Bath City (0) 1 Welling United (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 2 September 2017 – Twerton Park
Jamie Lucas stepped off the bench to snatch Bath City a first draw since Valentine’s Day against Welling United – their first stalemate in 24 matches. It was the visiting Londoners that held a half-time advantage when Harry Phipps nodded them into the lead as the Romans failed to fire in a drab opening period. The second half was more even but still lacked a spark, other than Lucas turning in his first competitive goal for the City leveller as they held on to 13th spot in National League South.
Neither side could create much early on, but it was the visitors that grew in confidence as the half progressed. Luke Southwood was able to lazily flop on Bradley Goldberg’s tame shot, although he was given a scare when Welling’s other striker, Tom Bradbrook, flashed a Joe Healy free-kick just wide. City failed to clear one corner and saw Southwood react well to make a low stop from Bradbrook, only to concede from another flag-kick. Once again the Romans could not satisfactorily turn away the set-piece and Phipps was able to loop a header up and over the shotstopper. And before City had even got a shot in Southwood saved the day twice more. Bradbrook – who would be substituted along with Goldberg before half-time – found himself neatly in behind, forcing Southwood to dash off his line and smother his attempted finish. Centre-half duo Darren Jones and Jack Batten then got themselves in an awful mess as both went for a header. Replacement striker Lloyd Macklin seared past Jones to go one-on-one, but temporarily lost control long enough for Southwood to again get his body in front of the shot. City gradually improved as the half wore on and should have levelled when Nick McCootie swung a deep cross to the back post. It was too high for the flapping goalkeeper to get a touch, with Andy Watkins heading against the post when staring down an open goal as the ball bounced back off the woodwork and off him for a goal kick. George Rigg would shoot high into the Bristol End on the half volley and Watkins capped off the first half by thwacking a strike inches over the bar. Yet it was not all one-way traffic as Welling still threatened, Jeffrey Monakana’s pace a constant menace, and Christian Nanetti twisting and turning before striking against a team-mate.
In the opening minutes of the second stanza, an Anthony Straker free-kick somewhat set the tone for much of the action. Switched to left-back from midfield at the interval as Gary Owers brought on Lucas and Miles Welch-Hayes, he struck the feet of the wall with a meek low effort from what looked a good shooting position. A poor connection with a ten-yard volley kept Macklin from doubling Welling’s tally as the half failed to take off. The teams traded chances as McCootie had a shot deflected nicely back to the keeper, while Southwood had to watch intently as a Phipps free-kick cleared everyone in the box and bounced just ahead of him. Ryan Case, pushed forward from right-back to central midfield among the tactical tweaks, crashed an effort just wide as City looked to turn up the pressure. The equaliser would arrive with 22 minutes to go. McCootie crossed to the far post where substitute Jack Compton headed back across goal. First on it was McCootie again, who knocked back for Lucas to tap in from the top of the six-yard box. Good build-up play from Marvin Morgan ended with Case, now getting forward from his midfield post, hooking over the top with a first-time shot. Welling were not to be counted out, however, and had two quick chances when Macklin chopped inside two defenders and fired against a defender, with Healy volleying wide seconds later on the back of a rushed Welch-Hayes clearance. At the other end there was another chance for Case. Compton made his way to the byline on the left and found Case with a low centre, his backheeled flick hacked away as it dribbled towards the far post. There was some excitement in stoppage time as Compton struck the top of the wall with a free-kick. Macklin then blew what had been a good Welling counter-attack, with the visitors denied from a last-gasp free-kick in the final action.
City’s Line Up:Southwood, Case, Ball (Welch-Hayes HT), Batten, Jones (c), Rigg, McCootie, Straker, Jarvis (Lucas HT), Morgan, Watkins (Compton 60). Subs not used: Murphy, Wollacott.
Scorers: City – Lucas (68); Welling – Phipps (20)
City Bookings: McCootie (29), Compton (76)
Officials: J Richardson, S Rea, T Ellsmore