Bath City (0) 0 Havant & Waterlooville (1) 3 – FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round – Saturday 24 October 2020 – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman
Bath City crashed out of the FA Cup with a whimper as league rivals Havant & Waterlooville cruised to a resounding success at Twerton Park. Superb finishes from Tommy Wright and Roarie Deacon put the Hawks firmly in control and Theo Widdrington made victory sweeter with the last kick of the game to give the scoreline a fairer look. City competed well in the first half with Tom Smith and Lucas Tomlinson forcing Ross Worner into decent saves, but after the break they were lacklustre against one of the division’s favourites for the title. It means the Romans have failed to reach the first round in nine successive seasons, losing five times in the final qualifying round.
Jerry Gill opted for an attacking formation, bringing in Freddie Grant and Tom Richards for Dan Ball and Jason Pope. Instead it was Havant, late arrivals despite staying overnight in Bristol, who flew out of the blocks with Callum Evans’ vital interception preventing Joe Iaciofano. Smith forced Worner into a full-stretch save with a 25-yarder that nearly crept into the bottom corner as last season’s leading marksman hunted for his first goal of this campaign. Wright had more joy at the other end with a shot from distance. Collecting the ball from Josh Taylor, the former Sutton forward lashed home into the top corner from 20 yards to give Clarke no chance. City reacted positively as Tomlinson’s jinking run concluded with a stinging drive gloved away by Worner, and Smith’s 30-yard strike whistled wide. Despite these openings, Gill’s men weren’t at their fluent best and Havant always appeared in control, with Taylor fizzing off target before half-time.
Paul Doswell’s side upped the ante after the break forcing Gill into a tactical reshuffle with Ball and Donovan Wilson on for Tomlinson and Grant. It didn’t have the desired effect as the visitors deservedly doubled their lead on 58 minutes when Tom Richards was dispossessed by Billy Clifford with the loose ball falling to Deacon 20 yards out, whose smart drive flew inside Clarke’s right post. Wilson looked bright on his first outing for the club, forcing Craig Robson into a courageous block when substitute Lloyd James played it back to the forward from the byline. James hooked narrowly off target from the resulting corner. Havant’s determined backline was further illustrated with four minutes left when Freddie Hinds’ pull-back from the byline found Richards, but he struggled to get the ball under control and towering centre-back Moussa Diarra was able to smuggle it behind for a corner with Worner stranded. Smith’s header from Evans’ cross was brilliantly turned away by Worner in added time as Havant, who conceded twice in stoppage time at home to Maidstone two weeks ago to draw 2-2, survived a few scares while remaining a threat in attack. Wright failed to connect with Bedsente Gomis’ low ball on the break but they did clinch it with the final kick of the game as Ball’s attempted clearance ricocheted perfectly into Widdrington’s path, and the substitute accepted the gift, rifling into the top corner from just inside the penalty area to leave Clarke helpless.
The success ended Havant’s six-year wait of an appearance in the first round and they were worthy winners at a damp Twerton Park. Having lost their last two, City return to Slough Town next week, a venue they recorded their last win, and will hope for a strong reaction to get their National League South campaign back on track.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Grant (Ball 53), Smith, Batten, Evans, Harley (James 62), Richards, Conway, Leak, Hinds, Tomlinson (Wilson 53). Subs not used: Welsh, Pope, Watts.
Scorers: City – none; Havant – Wright (22), Deacon (58), Widdrington (90+3)
City Bookings: Evans (48)
Officials: R Watkins, J Clench, G Dunn