Bath City (1) 1 Braintree Town (0) 2 – Tuesday 27 February 2024 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park

Bath City (1) 1 Braintree Town (0) 2 – Tuesday 27 February 2024 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park

Match Report by Mark Stillman.

Ephraim Yeboah became the youngest scorer for Bath City in National League South, but it wasn’t enough as City lost their six-game unbeaten run.

Aged 17 days, seven months and six days, the winger marked his debut on loan from Bristol Citu with a finish with belied his youthful experience.

With visiting keeper Jack Sims in inspired form, City were left crestfallen as Aaron Blair’s deflected curler and Shaq Coulthirst’s penalty turned the contest on its head in the second half.

It sealed a seventh successive win for the Iron, their best run in 19 years.

Braintree arrived from Essex with on the back of five successive clean sheets, but looked suspectable early on when Ewan Clark’s whipped free-kick was helped over by Jordan Dyer, who should have scored.

The next chance wasn’t wasted as City took a 16th minute lead. Scott Wilson’s tremendous reverse ball on halfway left Yeboah one-on-one and he nonchalantly touched the ball past the onrushing Sims and had the audacity to celebrate before tapping into the empty net.

City blew three openings to punish the slack visitors, who looked leggy in the opening half hour.

Dan Hayfield’s free-kick was well tipped away by the unsighted Sims, who was then lucky to see the same player place wide from 10 yards after Cody Cooke headed Dan Greenslade’s ball inside.

Clark’s corner saw Dyer nearly force the ball home and Sims produced arguably his save of the match, reacting sharply to Greenslade’s daisy-cutter from 25 yards to beat away.

Clark had a goal chalked off for a very marginal offside after Yeboah’s persistence saw the ball ricochet to him.

A fortunate rebound at the other end nearly saw the Iron level just before the break when Greenslade’s clearance cannoned against Coulthirst, forcing Josey Casa-Grande to readjust and parry before the follow-up ball was hammered away by Joe Raynes.

Hayfield shanked wide just after half-time but the visitors upped their level with half-time sub Charlie Wakefield adding more energy out wide.

Blair hooked over from close range as Tom Blackwell’s corner bounced to him in the box before a save at the other end on 64 minutes proved vital for the visitors.

Leon Davies’ dreadful backpass nearly saw Clark in only for Sims nick it from him. The winger played the loose ball back to Hayfield but Sims spread himself and deflected over.

Within five minutes Town were on terms. Blackwell intercepted Greenslade and his pull back was only half cleared to Blair, whose curler from 20 yards was out of Casa-Grande’s reach with Coulthirst also claiming a final touch.

Tom Smith tamely shot straight at Sims on a counter when he had Clark and Yeboah as better options and again City’s profligacy bit them as they literally paid the penalty in the closing minutes.

Jaden Davis’ crossfield ball saw Coulthirst beat Greenslade to it, and Casa-Grande rashly charged out before sending the forward into a near somersault fall, resulting in a penalty.

Coulthirst dusted himself down to coolly shoot down the middle and send the band of away fans into raptures.

The former Tottenham man was lucky to escape punishment moments later for a shocking lunge on Luke Russe in midfield which sparked a mini melee, but referee Liam Corbett deemed Russe the perpetrator and issued no cards.

Despite introducing former £1m striker Isaac Vassell on for his first competitive outing in over four years and James Alabi, earlier cautioned as an unused sub, City couldn’t find an equaliser against an unsurprisingly packed defence.

Hayfield headed Greenslade’s cross too close to Sims in added time as the keeper received most of the back-slapping at the end for his heroics, coupled with a much improved second half from the Iron to see them extend their unbeaten run to nine and leapfrog City in the table.

Att: 1212

City’s Line-Up: Casa-Grande, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c), Clark, Hayfield, Cooke (Alabi 90), Wilson (Smith 69), Russe, Yeboah (Vassell 85). Subs not used: Batten, Frear.

Scorers: City – Yeboah (16); Braintree – Blair (68), Coulthirst (pen 84)

City Bookings: Cooke (18), Wilson (19), Alabi (as sub) (66), Casa-Grande (83)

Officials: L Corbett, J Duffy, T Farr