Bath City (0) 2 Dulwich Hamlet (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 18 August 2018 – Twerton Park
Ryan Brunt doubled down on a momentous week to seal Bath City’s third straight National League South win in a come-from-behind triumph against Dulwich Hamlet. In the first ever league meeting between the two clubs, it was Hamlet that led at half-time through Nyren Clunis’s early goal. The Romans started slowly and were prevented from settling into their desired rhythm during the first period, but put that well behind them after the break. Where they had been stymied by Dulwich’s insistence on shutting off passing options and closing down quickly, City re-emerged renewed and were soon to turn up the heat on Hamlet, who were denied the chance to continue stroking the ball around. Five minutes after the restart Brunt drew them level, running on to Sean Rigg’s cutback close in to crash home. And the frontman, who had already bagged a brace in the derby win over Gloucester four days earlier, netted his fourth goal in a week following up a goalmouth scramble to secure a victory that moved the Romans into the play-off spots.
An early shot blazed over by Rigg aside, it was the visitors that dominated possession for the opening 15 minutes of the contest. And they made that spell pay by taking the early advantage, playmaker Dominic Vose, a danger that fizzled after the break, playing Clunis in to clip beyond Ryan Clarke and into the bottom corner with his toe. The Romans were denied the chance to get into their passing flow for much of the first half and so the sight of Ross Stearn tripping over the football on one break into the box was all the more frustrating. A Hamlet corner was ballooned over the crossbar by the head Magnus Okuonghae as they pressed for a second, but at the other end there was some consternation around the ground when City were denied a penalty. Brunt had a headed chance at the edge of the six-yard box that struck a Dulwich defender at close range, referee Jacob Miles confidently signalling for no spot kick. Slowly working their way into the match Raynes, pushing well up from his right-back berth, received a pass from Anthony Straker and shot comfortably wide from distance. Brunt had the next chance, collecting a perfect cross-field pass from Stearn on his chest. A good 45 yards from goal on his first touch, Brunt was forced to shoot early with a defender closing in and screwed his effort across Preston Edwards’ goal. Goalscorer Clunis hammered his next strike over the top, running on and thumping first time from Quade Taylor’s cutback. Brunt headed a Stearn corner into the ground and wide, stooping to meet at the back post as a defender clutched a handful of his shirt. The ever-threatening Vose then picked James Morton’s pocket and started an attack that eventually teed up former Yeovil Town hitman Gavin Tomlin to shoot across goal. Another chance fell Brunt’s way as he rose ahead of a defender in the six-yard box but failed to get a clean connection on Stearn’s centre. Stearn himself then closed out the first period with two digs off the back of set-pieces.
His first attempt, as Dulwich failed to clear a Rigg free-kick, was palmed away by Edwards, before a corner fell the winger’s way, with a Dulwich body there to block a searing drive. With the addition of Artus in place of Andy Watkins, the game began to turn with City now doing all the harrying. Their efforts were quickly repaid with the equaliser, too. Adam Mann sent a deep free-kick into the box where Rigg collected and thrust the ball back into the centre, where Brunt was in the right spot to find the net. There was no such dead-ball quality, however, when Ashley Carew scooped a free-kick into the Bristol End for Hamlet. The home faithful were unhappy when play was hauled back with Anthony Straker charging down the left wing, unattended after Taylor went down holding face his following a seemingly innocuous tussle with Stearn. Brunt then ended up in the book following some handbags with the visitors, but there was no chance his hero status was about to be relinquished any time soon as he bagged the second. Though Dulwich fended off an initial free-kick, City recycled the ball and swung a cross into the box. Daniel Pappoe should have left well alone to run for a goal-kick, but instead his intervention only sparked a scramble in the box. While Mann was denied on multiple occasions, the ball squeezed through for Brunt to smash in. Not done there, the Romans went out looking for a third, and almost got it when a sweeping move across the face of the penalty area ended in Mann drawing a sharp, low stop from Edwards. The closing stages were not without nerves for the hosts, however, and Dulwich perhaps should have been level. Sub Dipo Akinyemi found himself in the box and chopped back inside. Instead of shooting, however, he knocked the ball across for Jay May, who did likewise for Clunis, which allowed enough time for Raynes to get back and block out the last true opportunity Hamlet created.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Straker (c), Batten (Ball 32), Watkins (Artus HT), Rigg, Brunt, Stearn (Mills 90), Mann, Cundy, Raynes, Morton. Subs not used: Richards, Hodges.
Scorers: City – Brunt (50, 72); Dulwich – Clunis (8)
City Bookings: Brunt (64)
Officials: J Miles, R Ablitt, M Eva