Bath City (1) 2 Sholing FC (0) 0 – FA Trophy 1st Round – Tuesday 17 December 2019 – Twerton Park
Report by Kelston Koppite
Bath City advanced into the 2nd Round of the Buildbase FA Trophy with a convincing victory over Sholing at Twerton Park. A goal in each half from Ryan Brunt and Andy Watkins proved sufficient to see off the challenge of the Southern League Division One South outfit in a game that was largely dominated by the hosts.
Sholing started the brighter of the two sides and pinned City back in their own half in the early stages. However, the first attempt at goal came in the 9th minute from Adam Mann, whose firm shot from 25 yards was pushed away by visiting keeper Ryan Gosney. Brunt then found Tom Smith beyond the far post, but the midfielder fired over the crossbar.
The Boatmen responded on 11 minutes with an effort from distance by Stuart Green that was straight at City custodian Ryan Clarke. Thereafter, Bath began to dominate midfield possession and caused problems for the Sholing defence with their pace and movement.
Brunt’s shot from the edge of the box flew wide of the target, and Watkins then did well to chase a ball into the box and pull his pass back into Smith’s path. Alas, the latter lifted his shot over the top once again.
The hosts made their superiority pay in the 23rd minute as they took the lead. A slick passing move ended with Brunt’s angled shot finding the back of the net via the inside of the far post.
Sholing almost responded immediately, as Alex Sawyer pursued a bouncing ball into the City area but, when he attempted to lift his shot over the advancing Clarke, the keeper did well to palm the ball to safety.
Chilvers came close to extending City’s advantage on the half hour mark when his shot from outside the box looked destined for the top corner, but Gosney made an excellent diving save at full stretch.
As half time approached, Brunt’s attempt from 20 yards was well wide, and Watkins’ curler drifted narrowly over the angle of post and crossbar. Watkins had another golden opportunity to score in stoppage time when he robbed a Sholing defender inside his own box, but Gosney saved bravely at his feet.
The second half commenced with City remaining well in command, and Gosney needed to be alert to save at Smith’s feet following a low cross from Mann. Mann then drew a good save from the keeper with a firm drive from 25 yards.
The busy Gosney was called upon again on 53 minutes when Joe Raynes tried his luck from distance, the keeper parrying the shot and was relieved to see the ball roll away to safety.
City’s pressure continued and Watkins found Smith with a ball in from the left, but the midfielder’s effort was deflected for a corner, from which Dan Ball headed wide of the near post.
Sholing had a rare sight of goal in the 58th minute following a corner from the right that picked out Dan Mason, whose header lacked the power to beat Clarke. The visitors were made to pay for this missed opportunity as City doubled their lead within a minute. Raynes found space on the right and crossed into the box, where Watkins directed the ball under Gosney’s dive and into the corner of the net.
The home side thought that they had registered again after 61 minutes, but Smith’s deft flick beyond Gosney was ruled out by an offside flag.
With City now in almost total control, Connor Riley-Lowe and Jordan Simpson replaced Watkins and Smith respectively. Sholing continued to battle manfully, but were unable to make any impression on the home rearguard, and it was City who looked the more likely to add to the scoreline. Riley-Lowe took a 79th minute free kick in a dangerous position 25 yards from goal, but his effort was too close to Gosney, who gathered comfortably. Simpson then shot just wide of the near post from outside the area.
Frankie Artus made way for Tom Richards on 81 minutes, and the final opening of the evening fell to Brunt. The striker was slipped through on goal by Mann, but Gosney made a brave blocking save at his feet.
Whilst City were fully deserving of their victory, Sholing gave a good account of themselves and continued to compete until the final whistle. However, the two division gulf between the sides was clearly evident, and the hosts were rarely troubled beyond the opening exchanges of the first half. The reward for this victory is a trip to the Canvey Island home of Concord Rangers, but Jerry Gill’s men will now focus on Saturday’s visit to Eastbourne Borough being their next National League South assignment.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, T Smith (Simpson 75), Bowry, Artus (Richards 81), Mann, Watkins (Riley-Lowe 62), Chilvers, Brunt, Ball, Hartridge. Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Stearn, Kensdale, Eglin.
Scorers: City – Brunt (23), Watkins (59); Sholing – none
City Bookings: Bowry (72)
Officials: R Massey-Ellis, A Berrow, D Robinson