Bath City (0) 1 Maidstone United (0) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 12 October 2019 – Twerton Park
Ryan Brunt’s emphatic penalty earned Bath City a stoppage-time point on their long awaited return home against Maidstone United. The Romans were playing their first game at Twerton Park for almost a month and though they remain winless in National League South since the early days of September, the denouement of Saturday’s contest left the football-starved home faithful in jubilant mood. City had grown into an even affair over the second half, only to fall behind with 15 minutes to go when Maidstone’s Ryan Johnson nodded up and over Ryan Clarke at a corner. Yet they finished the afternoon on a high and the visitors feeling kicked in the teeth when Brunt converted from the spot in the sixth minute of added time. The burly frontman won the penalty too, controlling a high Ross Stearn ball facing away from goal and ending up recklessly barged in the back by Stones stopper Chris Lewington. Brunt left no doubt from 12 yards with a thumping spot kick into the top-left corner. Prior to those scores the contest had seen little in the way of goalmouth action with neither keeper overstretched, other than Lewington making a sharp save going back on himself from a deflected Tom Richards spear in the first period. Stearn also rattled an upright minutes before Maidstone struck for their opener, just as the Romans had been looking at their most threatening
The first half began slowly with the two sides working a feel for the match, although Matt McClure did badly miscue for the visitors after Dan Wishart rounded Joe Raynes and sent in a low cross early on. And midway through the half Maidstone put on a concerted spell of pressure. The Kent side threw set-pieces into the box and continually recycled possession to keep City penned back, though the hosts refused to crack. Brunt had the first of City’s presentable openings when a Connor Riley-Lowe free-kick fell his way past the far post, a defender in the way to block his effort on goal. Lewington’s reactions denied Richards before Raynes, slipping as he shot, struck a sweet 30-yarder straight down the keeper’s throat.
After the break City found more joy aiming for the Bath End, slowly beginning to find their stride as the two teams traded efforts on goal more often. But that was not before a scare when the returning Frankie Artus had his pocket picked by Saidou Khan, the defence forcing Wishart wide enough to stem the danger. Adam Mann, whose match would end early with suspected concussion, then scuffed wide following a neat lay-off from Stearn, while Ibby Akandi nodded wide at the other end. Brunt’s physical presence had Lewington scrambling as the pair met a Tom Smith header at the same time with the ball ricocheting between the pair and ending up behind off the City man. Stearn then thwacked the post with his long-range free-kick. But just as the momentum appeared to be edging the Romans’ way, Artus slipped and Johnson aimed an arcing header back across Clarke and into the far corner. City set about chasing down an equaliser as Richards was just denied a back-post header by a last-gasp touch. The former Bristol City prospect then skipped inside a defender and slid an effort agonisingly across the face of goal. Smith had a shot blocked and debutant centre-back Ollie Kensdale was unable to get on top of a header at a corner. But into added time on top of stoppage time, Lewington’s rush of blood cost Maidstone as Brunt snatched a point.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Riley-Lowe, T Smith, Artus, Mann (Hamblin 69), Brunt, Stearn, Richards, Hartridge, Kensdale. Subs not used: Ball, Wiles-Richards, Simpson, Bower.
Scorers: City – Brunt (pen 90+6); Maidstone – Johnson (76)
City Bookings: Artus (85)
Officials: S Gill, T Holden, J Bolland