find a complete rhythm with a handful of misplaced passes, loose touches and the odd slip – from which both sides suffered – that prevented them from making the most of good possession. Yet the second period they took greater control, and wasted yet another penalty when Nat Jarvis had a spot-kick kept out by a combination of keeper and crossbar.
There was a place in the starting line-up for Marvin Morgan, immediately thrown back into the fray on his return from a short-lived spell at Hampton & Richmond Borough. Within seconds he had won possession from Braintree’s kick-off, and then a free-kick. Billy Murphy’s delivery was flicked into keeper Nathan McDonald’s gloves. Patient City were the better side in the opening 15 minutes. They pieced together one particularly slick move, playing short, simple passes in a sequence that ended in Morgan shooting across goal. Yet Braintree always looked dangerous on the break and slowly grew into the contest. After an Andy Watkins centre was inches away from Morgan’s flying leg, the Romans were given something of a let-off at the other end. Iron striker Karl Oliyide was played into the box, but slipped over and fell on the ball, hand first, as he shaped to shoot. Watkins then sent a difficult volley high and wide having been picked out by a diagonal Murphy ball across the field. Ryan Case also missed the target with a header from another Murphy free-kick. City stopper Luke Southwood was called into action when Oliyide made a late run into the box on a Braintree break, falling sharply to his left to save. It was the away side that finished the half on top, with Samir Bihmoutine nodding onto the post and Oliyide shooting across goal from a tight angle, put under pressure by Southwood charging from his line.
The second period was slower to rouse but eventually the Community Day crowd were provided some excitement when the penalty came. The incident itself was somewhat innocuous and there were few shouts from the terraces when Jarvis was nudged over trying to get on the end of a Watkins cross. But the striker would not add to his tally, hammering his shot at a nice, low height for McDonald’s legs to divert the ball onto the crossbar and out. Undeterred, they continued on the front foot with Watkins driving low, hard and wide across goal. McDonald then had to make a sharp save from Tom Smith, whose thunderous effort took a deflection that threatened to wrongfoot the visiting custodian. Shouts for a second penalty were denied when Straker picked up and drove to the byline, but saw his low centre strike a sliding defender on the arm. The Romans deservedly went in front, albeit in fortuitous circumstances when Rigg picked up the ball 30 yards out and his thumping shot hit the net via a looping deflection off Billy Crook. But Braintree were not about to give up and their efforts paid off when Oliyide got the finishing touch on a tidy move. Goalscorer Rigg was then given his marching orders after sliding through Phil Roberts deep in the left-hand corner. Southwood had to save from Iron skipper Marc Okoye from the resulting set-piece, and although City pressed – including a 95th-minute opportunity when Morgan could not get a clean shot away in the box – the points were shared.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Amankwaah (Rigg 27), Straker (c), Smith, Case, Ball, Watkins, Murphy (McCootie 76), Morgan, Artus, Jarvis. Subs not used: Lucas, Mohamed, Wollacott.
Scorers: City – Rigg (79); Braintree – Oliyide (85)
City Bookings: Rigg (63), Smith (66)
City Dismissal: Rigg (90)
Officials: B Cooke, A Berrow, M Perry