Bath City (1) 1 Dartford (0) 0 – Saturday 10 February 2024 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park

Bath City (1) 1 Dartford (0) 0 – Saturday 10 February 2024 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park

Match Report BY Mark Stillman.

Cody Cooke’s 16th goal of the season saw Bath City end their hoodoo over Dartford.

It was just the Romans’ second win in 16 against the managerless Darts, who have now lost all three league games under interim boss Tony Burman.

The Romans coped with many challenges thrown at them – seeing Dan Hayfield fail a pre-match fitness test, losing Joe Raynes to concussion at half-time and having Jerry Gill positioned in the stand serving a touchline ban.

But they overcome all obstacles for a fourth successive clean sheet with three 1-0 wins in a row for the first time in the club’s history.

Dartford had the first opening inside three minutes when Tyrell Miller-Rodney curled over from 15 yards after Fumnaya Shomotun pulled back for the midfielder.

It woke City up. Having failed to score in their previous seven first halves, the constant pressing and harrying led to a 10th minute opener.

Paul Rooney’s backpass for Billy Terrell was perfectly adequate, but the goalkeeper foolishly dallied and was charged down by Scott Wilson. The forward unselfishly squared for Ewan Clark, whose shot was brilliantly blocked on the line by Joash Nembhard. With the defender still grounded, Cooke managed to convert just away from his reach to break the deadlock.

It should have been two soon after. Debutant Richard Chin, who excelled in two spells on loan at Dartford in the last year, got the better of Sam Odaudu and squared for Wilson, who hammered against the bar from 18 yards before miscuing the rebound.

Jordan Dyer’s crucial intervention prevented Luke Coulson when he was left one-on-one in a breathless spell where chances arrived frequently.

Chin’s cross saw Tom Smith mis-kick a volley wide of goal, with Dyer unable to direct it on target on the stretch.

Shomotun unintentionally put Wilson through on goal with a dreadful backpass but Terrell redeemed himself, charging out to snuff out the striker.

Alex Wall dragged a free-kick horribly wide and hit the side-netting in two openings for the Darts just before the interval.

The physical presence of the striker proved too much for Raynes, who needed assistance from physio Lee Williams to leave the pitch at half-time, with medical staff rushing to the changing room. He was replaced by Jack Batten and later given the all-clear.

The Darts tried to exploit the defensive reshuffle as Miller-Rodney, who scored in the opening day fixture between the two, again went close, planting a left-footer inches wide with Josey Casa-Grande beaten.

Wall’s flick from Coulson’s free-kick left Nembhard unmarked but his header was superbly held by the on-loan stopper.

James Alabi replaced Wilson and should have made the game safe on 66 minutes. Chin and Clark orchestrated a counter with Clark’s cross headed over by Alabi from six yards.

The only real lapse from City’s defence was soon after when Terrell’s booming kick saw Dan Greenslade and Casa-Grande get in a muddle, resulting in the defender prodding past his own keeper before just keeping the ball out on the line.

Alabi shot into the side-netting after showing fine strength to fend off Rooney before City had to endure a few scares in the closing stages.

Elliott Romain, on his second Darts debut, teed up Coulson who shot too close to Casa-Grande. The keeper was finally beaten by Wall’s well-placed header but an offside flag cut short celebrations and Jack Smith fired over in added time when the Romans made a hash of clearing a corner.

Chris Lines nearly back-headed Coulson’s cross into his own net with the final touch of the game as City were relieved to hear the full-time whistle to clinch another three points in their play-off push.

Att: 1114

City’s Line-Up: Casa-Grande, Raynes (Batten HT), Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c), Clark, Cooke, Smith, Chin (Line 80), Wilson (Alabi 61), Russe. Sub not used: Frear.

Scorers: City – Cooke (10); Dartford – none

City Bookings: Dyer (38), Chin (56), Russe (62)

Officials: L Sandoe, J Pike, P Barber