Bath City (1) 2 Slough Town (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 23 February 2019 – Twerton Park
Home advantage told for Bath City as they recorded a fifth successive success at Twerton Park by seeing off Slough Town. Goals from Bristol City loanees, Freddie Hinds and James Morton, clinched a deserved three points and helped the Romans return to winning ways after three league matches without. Joe Raynes and Joe Romanski returned from injury and illness to replace Leon Davies and Frankie Artus, the latter among the substitutes. Sean Rigg was also drafted in ahead of Tom Smith, giving City an attacking looking setup, which paid off in the opening ten minutes.
After a disastrous beginning at Concord, the Romans were keen to make amends and left Slough almost camped in their own half. Hinds had the first sight on goal but from an acute angle he flashed a shot well wide. Having seen off the relentless pressure from Bath’s frontmen, Slough enjoyed an encouraging spell of possession, giving the hosts a few jittery moments at the back. Billy Clifford’s free-kick was nodded on by Mark Nisbet to Manny Williams, who did well to readjust before his effort bounced against the outside of the post. Another glimmer saw Louie Soares capitalise from Ross Stearn losing possession on the edge of his penalty box, but Ryan Clarke was equal to his snap-shot at the near post. Romanski followed Williams in testing the goal frame, heading against the top of the bar from Adam Mann’s corner, before Williams himself forced a smart block from Clarke having been left in space. Slough were well in the game without giving Clarke any further problems, but one slip on 28 minutes proved costly. Mann won the ball down the right and his pass deceived the flat-footed Sam Togwell, who was given no chance in a foot race with Hinds. Goalkeeper Jack Turner narrowed the angle, but Hinds waited for him to commit, nonchalantly strolled around him and touched the ball into the empty net.
It was tremendous composure and a finish so rarely seen nowadays, with players often keen to rush a shot away. Hinds’ patience deserved his second goal in stripes. He should have won a penalty four minutes later. Once again Togwell was involved, Hinds’ attempt to shuffle past him saw the Slough captain grapple with the frontman and appear to haul him down.
Referee Alex Blake waved away protests, and it was one of some bemusing, inconsistent decisions from the man in black. Turner proved his worth just before half-time when Anthony Straker’s low cross was inadvertently met by Togwell, but the Town stopper showed brilliant reflexes to parry behind with his feet.
If matches ended at half-time, Slough would be top of the league, but it’s after the break they’ve suffered issues, losing a second half in five of their previous six matches. They did their best to extend that statistic swiftly after the restart when Hinds, trying to latch on to Stearn’s fizzed ball, fell to ground following a tussle with Sean Fraser. Blake this time pointed to the spot, instigating a face-off between Bath City’s penalty expert, versus a penalty saving expert. The latter won. Turner, who kept out a remarkable eight from 12 two seasons ago with Staines, dived to his left and parried Straker’s precise kick, preventing a sixth successive conversion. It didn’t knock the confidence of the hosts as they should have put the game to bed. Stearn blazed off target after Hinds’ intelligent pass slipped him through on goal. Rigg was harshly booked for shooting over within a split second of being flagged offside, further adding to the irritation of the Twerton Park faithful. He was withdrawn swiftly afterwards for Andy Watkins, with Ryan Brunt also entering the fray for Adam Mann. Brunt made an immediate impact. Picking up the ball down the right, his centre for Hinds looked perfect for a tap-in from point-blank range, but Turner was on to it like a flash, somehow smothering the ball on the line much to the striker’s amazement.
It took until the 73rd minute for Slough to register a shot on goal in the second half, with Clifford sailing an effort well over. The visitors were unsurprisingly toothless, with leading goalscorers James Dobson and Mathew Stevens having departed in January and Ben Harris and Chris Flood injured within minutes of each other a week before at Dartford, it meant the forwards left on the field hadn’t scored a league goal between them all season. But City weren’t much better in front of goal. Stearn found himself one-on-one again from Brunt’s pass but dinked off target and it was practically his last involvement, Smith on in his place. Hinds showed his willingness to defend for the cause, nipping the ball off Josh Jackman when he set himself after Simon Dunn’s cross found him in space. The visitors, also irked with some decisions going against them, protested wildly for a penalty when Warren Harris’s header inside appeared to brush against the arm of Robbie Cundy, but nothing was given. It took until the 91st minute for City to wrap up the win. Clifford’s poor free-kick was easily dealt with and City broke with three attackers against one defender. Hinds led the siege and slipped it through to Morton, who sumptuously lofted it over the stranded Turner from 25 yards; quite a way to mark his first goal for Bath City.
There was still time for Brunt and Hinds to join referee Blake’s packed notebook, containing eight cautions, as City comfortably saw out the closing moments with minimum of fuss. It was a deserved success and a good day at the office for Gill’s charges. With three of the next four fixtures at home, they’ll be hoping to further cement a place in the top seven.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Straker (c), Batten, Rigg (Watkins 66), Hinds, Stearn (Smith 80), Mann (Brunt 70), Cundy, Raynes, Romanski, Morton. Subs not used; H Wiles-Richards, Artus.
Scorers: City – Hinds (28), Morton (90+3); Slough – none
City Bookings: Stearn (14), Rigg (62), Raynes (90), Brunt (90+3), Hinds (90+4)
Officials: A Blake, A James, A Baker