Bath City (1) 1 Hampton & Richmond Borough (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Tuesday 12 March 2019 – Twerton Park
Determined Bath City picked up a priceless three points and moved up to third in National League South having edged past Hampton & Richmond Borough. Jack Batten’s 23rd minute header, his first league goal of the season, was all that separated the sides, replicating the result at the Beveree in August. That was City’s first clean sheet in the league this season. This was their fifteenth – in West London they relied on luck at times, whereas tonight Jerry Gill’s men were outstanding at the back, Robbie Cundy in particular, and that alone deserved their success against tricky opponents.
The opening stages were cagey with neither side getting used to the blustery conditions. Possession was shared and the only meaningful save saw Ryan Clarke backtrack and tip over Serge Manesio’s effort which took a huge deflection off Frankie Artus. Artus was off the field receiving treatment for a head injury when Bath opened their account. Ross Stearn’s fine corner was powerfully headed towards goal by Batten and despite Tyrell Miller-Rodney’s desperate attempt of a clearance, a goal was given following an eagle-eyed assistant’s flag.
It riled Hampton and gave the game a spark. Rian Bray lost his rag with Stearn and shoved the frontman to the floor, picking up a caution, with Zak Joseph following him in the book for a crude lunge on Batten.
In fairness, the feistiness calmed down after the break, where City gave Lovelock an early test, Artus ignoring his damaged bonce to bravely head towards goal after Cundy nodded across, but the home stopper leapt to the rescue, batting it away. He should have been tested soon after when Anthony Straker’s marauding run forward saw his cross pick out Joe Raynes, but the Bathonian missed his kick at the vital moment. Hampton began to press and forced Gill into a reshuffle, going to a back four with Tom Smith replacing Joe Romanski. The visitors pressed and pressed, but despite the assistance of the wind, couldn’t blow City down. Leading marksman Chris Dickson had a drive finger-tipped away by Clarke, who wasn’t significantly tested again until added time. Dickson was again involved, an exquisite ball over the shoulder suddenly left Oliver Sprague in the clear, but the defender took a heavy touch and Clarke courageously dived at his feet, snuffing out the danger. It epitomized the Romans’ resolve and the roar at the end was one of relief. In the week of Cheltenham Festival, there’s the impression that should City avoid the hurdle of Wealdstone on Saturday, the final furlongs of the season should leave them a couple of lengths clear in the play-off paddock.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Straker (c), Batten, Artus, Hinds (Ball 82), Brunt, Stearn, Cundy, Raynes, Romanski (Smith 71), Morton. Subs not used: Amankwaah, H Wiles-Richards.
Scorers: City – Batten (24); Hampton – none
City Bookings: none
Officials: M Russell, B Williamson, S Jenkins