Bath City (0) 2 Oxford City (1) 1 – Saturday 29 April 2023 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Ten-man Bath City ended their league campaign on a high with a superb turnaround against Oxford City.
The visitors looked firmly in control after Jordan Dyer received two harsh yellows in three first half minutes, soon before Josh Parker deservedly broke the deadlock.
Half-time substitute Opi Edwards equalised shortly after coming on before Scott Wilson stroked home a penalty, his 23rd goal of the season.
Determined defending snuffed out the away side, who still claimed third spot following Chelmsford’s surprising home defeat to Taunton Town.
Jerry Gill opted for the same line-up and formation from the win over Hungerford Town as City faced a side higher than them in the league for the first time in eight games.
The step up in class was evident early on. Max Harris, on his final home outing, quickly snuffed out Aaron Williams-Bushell and Alfie Potter with City appealing for offside, before the on-loan stopper produced a fine save from Zac McEachran. The playmaker tried his luck from 20 yards but Harris was at full-stretch to his right to fist behind for a corner.
Lewis Coyle volleyed narrowly wide and McEachran’s stinging effort was headed off the line by the well-placed Luke Spokes as Oxford dominated.
They received a boost when Dyer was dismissed for two dubious yellow cards, the first for a tangle with Potter before Parker’s theatrics on the edge of the box from an aerial challenge saw the defender receive a second booking by Samuel Read, the same referee who sent him off at St Albans last November.
The visitors finally opened the scoring on 40 minutes when Parker’s initial shot was superbly blocked by Jack Batten but it rebounded back to the gleeful forward who thumped home from eight yards, his 20th of the season in all competitions.
City switched to 4-4-1 for the restart with Edwards on for Spokes.
It had a desired effect. Wilson’s early running preceded a pass inside to James Morton, whose attempted through ball deflected off Reece Fleet to the perfectly placed Edwards, inadvertently playing him onside, and he side-footed past Chris Haigh.
With Oxford caught cold, the Romans won the ball back from the restart and Dan Hayfield’s strike was deflected over by Jack Davies.
Elliott Frear’s corner wasn’t cleared and in a packed penalty area Parker’s attempt to swipe the ball away saw him take Batten out with referee Read pointing to the spot.
Following lengthy protests, Wilson kept his cool to send Haigh the wrong way and put City ahead.
For all their tidy, intricate play, Oxford were wasteful in the final third. McEachran, arguably one of the division’s best players, danced his way into the box but inadvertently blocked Potter’s goalbound effort and substitute Joe Wilson drilled too close to Harris from a tight angle.
Namesake Scott could have wrapped up the win with 10 minutes remaining when he dispossessed Canice Carroll but knocked the ball too far wide of Haigh, who recovered to block at his near post.
Batten cleared Joe Iaciofano’s effort off the line and Fleet drove inches wide in added time as the Romans hung on to claim three more points from a losing position – 22 across the league season – giving them the ideal preparation ahead of Tuesday’s Somerset Premier Cup final with Paulton Rovers.
City’s Line-Up: Harris, Raynes, Dyer, Batten, Parselle (c), Hayfield, Smith, Frear, Spokes (Edwards HT), Wilson, Morton. Subs not used: Clarke, Ford, Lines, Mannings.
Scorers: City – Edwards (49), Wilson (pen 53); Oxford – Parker (41)
City Bookings: Batten (22), Dyer (32)
City Dismissal: Dyer (34)
Officials: S Read, M Terry, H Lavender