Bath City (1) 1 Eastbourne Borough (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 16 November 2018 – Twerton Park
Bath City pride themselves on standing out as one of National League South’s entertainers, but any shot at promotion will take equal amounts guile and grit over a tiring 42-game campaign. Their 1-0 win over Eastbourne Borough was a case in point. It was not a classic at Twerton Park, and goalmouth action was little at either end. But the Romans secured three important points from the contest, determinedly standing firm in the face of late pressure to climb back into the play-off positions. Robbie Cundy’s goal settled it, the centre-half producing an outstanding header in a first half that City controlled. Though the Romans had to soak up more Eastbourne attacks the other side of the interval, bar one fine Ryan Clarke save the they did so reasonably comfortably.
The first period was a slow burner as the two sides settled into the rhythm of the game. City would boast more possession, with Eastbourne happy to seek out opportunities on the break. There was some pressure from the Romans when Adam Mann and Sean Rigg recreated the classic Billy Murphy-Andy Watkins short corner routines of seasons past, the former sending a low ball across the box that Borough cleared. City recycled and sent the ball back into the area, where Joe Raynes was unable to get a clean connection from a tricky turn and shot. The best threats the visitors created were a spate of set-pieces – one free-kick followed by a trio of corners – which City survived without too much bother. At the other end, a flat Mann corner skimmed the head of Jack Batten, before a more presentable chance arrived from open play. Michee Efete was slipped delightfully into the box on the right and cut back for Ross Stearn, whose swiped effort at goal was not sweetly struck. The opener arrived on 36 minutes from another Mann corner, met by the head of Cundy, nodding across goal and into the far corner. Frankie Artus, albeit offside anyway, missed a header from a Mann free-kick, while Cundy landed another header on to the roof of the net. And just before the interval Mann and Sports keeper Mark Smith ended up in a foot race for a long, bouncing ball at the edge of the box. Smith got there in time to make a pointblank block.
The entertainment value failed to rise for the second half, though Eastbourne offered more of a concerted threat. They saw more of the ball and penned City back for periods, though opportunities to equalise were still at a premium. Smith was forced to push a hard cross from Efete behind, after Raynes had hurled a clever throw-in over the top of two unsuspecting defenders. Despite their greater pressure, Borough failed to create much in the early minutes following the break, bar a Ryan Hall header that went nowhere near the goal. Clarke would have a key save to make, however, as his defence found themselves in a mess in the box and Tom Gardiner drew a reflex save from the keeper from six yards. There was no City touch when Mann whipped a wonderful corner across the face of goal,while Deon Moore – the Bristol Rovers loanee making his debut off the bench – chased down a long clearance and hustled Harry Ransom out of possession, but flashed his final effort across the face of goal from a tight angle. Eastbourne ramped up the pressure throughout the closing stages, yet still could not carve out another clear opportunity. There were crosses for Clarke to pluck out of the air, and one angled cross off Kane Wills stomach for which he had to be watchful, but the defence remained steadfast to see out the three points. There was one final scare when Clarke came out confidently to claim a cross that slipped through his arms and bounced out into danger, yet no leveller was forthcoming for the travelling side.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Efete, Straker (c), Cundy, Batten, Artus, Morton (Smith 86), Rigg, Mann, Raynes, Stearn (Moore 65). Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Brunt, Baghdadi.
Scorers: City – Cundy (36); Borough – none
City Bookings: none
Officials: M Howes, D Campbell, C Rea