Bath City (1) 1 Chippenham Town (1) 3 – Monday 26 December 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
“It ruins your Christmas” was Jerry Gill’s damning verdict of Bath City’s derby day reversal at home to Chippenham Town.
The City manager experienced defeat in this fixture for the first time in his ninth meeting with the Bluebirds who deservedly collected their first away league win of the season.
Scott Wilson had given the Romans the lead but it was quickly cancelled out by Harry Parsons, with Spencer Hamilton and Jordan Young adding to City’s misery.
This was all after a heart-warming moment before kick-off when Alex Fletcher returned to Twerton Park 48 days after his serious accident against Dulwich Hamlet which saw him require emergency brain surgery. He was introduced to the 2000+ crowd alongside fiancée Ellie to a rapturous applause.
The hosts started well and were denied a penalty when Hamilton appeared to handle Tom Mehew’s attempted clearance before James Morton’s low drive was comfortably held by Will Henry.
Morton’s next act was a deft chip pass to the onrushing Joe Raynes in the penalty area, who cut inside of Eddie Jones but miscued wide with Rex Mannings unable to touch home at the far post.
Chippenham’s first opening saw Alex Bray’s through ball look too long for Young but hesitation between Chris Lines and Josh Gould allowed the forward to nip in before poking against the fortunate stopper before the danger was averted.
Young’s bending free-kick from 30 yards sailed a yard wide midway through the half as Town improved, but they were hit by a sucker punch two minutes later.
After sustained pressure, Mannings’ pot shot from 25 yards bounced awkwardly in front of Henry who could only fumble to the alert Wilson, the forward gleefully side-footing home the rebound from close range.
The lead lasted barely four minutes. Alefe Santos was left in room down the right and his cross was superbly headed home by Parsons, the Swindon loanee readjusting to nod the ball over the helpless Gould from eight yards.
Raynes was forced off with a pulled hamstring and Callum Ebanks’ recent illness also saw him taken off before half-time with Tom Smith and Elliott Frear on in their places.
Soon after the restart former City full-back Jones twisted his ankle in winning a corner and his enforced withdrawal appeared to distract Gill’s men as Santos’ delivery was met by captain Hamilton, who powerfully headed home his first ever league goal for the Wiltshire outfit.
Dan Hayfield’s strike from a tough angle caressed the side-netting after Lines had slipped him through but overall it was proving a tough task for the Romans to create openings against Gary Horgan’s men, who had tightened up admirably following eight conceded in their previous two.
And they proved their worth in attack too with a third on 86 minutes. Smith was dispossessed by Hamilton and Mehew knocked it to Young in his own half. The tricky attacker was effectively given the freedom of Twerton Park to dash 50 yards before his shot from 18 yards was helped into the top corner by Gould’s gloves.
Chippenham assistant boss Matt Coupe, who made over 300 appearances for Bath which included 57 cautions and six red cards, picked up a yellow from the dugout, but his side were more disciplined to see out the contest without much fuss to claim their first win over City since August 2017.
City’s Line-Up: Gould, Raynes (Smith 37), Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle, Hayfield, Lines, Mannings (Cox 68), Wilson, Morton, Ebanks (Frear HT). Subs not used: Clarke, Batten.
Scorers: City – Wilson (25); Chippenham – Parsons (28), Hamilton (54). Young (86)
City Bookings: Greenslade (27), Parselle (62), Smith (63), Morton (90+4)
Officials: S Parkinson, N Wormleighton, C Hubbard