Hendon (1) 2 Bath City (0) 1 – FA Trophy 1st Round – Saturday 16 December 2017 – Silver Jubilee Park
Two defensive lapses cost Bath City dearly as they exited the FA Trophy at the hands of Isthmian Premier Hendon. Arthur Lee and Keagan Cole benefited, the latter just moments after having entered the field as a substitute, sending the north London side through at the Romans’ expense.
With the Wembley arch visible in the background, City’s hopes of progressing closer to the iconic venue started brightly as Tom Smith fired over inside five minutes. Hendon’s first opening fell to long-serving Casey MacLaren, but the captain headed Josh Walker’s corner over when left unmarked. Opi Edwards showed promise on the wing, benefiting from a couple of ricochets before getting his angles all wrong in front of goal, his resulting shot flying out for a throw-in. Debutant Rhys Kavanagh was left isolated in attack, well-marshalled from an organised Hendon back line. A momentary loss on concentration from them saw the loanee ghost in and meet Jack Compton’s dangerous free-kick, but he could only head straight into Tom Lovelock’s hands. Hendon took the lead on 38 minutes. Walker’s corner was headed back across goal from Michael Corcoran and bundled in from close range by Arthur Lee. It was easily avoidable with Jerry Gill’s men switching off on two occasions.
The Romans flew out of the blocks in the second half and levelled on 47 minutes. Edwards’ trickery and directness saw him work his way to the byline before drilling it across the middle, where Smith was on hand to touch home from a yard out. The diminutive winger smashed over soon after as City were in the ascendency. Frankie Artus headed Matt Richards’ corner over and Kavanagh forced Lovelock into a save having charged through the home defence. MacLaren blazed over for Hendon, who created some openings with their pressing style which left City wary at times. At the other end, Kavanagh cleverly turned away from Rian Bray but wastefully failed to test Lovelock, who easily saved to his right. Niko Muir, a constant menace who demonstrated why he’s plundered 23 goals this season, saw his low strike deflected narrowly wide of Luke Southwood’s near post, and it was further persistence from the leading marksman which led to what proved the winner on 78 minutes. Keagan Cole had just been introduced for Zak Joseph, and made an instant impact. Dan Ball’s attempt to shield the ball away from Muir went awry as he robbed the defender and teed up Cole, who poked home from close range. Despite boasting three attacking players on the bench, it wasn’t until the 84 minute that one was introduced, with Nick McCootie replacing Richards. It didn’t have the desired effect, other than Ball having a header cleared off the line, as Gary McCann’s charges saw off the closing stages brilliantly to reach the last 32 for the first time since 2005. Having previously knocked City out of the FA Cup in 1998 and 1999, they have this Trophy scalp to add to the list. The thrill of beating Margate on penalties 11 days previous is now a distant memory, with this 18th defeat to lower league opposition in non-league’s premier knock-out competition.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Kelly, Richards (McCootie 83), Amankwaah, Ball, Edwards, Artus, Kavanagh, Smith, Compton. Subs not used: Watkins, Rigg, Jarvis, Hodges.
Scorers: City – Smith (47); Hendon – Lee (39), Cole (74)
City Bookings: Ball (45), Kelly (58), Welch-Hayes (90)