Bath City (1) 2 Concord Rangers (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 20 January 2018 – Twerton Park
Bath City are back in business at Twerton Park as they eased past Concord Rangers. It was a first win on their own patch since mid-November for the Romans, who climbed a spot to tenth in the National League South standings come full-time. They went ahead just before half-time through Jack Batten, nodding in a Jack Compton free-kick for City’s first home goal in 507 minutes, stoppage time not included. Though Concord only threatened an equaliser sporadically, Compton’s stunning second was gleefully received by most of the 569-strong attendance. Not only did the result end City’s profligate run, it also halted a 13-match unbeaten stretch for Concord.
The visitors’ Harry Lee and Compton traded early efforts, but gradually the Romans began to assert their dominance over the contest. Concord determinedly sat deep with two banks of four in a bid to ward off any City threats. At one point, their entire starting XI was in the defensive third. Yet there was a scare for City when Anthony Straker miscontrolled on the edge of his own box. Andy Freeman picked up the loose ball and shot wide of the far corner with Luke Southwood out of position. Loanees James Morton and Tom Smith linked up impressively on more than one occasion. The first time Morton faked to shoot but instead played through Smith, who hit the side netting. Rangers had a goal disallowed for offside after Miles Welch-Hayes let a left-wing cross run through for Ben Greenhalgh to slide in and stab home, but the official’s flag denied him. Greenhalgh had another shot blocked from close-range but from thereon it was City that took control. A fine reverse ball from Morton sent Smith in again, but rather than shoot early the youngster attempted, and failed, to beat his defender. He would, however, force a save from away stopper Louis Wells’ feet on the back of a mazy run and pass from Welch-Hayes. Artus had Wells flopping to make a save and then drilled a second strike wide, before Straker fed Ross Stearn to curl one narrowly past the far post. Stearn then jagged in from the left and away from his full-back before again missing the target, this time from a tight angle. The Romans came even closer when they had a goal chalked away for offside themselves. Morton burst forward through midfield and found Smith with a beautiful ball, but the flag went up when Smith dinked Wells. Yet City would get the goal they deserved before the break when Compton’s in-swinging free-kick was powered home by Batten’s forehead.
They were good for their lead and rarely looked like giving it up as Rangers relied on occasional breaks for a route back into the contest, though centre-half Lewis Knight did see a header saved. Two more attempts from Stearn failed to trouble Wells, an ambitious 35-yard free-kick that soared into the Bath End, followed by a stinging low effort struck well on the run. There was a let-off for the hosts, however, when Freeman was slipped in behind and, with City players hoping for an offside flag, the Concord wideman somehow missed the target. Handbags ensued and Straker and Morton went in the book when the latter went down and grabbed the ball expecting a free-kick, only to be blown up for handball. A wasteful Lee chipped into Southwood’s gloves when well-placed in the City box and Greenhalgh failed to find Steve Cawley on the counter in another act of prfligacy, while Compton scooped off goal at the other end. Next to try his luck was Stearn, whose low grubber of a shot threatened to squirm in under Wells’ hands. The second would arrive on 81 minutes as Compton bamboozled two defenders on the right side of the Rangers box and whipped a stunner just inside the far post to make sure of the points.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Straker (c), Artus, Amankwaah (Ball 78), Batten, Stearn, Morton, Semenyo (Jarvis 66), Smith, Compton (Rigg 85). Subs not used: Richards, Hodges.
Scorers: City – Batten (43), Compton (81); Concord – none
City Bookings: Welch-Hayes (5), Straker (60), Morton (60), Batten (76)
Officials: S Jackson, S Robertson, R Lawrence