Bath City (2) 2 Chelmsford City (1) 3 – Saturday 2 December 2023 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Ten-man Chelmsford recovered from 2-0 down to stun Bath City at a freezing Twerton Park.
Two Cody Cooke first half penalties put City in the driving seat, the second combined with a red card for visiting skipper Jazzi Barnum-Bobb.
But a remarkable turnaround by Robbie Simpson’s men, including a Freddie Hockey double, saw them keep up their fine away form – no team has more than their 21 points on the road this season.
It was the first time in Jerry Gill’s tenure that his side had lost from a two-goal lead.
After a lively start, City won the first of their spot-kicks on eight minutes. Oscar Thorn’s loose touch was followed by one from Ben Brookes, who compounded his error by foolishly upending the winger.
Cooke stepped up and having seen a penalty saved at Farnborough seven days previous, was relieved to see Jacob Marsden not quite get across to his well-placed kick.
Chelmsford youngster Hockey tested Will Buse at his near post and Jermaine Francis just failed to connect with Brookes’ testing cross from the left.
The hosts had chances too with Cooke’s volley tipped around by Marsden, who also stopped Jordan Thomas after his initial corner had been cleared.
A second penalty looked to have killed off the contest inside the first half.
Jack Batten’s superbly lofted ball was controlled by Cooke who was shoved over by Barnum-Bobb as he threatened to shoot. The defender was red-carded for a professional foul, a fourth dismissal in five games for the Essex outfit.
Cooke’s second kick saw Marsden got two hands on the ball but it span behind him and in to give his side a mountain to climb.
Simpson’s charges threw caution to the wind and continued to attack in the dying stages of the half, where their efforts were rewarded.
Josh Castiglione’s mazy run and teasing ball from the byline was inadvertently headed into his own net by Dan Greenslade from close range with Hockey certain to score regardless of the defender’s intervention.
A dipping strike from Callum Watts after the break needed Buse at full-stretch to tip over.
City dealt with the resulting corner but made a hash of the next as Thomas tripped Charlie Ruff, giving referee Matthew Jackson little option but to award a third penalty of the contest.
Hockey, 18, showed nerves of steel to leather into the top left corner.
Astonishingly, he had his second within two minutes to complete the turnaround. Buse’s poor clearance saw Fin Barbrook play in Ruff, who expertly steered it into the path of the onrushing Hockey. The striker finished with aplomb under Buse to send the visiting players and supporters into ecstasy.
The same two nearly combined shortly after with a near identical pass through from Ruff, but this time Buse thwarted the forward.
Chelmsford were nearly responsible for their own downfall with lengthy stoppage time added due to their regular visits from the physio, plus a member of their coaching staff booked.
During this City had a couple of chances with Thomas’ corner nearly dipping straight in before Dan Hayfield’s free-kick was charged down by the wall.
That determination got its just rewards for Chelmsford who clinched their third successive win at Twerton, and by far their most memorable at the venue.
City’s Line-Up: Buse, Greenslade, Dyer, Batten (Raynes 69), Parselle (c), Hayfield, Cooke, Thomas, Thorn (Clark 54), Wilson, Russe (Smith 75). Subs not used: Frear, Lines.
Scorers: City – Cooke (pen 8, pen 42); Chelmsford – Own Goal (45), Hockey (pen 60, 62)
City Bookings: none
Officials: M Jackson, T Green, C Davenport