Bath City (0) 1 Woking (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 30 March 2019 – Twerton Park
Jerry Gill’s plea to ‘keep adding to the tally’ was adhered as Bath City racked up a third successive draw, arguably the most impressive of the trio, in holding Woking at Twerton Park. The recovery to Max Kretzschmar’s opener was more impressive considering the circumstances. Second-placed Woking may have wobbled recently, but had only lost four points from winning positions all season. The hosts were without Ryan Brunt, Adam Mann and Sean Rigg, boasting 23 goals between them this term, with Frankie Artus also on the sidelines.
The hosts matched up their opponents with a 4-3-3 formation, and made inroads early on when Tom Smith’s delightful through ball located Freddie Hinds who drew keeper Craig Ross wide of goal. His ball across saw Josh Casey fire a clearance against Joe Raynes, and was fortune to see it deflect back to the grateful stopper. The Bristol End penalty area was next to entertain chaos, but Woking were able to make the most of it. Jack Batten’s backpass to Ryan Clarke appeared to hit a bobble, causing a wild swipe at the ball into the air and little distance from his goal. Debutant Kieran Cadogan reacted sharply, squaring to Kretzschmar who was perfectly placed to pass it into the corner from ten yards. Surprisingly, it was the top scorer’s first goal of 2019, and his second against Gill’s charges this season having netted at Kingfield in October. More importantly, Woking hadn’t lost scoring first all season, and with loanee Armani Little dictating play in midfield, they had a key cog to make things tick. Jake Hyde couldn’t quite connect with James Ferry’s low centre, though an offside flag would have denied him anyway. Bath were clearly stung by falling behind when playing well, Andy Watkins’ tame effort giving Ross a rare save until the cusp of the interval. That saw the keeper have to extend himself. James Morton’s floated free-kick saw Smith arrive completely unmarked, but his powerful header was superbly tipped behind.
Moussa Diarra nodded wide at the other end when Kretzschmar’s corner evaded Clarke’s reach.
Shooting up the slope in the second half, City started positively with Ross Stearn curling an effort at Ross following good work by Hinds, but it was the lack of a dominating presence in attack proving their undoing. Woking’s defence towered over City’s diminutive front line, dealing comfortably with a flurry of set-pieces. Alan Dowson’s men nearly put the game to bed just before the hour. Ferry’s cross found Kretzschmar, whose attempt to steer a volley into the bottom corner was thwarted by Clarke’s terrific reflex save. Woking caught City napping from the resulting corner, Little’s attempted cross clipping the inside of the post and bouncing back into the grateful glovesman’s hands. The Cards shuffled their pack, introducing Greg Luer for Hyde, with City replacing Stearn with Pryce, hoping for a similar impact to his home debut when he netted versus Wealdstone. He won a free-kick 30 yards out which Morton improvised with, trying to catch out Ross with a shot on the turn but the number one was equal to it. No goal, but the youngster would be content with an assist on 72 minutes. It symbolised the ‘Bath City Way’ in effect, particularly the swift movement with ball on the ground, in a patient build-up. Having worked their way down the left, Morton’s pass found Watkins in space and, with the defence appealing for offside, the Cornishman, 34 on Wednesday, coolly picked his spot low across Ross and celebrated his first goal for 11 months.
The goal opened things up with both sides keen to claim all three points. Kretzschmar, one of Woking’s best performers, produced a stinging shot which Clarke managed to bat away from danger, with Luer’s attempt deflected wide soon after when Olu Durojaiye had escaped down the left to send in a teasing ball. Durojaiye proved his usefulness at the other end, throwing himself in the way of Smith’s strike after Hinds had teed him up having robbed Ben Gerring.
It was the contest’s last real clear chance. Frequent draws in City’s case could be looked upon as two wins in six, but in the bigger picture it’s no losses in seven, just two in 18, and none at home in 2019. That’s more likely the canvas the Romans faithful, playing and management staff will be admiring, as they remain firmly in the play-off spots. Fewer brushes with injuries would be more than welcome, too.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Amankwaah, Straker (c), Batten, Watkins, Hinds, Stearn (Pryce 60), Cundy, Raynes, Morton, Smith. Subs not used: Ball, H Wiles-Richards, Romanski.
Scorers: City – Watkins (72); Woking – Kretzschmar (19)
City Bookings – none
Officials: W Cartmel, G Kornasiewicz, T Holden