Bath City (0) 0 Gosport Borough (0) 0 – FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round – Saturday 23 November 2019 – Twerton Park

Bath City (0) 0 Gosport Borough (0) 0 – FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round – Saturday 23 November 2019 – Twerton Park

Report by Kelston Koppite

Bath City and Gosport Borough will lock horns once again at Privett Park after this afternoon’s FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round tie ended in goalless stalemate. Whilst enjoying the majority of possession, City rarely troubled the Gosport goal and, in the end, were grateful to a goalline clearance by Alex Hartridge and a stunning save by keeper Ryan Clarke to secure a replay on Wednesday evening.

The hosts took early control of midfield possession and the first chance fell to Frankie Artus in the 7th minute, but the midfielder fired high over the crossbar and comfortably cleared the perimeter wall at the back of the Bristol End terrace.

An 8th minute flick on by Sam Argent found Chris Flood on the edge of the City area but, with Clarke off his line, he could only loop his shot tamely over the bar. At the other end, Tom Smith made good ground down the left flank before passing inside to Sam Pearson, who saw his low shot pass narrowly wide of the post.

The game then entered a period where City struggled to create any clear openings despite long spells of inter-passing, and which was punctuated only by a series of robust Borough challenges that went largely unpunished by referee Mr. Ross Martin.

A Noah Chilvers free kick from the right on 22 minutes was directed goalwards by Dan Bowry, but the ball flew straight into the arms of keeper Pat O’Flaherty. Gosport’s Marley Ridge tried his luck from distance in the 35th minute, but saw his scuffed shot roll wide of Clarke’s right hand post.

City’s best effort of the half came from the boot of Smith, whose 25-yard drive drew a fine diving save from O’Flaherty.

As the interval approached, Joe Raynes crossed from the right but Smith’s glancing header was directed wide of the far post.

The second period commenced in much the same vain and, on 49 minutes, Chilver’s shot from just outside the box clipped the outside of O’Flaherty’s post. Pearson then cut inside from the right and, with Smith lurking, O’Flaherty did well to claim his curling ball into the area.

Shortly after the hour mark, Raynes produced a surging run towards the Gosport goal which ended with his shot from 20 yards flying over the target. The visitors responded with a chance of their own in the 64th minute, when a cross from the left was met with a thumping header from Flood that passed narrowly wide of Clarke’s near post.

Andy Watkins and Ryan Brunt replaced Adam Mann and Smith respectively but, as the game entered the final twenty minutes, Gosport came more onto the game and looked dangerous on the break. They came close to opening the scoring in the 78th minute when Rory Williams crossed from the left into the path of the unmarked Argent, and Hartridge somehow managed to clear the ball off the goalline with Clarke beaten.

Watkins’ low shot in the final minute of normal time was gathered at the second attempt by O’Flaherty, but the most dramatic action of the afternoon occurred at the other end in the 92nd minute. Matt Paterson struck a ferocious shot from inside the box that appeared destined for the corner of the City net, but Clarke performed heroics by making a breathtaking one-handed save at full stretch to preserve parity.

This was a match where two distinctly contrasting styles of play were in evidence with possession dominated by the hosts, and a more physical approach preferred by the Hampshire side, who showed great determination and fortitude throughout. Indeed, the better chances came the way of the visitors late in proceedings, and City will be hugely thankful that they were given a second chance to progress in the competition that outstanding save by Clarke in stoppage time.

Att: 528

City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Riley-Lowe, T Smith (Brunt 76), Bowry, Artus, Mann (Watkins 66), Chilvers, Pearson, Hartridge, Kensdale. Subs not used: Stearn, Ball, Wiles-Richards, Simpson, Richards.

Scorers: none

City Bookings: none

Officials: R Martin, S Fudge, G Wentland