Whitehawk (0) 1 Bath City (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 4 November 2017 – The Enclosed Ground
Kodi Lyons-Foster’s late header claimed Whitehawk only their fourth point of the season, and left Jerry Gill still searching for his first league win as City boss in a frustrating afternoon on the coast. Jamie Lucas’ penalty just before half-time gave the Romans a slender advantage, but they were consistently wasteful in possession and couldn’t complain at being held by the league’s bottom markers, who have yet to win any of their opening 17 matches in National League South.
Lucas was recalled to the starting line-up with Billy Murphy missing out, whilst George Rigg returned from suspension to replace the banned Ryan Case. Matt Richards also made the bench having recently signed, the former Brighton & Hove Albion man returning to their nearby club following a spell out of the game. Gill bemoaned Bath’s over-playing in the final third at Hampton, so would have been encouraged to see Andy Watkins and Frankie Artus both try their luck from distance early on, though neither troubled Seny Dieng, the Hawks’ Senegalese on-loan stopper. All 15 in the Whitehawk squad weren’t at the club in the corresponding fixture last season, but they didn’t look like a collection of newbies as they neatly carved out a few openings. Dan Ball needed to produce a last-ditch challenge on Enoch Andoh, and Luke Southwood gathered a 20-yarder from Hungarian Ermal Hajdari as the hosts were pretty in possession, but lacked physicality in attack. Nick McCootie’s probing run down the right resulted in a cross which Marvin Morgan couldn’t nod towards goal, but a sliced clearance fell to Artus whose right-footed drive was comfortable for Dieng. With half-time approaching, City capitalised on a slice of luck to give them the lead. Artus’ free-kick was inexplicably handled by George Essuman with referee Lee Brennan perfectly placed to award a penalty. Having seen three failures from the spot in succession, this time it was Lucas’ turn to take responsibility. With minimum fuss he sent Dieng the wrong way and give the Romans the lead. Once again Ball rescued City with a last-ditch challenge on Andoh as City held on to their half-time advantage.
Gill’s troops started the second half brightly with Tom Smith teeing up Artus, who again couldn’t find his range from distance. Whitehawk were largely penned back, but on a rare foray forward Ibrahim Fofana was chopped down from McCootie, who was cautioned. Michael Cain’s subsequent free-kick floated straight into Southwood’s hands. The Somerset outfit had appeals for a penalty turned down when Essuman tried to tear Watkins’ shirt off in a tussle but this time referee Brennan was unmoved. Nat Jarvis replaced a tiring Lucas in attack, shortly before Jack Batten’s header was deflected wide with Dieng beaten. But a one-goal lead is never safe, and it proved the case with nine minutes remaining as the Hawks levelled, following a sustained spell of pressure which saw City defending deeper. Anthony Straker’s lunge on the lively Nassim L’Ghoul was penalised. The latter’s free-kick, from a near identical position to Artus’ for City’s opener, was pinpoint for Lyons-Foster to ghost in and head past Southwood from close range. Opi Edwards was immediately introduced for McCootie as each side searched for a winner with the rain starting to fall upon the TerraPura Ground.
Liam Gordon blazed over following good work by Cain, and Watkins followed suit when Dieng’s punched clearance bounced awkwardly in front of the Cornishman, who couldn’t build on his two goals in this fixture last season. There was nearly late drama when Smith found himself unmarked from Anthony Straker’s cross, but unselfishly squared for Jarvis, whose shot was superbly blocked by Lyons-Foster. This, and his header, earned his side a point they deserved, and left Gill scratching his head searching for the winning mentality desperately needed as, already, the season threatens to peter out before Christmas..
City’s Line Up: Southwood, Rigg, Straker (c), Smith, Batten, Ball, McCootie (Edwards 82), Artus, Morgan, Lucas (Jarvis 64), Watkins. Subs not used: Richards, Murphy, Forster.
Scorers: City – Lucas (42 pen); Whitehawk: Lyons-Foster (82)
City Bookings: Rigg (32), McCootie (53)
Officials: L Brennan, R Ablitt, A Harris