Hampton & Richmond Borough 3 (1) Bath City (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 28 October 2017 – Beveree Stadium
For the second successive year, City exited October without a league win to their name as Jerry Gill’s search for a first league win continues. They were handily placed with half-time approaching, leading through Marvin Morgan’s 16th minute goal, Malachi Napa’s goal just before the interval changed the course of the game, as the Romans weren’t at the races in the second period. Max Kretzchmar’s close range finish and Harry Crawford’s last gasp effort sealed the win for the Beavers, who are now unbeaten in 10 in the league, as well as never losing to Bath at the Beveree.
City made two changes from Tuesday’s defeat vs Dartford, with Jack Batten in for the suspended George Rigg, and Nick McCootie replacing Nat Jarvis. Morgan was back at his very brief stomping ground, having departed City for Hampton in September only to return recently. With that in mind, it was inevitable he would open the scoring. Tom Smith was the creator, the Swindon loanee’s intricate pass setting Morgan clear with Sam Howes to beat. The forward showed great composure in rounding the home stopper before slotting the ball home to give City a deserved 16th minute lead. Napa forced Luke Southwood into his first save of the afternoon as Boro’ searched for an instant reply. His low drive was well gobbled up by the diving keeper with Bradley Hudson-Odoi lurking dangerously. The visitors had chances to extend their lead but were guilty of being overelaborate in front of goal. Morgan’s strength saw him find Frankie Artus handily placed, but he unselfishly laid off for McCootie, who placed his effort agonisingly wide. A similar build-up soon afterwards saw Jack Batten’s shot charged down by Josh Casey amidst protests of handball, but referee Wayne Cartmel waved away appeals. Their failure to extend their advantage came back to haunt them as on the eve of Halloween, some frightening defending let Hampton in for a leveler. Goalkeeper Sam Howes’ free-kick from the halfway line was allowed to bounce towards the back-post. Ball appeared to get the final touch but Napa took the celebrations as a rebound beat the helpless Luke Southwood.
It proved a turning point as Hampton impressed in the early stages after the break with their high pressing and work-rate, Napa largely at the centre of things with two low crosses fizzing across the box. At times, the hosts’ behaviour bordered on gamesmanship with several players surrounding referee Cartmel insisting City’s Billy Murphy should receive a second yellow for a foul on Taurean Roberts. In the end he was given a final warning, which provoked Jerry Gill with replacing the central midfielder for wide-man Opi Edwards, who added much needed pace to the Romans attack. On the opposite flank, Ryan Case burst forward and played it through to Andy Watkins. Positioned 20 yards from goal, the Cornishman’s arrowing strike had Howes beaten but crashed back off the post and away to safety. McCootie also curled a shot just wide from distance before the Beavers knocked the stuffing out of City with a second goal on 80 minutes.
Once again Napa was involved. The midfielder, on loan from Oxford United, tricked his way past Batten, treated Casey with a pass inside, driving it across to Kretzschmar, who couldn’t miss from a yard out. The latter sent a shot just over as Hampton threatened further, with substitute Shaun McAuley also prevented by Southwood’s alertness. The home side’s two other subs, Jack Cook and Harry Crawford, linked up before the former appeared to be upended by Batten. With once again players surrounding the man in black, no penalty was given, which proved academic as the game was wrapped up in stoppage time with the same two home players combining. Cook’s flick saw Crawford charge through and via a couple of ricochets, smashed the ball past Southwood to give the final score a flattering look, but few could argue that Bath’s second half performance was enough to deserve at least a point. Which would be the main thing concerning Jerry Gill, with next week’s trip to winless Whitehawk suddenly becoming a crucial game as the season approaches the midway point.
City’s Line Up: Southwood, Case, Straker (c), Smith, Batten, Ball, McCootie, Murphy (Edwards 56), Morgan, Artus, Watkins. Subs not used: Lucas, Mohamed, Jarvis, Forster.
Scorers: City – Morgan (16); Hampton – Napa (44), Kretzschmar (80), Crawford (90+4)
City Bookings: Murphy (31), Smith (58), Case (87)
Officials: W Cartmel, S Rea, M Smith