Bath City (1) 1 Torquay United (0) 0 – Saturday 13 April 2024 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park

Bath City (1) 1 Torquay United (0) 0 – Saturday 13 April 2024 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park

Match Report by Mark Stillman.

Elliott Frear’s first home goal for nearly two-and-a-half-years clinched a thoroughly deserved win for Bath City to effectively seal their play-off spot.

Results elsewhere means only an eight-goal defeat at Aveley on Saturday will cost the Romans a place in the top seven.

A 21st clean sheet of the season aided Jerry Gill’s team, who were seldom threatened by a poor Torquay United outfit.

Their fears of a second successive relegation remain intact whereas barring a major collapse, City can look forward to a midweek away play-off Eliminator after the regular season’s conclusion.

A buoyant home crowd were given reason to cheer early as for a second home game running, the Romans opened the scoring in the 10th minute.

Cody Cooke flicked on Jordan Dyer’s throw, with Scott Wilson beating Asa Hall to the ball near the byline.

Despite being in a tight spot, Wilson swivelled and crossed to the back post for Frear, who volleyed in past Mark Halstead from the corner of the six-yard box.

It was his first goal at Twerton Park since a 2-1 win over Welling United in November 2021 and already gave Torquay a mountain the climb – the Gulls having lost the previous 12 away games in which they’d conceded first.

They wasted an opportunity to level inside the quarter hour. Ethon Archer made space on the left and his cross was inviting for Brad Ash, but the forward misdirected his header back across goal when he only had Will Buse to beat.

The visitors tried to give their 712 fans something to shout about while shooting towards them at the Bristol End, but Buse was given little scares with Arkell Jude-Boyd and Archer’s ambitious shots from distance easily gathered.

Dyer just failed to connect with Frear’s teasing free-kick and the winger’s corner was headed over by the onrushing Jack Batten.

The second half saw Buse forced into the first save, comfortably handling Brett McGavin’s tame free-kick after Batten had upended Will Jenkins-Davies on the edge of the box.

City should have made the game safe on the hour. Batten’s diagonal was controlled and laid off by Wilson to Dan Hayfield, who spotted the run of Cooke to his left.

With just Halstead to beat, Cooke spooned off target on his unfavoured left foot, denying him a chance of becoming the Romans’ all-time leading scorer in National League South.

Ewan Clark made his return from injury off the bench, replacing Ephraim Yeboah, and his 30-yarder was easily taken by Halstead.

In the second of five minutes added on, the visitors nearly snatched an undeserved equaliser.

Ash got the better of Dan Greenslade down the Torquay right and went for goal from a testing angle, forcing Buse to finger-tip wide.

No further openings meant Frear’s early goal was enough, exacting revenge on the Gulls who ran out victors in November by the same scoreline.

With news of Farnborough’s surprise home defeat to Taunton filtering through, it confirmed City just need to avoid losing by an eight-goal margin in their final game to secure a third play-off campaign in five completed seasons.

Att: 2772

City’s Line-Up: Buse, Greenslade, Dyer, Batten, Parselle (c), Hayfield, Cooke, Smith, Frear, Wilson, Yeboah (Clark 61). Subs not used: Raynes, Idehen, Vassell, Alabi.

Scorers: City – Frear (10); Torquay – none

City Bookings: Yeboah (39), Batten (52), Smith (70), Wilson (82)

Officials: N Pratt, C Hubbard, E Haddrell