Bath City (1) 2 Hungerford Town (1) 3 – Saturday 15 October 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Claudio Ofosu’s 93rd minute header clinched a last gasp victory for Hungerford Town in a dramatic conclusion at Twerton Park.
The debutant’s matchwinner arrived two minutes after City had a strong penalty appeal turn down when Alex Fletcher went down under a challenge from Matt Berry-Hargreaves.
The eventful ending was in-keeping with the rest of the captivating contest, where the Romans came from behind twice.
But Ofosu’s late heroics saw Town snatch victory, their first away win for six months.
The forward, who arrived from Weymouth, was one of three Friday signings for the Crusaders, with Tyla Dickinson arriving on loan from Wycombe as their sixth goalkeeper already this season and attacker Sammy Omperon making the bench.
Hungerford started brightly, barely resembling a side that had scored only four goals all season in National League South. Joel Rollinson’s cross from the right was poked into the side-netting from Niko Muir in their first attack inside two minutes.
He made no mistake with his next opening. George Smith’s hopeful ball forward saw City keeper Joe Wright make the fatal error of trying to intercept outside his box, but was outfoxed by Muir who cleverly touched the ball away from the AWOL keeper and smartly side-footed home from 16 yards. It was his first goal since netting against Town for Billericay back in March and only their second on the road this season.
Wright redeemed himself on 24 minutes when Smith picked out Louis McGrory, left in oceans of space in the penalty box, with his volley towards the corner well parried away.
It proved important as City levelled two minutes later. Elliott Frear’s corner to the back post was easily headed home by Jordan Dyer, with question marks over Dickinson’s decision to stay on his line.
Ofosu was denied by Wright, diving full-stretch to his left and the City keeper tipped McGrory’s effort over as City’s change to a back four didn’t have the desired effect immediately, but they grew into the half with Joe Raynes’ attempted cross coming back off the bar with Dickinson scrambling.
Rollinson was denied by Wright on the counter as Hungerford sought a half-time advantage, instead they had to wait until a minute after the restart.
Jake Evans’ corner to the near post saw George Smith escape namesake Tom and provide a deft header past the helpless Wright.
Scott Wilson nodded over from close range as Dickinson looked shaky with Alex Fletcher’s hanging cross before the forward notched his third goal in two games on 69 minutes.
Seconds after Luke Spokes had been introduced for James Morton, it was fellow substitute Rex Mannings who created the leveller with a defence-splitting pass which Wilson collected and coolly slotted past Dickinson with aplomb to bring City level.
It sparked life into Bath who sensed a winner against their struggling opponents, who seemed content to sit deep and rely on attacks on the break. Frear’s first-time strike was turned away from Dickinson who also gathered from Spokes’ shot from distance which was too close to the on-loan stopper.
Hungerford’s gameplan nearly worked to perfection with a minute of normal time remaining when Omperon found space on the right but he went for glory and wastefully dragged wide with Conor Lynch and Evans screaming for a tap-in.
City responded with what proved to be a major talking point. A patient build-up saw Mannings find Fletcher inside the box, and as he cut inside of Berry-Hargreaves he tumbled to the ground with referee Alex Blake unmoved.
It proved pivotal. With three of the allocated five minutes added on played, Omperon shrugged off Dan Hayfield down the right and delivered a telling cross for Ofosu to superbly guide his header home from six yards.
There was still time for Fletcher to head Frear’s deep cross over the bar but a third equaliser wouldn’t arrive as for a second Saturday running City were left crushed at Twerton Park in what appeared to be a winnable fixture on paper.
City’s Line-Up: Wright, Raynes, Dyer, Batten, Parselle (c), Fletcher, Hayfield, Smith (Mannings 56), Frear, Wilson, Morton (Spokes 68). Subs not used: Clarke, Ford.
Scorers: City – Dyer (26), Wilson (69); Hungerford – Muir (12), Smith (46), Ofusu (90+3)
City Bookings: Batten (65)
Officials: A Blake, C Hubbard, S Jenkins