Bath City (0) 2 Dover Athletic (1) 2 – Saturday 23 September 2023 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Jordan Thomas and Scott Wilson recorded their seventh goals of the season as Bath City recovered from 2-0 down for a second successive Saturday.
In front of a bumper Community Day crowd, the Whites stunned Twerton Park with two sucker punches through Archie Hatcher’s tremendous finish and Iffy Allen’s contentious penalty.
But Thomas and Wilson responded in a largely dominant display from the hosts.
Dover ended with 10 men with Peter Ojemen harshly dismissed late for a second yellow, but they survived lengthy stoppage time for a point.
The visitors, who went into this game with two points from their past seven league games, could have taken a fourth minute lead when Johl Powell’s delivery to the back post found the unmarked Allen, but he shinned way off target when well placed.
Thomas nodded Ewan Clark’s dinked cross wide and Cody Cooke headed straight at Billy Terrell as
City began to assert some authority.
But by failing to score they were made to pay when Dover took a 36th minute lead. Paris Lock’s dinked cross was nodded away by Luke Russe to Hatcher on the edge of the box, and the homegrown midfielder, one of six academy graduates in Mitch Brundle’s squad, took a touch before magnificently blasting into the roof of the net from 20 yards to give Ollie Wright no chance.
Cooke’s looping header was smartly finger-tipped over by Terrell and John Oyenuga’s miraculous clearance prevented him scoring an own goal when he deflected Joe Raynes’ long throw on target before somehow scooping away from the line.
City were dealt a blow when Cooke suffered a hamstring injury which saw him withdrawn in first half stoppage time for Dan Hayfield.
The visitors were gifted a second on 58 minutes when Paris Lock tried to weave between Dan Greenslade and Thomas in the box before theatrically going to ground. Referee Shelby Elson believed enough contact was made and pointed to the spot where Allen made no mistake, drilling low to Wright’s right.
City halved the deficit on 66 minutes. Thomas switched play to Clark on the right, his return delivery was perfect for the onrushing winger who neatly volleyed home from six yards across Terrell.
Having lost Cooke in the first half, Greenslade’s afternoon also came to a premature end when Lock dispossessed him on halfway damaged the full-back’s ankle.
Elliott Frear was called upon as his replacement and within three minutes of this change, the hosts found themselves on level terms.
A flowing move saw Smith and Raynes link up before setting Clark free on the right. His chipped delivery was headed back towards goal by Thomas for the gleeful Wilson to stab home from a yard out.
The forward immediately grabbed the ball to hurry the restart, indicating that City weren’t content in settling for a point.
Raynes’ driving run down the right saw his ball in take a wicked deflection off Charlie Naylor, forcing Terrell to instinctively palm away at his near post.
Dover were reduced to 10 men with a minute of normal time remaining as Ojemen received a harsh second yellow for a collision with Wilson, with the announcement of nine minutes to be added on doing little to ease the nerves of the Kent outfit.
They had one more scare to contend with when Thomas freed Hayfield on the right, his centre was perfect for the onrushing Wilson but the forward unusually saw his finishing touch elude him, ballooning horribly over from 10 yards with just Terrell to beat.
Despite enjoying swathes of possession in the closing stages, City were frustrated by Dover’s determination and although recovering from two goals down for a second week running is a commendable feat, it might be combined with an element of frustration.
That said, the draw keeps City on top spot heading into October’s round of fixtures. They can be more than satisfied with nearly a quarter of the campaign played and will travel to Weymouth in the FA Cup next week full of confidence.
City’s Line-Up: Wright, Raynes, Greenslade (Frear 76), Dyer, Batten (c), Cooke (Hayfield 45+1), Smith, Clark, Thomas, Wilson, Russe. Subs not used: Fletcher, Forster, Lines.
Scorers: City – Thomas (66), Wilson (76); Dover – Hatcher (39), Allen (pen 58)
City Bookings: none
Officials: S Elson, D Spyer, G Pearce