Bath City (0) 1 Boreham Wood (0) 0 – Saturday 9 December 2023 – FA Trophy 3rd Round – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Dan Hayfield steered Bath City into the fourth round of the FA Trophy at the expense of National League Boreham Wood.
The Romans midfielder notched his fourth of the season to earn a place in the last 32.
It was no less than City deserved as their second half dominance finally paid off.
A second successive 1-0 win in the competition earned them an extra £4,500 in prize money with the next round taking place on the weekend of 13 January.
Wood had only failed to score in one of their previous 17 matches heading to Twerton, that at EFL-bound Chesterfield, and they were gifted a chance early when Joe Raynes scuffed Erico Sousa’s cross straight to Tom Whelan, but the midfielder tamely shot straight at Will Buse from 10 yards.
Sousa wasted a decent opening midway through the half. After Angelo Balanta and Tyrone Marsh had got in each other’s way, the wing-back was left free in the box but failed to significantly test Buse who batted behind for a corner.
City’s best chance of the opening 45 arrived to Jordan Thomas. Raynes’ ball over the top saw the winger escape but under pressure from Billy Sass-Davies he shot too close to Nathan Ashmore in the visiting goal.
It was the final excitement of a bitty first half with little flow, a wind strongly in Wood’s favour doing the Romans few favours but after the break Jerry Gill’s side appeared to have more energy against their full-time opponents and gave them scares aplenty.
Inside two minutes of the restart Ewan Clark saw his near post cross headed away by Sass-Davies straight onto the boot of Luke Russe, whose first time volley from 20 yards was palmed away by Ashmore low to his right.
Lee Ndlovu shanked well wide after City failed to clear one of Chris Bush’s long throws. Balanta helped the ball back towards the forward who remained onside but his rushed finish was wayward.
Thomas’ driving run presented a half-chance for Cody Cooke, whose smart shot on the turn was met by timely reflexes from Ashmore to put behind.
A cynical lunge by Jack Payne on Thomas as he looked set to lead a counter led to a caution for the captain, plus some choice words from the City players and supporters on the Popular Side.
The impressive Tom Smith was replaced by top-scorer Scott Wilson as the hosts went for a front two to try and prevent taking the tie to a penalty shoot-out.
Clark’s cross into the middle was flicked on by Cooke to Thomas, who took a touch and drilled towards goal but again Ashmore proved too tough to beat, this time with his legs at his near post.
City had a strong penalty appeal turned down when Thomas’ driven corner bounced onto the arm of Ndlovu, but referee Aaron Jackson waved calls away.
Jordan Dyer’s timely interception on Sousa denied the Portuguese midfielder getting a shot away, typifying City’s excellent defensive display to frustrate the Hertfordshire outfit.
With such solidarity it relied on one chance being converted at the other end, and it eventually arrived in the 86th minute.
Greenslade made space on the left and sent a crossfield ball to Cooke inside the penalty area. The striker leapt high enough to nod it back towards the arriving Hayfield, who stole in to cleverly stroke past Ashmore from six yards.
Tempers flared in the final moments as Hayfield’s foul on Marsh saw a coming together of most players with the goalscorer going in the book alongside Marsh and Buse for their remonstrations.
City dealt with the resulting free-kick to clinch a place in the next round and allow their players to enjoy their Christmas Party a little bit more.
City’s Line-Up: Buse, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c), Clark, Hayfield, Cooke, Smith (Wilson 71), Thomas, Russe. Subs not used: Batten, Frear, Lines, Thorn.
Scorers: City – Hayfield (86); Boreham Wood – none
City Bookings: Hayfield (90+5), Buse (90+5)
Officials: A Jackson, C Barlow, J Tewson