Bath City (1) 1 Ebbsfleet United (3) 3 – Saturday 11 February 2023 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Luckless Bath City lost three players to injury inside the opening half hour as league leaders Ebbsfleet United recorded their seventh straight win.
Dan Greenslade, Cody Cooke and debutant Callum Sullivan were all forced off, at which point the division’s leading scorer Dom Poleon had fired ‘fleet ahead.
Substitute Sonny Cox replied but United took advantage of City’s misfortune with the changes as Poleon and Rakish Bingham found time to net before the interval.
Despite the setbacks the Romans impressed after the break as a stunning Mark Cousins double save from Luke Spokes and Cox helped preserve their lead and clinch a sixth successive win over Jerry Gill’s side.
Bingham slashed over when Greg Cundle’s cushioned pass from Franklin Domi’s crossfield ball sat up awkwardly for the forward.
Greenslade pulled up with a hamstring injury on 11 minutes after attempting to chase Omari Sterling-James which forced him off with Elliott Frear in his place.
City were temporarily down to 10 men when Cooke was intentionally caught by a flailing boot of Luke O’Neill and while he sought treatment, the visitors scored.
Sterling-James’ sudden burst of pace caught out Frear and Kieran Parselle before his pull-back from the byline was easily converted by Poleon despite Jordan Dyer’s efforts on the line.
Cox replaced broken nose victim Cooke immediately afterwards and just shy of the half hour another hamstring victim in Sullivan saw him come off and Chris Lines on in City’s final available substitution.
Another jinking run by Sterling-James saw Max Harris forced to scramble behind at his near post after the wing-back tied City in knots.
Despite looking comfortable, a lapse at the back saw Ebbsfleet extinguish their lead.
Spokes’ ball over the top was collected by Dan Hayfield on the byline and his centre was nearly helped home by Cox from six yards.
City were behind again inside two minutes. Domi’s shot from Cundle’s pass clipped off James Morton and looped onto the face of the bar, with Poleon readjusting his body to acrobatically volley home his sixth goal in four matches against Gill’s men.
The forward turned provider for the Kent outfit’s third. His clever pass saw Bingham remain onside and wasn’t put off by Harris’ presence as he effortlessly side-footed home after the keeper committed.
Ebbsfleet continued their momentum early in the second half as Harris was forced to smartly tip over Billy Clifford’s bending free-kick.
The remaining half hour saw the Romans enjoy a lot of possession against the runaway leaders.
Chris Solly was perfectly placed to nod Dyer’s header across goal away but his error nearly led to a way back in for the hosts.
Spokes charged down the defender’s clearance to leave him clean through but Cousins saved well, before a remarkable change of direction saw the keeper palm out Cox’s rebound.
Cox nodded from Lines’ driven corner narrowly wide before Dyer’s header towards goal appeared to hit the arm of Toby Edser but it was deemed unintentional.
There was no further goal to enforce a grandstand finale as Gill was left ruing his side’s misfortune.
City’s Line-Up: Harris, Greenslade (Frear 11), Dyer, Batten, Parselle (c), Hayfield, Cooke (Cox 18), Sullivan (Lines 30), Spokes, Wilson, Morton. Subs not used: Smith, Clarke.
Scorers: City – Cox (42); Ebbsfleet – Poleon (17, 44), Bingham (45+2)
City Bookings: Lines (49), Batten (56), Frear (81)
Officials: D Wootton, H Lavender, J Tewson