Bath City (1) 3 Winchester City (2) 2 – FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round – Saturday 3 October 2020 – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Tom Richards’ deflected strike meant Bath City survived a mighty scare to progress in the FA Cup against Winchester City in the Romans’ 2020/21 curtain raiser. Tommy Conway made a dream start to his Bath career by netting inside two minutes, but a comical Frankie Artus own goal and drilled effort from Tyrell Mitford turned the tie on its head. Conway’s second on 72 minutes drew Bath level before Richards’ winner settled a pulsating tie. Ryan Clarke’s stunning save from Olly Balmer in added time ensured the Romans entered Monday’s draw at the expense of the impressive Southern League Division One South side.
City’s first meaningful attack of the season led to their opening goal. Lloyd James’ spread ball to the right found Callum Evans in space, and his pinpoint low cross was perfect for the onrushing Conway to hammer past the helpless Charlie Philpott from six yards. James and Evans again linked up on 19 minutes, this time the latter went for goal but Philpott was able to palm his stinging drive away to safety. Jamie Barron’s audacious effort ten minutes later left Ryan Clarke scrambling as the stopper was relieved to see the lob from 40 yards land on the roof of the net. Winchester improved as the half went on and were rewarded with a fortunate leveler six minutes before the break. Barron’s hanging corner appeared to be comfortable for Artus, but under no pressure he managed to inadvertently head into his own net to the delight of the visitors. They were sent into raptures just before the break when Jason Pope misjudged Danny King’s long ball forward allowing Mitford to nip in, make room for a shot and flash the ball past Clarke from a tight angle.
City started the second half positively with Ryan Harley’s low ball finding Conway close to goal, but Philpott was alert to palm his shot around the post. Clarke showed similar reactions at the other end to glove behind Barron’s low free-kick and Pope atoned for his first half error with a goal saving challenge on Balmer in a threatening position. Jerry Gill shuffled the pack just shy of the hour, bringing on Richards and Jack Batten, making his first appearance since May 2019, for James and Callum Watts in a switch to 3-5-2. It almost paid off in seconds as Freddie Grant found Conway in the box who worked into space but scuffed his effort too close to the sprawling Philpott. The lively loanee was denied again by Philpott as Clarke’s goal-kick somehow evaded everyone in midfield, leaving the forward not offside and clean through, but he wastefully failed to significantly test the Winchester number one. It was third time lucky for the 18-year-old on 72 minutes. Once again Evans was the creator, this time receiving the ball in space on the right from Max Smith’s shanked clearance. His perfect centre was met by a tidy finish at the front post by Conway to clinch a debut double. Neither side appeared keen to settle for penalties allowing an already open match to provide more entertainment sadly starved of a crowd. Artus’ volley from Harley’s corner was grasped by the unsighted Philpott and at the other end Josh McCormick’s adventurous foray forward saw him warm Clarke’s gloves before his follow-up shot was bent wide. But City always looked a threat in attack themselves and added a decisive third with four minutes left. Richards reacted quickest to a loose ball on the edge of the box and his low strike deflected off both Josh Davies and Kieran Douglas to wrong-foot Philpott and deflate the Citizens. They managed to life themselves to create a final chance in stoppage time when Balmer’s splendid half-volley looked certain for the top corner, but Clarke flung himself to his left and somehow finger-tipped it into the empty Bristol End and finish off the brave resistance from the lower leaguers.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Grant, Smith, Ball, Artus, Evans, Harley, James (Richards 60), Conway, Pope, Watts (Batten 60). Subs not used: Henry, Andrews, Eglin, Bahadur.
Scorers: City – Conway (2, 72), Richards (86); Winchester – Own Goal (39), Mitford (45)
City Bookings: Evans (40)
Officials: M Whaley, C Peters, M Loughlin