Bath City (0) 2 Oxford City (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Tuesday 5 September 2017 – Twerton Park
Bath City produced another second half comeback to earn a hard-fought victory over Oxford City at Twerton Park. Trailing by an own goal by debutant Kevin Amankwaah at the break, the hosts turned the game on its head with two quick-fire goals midway through the second half.
The match began in a similar pattern to Saturday’s encounter with Welling United as Bath struggled to make any impression on proceedings, with possession of the ball in short supply. Consequently, Oxford made all the early running and they had an excellent opportunity to take the lead in the 6th minute. Eddie Jones found himself clean though on goal but, with home keeper Luke Southwood racing out to narrow the angle, he hurriedly shot wide of the target from the edge of the box.
Southwood made a good diving save on 14 minutes to push Dave Pearce’s low free kick from 20 yards round the base of his post at the expense of a corner, which came to nothing. At the other end, Nick McCootie’s shot from just inside the area was straight at visiting goalkeeper Jack Stevens.
Amankwaah crossed the ball from the right in the 25th minute and picked out Jamie Lucas, whose shot was steered across the face of goal and wide of the far post, but three minutes later the full back was in the action again for all the wrong reasons. The referee, Mr Richard Hulme of Radstock, awarded a highly dubious free kick against the home side and, when Zac McEachran delivered the ball into the danger area, Amankwaah crashed a diving header into his own net beyond the powerless Southwood.
Oxford had the chance to double their advantage on the half hour mark when Reece Fleet raced through on goal, but he was denied by the advancing Southwood who made a brave blocking save at his feet.
The Romans continued to lack any cohesion in their play and had another escape five minutes before the interval. Eddie Jones crossed from the right and picked out the unmarked Pearce in front of goal, but the ball bobbled badly causing his attempted shot to balloon into the air, and this allowed the home defence to clear the danger.
Bath emerged early from the dressing room ahead of the restart, but it was Oxford who continued to threaten. Eddie Jones fired a shot straight at Southwood from 18 yards, and Matt Paterson’s effort from distance was comfortably collected by the home custodian.
The hosts gradually began to build some momentum, and succeeded in putting the away defence under pressure for the first time. Morgan’s 58th minute angled shot was scrambled round the post by Stevens and, from the resulting Jack Compton corner, Jack Batten thumped a near post header into the roof of the net from 6 yards, giving the keeper no chance.
Within a minute, Bath had forged in front when the ball was slipped through to Lucas, and the forward calmly slotted his shot inside the far post beyond Stevens’ despairing dive.
The home side were now in control and almost increased their advantage after 63 minutes. Compton’s perfectly flighted ball over the defence from in front of the dugouts saw Marvin Morgan lift his shot over the keeper, but the forward could only watch as it agonisingly landed on to the top of the unguarded net.
The home side remained in the ascendancy for a sustained period thereafter, but a series of substitutions resulted in Oxford applying considerable pressure for the final 10 minutes. Dan Ball, Nat Jarvis and Miles Welch-Hayes came on for Compton, Frankie Artus and Darren Jones respectively, as Gary Owers’ men were forced to defend in numbers.
Despite their efforts, Oxford were unable to create any clear-cut openings, with Southwood repeatedly demonstrating command of his box in the air. The closest the Oxfordshire side came to an equaliser was Paterson’s header that drifted narrowly over the home crossbar. Indeed, Bath almost added gloss to the scoreline deep into stoppage time when Morgan battled his way through a number of challenges into the Oxford box, only to be denied by Stevens’ blocking save.
Whilst the hosts were well below par before the break, they deserved their victory for their second half recovery and determination to overcome their deficit. Oxford played their full part in the game and had the greater share of possession overall, but it was Bath’s greater potency in front of goal that eventually proved decisive. The Romans will now make the long journey to Concord Rangers on Saturday in confident mood as they look to continue their climb up the table.
City’s Line Up: Southwood, Amankwaah, Straker, Batten, Jones (c) (Welch-Hayes 84), Case, McCootie, Artus (Jarvis 80), Lucas, Morgan, Compton (Ball 80). Sub not used: Wollacott.
Scorers: City – Batten (58), Lucas (59); Oxford – Own Goal (28)
City Bookings: Case (86), McCootie (88)
Officials: R Hulme, H Moore, M Halford