Horsham (1) 1 Bath City (1) 2 – FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round – Sunday 25 November 2018 – Culver Road
Sean Rigg got the job done for Bath City as they saw off spirited Horsham to reach the FA Trophy first round proper. Bar two patches in the first period, it was the visiting outfit that were for the most part in charge. Yet in one of those Horsham spells, they found the net, Charlie Harris whipping a beautiful free-kick into the top corner. That came after Jack Batten had cracked in the opening goal, but it was a piece of the expected extra quality among Roman ranks that would decide the game. Rigg grabbed the winner midway through the second half, sashaying in from the left and arching a fine strike around the home keeper. That earned City progression to the next stage of the competion, joined by National League top flight sides in Monday’s draw and dropping and extra £5,000 into the club kitty.
The Romans made a surprisingly tentative start to proceedings, with a string of loose passes in the early minutes, as the hosts made a bright start, though only had one Will Hoare shot, saved well by debuting 16-year-old keeper Harvey Wiles-Richards – brought in with Ryan Clarke falling ill on the morning of the game – for the vocal home support to shout about. Before long City settled, Rigg combining with Adam Mann, who dragged wide from the edge of the box. And on ten minutes they had the lead. Mann and Rigg teamed up again, playing a one-two from a short corner, and Mann firing a low ball into the near post, off which Batten’s thumped effort clanged in.
Ryan Brunt then had a tame shot saved, only for Horsham to turn up the heat as the home side went from being penned in to putting in a concerted spell on the front foot. Wiles-Richards was called into action to pull off a top stop when a through ball found its way past Anthony Straker, the Hornets’ pacy frontman Tyrell Richardson-Brown darting in and drawing a sharp, low save from the teenage keeper on his right side. Eventually the equaliser arrived from a free-kick. That was given on the back of another dead ball for holding at the edge of the box, with Horsham calling for a penalty instead. No matter, Harris trotted up and gave Wiles-Richards no chance with a perfectly placed effort into the top corner. With that, the game settled back into its previous rhythm, with City making most of the running. They got plenty of crosses into the box, the best of which should have been finished by Brunt, who glanced wide from central real estate and six-yards out from Rigg’s centre.
The second period was slow to heat up, Tom Smith, brought on for Frankie Artus at the break, running hard and firing into the keeper to get things going. Batten also went for goal from some way out. The centre-half burst forward and found himself encouraged to shoot having played a one-two, but shot wide. Horsham found creating chances more difficult after the break with the Romans much tidier and asserting their dominance in possession. Though City tried their luck on numerous occasions, testing home keeper Josh Pelling proved difficult. All the power was taken out of a Mann effort by two deflections, while Rigg also saw a shot hit a Horsham body en route through to Pelling. Goalscorer Harris rasped one past the post as the hornets were able to put together a rare move. However, it was City that went back in front through Rigg, as the midfielder moved in from the left flank and curled one past a helpless keeper.
Smith, twice, and Stearn also forced saves from Pelling, while Robbie Cundy headed a Rigg free-kick wide. Despite Horsham throwing plenty of bodies forward, the Romans were able to soak up the pressure that came their way and keep the home side at arm’s length. They could even have killed off the game in stoppage time when substitute Deon Moore played in Tom Smith, who could not beat Pelling from a difficult angle. There was one final scare to see off when handball was given against Anthony Straker on the edge of the box – although Horsham screamed for advantage as Richardson-Brown darted into the area. However, the free-kick came to nothing and City cleared to ensure their progress.
City’s Line-Up: H Wiles-Richards, Raynes, Straker (c), Cundy, Batten, Artus (Smith HT), Morton, Rigg, Mann, Brunt (Moore 65), Stearn. Subs not used: Matthews, Baghdadi.
Scorers: City – Batten (10), Rigg (68); Horsham – Harris (28)
City Bookings: Rigg (30), Straker (90)
Officials: S Gill, M Marsh, S Parmenter