Bath City (0) 0 Dartford (0) 0 – Saturday 27 November 2021 – FA Trophy 2nd Round – Twerton Park
(City lost 5-3 on penalties)
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Bath City suffered penalty shoot-out disappointment as they exited the FA Trophy at the first hurdle.
Neither side could find a breakthrough at a bitterly cold Twerton Park but Dartford had no such issue from the spot afterwards, converting all five while Alex Fletcher had his effort saved by Dan Wilks.
City were more than a match for the National League South leaders, hitting the woodwork three times.
Darts’ Tyrique Hyde also rattled the goalframe late on when he should have scored, but he didn’t have to wait long to be the hero, stroking in the winning penalty to earn the Kent outfit an away tie at Isthmian League strugglers Cray Wanderers.
A strong wind saw Jerry Gill’s men elect to shoot down the slope in the first half, and they attempted to take advantage of the conditions from the kick-off when Jordan Dyer tried his luck from 50 yards, warming Wilks’ gloves inside five seconds.
Wilks had to be alert on nine minutes when Joe Raynes’ corner was flicked on by Dyer to Mo Touray, whose close range header was batted away by the Darts’ stopper.
Elliott Frear wasted a good opening to break the deadlock. Touray’s lay-off was perfect for the onrushing winger, but he shot too close to Wilks who spread himself well.
A superb tackle by Jack Batten prevented Hyde’s run through on goal and start an opening for the Romans. Dyer’s hooked ball over the top found Cooke, who jinked past Josh Clarke to the byline and rolled across to Fletcher who side-footed against the post from three yards when it looked easier to score.
Raynes’ 30-yarder skimmed the bar as the visitors headed into half-time the happier to still be level.
The second half was a frantic affair with neither side able to maintain possession though Dartford shored up, aided by the conditions in their favour. Captain Tom Bonner epitomised their determination by playing on after suffering a whack to the nose from Fletcher in the first half, requiring two changes of shirt.
At one stage he appeared to refuse to be replaced, meaning Steve King instead withdrew fellow centre-back Ronnie Vint for winger Luke Wanadio. Dan Roberts also came on for Jake Robinson and the changes gave the Darts more impetus in a madcap final 10 minutes.
Hyde wasted a glorious opportunity on 83 minutes. Ade Azeez got the better of Zak Delaney and his chipped cross from the byline was missed by Ryan Clarke, but he was relieved as Hyde volleyed against the face of the post from three yards.
Wanadio’s piledriver was well tipped over by Clarke before it looked like City had stunned the Kent outfit with four minutes remaining.
Cooke found room on the right and his centre was met first time by substitute Tom Smith, but the ball thumped against the underside of the bar and into Wilks’ grateful grasp with some appealing that it had crossed the line.
With replays scrapped from the competition, a level score meant straight to penalties with the omens against Bath, having lost nine of their previous 11 shoot-outs in their history, whereas Dartford progressed via the method in the same stage of the FA Trophy last season against Slough.
While City managed to convert three of theirs from Cooke, Eddie Jones and Frear, Dartford were faultless with Azeez, Kieran Murtagh, Dan Roberts, Noor Husin and Hyde barely batting an eyelid. Wilks’ save from Fletcher, low to his left, in City’s second penalty proved enough for the away side.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Delaney, Batten, Wood, Fletcher, Cooke, Frear, Jones, Dyer, Touray (Smith 69). Subs not used: Holness, Fuller, Mehew, James.
Scorers: City – none; Dartford – none
City Bookings: none
Officials: A Humphries, H Scott, T Holden