Bath City (1) 3 Hemel Hempstead Town (0) 0 – FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round – Saturday 30 September 2017 – Twerton Park
Bath City finished with a flourish as they moved one step away from the FA Cup first round by dumping out Hemel Hempstead at Twerton Park. All three goals on the afternoon were scored in stoppage time. Frankie Artus nodded in the first to put the Romans 1-0 to the good at the break. They were made to wait until the 90-minute mark had passed before adding anymore, however, when Andy Watkins and Jamie Lucas quelled any nerves and ensured City had Tuesday night free of a replay.
It took a while for the match to really hot up, as neither side got the ball down for any extended periods. There was a brief flurry of action when Nick McCootie volleyed a Jack Compton corner into a defender at pointblank range. And right at the other end Luke Southwood had to get down to snaffle up a James Kaloczi header. Anthony Straker also had to make a flying block to keep out a stinging effort at the edge of the box. Gradually the home side began to edge the contest. Both teams eventually looked to keep the ball on the floor more often, but neither could make any possession count. It was City that grew into the game more and their widemen linked up when Compton fired a cross-field ball over for Watkins, who ran inside of his man and shot wide. There were huge penalty shouts for the Romans when Watkins took a short corner from Compton and went down under a challenge, but referee Ryan Atkin turned away any protests. Another centre from the tricky Compton found right-back Kevin Amankwaah in the box, his defender’s touch skewing the ball straight out for a goal-kick. Eventually the breakthrough did arrive on the end of a cross in first-half added time. It was Straker, overlapping on the left, who swung the ball across for Artus to flick in with a perfectly timed run to the edge of the six-yard box. Ending the opening stanza strongly, City kept gunning for a second and only a desperate, stretching clearance kept a Nat Jarvis cross from finding McCootie.
The hosts made the first opportunity after the interval when Jack Batten was not far off a free-kick delivery from Compton. But the visitors would not go down lightly and picked up their own game. Southwood had to make a sprawling save, finger-tipping a Rowan Lyburd effort over. He then nudged a header into the Bath End terrace. A tricky Straker run into the box almost handed Jarvis a goal, as the striker got a faint touch on his low cross, which was held by the keeper. Ogo Obi ballooned high and wide when a corner dropped his way at the far post, and then had the Romans’ defence racing across to get a block on his next shot. Hustling Jarvis failed to get a decent connection on a shot comfortably held by away stopper Laurie Walker, while Obi put an effort straight down Southwood’s throat at the other end. There was another chance for Jarvis, flicking a driven Compton cross off target. A dangerous spot for a Hemel free-kick had City worried, but Jordan Parkes’ sent a curling effort into Southwood’s hands. Another penalty shout for City was denied as Jarvis was squashed by a flopping defender. The ball would run for Compton to smash into a defender. A rare opportunity came and went for McCootie, again denied by a defending body, following another superb run from Watkins. City did a good job of soaking up much of the Hemel pressure, mostly made up of direct, long balls. They should have sewn up the game with a second, if not for a disastrous miss from substitute Lucas. McCootie did well to keep the ball in at the byline and teed up the former Bristol Rovers man, who somehow shot wide from seven yards. However, Watkins sealed their progress in stoppage-time by volleying in after Compton had seen a shot parried by Walker. Not done there, Lucas made up for his miss with a second goal in a minute, steadying himself well before rifling into the bottom-right corner.
City’s Line Up: Southwood, Amankwaah, Straker, Batten, Ball, Case, Watkins, Artus (c), Jarvis (Lucas 85), McCootie, Compton. Subs not used: Welch-Hayes, Rigg, McCnulty, Wollacott, Bennington-Mannings.
Scorers: City – Artus (45), Watkins (90+1), Lucas (90+3)
City Bookings: Case (58)
Officials: R Atkin, H Gilroy, Z Ellis