Bath City (0) 0 Dulwich Hamlet (0) 0 – Saturday 2 April 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report to by Mark Stillman.
Bath City secured a morale-boosting draw with play-off chasing Dulwich Hamlet despite playing 76 minutes with 10 men.
The Romans lost Jack Batten to a first career red card for a professional foul but stood firm against the visitors, who had netted seven in their previous two outings against Jerry Gill’s men.
Ryan Clarke’s first half save from Danny Mills was his most serious test, as the experienced glovesman was superbly protected by a five-man defence.
Alex Fletcher and Cody Cooke had chances to nick the win in added time but with other results at the bottom going in City’s favour, they were happy to settle for a point.
Gill was thrown into a quandary heading into the match with Jordan Dyer picking up a hamstring injury which almost certainly ends the Exeter loanee’s spell at Twerton Park.
It meant a recall for Dan Ball and a reshuffle to a five-man defence in a bid to snuff out any danger from the visitors, with the returning Ben Seymour employed as a lone striker.
Despite the defensive layout it was City who produced the first significant effort on goal on 11 minutes when Ryan Jones’ rasping try from 25 yards was smartly tipped over by Charlie Grainger.
Three minutes later it looked like the Romans could be in for a long afternoon. Jones’ heavy pass to Batten was miscontrolled by the centre-back and as Ibra Sekajja robbed him 30 yards from goal, the defender unceremoniously hauled him down leaving referee Ben Wyatt no choice but to dismiss him for deliberately denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Joe Raynes was pushed back into defence as the hosts looked to soak up inevitable large spells of possession for Hamlet and try to hit them on the counter.
Clarke had to be at his best to deny Mills on 20 minutes. The big striker had scored in his previous three visits to Twerton and had notched an impressive 11 against the club, but having controlled Ronnie Vint’s floated ball into his path, the front man was denied by Clarke’s bravery who spread himself and parried his stinging shot from eight yards.
Raynes was perfectly placed to clear Mills’ pull-back and prevent Chike Kandi a tap-in before Gio McGregor’s terrific half volley from 20 yards dipped just over Clarke’s bar with the keeper beaten.
The second half began in similar vein with Dulwich enjoying a lot of the ball but severely lacking penetration, an attribute Jones delivered for City when he ran 50 yards at the visiting defence before a superb Tyrone Sterling intervention in the box prevented further progress.
Clarke calmly tipped Mills’ downward header over from McGregor’s corner on the hour and was grateful to see a similar effort bounce wide sixty seconds later with the same Dulwich players combining.
City’s longest-serving player Ball, a defensive rock throughout, earned one of the loudest applauses of the day when his marauding run out of defence saw his through ball find substitute Dave Sims-Burgess in an offside position, but the centre-back’s efforts warmed the hearts of the chilly Twerton faithful.
Sims-Burgess’ thumping header from Elliott Frear’s corner was blocked by the fortunate Kandi when Grainger looked well beaten as surprisingly it was Bath who looked fresher in the closing stages despite playing most of the contest a man down. Indeed they spurned two presentable openings to steal a victory which would have sent a large percentage of the 1200-strong crowd into raptures.
Cooke led a counter and spotted Fletcher in room to his right. Having fed the attacker through, Fletcher cut inside of Sterling but shot too close to Grainger who parried to safety.
The excellent Jones created the final chance of the game as his dinked ball left Cooke alone with Grainger to beat, but City’s leading scorer took a heavy touch and the goalkeeper bravely dived at his feet and did enough to deflect the ball away.
Referee Wyatt blew his final whistle soon after another typically brave defensive act, this time from Jones, as the reaction of the players and crowd told the story – it felt more like a point gained than two lost.
It’s a draw which leaves Gill’s men four points off the only relegation spot in the division and similar determination in their remaining six contests should preserve their National League South status for an eleventh season.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Delaney, Batten, Fletcher, Holness, Cooke, Frear, Ball, Seymour (Sims-Burgess 78), R Jones. Subs not used: Fuller, Richards, E Jones, Smith.
Scorers: City – none; Dulwich – none
City Bookings: Holness (13)
City Dismissals: Batten (15)
Officials: B Wyatt, M Bloor, G Kornasiewicz