Bath City (0) 0 Bristol City (0) 3 – Pre-Season Friendly – Tuesday 11 July 2017 – Twerton Park
Bath City opened their pre-season campaign with defeat to a silky Bristol City side that took control of the game with a three-goal second half. After a goalless first period, the Robins broke through with two in as many minutes just past the interval courtesy of a Jamie Paterson penalty and Bobby Reid header. Joe Bryan added the third as a first period edged by the visitors turned dramatically in their favour as a host of Romans substitutes, including most of their new signings and a handful of trialists, took its toll.
Anthony Straker was the only new face in the Romans’ starting line-up, with Miles Welch-Hayes in the team following his permanent return to Twerton Park and Max O’Leary making a cameo in goal. The bench, however, was full of unfamiliar faces including Matt Cafer, a goalkeeper who spent last season playing in the Gibraltarian top flight, former Torquay midfielder Toby Ajala and Will Christopher, a youngster released by Swindon Town. Welch-Hayes was employed at right-back, opposite Straker, with Jack Batten and Dan Ball between them. George Rigg was pushed into central midfield. It was the visitors that made the first chance of the night when Reid – who scored a stunning winner in the same fixture last pre-season – was slipped through and flashed a shot across goal. He was a thorn in the City side all night, getting forward and playing a series of intricate balls in behind. One of those set Freddie Hinds in behind, but O’Leary was just about quick enough off his line to sweep up the ball. The Romans’ first chance came and went in a flash. Nick McCootie robbed Hordur Magnusson but then made a mess of his final shot, skewing it horribly past the near post from a tight angle. He then had a chance to play in the re-signed Marvin Morgan, having burst away from both Magnusson and Joe Bryan, only to see his attempted pass just evade the former Plymouth Argyle frontman. Other opportunities for the hosts were largely from distance; Morgan seeing a long-range effort deflected wide and curling another over the crossbar, both times following good work from Andy Watkins on the ground and in the air. The Robins, meanwhile, looked the more threatening. They broke with pace, pressured high up the pitch and looked dangerous trying to feed balls in behind the home defence. Batten was on hand to clear a low, swinging Paterson free-kick away with his head, the same player then forcing a corner with another shot nicked en route to goal. They had two more attempts at breaking the deadlock before the interval. The first came when Andy Watkins gave away the ball in the left-back slot, Hinds whipping in a low cross that had everyone in the box slip-sliding, but none getting a decisive touch. The best effort of the lot came when Reid again found himself in behind to draw an excellent reaction stop from a diving O’Leary.
After Reid missed a sitter at the back post from a Diego De Girolamo cross within moments of the restart, the visitors eventually broke through from the penalty spot. The masterful Reid made his way in behind the Romans defence and was tripped rounding O’Leary, Paterson converting from 12 yards. Within a minute that combination reversed as Paterson sent over a cross that Reid nodded in from close range. There could have been a second for Paterson, too, as the away side swept forward and across the box from right to left, but his effort was hounded down by steadfast defending. Eventually the third did come, albeit through a lapse in concentration from Welch-Hayes. Jens Hegeler played a ball in behind that the former Oxford United defender allowed to run, only for Bryan to sprint in from behind and knock the ball past O’Leary. Substitute Callum O’Dowda smashed a shot across goal for what could have been a fourth as the Championship outfit continued to run the show. Keeper Cafer replaced O’Leary on the hour and gave Gary Owers food for thought as he palmed over a rising Diego De Girolamo effort, hit from around the penalty spot. He would punch the resulting corner clear. Yet the former Weymouth stopper was almost the victim of a mix-up with Batten, who crouched to head a long ball Cafer’s way after he had come some way off his line. Lucikly the ball was close enough for the keeper to pounce on. And before the day was up, Cafer would also make a sharp stop with his legs from Jonny Brown’s low strike, as the Robins looked to capitalise on a misplaced pass to break. Having spent most of the second half on the back foot, City did get forward with ten minutes to go. Shaquille Hunter was the dangerman, weaving past three defenders before shooting into tight marker. There was more work for Cafer back at the other end when Smith again dug for goal, which forced the keeper to scramble to his left and palm away.
City Line-Up: O’Leary (Cafer 60), Welch-Hayes (Christopher 60), Straker, Ball, Batten (Misso 87), Rigg (Hunter HT), Artus (c) (Simpson 79), Murphy (N Diallo HT), McCootie (Jarvis HT), Morgan (Lucas HT), Watkins (Ajala HT). Subs not used: F Diallo.
Officials: K Friend, A Howson, R Ricardo, O Mackey