Bath City (1) 2 Hungerford Town (0) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Tuesday 13 August 2019 – Twerton Park
Bath City rose to the summit of National League South on Tuesday night by defeating Hungerford Town. The Crusaders, more spirited than their recent feeble attempts at Twerton which had seen nine conceded in their last two visits, ran City close in terms of scoreline, but Bath were largely in control and deserved three points.
Ian Herring’s men lined up with a 4-1-4-1 formation to try and shackle Jerry Gill’s unchanged side, but the hosts saw Alex Hartridge and Tom Smith each have half-chances inside two minutes, though neither tested Adam Siviter. The visitors caused some scares on the break. Liam Ferdinand’s control let him down after James Constable set him away, and a vital block by Harry Hamblin prevented Zidan Akers giving the Crusaders a shock lead. From the midway point of the first half, Bath began to probe more. Tom Smith’s rasping drive was kept out by Siviter, and Tyler Harvey’s glancing header just missed the target. The deadlock was broken on 38 minutes. Connor Riley-Lowe’s free-kick eventually landed to Harvey Smith, who prodded home from close range with Marcus Johnson-Schuster only able to help the ball in when trying to clear, which separated the sides at the break.
A vital interception from George Smith on namesake Tom prevented City notching a second on the hour, with Siviter equal to Harvey’s stinging effort three minutes later. Sixty seconds later, a near identical build-up concluded with a different outcome. This time it was Hamblin trying his luck. Siviter did well to parry, but only into the path of Stearn, who smashed home the loose ball to give his side some breathing space. His second goal of the season, and means his last five have arrived from the substitutes bench. He should have added to that tally. Fellow sub Ryan Brunt robbed Joe Tomlinson and found Stearn unmarked, but he miscued his shot into the ground, with Siviter able to claw it away. A perfectly-timed James Rusby tackle prevented Stearn again, before Brunt was somehow denied from the resulting corner in desperate defending on the goalline from the visitors. Keeping the deficit down gave Hungerford some hope, more so when they pulled one back on the 90-minute mark. Constable was the provider, slipping it through to Kofi Halliday, and the substitute finished with aplomb, coolly dinking over the advancing James Pardington to make stoppage time nervier than it should have been. Hungerford won a few set-pieces in dangerous areas but didn’t make them count as Bath made it three wins from four to hit top spot, perhaps only for 24 hours, for the first time in nearly four years.
City’s Line-Up: Pardington, Raynes (c), Riley-Lowe, T Smith, Mann (Brunt 67), Watkins (Stearn HT), Harvey (Simpson 79), Richards, Hartridge, H Smith, Hamblin. Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Bower.
Scorers: City – H Smith (38), Stearn (64); Hungerford – Halliday (90)
City Bookings: T Smith (53)
Officials: D Wootton, O Spender, N Clinton