Bath City (0) 1 Concord Rangers (0) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 8 December 2018 – Twerton Park
Bath City’s return to action after 13 days on the sidelines ended with a hard-fought home point against in-form Concord Rangers, who bagged a late leveller. Having battled back from spending the opening 20 minutes on the ropes, the Romans plundered the lead early in the first period via Sean Rigg. But Sam Blackman hauled fourth-placed Concord even in the final ten minutes. It had been a tough start for City as they struggled to put together any sustained periods of possession, not helped by playing into a howling wind and rain. Ryan Clarke’s goal-kicks were continually held up in the gale, barely making it out of the final third to provide Concord ample opportunity to get straight back on the front foot. They struck the woodwork through a rasping Alex Wall strike – helped by the wind – drew a good stop out of Clarke and saw one lob cleared off the line by Joe Raynes. Yet City held on to keep the game level and improved as the half wore on. The second period they came out much better and were soon ahead. Ross Stearn got free on the left and crossed from the byline, where Adam Mann recovered from a slip to lay the ball back for Rigg to slot in. The teams traded blows but it was Concord that eventually levelled through Blackman.
The game began with Mann thwacking a first-minute free-kick into the wall, before Concord set about taking control. Their first chance arrived with Liam Nash shooting high from a corner won instantly on the counter, Danny Green then whipping a free-kick comfortably wide. Romans keeper Clarke watched on helplessly when Wall – a physical thorn in the defence’s side all afternoon – took aim from 30 yards out and struck the apex of post and bar. The Beachboys then had a goal chalked off for offside as they continued to run the show. That domination was broken up when Tom Smith bounced a shot awkwardly into the arms of Sam Beasant, whose handling would later come under question. Green was next to try his luck for Rangers, charging on to the ball after City had repelled a free-kick and hammering a shot that Clarke parried away. Having been on the back foot for virtually all of the first 17 minutes, the Romans began to get into the contest themselves. Stearn proved a tricky customer in the deep left corner when the ball found him. Jack Batten had the ball in the net, but the referee’s whistle had by that point already blown for a foul by Robbie Cundy. Blackman skewed a flicked effort wide, having been found free by a cross, preceding the hosts’ best spell. They pieced together four corners in a row, turning the screw each time. Cundy threatened to get on to the first which Concord just knocked to safety. Beasant also spilled one flag-kick and struggled with any high balls that came his way, Stearn putting that hypothesis further to the test with a dipping long-rang dig the keeper just held on to. Similarly Rigg tried his luck at the edge of the box, but failed to get a clean contact on the strike, which Beasant picked up at his feet. At the other end Wall, back to goal, was put under enough pressure by Michee Efete to hook off target. And the half ended with a home penalty shout. Skipper Anthony Straker picked up the ball on halfway and progressed into the Concord box, but the referee deemed Lee Minshull’s challenge a fair one.
Within minutes of the restart the tables turned when Rigg kept his cool to slot home Mann’s knockback and hand City the lead.
In an instant the Romans required Clarke to maintain that advantage, as his fingertips and reflexes tipped a Jack Midson header wide of the far post. Another header, at the other end from Cundy, missed the target as the dominating centre-half couldn’t get over a left-wing free-kick. Blackman had the same problem for Concord, only able to nudge a good cross on to the back post where Wall failed to clear as another potential opportunity went begging. Nash also found the Bristol End terraces with a free-kick that had plenty of curve and power, but nowhere near enough accuracy. As the second period appeared to be stagnating, Concord levelled with eight minutes to go. An innocuous-looking low ball into the box found a way through a batch of bodies and was touched into the bottom corner by Blackman. Both sides probed for a winner during the closing stages, with neither able to carve out anything like a clear-cut chance. For Rangers, Midson diverted a cut-back, sent well behind him, wide of the mark. And in the dying seconds Stearn won a free-kick on the left for City, only to bend his delivery over everyone in the box and behind to end the game.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Efete, Straker (c), Cundy, Batten, Artus, Stearn, Rigg (Brunt 72), Mann ( Baghdadi 87), Ryanes, Smith. Subs not used: Amankwaah, Moore, Wiles-Richards.
Scorers: City – Rigg (48); Concord – Blackman (82)
City Bookings: Artus (22), Batten (63), Mann (76)
Officials: P Staynings, T Holden, T Ellsmore