Bath City (0) 0 Wealdstone (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 7 December 2019 – Twerton Park
Report by Kelston Koppite
Bath City claimed a hard earned point from a tough encounter with National League South table toppers Wealdstone at Twerton Park. Whilst goalmouth action was at a premium, both sides played some excellent passing football in a keenly and closely contested match that was always interesting for the 1,203 in attendance.
Wealdstone had the first effort at goal in the 2nd minute when, following a partially cleared corner, William Edjenguele’s overhead kick looped just over Ryan Clarke’s crossbar.
The game quickly settled into a battle for midfield supremacy that remained largely unresolved throughout. Both sides looked to push forward whenever possible, but neither could find the necessary cutting edge to break down the respective well drilled defences. Andy Watkins did well to wrestle possession from Jack Jebb on the edge of the visitors’ box in the 22nd minute, but his shot was comfortably saved low down by Stone’s stopper Harvey Isted.
Noah Chilvers fired high and wide from 20 yards on 25 minutes, but was much closer three minutes later when he cut inside before seeing his firm drive pass narrowly over the angle of post and crossbar. The same player then struck a free-kick well wide of the target from just outside the Wealdstone penalty area.
The away side enjoyed the better of the latter stages of the half, and came close to opening the scoring on 44 minutes. Jacob Mendy latched on to a loose ball on the edge of the City area, and his first time low shot brought an excellent diving save from the alert Clarke at the foot of his post.
The second period continued much in the same fashion, with the majority of the game being contested in the midfield areas. There was a scare for the home faithful in the 49th minute when a right wing cross from former Cityman Michee Efete hit the outside of Clarke’s near post, but the ball rebounded to safety.
Alex Hartridge tried his luck from distance on 52 minutes, but his shot curled comfortably wide of Isted’s near post. At the other end, Billy Clifford’s free kick from a useful position hit the City defensive wall and looped high over Clarke’s bar.
Mendy found space on the right of Bath box in the 56th minute, but his angled shot was wide of the far post. The diving Clarke did not appear to touch the ball but the referee , Mr. Joel Mannix, awarded a corner kick, much to the chagrin of the home players and supporters.
Ryan Brunt’s effort from inside the Wealdstone area was straight at Isted. Tom Smith then broke down the left on 73 minute and passed inside to Adam Mann, but his shot was also directed straight at the keeper. Two minutes later, a ball into the danger zone fell to Mann, only for his volleyed effort to drift narrowly over Isted’s crossbar.
Louis Britton and Ross Stearn replaced Brunt and Watkins respectively in the 76th minute as Jerry Gill looked to inject some fresh legs, with Wealdstone now looking increasingly satisfied to take a point.
With seven minutes left on the clock, a free kick from the right just eluded Britton in front of goal, but City were unable to exert any real pressure on the Wealdstone defence. The final chance arrived three minutes into stoppage time when Chilvers cut into the box from the left, but his eventual angled shot flew well wide of Isted’s far post.
This was a highly competitive game with the two teams largely cancelling each other out. Despite the very few goalscoring opportunities, the quality of football played and organisation of both sides made this a fine advert for the National League South. There is no doubt that a draw was a fair outcome but, given that they were the away from home, Wealdstone will probably be slightly happier with the outcome than their hosts. From this performance it is not difficult to see why Wealdstone sit at the summit of the league table with their strength and pace throughout the team, Edjenguele being particularly impressive at the back, and it is a great credit to City that they matched their opponents all over the pitch. Great heart can be taken from this performance and thoughts now turn to the FA Trophy game at Twerton next Saturday when the visitors will be either Paulton Rovers or Sholing.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, T Smith, Bowry, Mann, Watkins (Stearn 77), Chilvers, Brunt (Britton 77), Ball, Richards, Hartridge. Subs not used: Riley-Lowe, Wiles-Richards, Kensdale.
City Bookings: Richards (39)
Officials: J Mannix, S Kane, S Annis