Bath City (1) 1 Truro City (0) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 2 March 2019 – Twerton Park
Bath City missed a chance to further cement a play-off spot as they were held by hard-working Truro City at Twerton Park, on a day where no side in the top half of National League South won. Anthony Straker’s early penalty opened the scoring but, having spurned further chances, the Romans were made to pay when former Bath loanee Tyler Harvey notched his 21st goal of the season to rescue a point for the Cornishmen. Andy Watkins, ex-Truro, was recalled in place of Ross Stearn with Dan Ball returning to the bench having spent a month on loan at Tiverton. Truro were hit by injuries to Louis Rooney and Michael Herve and suspension to Jordan Copp; leaving 47-year-old assistant boss Michael Meaker as one of their substitutes.
Adam Mann and Freddie Hinds won the competition for places up front for Jerry Gill’s men and proved their worth inside two minutes. Picking the ball up from Straker, Mann set Hinds away down the left. His attempt to skip past Nick Grimes was swiftly ended by the Truro centre-back, who clumsily bundled him over and referee Scott Jackson pointed to the spot. Having seen a penalty saved last week, few would have forgiven Straker for appearing edgy. If he was, he disguised it well, easily sending Harvey Rivers the wrong way to open the scoring.
It was Truro’s 66th goal conceded this season – a league high – and this appeared evident minutes later when Mann’s free-kick was met by the head of Sean Rigg, left totally unmarked. Ben Harding rescued the White Tigers by nodding off the line with Rivers beaten. After this early surge the game lost some of its sparkle. Truro often opted for the direct route with Harvey and Jared Lewington having to deal with precious little service. Dan Rooney scuffed straight at Ryan Clarke from twenty yards in a mere glimmer of an opening. They had a better chance just past the half hour. Niall Thompson did superbly well down the right, out-foxing Anthony Straker and getting to the byline. His low delivery was helped into the air by Robbie Cundy, with Clarke getting little distance on his punch. It fell invitingly to Alex Battle, but with a crowd of bodies on the line he couldn’t find a way through and Watkins was perfectly placed to parry behind for a corner via his chest. He proved his worth at the other end; teeing up Hinds who couldn’t get a full connection behind his shot and Rivers batted it out. Mann was next to test the Truro custodian when Straker’s intricate ball left him one-on-one, but the keeper made himself big and got his legs in the way of his strike.
A tactical switch saw Ryan Brunt replace Watkins at the break and Mann drop into a deeper role. With a more focal point up front, City tried to use him early on. Rigg’s hanging cross picked out the substitute, but he could only head straight at Rivers. Hinds was next to be presented with a chance after Mann played him through. He did well to wrong-foot Rivers but watched on as his shot trickled agonisingly against the outside of the post before being scrambled clear.
Rivers had to be at his best to turn behind a near own goal when Rigg’s miss-hit shot took a huge deflection off Harvey, with the prolific front man relieved to not record one at the wrong end. He shook off a shoulder injury before chesting down for Battle, but the Plymouth loanee blazed well over from distance. Thompson and Connor Riley-Lowe were keen to get forward as wing-backs regularly, with the former proving to be a real handful. Having scampered down the right, his cross was perfect for Harvey, but Jack Batten was ideally placed to charge down his volley. Jason Banton – on loan from Torquay – was introduced soon after for his Truro debut with Stearn on for Mann in City’s second change. Banton’s introduction gave more lift to the away side. His free-kick located the unmarked Harvey, but he skewed off target when well placed. Stearn made an impact himself from the bench; sending a powerful drive just wide and then freeing Hinds as the Truro defence were left exposed. In trying to dink Rivers he got his angles wrong and sent it wide.
It proved a costly miss as Truro levelled with 11 minutes left. Joe Raynes was caught napping by Rooney, who found Battle in space. His through-ball left Harvey bearing down on goal. Clarke initially saved but the former City man was quick enough to prod in the rebound from a tight angle. Without him it’s certain Truro would be entrenched in a relegation dogfight. He’s scored 36 percent of their league goals this season, a league high for an individual player. Rigg tried his luck from distance with a raking drive which grazed the top of the bar but, despite looking content for a draw, Truro could have nicked all three points when Banton’s pull-back found fellow substitute Steven Ziboth, but he smashed over from close range.
Although City weren’t at their fluent best, they still had chances to see off a dogged Truro side who have netted in eight consecutive away matches and proved tough opponents for many recently. Gill’s charges will hope to heap more home misery on an out-of-form Hemel Hempstead, who have one win in 12, next week and avenge a 1-0 loss at Twerton in November.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Straker (c), Batten, Watkins (Brunt HT), Rigg, Hinds, Mann (Stearn 64), Cundy, Raynes, Romanski, Morton. Subs not used: Ball, H Wiles-Richards, Smith.
Scorers: City – Straker (pen 3); Truro – Harvey (79)
City Bookings: Hinds (11), Rigg (55)
Officials: S Jackson, A Ricketts, S Annis