Bath City (0) 1 Slough Town (1) 1 – Tuesday 15 March 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
A goalkeeping masterclass from Slough Town’s Jonathan North denied Bath City three points on Tuesday night.
The Romans dominated the contest in one of their best performances of the season but couldn’t break through until the 78th minute when Alex Fletcher nudged in his 10th league goal of the season from Ryan Jones’ corner, the 16th City had forced during their wave of attacks.
They had trailed through Scott Davies’ 44th minute penalty, awarded after Jordan Dyer was alleged to have caught the head of Ben Harris.
Substitute Dave Sims-Burgess was denied by two sublime North saves who was also grateful to his defence for their countless blocks to prevent him being further overworked.
Slough last visited Twerton Park in February 2019 during Bath’s play-off campaign which included some of the best football seen at Twerton Park under Jerry Gill.
The City boss admitted after the game there were shades of those displays again as they pummeled the Rebels’ backline.
Joe Raynes nearly marked his 100th league appearance with his first goal of the season when his looping header from Elliott Frear’s corner was headed off the line by Kurtis Cumberbatch.
Harris’ tremendous curling effort midway through the half from 16 yards rippled the top of the net with Josh Jackman also trying to replicate his stunning goal for Slough against Maidstone on Saturday, this time his 25 yarder flew just over.
In response Fletcher’s glancing header from 18 yards nearly caught out North who did well to tip over, and Tom Smith’s drive was deflected over by Edon Pruti’s desperate flying challenge.
City received a setback on 37 minutes when top scorer Cody Cooke was withdrawn with a hamstring injury. While he was still hobbling off, his replacement Sims-Burgess nearly netted with his first touch – an exquisite acrobatic volley from 14 yards with North’s save equally impressive.
Slough’s opener on 44 minutes had more than a sprinkling of good fortune. Ryan Jones’ attempted clearance ricocheted back of Imran Kayani to Harris, who was left holding his face following Dyer’s attempt to clear. The defender appeared to nick the ball first but a penalty was awarded, and from the spot Davies slammed home his first goal for Slough since January 2020.
Having lost their previous 20 matches conceding first, the Romans could have been forgiven for thinking it wasn’t to be their night, but they came out for the second half in similar determination to the first.
Just shy of the hour they were denied by North’s heroics again. Frear escaped down the left and his pinpoint cross was headed firmly towards goal by Sims-Burgess six yards out, but the Welsh stopper somehow threw himself to his right and clawed it away.
Slough had strong appeals for a penalty turned down on 66 minutes when George Hunt appeared to be clipped by Ryan Jones but referee Ross Martin wasn’t interested.
Frear’s corner saw Fletcher’s header brilliantly tipped over by North and the Town glovesman was finally beaten with the winger’s next delivery, only for Dyer’s header to clip off the outside of the post.
City finally found a way past the Rebels’ resilience with 13 minutes remaining. Jones’ corner managed to pick out Fletcher, who poked past North from six yards.
Virtual spectator Clarke kept his concentration by batting away Alfonso Tenconi’s stinging drive after the striker had linked up with Tyler Goodrham, with Jack Batten throwing himself in the way of Sean Fraser’s follow-up.
Despite a flurry of late throws in the closing stages Slough stood firm as City had to settle for a point despite the performance warranting two more.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Delaney, Batten, Fletcher, Cook (Sims-Burgess 37), Smith, Frear, E Jones, Dyer, R Jones. Subs not used: Holness, Fuller, Ball, Rowe.
Scorers: City – Fletcher (79); Slough – Davies (pen 44)
City Bookings: E Jones (20), R Jones (52), Smith (90+5)
Officials: R Martin, H Lavender, C Peters