Bath City (0) 0 Chelmsford City (0) 1 – Tuesday 1 November 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Harry Lodovica’s shot on the turn was enough to overcome Bath City in foul conditions on Tuesday night.
The big forward fired past Ryan Clarke from 16 yards to earn a third straight win for Chelmsford over the Romans, their best sequence of results against the club for 50 years.
Dan Hayfield came closest to levelling in stoppage time when his low free-kick was superbly held by Ovie Ejeheri.
Despite their efforts it was back-to-back defeats for Jerry Gill’s men for the first time since February-March as they failed to score for the second time in four days.
In a bid to freshen up the squad during a gruelling schedule, the City manager made five changes which included Dan Greenslade’s return from a hamstring injury.
The left-back as ideally placed to knock Tom Blackwell’s hanging cross behind for a corner with Lodovica and Simeon Jackson looking to pounce at the back post.
While City showed some promise going forward early, they lacked any meaningful penetration to break down the best defensive record in the division with just nine conceded in 14 games and 10 clean sheets in all competitions before arriving at Twerton Park.
Blackwell headed safely into Ryan Clarke’s arms from Jazzi Barnum-Bobb’s delivery from deep as the two sides largely cancelled each other out in an uneventful first half.
Chelmsford worryingly lost Ade Oluwo to injury ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup 1st Round tie at Barnet, with the centre-back unable to return after the break, leaving Cameron James to take his place.
Cody Cooke warmed Ejeheri’s gloves two minutes after the restart. Having benefited from a comical slip by the otherwise dominant Dave Winfield, City’s leading scorer found space but his powerful effort from 25 yards was too close to the stopper on loan from Arsenal.
Greenslade tried his luck just shy of the hour with a raking drive from distance but again Ejeheri gobbled it up with minimum fuss.
Chelmsford enjoyed a good spell of possession midway through the half with Blackwell’s cross hit into the ground by Lodovica with the ball bouncing onto the face of the bar in slo-motion before Joe Raynes hammered it clear.
Jordan Dyer’s swivel and shot rolled harmlessly wide but when the visitors were gifted a similar opening on 68 minutes, they made it count.
James’ free-kick was headed inside by Winfield near the corner of the penalty area. Louis Dunne easily dispossessed Tom Smith and nudged inside to Lodovica, who had room to turn and plant an effort low into the bottom left corner with finesse to give Clarke no chance. Having won 12 from 12 scoring first all season, it gave Bath a tough ask to recover.
Clarke showed remarkable agility to deny Charlie Ruff from close range. The midfielder looked certain to volley home Eduino Vaz’s chipped ball for his fifth goal in six games, but the goalkeeping coach threw himself in the way.
Jack Batten headed off target from substitute Luke Spokes’ delivery as the Romans enjoyed enough possession but lacked a telling delivery with crosses wasteful and goalkeeper Ejeheri a dominant presence for the Clarets.
He was needed in added time. Scott Wilson was upended by Barnum-Bobb on the edge of the box and Dan Hayfield eyed up the free-kick. He sneakily opted to go low under the jumping wall, but Ejeheri was alert to smother with Kieran Parselle ready to react to any spillage.
The final whistle went soon after as City’s players trooped off in the driving rain to dry off and try and regroup ahead of Saturday’s trip to Tonbridge Angels.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Batten, Parselle (c), Cooke, Smith (Spokes 69), Mannings (Hayfield 68), Wilson, Morton (Frear 84). Subs not used: Lines, Jones.
Scorers: City – none; Chelmsford – Ludovica (67)
City Bookings: Morton (20)
Officials: L Corbett, G Pearce, D Pilling