Bath City (1) 0 Bristol Rovers (0) 0 – Pre-Season Friendly – Wednesday 26 July 2017 – Twerton Park
Ryan Case grabbed his second goal in as many pre-season games as Bath City got the better of League 1 Bristol Rovers. The defender had been on trial for the past few games and is known to have made a big impression on Romans manager Gary Owers. And he made it two in two, following on from his strike against Clevedon Town on Saturday, by heading in a Marvin Morgan cross to give City victory.
Overall it was a strong display for the Romans, who gave more than a good account of themselves against a strong Pirates side. Rovers were on the front foot first and had City stopper Oliver Davies – who joined Southern League Hereford only this summer – diving to his left to keep out Dylan McGlade’s stern strike. New signing Tom Nichols also got a shot in early on. Fed by Joe Partington, his effort from an acute angle was gobbled up at the second attempt by Davies. City were not to be outclassed and had a tidy spell of their own, although the best chance they could carve out was a whipped Toby Ajala cross that was inches too high for George Rigg to nod in. Former Romans loanee Ryan Broom curled an ambitious effort into the Bristol End for Rovers, while Darren Jones shanked a more than presentable free-kick a good 20 yards wide to jeers from the crowd. Twice City were close to finding their way one-on-one but Jamie Lucas was denied by the offside flag and Rigg a toe away from collecting Nat Jarvis’s knock-through, which came after excellent hold-up play. The Pirates should have gone in front when Davies came and whiffed on a long Rory Gaffney ball. It looked a certain goal for trialist McGlade, but he chose power over placement and hammered against the crossbar with the goal unguarded. For the most part the first period ended with City on top. Ajala sent a free-kick straight down Slocombe’s throat before Rovers kept out two gilt-edged home chances. Lucas was denied by a deflection when he took down Anthony Straker’s cross and prodded goalwards, the ball trickling millimetres wide. Visiting stopper Sam Slocombe then had to be at his best to dive full-stretch and repel a six-yard header from Jones after his defence had failed to adequately clear a corner. The last chance of the half was Rovers’ as Nichols found himself on a loose ball and played back for the onrushing Marc Bola to crack into a crowd of players.
McGlade was at it again just after the restart, running at the City goal and drilling a blocked shot against the home defence. And not long after Gaffney should have put the visitors in front, superbly controlling a high ball over the top, only to drag his low strike across goal. Confident shouts for a Romans penalty went up when McCootie bundled his way past Bola before being clipped by the on-loan Arsenal left-back. Referee Savvas Yianni emphatically signalled for no spot kick. A prostrate Slocombe was scrambling off his line to push an Ajala cross away from his goal, while Gaffney glanced a header wide from a McGlade cross at the other end. He had an easier time holding on to a looped McCootie header but would be beaten on 73 minutes. The goal owed much to Marvin Morgan’s tenacity. He showed a nifty turn of pace to shrug Jonny Burn off the ball and then held the ball up at the edge of the box, waiting for support to charge into the box. The half-time substitute eventually crossed for Case to send an inch-perfect header back across goal and over Slocombe into the far corner. Nichols pulled a mishit volley wide of the mark, but the visitors would get a much better opportunity before time was up. Keeper Luke Southwood, a squad member in England’s Under-20 World Cup triumph in the summer, came on for Davies at the break and saved the day with a double stop. He was quick off his line to smother a Broom toe-poke and was on his feet fast enough to deny a follow-up effort from Gaffney.
City Line-Up: Davis (Southwood HT), Welch-Hayes, Ball (Batten HT), Case, Jones (c) (Christopher 60), Rigg, Ajala, Murphy (Diallo HT), Lucas (Morgan HT), Jarvis (McCootie HT), Straker.
Scorers: Case (72)
Officials: S Yianni, D Flynn, R Cockle, J Bonnick