Bath City (1) 1 Billericay Town (1) 2 – Vanarama National League South – Tuesday 11 December 2018 – Twerton Park
Bath City’s patchy home form continued as they were edged out by Billericay Town, with Sam Deering’s freakish 71st minute winner deciding the contest to leave the Somerset side with just one league win in six at Twerton Park.
The match kicked off at the slightly earlier time of 7.30pm, and saw both sides net before 7.45, the usual midweek start. Michee Efete’s cross caused panic in the town defence as Ryan Brunt’s shot on the turn was blocked, and eventually ran loose to Ross Stearn, who struck past Alan Julian from close range to give City a ninth-minute lead. It was the eighth time this term that the Romans had netted inside the opening quarter-hour, but their advantage disappeared within five minutes as Ross Lafayette’s superbly threaded ball found Moses Emmanuel clean through, and he neatly dinked it past the advancing Ryan Clarke. The Essex side were close to turning it around when Tom Smith, given a late inclusion to the starting XI as Sean Rigg injured a calf in the warm-up, was penalised, and Callum Kennedy’s bending free-kick clipped the outside of Clarke’s post. City hit the woodwork minutes later, Adam Mann thundering a shot against the bar with Julian beaten as they started to purr, experiencing joy down the wings and keeping their shape well against a Billericay side struggling to contain them.
The tempo faltered in the second half. Billericay’s Devonte Aransibia’s mazy run ended with a stinging shot which Clarke did well to turn behind. The ten in front of him looked surprisingly off-colour, a distinct contrast to an effervescent opening half. Stearn tried to break that mould when his cross was met by Brunt’s backward header, who turned in time to see Julian scramble across and parry it behind for a corner. It was a flag-kick soon after which resulted in a mass scramble, almost resembling a rugby scrum when Sam Deering’s sliced clearance inadvertently put his side in trouble. With various players doing their utmost to find the target, it eventually ended with Smith skewing wide. And what turned out to be the winning goal was anything but pretty, too. Some 40 yards out, Deering’s intended cross towards the back post bypassed everyone, bounced awkwardly in front of Clarke and nestled into the far corner. City searched in vain for a leveller with Clarke forward for numerous corners in the closing stages.
Billericay, hit by several departures in the past week as their flamboyant spending has been forcibly cut, dug in well, picking up five cautions in the process, to claim three points much to the delight of their travelling fans.
As for Jerry Gill, he’ll be left scratching his head wondering what happened from 8.30pm onwards.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Efete, Straker (c), Cundy, Batten, Artus, Raynes, Smith, Mann, Brunt (Moore 62), Stearn. Subs not used: Amankwaah, Baghdadi, Wiles-Richards.
Scorers: City – Stearn (9); Billericay – Emmanuel (14), Deering (71)
City Bookings: Stearn (35), Smith (67)
Officials: J Durkin, G Kornasiewicz, N Clinton