Bath City (0) 1 Hampton & Richmond Borough (1) 3 – Tuesday 16 November 2021 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match report by Mark Stillman.
Jerry Gill warned his Bath City players to not slip into bad habits after they suffered a ninth defeat in 11 league games.
The Romans found themselves two goals down from Hampton’s Nico Muir and Jake Gray, before a goal initially credited to Jordan Dyer set up a frantic finale.
Substitute Jorome Slew killed off any hopes of rescuing a point by slotting home a third for Gary McCann’s men.
“If I have a go-to it’ll be chocolate biscuits,” said Gill afterwards. “If I feel a bit down and depressed about my football I’ll go and comfort eat but it won’t do me any good as it makes me feel sluggish and c**p, so I have to run it off the next day. What I mean is the players shouldn’t slip into any bad habits, stick to the process and everything they do well – it will turn. We’re in a difficult moment and we’ll all have to stick together as staff, players and supporters. They’ll get there. I’ve had so many setbacks in my career, all I know is to roll my sleeves up and get on with it.”
City started slowly and were fortunate to not fall behind with Zak Delaney’s clearance from Ryan Gondoh’s cross came off his own goal post and behind.
Jayden Harris kept his balance superbly before providing a through ball to Muir, but a combination of Callum Wood and Clarke prevented the forward breaking the deadlock.
Having weathered the early storm, the hosts improved with Joe Raynes once again impressing. His 20-yarder was tipped over by Alan Julian but a goal-kick was awarded to the dismay of the City players.
Exquisite footwork from the Bathonian soon after created an opening for Elliott Frear whose shot across goal was superbly touched behind thanks to Julian’s instinctive reaction save. The unmarked Fletcher headed Frear’s follow-up cross from the blocked corner wide when he should have tested Julian.
It was positive signs but undone with goals for Hampton either side of the half-time interval. The opener saw Delaney outnumbered at the back, giving Tyrell Miller-Rodney room to drill across for Muir to tap home from three yards.
Hampton’s second arrived after Ryan Clarke fumbled Ryan Gondoh’s strike from distance, allowing Gray to gleefully tap home.
“After a slow start we found some lovely pockets of space and created chances,” said Gill. “But then they caught us on an overload and when it’s squared across the box it’s only one thing against us at the moment – a goal. We tried to lift them at half-time because their confidence is suffering – you have to try and help them out. It’s no good lambasting them. They don’t deserve it. The second goal was three mistakes really, starting from a throw-in. We had the tactics board out at half-time about throws as we were being left two-on-one. We didn’t clear one properly, didn’t charge down the shot and Ryan has made an uncharacteristic error in spilling it straight to their player.”
Clarke atoned for his error by parrying Muir’s stinging drive on 72 minutes, before he was nearly caught four minutes later as Gray charged down his backpass only to see the ball trickle agonisingly away from goal with Jack Batten showing extraordinary composure in side-stepping away from danger near the goalline and clearing.
It sparked life into the Romans as Cooke glanced Wood’s cross wide and saw his downward header bounce back off the crossbar from Frear’s cross.
They eventually made the breakthrough when Dyer’s looping header from Frear’s delivery appeared to already cross the line with Cooke and Fletcher trying to claim a final touch.
“We had a right old charge after their second goal so I’ve got to credit my boys for that,” said Gill. “We were going for it, chucking bodies forward, we had enough opportunities in the game but they caught us on the counter.
The third was a near replica of the first as Gray and Miller-Rodney linked up down the right before the latter’s low cross was touched home by substitute Slew to seal the Beavers’ win.
“The performance hasn’t warranted that result,” said Gill. “They showed pride in the shirt, pride in themselves which is what I asked for before the game. I think the fans saw that – they clapped us off. There was some unsavoury stuff at Dulwich which should never go on because everyone is trying to do the right thing for the Football Club. The fans were still singing with 5-10 minutes to go which makes me proud to be the Bath City manager. A big thank you to them.”
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Delaney (Batten 74), Wood, Fletcher, Smith, Frear, Jones, Richards, Owers (Cooke 68), Dyer. Subs not used: Holness, James, Mehew.
Scorers: City – Dyer (81); Hampton – Muir (38), Gray (53), Slew (86)
City Bookings: Smith (65)
Officials: G Rollason, R Saward, J Welsh