Bath City (0) 0 Welling United (1) 2 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 29 September 2018 – Twerton Park
Bath City’s four-game home winning streak was halted by a goal in each half from fellow high flyers Welling United. Just as the Romans had kept Banbury United’s threats at bay in the FA Cup last week, so Welling kept City at arm’s length for much of the contest. The Wings were by no means a dominant force, but set out to stymie the home side and grabbed the two all-important goals at the other end. Gavin McCallum produced a smart finish to beat Ryan Clarke for the opener, with Danny Mills netting the second nine minutes from time, albeit after John Mills had passed up a golden chance to level moments earlier.
The game had been played out in front of a bumper crowd of 1,585, boosted by the Community Day festivies, for the highest home league attendance since a National League clash with Grimsby Town attracted 1,808 to Twerton Park in 2011. Welling were on the front foot from the get-go and had City scrambling immediately. Nassim L’Ghoul gave an early insight into his direct, tricky running as he teased Joe Raynes and forced a save from Clarke’s knees, an important clearance preventing any chance of a rebound goal. After six minutes of Wings domination, the game evened out with City getting their own spells of possession. Welling sat deep, probing out to apply pressure on the man in possession and ward off any Romans threats. There was also a long-range effort from visiting Craig Braham-Barrett that was deflected over off Adam Mann. A long-range drive from Raynes was the first attempt of the day for City. The right-back’s effort was well-struck but held as Welling stopper Dan Wilks dropped to his left. The opening goal arrived on 26 minutes, when McCallum raced on to a flick-on ahead of Clarke and deftly lifted the ball over the home custodian’s shoulder and just over the line. Opportunities to make waves in the final third were few for City, though they did have a handful of opportunities from deeper positions. Matt Richards, in the starting line-up for the first time this season, swung a teasing free-kick to the back post, but could not find a black and white shirt. The veteran midfielder then got his feet in a muddle and gave up possession to L’Ghoul. The Welling winger needed no invitation to speed downfield, sparking a move that ended with McCallum shooting into the side netting. Another Richards free-kick was met by a City head, but Jack Batten’s effort was not wide enough to beat Wilks. In a bright close to the first period, Sean Rigg found Ross Stearn just inside of the box on the left, his scooped attempt no trouble for Wilks to hold. The Romans then had an opportunity to break up the middle from a Welling corner. Tom Smith, making his first start since returning to the club on loan, played Mann on for a lung-busting run into the box before firing over.
City introduced John Mills for Richards at the break and he was presented with an immediate shooting chance. The hosts twice won possession at the edge of the Welling box but neither Rigg nor Mills, who took a number of touches trying to create a clear opening, could get shots on goal. Rigg’s afternoon would end early through injury. The midfielder gamely tried to carry on from taking a boot to the calf from Arnaud Mendy, but was eventually replaced by Kevin Amankwaah,pushing Raynes into central midfield. Jack Jebb had a shot blocked by Robbie Cundy, though it was the Romans that boasted much of the possession as the game wore on. Getting through the steadfast, hard-pressing Welling defence, however, proved more difficult. There were still opportunities, with Stearn hooking over the top with a first-time effort after Mann had shown excellent control, peeled inside and laid off the ball. L’Ghoul was presented with a shooting chance he blazed over after Amankwaah had lost possession in his own half for Welling. At the other end, Stearn cut inside his man and fired into the body of Wilks from a tight angle to earn a corner. Though his set-piece couldn’t beat the first defender, City maintined possession and Raynes eventually saw a shot blocked. A frantic spell of play should have seen Jerry Gill’s men level. Mills was played in behind by a perfect through ball, only to dally and delay his shot, which allowed a defender to get back and make a sliding tackle. The ball still fell for both Stearn and Mills again, who had efforts saved and blocked in the ensuing scramble. And almost immediately the hosts were punished as Danny Mills jabbed in Welling’s second, as he fended off Batten’s challenge when a Jebb cross came in from the left and popped up kindly. Still City would not give up, Mann thumping a shot over the top in one of a number of attacks, though a last-minute break might have given Welling a third but for Mills shooting straight into Clarke’s hands.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Straker (c), Richards (Mills HT), Batten, Rigg (Amankwaah 61), Brunt, Stearn, Mann, Cundy, Raynes, Smith. Subs not used: Hodges, Artus, Ball.
Scorers: City – none; Welling – McCallum (26), Mills (81)
City Bookings: Amankwaah (85)
Officials: R Gardner, T Burley, S Littlefair