Bath City (0) 0 Weston Super Mare (0) – Tuesday 13 February 2024 – Somerset Premier Cup Quarter Final – Twerton Park

Bath City (0) 0 Weston Super Mare (0) – Tuesday 13 February 2024 – Somerset Premier Cup Quarter Final – Twerton Park
(City lost 6-5 on penalties)

Match Report by Mark Stillman.

Bath City exited the Somerset Premier Cup on penalties to league rivals Weston-super-Mare.

The Seagulls progressed to the semi-finals following a goalless draw at Twerton Park, in front of City’s biggest home attendance for a tie in the competition since April 1987.

Josey Casa-Grande kept up his stunning start to his City career with a fifth clean sheet in five starts.

But he was powerless in the shootout as the visitors converted six from six, progressing through James Dodd’s kick after former Romans stopper Max Harris batted away Jack Batten’s kick in sudden death.

Holders City made five changes from Saturday’s win over Dartford, with academy defender Jacob Cook in for his first start.

The youngster showed confidence early on, outfoxing Jordan Bastin before his low cross just evaded the onrushing Scott Wilson.

Richard Chin got the better of Raphael Araoye down the City right and centred for Wilson, who cleverly span away from Lloyd Humphries before the defender got a telling block on his goalbound shot.

Weston, fresh from a weekend off with their match against Farnborough postponed, enjoyed similar possession to the Romans without posing as much attacking threat. Dayle Grubb floated a free-kick over from 25 yards in a rare scare for Casa-Grande who was otherwise brilliantly protected again.

Understandably the game was played at a slower pace than the two frantic league contests, with each side clearly keen to avoid injuries ahead of a hectic remaining league schedule.

Alex Fletcher, on his first game back at Twerton Park since leaving in October, was withdrawn at the break for the Seagulls as another former Roman in Rex Mannings took his place.

Grubb proved the biggest attacking threat for the visitors, with the talisman just two away from 150 goals for his side. He could have reached it in the early stages of the half, pulling wide from distance after collecting Jacob Cane’s pass inside, and flashing wide after getting the better of Cook.

Both teams showed patience in attack, with a cut-up surface making flowing football more difficult. The excellent Luke Russe saw his strike deflected over as Weston threw bodies in the way to keep their clean sheet intact.

Grubb set himself up for a half volley but looped over the bar before each team had their best openings in the final 12 minutes.

City substitutes Joe Raynes and Cody Cooke combined down the right with Raynes’ cross just too high for James Alabi, who leaped and nodded wide from six yards.

With five minutes remaining, Robbie Willmott’s teasing free-kick saw Humphries escaped unmarked, but he headed just off target with Casa-Grande beaten.

The on-loan stopper showed smart handling to gobble up Mannings’ shot from the corner of the box, denying the midfielder a further goal in the competition after four in a previous round over Hengrove.

With the deadlock failing to be breached, it led to a penalty shoot-out, with both teams having lost on spot-kicks in the FA Trophy exactly a month previous.

On that afternoon City missed two versus Coalville with Weston following suit at Gateshead. With the pressure not as intense, no nerves were shown as Cooke, Chris Lines, Ewan Clark, Dan Greenslade and James Alabi all converted for Bath, with Grubb, Humphries, Mannings, Jamie Soule and Keiran Thomas all replying for Weston, leading to sudden death.

Stand-in captain Batten opted for power but Harris repelled him superbly to his right to give Weston match point.

Dodd stepped up and with a similar effort his luck was in as Casa-Grande could only help it into the net, giving the visitors a spot in the last four and leaving City with just the league to concentrate on.

Att: 545

City’s Line-Up: Casa-Grande, Greenslade, Batten, Parselle (c) (Dyer 75), Frear (Clark 62), Lines, Chin, Cook (Raynes 61), Wilson (Cooke 62), Russe, Alabi. Subs not used: Hayfield, Turner, Harper.

Scorers: City – none; Weston – none

City Bookings: Chin (67), Clark (84)

Officials: C Scriven, T Jeffrey, K Rodd