Weston Super Mare (0) 0 Bath City (1) 2 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 29 December 2018 – Woodspring Stadium
Bath City finished off 2018 outside of the National League South play-off places by the finest of margins following Somerset derby victory over Weston-super-Mare. Only the goals scored column keeps the eight-placed Romans out of the end-of-season lottery behind Oxford City, seven goals better off. They edged the first half against Weston but had the better of the chances, Robbie Cundy earning a half-time lead with a header up and over home stopper Luke Purnell. Joe Raynes then bagged the second seven minutes into the second half as his attempted cross flew straight into the net. The game was essentially over as a contest shortly afterwards when Seagulls captain Jacob Cane was shown a second yellow card, his side, still propping up the division, finishing a forgettable afternoon with nine men due to injury.
The Romans, who named John Mills on the bench following his return from a loan spell at Banbury United, set out playing a five-man defence. Ryan Brunt was the man to miss out following his injury exit from the game at Chippenham, replaced by Kevin Amankwaah. There was good early pressure from City, though Weston got the first shot off when they came forward on the break. One cross was repelled but the second flicked on for Jennison Myrie-Williams to volley over. The visitors really should have been ahead in the early stages when a powerful Raynes header picked the massive gap in the Weston defence, where Ross Stearn collected and raced on but curled off target. After Anthony Straker swung a dangerous cross into the box, Marlon Jackson had a fine chance at the other end with a header sent straight to Ryan Clarke. Straker also swiped wide in an advanced position from his new wing-back role. But the opening goal did come on 22 minutes from a set-piece. Stearn whipped a hard free-kick into the centre of the penalty area that was kicked up towards the far post. Purnell charged off his line but Cundy got there first and looped his effort over the floundering home custodian.
There was almost a swift equaliser when George Dowling failed to get enough on a right-wing cross to threaten the City goalmouth. Another set-piece could have given the Romans a second. It flew deep to the far post and was scrambled away from the bottom corner with Frankie Artus among the sky blue shirts lurking with intent. Dowling had the best of Weston’s efforts in the first period, his next a firmly hit drive that Clarke patted away. George Nurse also found the stands with a free-kick as the hosts pushed for a leveller. Their pressure continued with a quick brace of corners. The first dropped for Dowling to backheel past the post, although City disagreed with the award of another flag-kick. That set piece was hit low and found Gethyn Hill, who volleyed wide. Adam Mann was inches away with a curling shot that just spun away from the top corner, and then called Purnell into action with a tame strike that proved the last of the first period.
The second half began with Dowling swinging a free-kick into Clarke’s hands at the near post, before the game began to unravel for the hosts. They should have been two down when Efete charged down the right and pulled the ball back for Smith, the stretching Cheltenham Town loanee turning the ball over from ten yards. That miss was instantly reprieved when Raynes’ cross instead hit the underside of the crossbar and beat Purnell.
Cane was then given his marching orders when he brought down Mann as City appeared ready to burst forward on the counter. Encouraged by the crowd, Raynes dragged wide from 30 yards eyeing a second. With the Seagulls a man light plenty of space opened up in behind. Stearn took advantage to race down the left and cross just behind Mann with the eventual header skewing wide. On his next foray forward Stearn checked back from the byline and watched his cross-cum-shot cleared away from the bottom corner by Jason Pope. The unfortunate Pope would end up in the dugout injured as Weston, after using all three of their substitutes, were forced down to nine men. And with that any faint hopes of an unlikely Weston fightback were killed off. There was still time for Jack Batten to power a header over from a corner while Nurse blazed miles off target and Stearn hammered a free-kick into the feet of the wall in the final throes as City sealed the Somerset bragging rights.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Amankwaah, Straker (c), Batten, Cundy, Efete, Artus (Ollis 76), Raynes, Smith (Morton 70), Mann, Stearn. Subs not used: Mills, Wiles-Richards, Richards.
Scorers: City – Cundy (22), Raynes (52); Weston – none
City Bookings: Batten (18), Amankwaah (47), Artus (74)
Officials: A Blake, S Cane, M Eva