Gloucester City (1) 2 Bath City (0) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Monday 28 August 2017 – The Spiers & Hartwell Jubilee Stadium
Depleted Bath City gave Gloucester a late scare but would come out second best in their West Country derby clash at Evesham. Missing four players through injury, there were five changes for the Romans and only three players named on the bench. They had begun the match in reasonable shape, only for the hosts to take control once Joe Parker had put them a goal up. Zack Kotwica doubled that advantage early in the second half and although City showed some life, Jack Compton pulling one back with a delicious final-minute free-kick, they could not level.
City endured three first-half injuries against Poole at the weekend and showed a new formation as well as their switches to the starting line-up. Miles Welch-Hayes came in at right-back with Darren Jones alongside in the middle, while Nat Jarvis and Jamie Lucas started up front in a 4-4-2 set-up. There was an unusual central midfield duo in Anthony Straker and Ryan Case, as Compton won his first start on the left-hand side. With only seconds on the clock Jarvis found himself played in behind by a Lucas flick-on, but stood on the ball, allowing the defence to get back and the keeper to gather. For much of the opening forays it was the visitors on top, although Gloucester did threaten with a free-kick from the right flank that flew across the box, while battling Ed Williams had a shot blocked as they tried to build themselves into the game. Tigers shotstopper Tom Hadler was the first to be tested, however, when Compton drove in one of many impressive crosses that Lucas instinctively volleyed into the keeper’s midriff. The former Bristol Rovers prospect then had a double chance when played in cleverly by Straker, but could not get a clean connection on either occasion with both shots blocked. Jarvis was also inches away from getting on the hand of a hooked Case cross, yet it was the home side that took the lead. A long ball into the City box was just about latched onto by Williams, who hoiked a looping cross just over the desperate leap of a visiting defender for Parker to smash in first time. After that Gary Owers’ men fell out of the rhythm they had built as Gloucester looked the more dangerous. The only real opportunity City created for the remainder of the period was an attempted overhead kick from Jones that was crowded out by the defence. It could easily have been 2-0 to Gloucester if not for a superb last-ditch challenge. Parker beat Jack batten to a loose ball and proceeded to dash away down the right. From the bottom corner of the penalty area, he turned a low cross back in for Williams, only denied by sliding Welch-Hayes.
In a bid to change his side’s fortunes, Owers made more tactical tweaks at the break as Rigg moved into the centre, Compton to the right wing and Straker out to the left. However, the next goal was Gloucester’s. Both Jarvis and Case were hustled out of possession and before they knew it, the Tigers sent half-time substitute Kotwica in to slot past Luke Southwood. With that, Owers had seen enough and threw on his only two outfield subs, Marvin Morgan and Nick McCootie, for strike duo Lucas and Jarvis. That immediately sparked some life into City, yet the same problems remained. They lacked precision in their execution and were half a second off the pace, turned up ever since Gloucester were buoyed by their opening goal. Chances were few for either side as the hosts began to run out of ideas, while Compton kissed the post with a free-kick and Rigg walloped one over the bar from 25 yards. It was Compton’s performance that was arguably the highlight of a drab day for travelling fans. He tried his luck again from plenty of space on the left, drawing a fingertip save from Hadler with a stinging drive. With around 15 minutes to go the Romans finally started to put together some concerted pressure. Pushing up, they had more possession and saw two tough efforts from Morgan go unconverted – a low shot that ruffled the side netting and a downward header held by the keeper. A long throw from case was then flicked on by Morgan, McCootie volleying a difficult chance over the top and out of the ground. With a minute to go Compton handed City a lifeline when he won a free-kick and lifted the resulting set-piece over the wall and into the net. There was to be no equaliser, however. The best chance the away side had in stoppage time fell to Welch-Hayes, who gunned into the box and saw his first-time shot blocked by a sliding defender.
City’s Line Up: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Ball, Batten, Jones (c), Case, Rigg, Straker, Jarvis (McCootie 55), Lucas (Morgan 55), Compton. Sub not used: Wollacott.
Scorers: City – Compton (90); Gloucester – Parker (25), Kotwica (54)
City Bookings: Rigg (63)
Officials: M Buonassisi, E Watson, S Fudge