Bath City (1) 1 Poole Town (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 26 August 2017 – Twerton Park
Banged up Bath City picked up their third straight win by besting Poole Town with a sole goal – but it came at a cost. Marvin Morgan’s 42nd minute strike was the difference come full-time, yet by that point the Romans had already used up all three of their substitutions, forced through injuries. Frankie Artus was lost by the quarter-hour, with Bristol City loanee Connor Lemonheigh-Evans then stretchered out of the ground on 27 minutes following a heavy Steve Devlin challenge at the edge of the box. With Andy Watkins missing through injury, his replacement in the starting line-up, Billy Murphy, was also subbed off before half-time.
The game limped along for the first 20 minutes as the two sides tried to feel each other out. Jake Smeeton whipped over a cross from a deadly angle that narrowly evaded Tony Lee’s run, while sliding Nick McCootie almost charged down a limp backpass. After Artus had gone off in the first City sub, the Poole defence did well to recover from their own mistake, cutting out a McCootie centre on the back of a loose touch, with Morgan waiting free in the centre. From there the Dolphins had a spell on top. They forced the home defence deeper and deeper but the closest they came was a free header from Jamie Whisken, flicking a free-kick over the top, and Jez Bedford thumping one high from 20 yards out. Lemonheigh-Evans threaded a neat through ball for Morgan, which the striker thrashed over from a tight angle in the first City change of the day. However, the youngster’s day would come to an early end and a trip in an ambulance. He allowed a ball to run across his body from the left at the edge of the D and was chopped down by Devlin, who evaded a booking as Lemonheigh-Evans was stretchered straight out of the ground. Jack Compton, getting his first extended run out in a City shirt, struck the free-kick into the chest of a defender in the wall. For Poole, Devlin skipped past a challenged and hammered his shot into the Bath end before the Romans finished on a high. They fired a warning when Morgan switched play from left to right and McCootie cut in to whip a left-footed effort inches away from the top far corner. The breakthrough would come when Morgan was handed a near carbon copy of his earlier chance. The veteran frontman was played in by a neat through ball and this time went low, hard and into the bottom right corner of the net. Lucas had a chance of his own when Anthony Straker, who started at left-back and moved into central midfield with all the changes, jinked in from the left and teed up the former Bristol Rovers man to fire into a defender.
City returned for the second period in positive mood and Poole rarely had a sniff until the closing stages. Opportunities on goal however, were at a premium, one such chance a free-kick that Compton cracked wide from 30 yards out. Consecutive corners then had Poole stopper Nick Hutchings worked. Neither were clean set-pieces. The first fell to Lucas at the back post, where he produced a neat spin and snap-shot that was turned behind. The resulting corner eventually dropped for Jack Batten to turn inside a defender with some style, but his hard-hit shot was held by Hutchings. A very presentable opening then went unconverted as Lucas found himself unchallenged wide on the right byline to chip in a cross that Compton, tearing in from the opposite flank, skewed wide with an awkward volley. Luke Southwood had to remain alert in the City goal and was called into action when Tony lee tried his luck with a close-range volley, following a neat dink over Darren Jones by Ollie Balmer. Finally, with ten minutes to go, Poole began to put the hosts under sustained pressure. For the most part City saw off waves of attack well, yet still required one stunning save from Southwood, who dived full length to keep out Lee’s 12-yard effort and seal his first clean sheet as a Roman.
City’s Line Up: Southwood, Rigg, Straker, Batten, Ball, Case, Lemonheigh-Evans (Lucas 27), Artus (c) (Compton 11), McCootie, Morgan, Murphy (Jones 41). Subs not used: Jarvis, Welch-Hayes.
Scorers: City – Morgan (42)
City Bookings: Batten (77)
Officials: D Spain, S Kane, B Williamson