Bath City (1) 2 Chippenham Town (3) 5 – Vanarama National League South – Tuesday 8 August 2017 – Twerton Park
Bath City’s local pride was left battered as Chippenham Town cruised to victory in the first A4 derby for ten years. The Bluebirds masses assembled on the Bath End waited not five minutes before Matt Smith found himself in the right spot to tap home the opener for the visitors. Andy Watkins snuck in to lash home the leveller from a free-kick, but from there Chippenham took control. Old boy Dave Pratt returned with a vengeance and headed Town back in front from an Andy Sandell cross. The duo switched roles two minutes before the interval when Pratt was fouled and Sandell converted from the spot. It became a rout in the second period as Will Richards powered home a header from a corner, and Sandell showed both skill and composure to make it five. Bristol City loanee Connor Lemonheigh-Evans shot home a late penalty to make it just the three-goal deficit come the full-time whistle.
From the outset Chippenham looked to exploit the space behind the City defence with lifted balls over the top for Pratt. It was from a long throw, however, that they broke the deadlock five minutes in. Sandell hurled one into the box from the right and Smith was on hand to divert a flick-on in from close-range. Immediately City responded, Watkins bursting past two defenders and into the box before Jamie Lucas slammed a shot into a defender. Weak appeals for handball were waved away. The lively start continued at the other end as Southwood was forced to cut out a hard-hit cross-cum-shot from Smith, while Jake Andrews tried an ambitious 35-yard half-volley that bounced up kindly for the home keeper. On 11 minutes City were level when a deep Billy Murphy free-kick floated all the way through for Watkins to stylishly smash home at the far post. Alex Ferguson flashed wide for Chippenham after Jack Batten and Darren Jones got in a mess, allowing Pratt to arrow for the box before laying off. The Romans appeared to have put their early malaise aside and began to have more of the game, the best they could muster a Nat Jarvis shot blocked by a defender and a Frankie Artus header that dribbled comfortably wide. Yet the pressure went unconverted and Chippenham were back in front through Pratt come the 20th minute. Another Sandell long throw, this time from the left, was cleared, but the ball found its way back to for him to swing over a cross that strike partner Pratt flicked into the far corner. Only a sliding Jones could keep Sandell off the scoresheet as Pratt sent in a low centre. The defender then could not get a clean connection on a header at the other end, which fell nicely into Jared Thompson’s arms. After a well-played advantage from referee Ryan Atkin, Anthony Straker beat three men on a dart into the penalty area and laid back for Lucas to drill into a defender. Sharper and livelier, the Bluebirds got a deserved third when a hanging Batten leg tripped Pratt and Sandell stepped up to send Southwood the wrong way from 12 yards. It could have been four by the interval when Smith flashed a low effort across goal. The half ended with an effort that summed up the mood at a well-attended Twerton Park, as Connor Lemonheigh-Evans thumped a long-range strike near clean over the Bristol End. There was almost an own goal soon after restart as an Andrews free-kick bounced off Jones and had Southwood scrambling.
Gary Owers threw Naby Diallo and Marvin Morgan on at half-time in lieu of his strike duo, Jarvis and Lucas. The move, however, did not have the desired impact as the game and the ground went into a lull, up to the hour-mark at least when Chippenham tallied their fourth. Ultimately it was a simple goal, Richards leaping largely unchecked to plant a corner into the net. Sandell grabbed himself a second when he held off Miles Welch-Hayes before throwing in a neat turn and slotting past Southwood. Subs Diallo and Morgan were each denied by a combination of the Bluebirds’ defence and shotstopper Jared Thompson, but they would finish with some extra consolation. Watkins dinked a neat pass in to Morgan, who was upended by Richards. Lemonheigh-Evans stepped up to the spot and confidently fired into the bottom-left corner to muted cheers from the beleaguered home faithful.
City Line-Up: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Straker, Batten, Jones (c), Artus, Lemonheigh-Evans, Murphy (Rigg 64), Jarvis (Morgan HT), Lucas (Diallo HT), Watkins. Subs not used: Case, Cafer.
Scorers: Watkins (11), Lemonheigh-Evans (pen 81)
Bookings: Diallo (70), Watkins (90)
Officials: R Atkin, M Shaland, N Whitfield