Bath City (0) 1 Dorking Wanderers (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 26 October 2019 – Twerton Park
Report by Kelston Koppite
A solitary goal by Adam Mann early in the second half was sufficient for Bath City to edge past the challenge of Dorking Wanderers at a wet and breezy Twerton Park. The soggy underfoot surface made attractive football difficult, but the contest was always highly competitive.
The opening stages were largely uneventful with neither side able to pose a real threat up front, although referee Mr. Matthew Buonassisi must take credit for allowing the game to flow as much as possible in the conditions. With the elements largely in their favour, Dorking carved out the first chance in the 17th minute when Jack Barham was put through by Matthew Briggs, only for home keeper Ryan Clarke to produce an excellent blocking save to repel the former’s shot. A minute later Isaac Philpot’s cross from the right was met by Jason Prior, but his glancing header was pushed away by the diving Clarke.
City were struggling to find any cohesion in their play, but Wanderers goalkeeper Slavomir Huk was called into action to save a low shot from Noah Chilvers on 23 minutes. However, it was the visitors who continued to hold the upper hand and should have taken the lead after 27 minutes. A cross into the City box was squared back across goal by Prior into the path of Jake Gallagher, who looked destined to score but was denied at point blank range by another outstanding save from Clarke.
As Dorking continued to push forward James McShane sliced an angled shot well wide of the far post and, on 36 minutes, Edward Harris headed narrowly over Clarke’s crossbar following a corner kick.
The hosts responded with a 38th minute attack down the right flank which concluded with an inviting cross from Sam Pearson, but it just eluded the sliding lunge of Connor Riley-Lowe at the far post.
As half time approached another effort from Barham just cleared Clarke’s crossbar and, at the other end, Pearson’s half volley from 20 yards was well wide of the target.
With the keen breeze now behind their backs, Bath gained a greater share of possession at the beginning of the second period and they took the lead on 54 minutes following the best move of the match. Andy Watkins’ neat ball eventually released Mann through on goal, and he calmly found the corner of the net beyond the advancing Huk.
Wanderers continued to go forward in search of reward but the home defence was holding strong, and City looked the more likely to add to the scoreline. Tom Smith fired high and wide from inside the area in the 68th minute before Tom Richards replaced Watkins. Coincidently, Dorking brought on a substitute also named Tom Richards in the same minute.
The home side came desperately close to extending their lead in the 72nd minute when a free kick into the box was headed on, and Dan Bowry was unlucky to see his flicked effort strike the crossbar. Five minutes later Pearson was released down the left, cut inside the box, but his shot drifted wide of the far post.
Ross Stearn came on from Pearson before Mann turned neatly on the edge of the Dorking area, only to shoot over the bar.
Ryan Brunt was introduced at the expense of Tom Smith as the game entered 5 minutes of stoppage time during which Stearn fired over the crossbar from outside the area. However, their was one more scare for the hosts which arrived in the 93rd minute. Prior struck a sweet low shot from 18 yards that drew a fine smothering save from Clarke who did particularly well to hold on to the ball under pressure with a cluster of Wanderer’s players waiting to pounce.
The final whistle sparked a generous ovation from the terraces in appreciation for a battling performance by the hosts against a strong and physical side. There was no doubt that Dorking had the better of the first half but, other than Clarke’s late save, they failed to unduly trouble the home defence after the interval. Certainly, the confidence levels of Jerry Gill’s men will be increasing following two hard fought victories, and they will look to build on this when they travel to Dulwich Hamlet next Saturday.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Riley-Lowe, T Smith (Brunt 90), Bowry, Artus, Mann, Watkins (Richards 68), Chilvers, Pearson (Stearn 82), Hartridge. Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Simpson.
Scorers: City – Mann (55); Dorking – none
City Bookings: none
Officials: M Buonassisi, L Scott, M Gospel