Bath City (0) Exeter City (3) 3 – Friday 12 July 2019 – Pre-Season Friendly – Twerton Park
Bath City got a solid workout to begin their pre-season campaign as League 2 Exeter City left Somerset victorious. All the goals came in the first period, Ryan Bowman scoring twice, including the second of a two-minute salvo on the half-hour started by Archie Collins. For their part, the Romans applied themselves well at times despite the scoreline, playing two teams in each half – bar one man – in a game more an exercise in fitness and burgeoning relationships within the team than any result.
The first danger of the game was of the Romans’ own making. Keeper Ryan Clarke was twice charged down having been sold short by backpasses from his team-mates, but his goal remained unbreached. At the other end Tyler Harvey had a shot from a tight angle held by Jonny Maxted, before Exeter opened the scoring. It came from a lifted ball over the top which found dangerman Bowman, who coolly dinked Clarke. The game settled down for the next 25 minutes, with Stearn seeing a long-range crack blocked by the head of Tom Parkes. Clarke had to pat another Bowman effort into the air, struck from a tricky angle by the Grecians frontman, before Tom Smith dragged a low, skiddy effort past the left-hand post for the hosts. Exeter, already well into their pre-season preparations, looked a neat side and almost set up a third with a neat move that got Lee Martin to the byline, his low cross cut out before City countered to no avail. Two goals in as many minutes moved the Devon outfit into a comfortable lead, each effort coming off the back of blocked shots. The first goal saw City countered on, and though they quelled the original break, a blocked effort fell for Archie Collins to bend into the top corner. The next goal was more spectacular, as the ball looped up for the unmarked Bowman to convert a textbook overhead kick. He almost got in again twice more before the break, beating Clarke to a long ball over top, only to watch the ball run out for a goal kick. Bowman then shrugged off clubmate Alex Hartridge, making his Romans debut having joined earlier in the day on a half-season loan, and striking Clarke’s legs. The first period ended with City on the attack, their best effort a whipped free-kick from Harvey, which sailed a yard wide of the far corner.
The second half was much quieter with the home side making ten changes at the break – Hartridge the only player to remain. One of those to come on, trialist Tom Richards, found the side netting early upon the return having been picked out by a quick free-kick from Matt Bower, shooting on the half-volley from a tight angle. Bowman was then denied by a sprawling Harvey Wiles-Richards. That chance came after Frankie Artus tripped over the ball, allowing Collins to charge towards the box and find Bowman. Artus hit a daisy cutter that Maxted picked up without issue, while Exeter sub Randell Williams, who showed pace to burn all half, nutmegged Hartridge, blazed into the box and shot wide. Perhaps the highlight of the second period was Wiles-Richards receiving a backpass and seeing off Matt Jay with a beautiful Cruyff turn. Jay responded by chasing the keeper across the box and hauling him down. A deep corner from the City left saw Aaron Parsons lob a header into Maxted’s palms before one last chance for the Grecians. Ben Seymour found himself one-on-one, but was denied initially by a terrific, last-ditch sliding challenge from Bower using every inch of his 6ft 5in frame. The Exeter man collected the ball again, only to shoot wide under pressure with plenty of defensive bodies back.
City’s Line-Up (1st Half): Clarke (c), Harper, Riley-Lowe, Smith, Batten, Hartridge, Hillman, Trialist, Harvey, Mann, Stearn.
City’s Line-Up (2nd Half): Wiles-Richards, Raynes, Hartridge, Bower, Parsons, Artus (c), Watkins, Richards, Brunt, Pryce, Simpson.
Scorers: City – none; Exeter – Bowman (4, 30), Collins (28)
Officials: R Hulme, R Morris, A Ricketts, Z Overend