Bath City (0) 4 Swindon Supermarine (0) 0 – FA Trophy 3rd Round – Saturday 19 December 2020 – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Tom Smith haunted his hometown club as his second half double paved the way for City’s march into the last 32 of the Buildbase FA Trophy.
The former Swindon Town man thundered home a free-kick on the hour and doubled it seven minutes later to effectively kill off Swindon Supermarine’s brave challenge, in a half played in monsoon-like conditions.
Tommy Conway’s penalty, his fifth goal in four games, and Tom Richards’ late effort made it comprehensive for Jerry Gill’s Romans, who overpowered their lower league opponents to progress.
It made it four wins in five for City ahead of a Boxing Day battle at Chippenham Town.
Gill picked an unchanged line-up for the visit of Southern Premier South Swindon, who had seen off Highworth, Dorchester and Carshalton to reach round two.
They carried that momentum into the early stages by asking a few questions of Bath, with Brad Hooper’s ambitious half-volley flying miles off target after good work in the build up by former City forward Dave Pratt.
Will Dean’s effort was deflected over with Martin Horsell beaten as City posed themselves more, with Smith denied by an inspired Mat Liddiard block after James Taylor and Richards linked up. Freddie Grant also tried to use the wet conditions to his advantage with a cross-shot at Horsell’s near post, but the keeper gathered just before the ball crept over the line.
The left-back’s goalbound free-kick was ricocheted wide by Louis Spalding before Swindon nearly caught City on the break when his brother Henry Spalding darted clear with only Will Henry to beat, but Jack Batten recovered to slide in and snuff out his effort to the relief of the hosts.
Supermarine created the first shot on target three minutes after the restart when hard-working Ryan Campbell stretched to keep the ball in from the byline, pulling it back to Pratt whose snap-shot was denied by the legs of former Swindon Town stopper Henry. Pratt also prodded wide from Hooper’s low centre but Lee Spalding’s men ran out of steam afterwards and City took full advantage.
The home side opened the scoring on the hour. On a counter, Ryan Harley’s shot was blocked by the arm of Jamie Edge, giving City a free-kick 20 yards out. Smith went for power and thumped it low and through the wall under Horsell’s body to break the brave resistance of the visitors.
The goal arrived just before a torrential downpour threatened to turn the match into a farce, but fortunately the pitch held up and City went up another level to double their tally.
Harley’s corner saw Batten initially thwarted, but it ran loose to Smith who thumped home from 15 yards before Horsell could move.
Conway kept up his excellent recent form by making it 3-0 on 71 minutes. His quick step inside caught out Michael Hopkins, who pushed over the lively striker right in front of the referee. Conway took responsibility and side-footed home the penalty to Horsell’s left.
The Bristol City loanee should have had another five minutes later when Taylor picked him in oceans of space in the penalty area, but he wastefully stabbed wide.
Instead, the 18-year-old turned provider with six minutes remaining. Having brushed off Pierce Mitchell, Conway pulled it back to Richards, who emphatically thumped into the roof of the net from 12 yards to cap off another fine afternoon in front of goal for Jerry Gill’s men, scoring their 15th goal in five December matches.
With the victory assured, Gill brought on Lewis Bahadur for Grant in the last minute to make him City’s youngest outfield player to appear in the FA Trophy, with the academy full-back only turning 16 in May.
It’s the other youngsters who have come of age recently as the fortunes have turned around massively in recent weeks, and will give them the perfect confidence booster ahead of a mouthwatering derby at Chippenham Town on Saturday.
City’s Line-Up: Henry, Taylor, Grant (Bahadur 89), Smith, Batten, Artus (c) (Pope 88), Harley (James 82), Richards, Conway, Dean, Horton. Subs not used: Welsh, Watts.
Scorers: City – Smith (60, 67), Conway (pen 71), Richards (84); Supermarine – none
City Bookings: Conway (73)
Officials: O Mackey, K Bailey, L Nunes