Chelmsford City (0) 1 Bath City (0) 0 – FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round Replay – Monday 16 October 2017 – Melbourne Stadium
A limp strike from Michael West was enough to separate Chelmsford and Bath City over 180 minutes of football in a 4th qualifying round replay. The midfielder’s 50th minute winner at Melbourne Stadium – his first goal for the Clarets and the first Bath had conceded in this year’s FA Cup – landed the Essex outfit with a first round trip to Gateshead, in familiar surroundings at another Athletics venue.
Hurricane Ophelia hadn’t quite reached Essex but played a part in the first half, with City having to defend the directness of the home side as well as coping with the elements. Kudus Oyenuga, drafted in for the injured Chris Dickson, made a bright introduction, crossing to the unmarked Michael West but he failed to get enough of a clean connection to trouble Luke Southwood. Another cross from the right caused City problems early on, with Anthony Church denied at point blank range from Southwood as the hosts hunted for a quick breakthrough. The Romans’ first opening arrived on a counter-attack. Nat Jarvis’ probing run and cross was met by the back-tracking Craig Braham-Barrett, who somehow spooned over his goal from six yards. Church’s evening was cut short when he fell innocuously while tussling with Jack Compton. Following a lengthy delay, he was stretchered off with a serious-looking ankle injury and replaced by Scott Davies. It understandably had an impact on Chelmsford as Bath grew into the game. Having linked up well with Anthony Straker and Andy Watkins, Compton surged into the box and rolled a shot just wide with Sam Beasant beaten. Beasant – son of 1988 FA Cup winner Dave – soon had to be called upon when he palmed away Jarvis’ downward header. Daniel Green tested Southwood with a low save to his right, following a fortunate ricochet off Oyenuga, whilst at the other end a real scramble saw Frankie Artus denied by a combination of Michael Spillane and a brave Beasant gather.
Chelmsford tend to start second halves strongly; netting ten within the first 15 minutes of the second period this term and it came to fruition again in fortunate circumstances. Lee Barnard found space to the right. His poor cross was missed by Artus, which deceived the City backline and found a collection of Claret shirts on the edge of the penalty area. West took responsibility and, although his strike wasn’t the cleanest, it had enough to bypass Southwood’s outstretched arm and nestled into the net. Rod Stringer’s men also had nine clean sheets in all competitions; only conceding four second-half goals in 15 games. Despite being only a goal down, the visiting fans appeared to sense their team had a mountain to climb. The Romans did their utmost to fight back. Tom Smith and Jarvis combined before Watkins was denied from close range by the flying Spillane, although referee Buonassisi surprisingly gave a goal kick. Jamie Lucas and Kaid Mohamed were thrown on for Jarvis and Watkins as City’s football was pleasing on the eye in patches, but they lacked a killer touch in front of goal. Artus’ effort from distance was comfortable for Beasant, who also saw Mohamed skew wide after Smith’s shot was charged down from a determined rearguard. Despite Ryan Case’s long throws causing a few moments of panic for Chelmsford, they looked every bit a side that boast the best defence in the division, as they saw out the closing stages to progress. It also sealed an all-too-familiar exit for the travelling band of supporters, witnessing Bath’s 27th elimination from the 4th qualifying round. Although this wasn’t on par with Bath’s feeble exits in the last three years, a failure to score for the third time in Gill’s short tenure will concern the new manager as he’ll look to lift his players in time for Saturday’s visit of Braintree.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Amankwaah (Rigg 88), Straker, Smith, Case, Ball, McCootie, Artus, Jarvis (Lucas 71), Compton, Watkins (Mohamed 81). Subs not used: Wollacott, Murphy, McNulty.
Scorers: City – none; Chelmsford – West (50)
City Bookings: McCootie (44), Amankwaah (61), Straker (67), Rigg (90)
Referee: M Buonassisi