Bath City (2) 2 Chippenham Town (0) 0 – Sunday 2 January 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Bath City secured a league double over local rivals Chippenham Town thanks to two goals in first half stoppage time.
Will Richards’ own goal and Alex Fletcher’s finish from an acute angle saw the Romans claim two wins in a week against their Wiltshire opponents.
Chippenham rallied in the second half but posed few problems for Ryan Clarke as City collected their first league clean sheet since the second match of the season.
The win helped Jerry Gill’s men rise to 13th, just five points off the play-offs following the new year fixtures.
The Bluebirds headed to Twerton Park on the back of a fine 3-0 win at Hungerford five days previous, and with their only away defeat in the league this season arriving at league leaders Maidstone United.
They started confidently with Harry Parsons’ awkward low drive being palmed around the post by Clarke.
Richards was extremely fortunate to not collect a yellow card when Alefe Santos’ cross was deliberately and obviously punched over the bar by the centre-back, who received a talking to and nothing more.
After this bright opening by the away side, it was City, sporting their away colours in support of the Shelter #NoHomeKit campaign, who usurped control.
Fletcher couldn’t adjust his body correctly to divert in Mo Touray’s fizzing cross and Tom Smith miscontrolled at the vital moment following a fiendish delivery from former Chippenham man Eddie Jones.
Kieran Parselle headed Ricky Aguiar’s free-kick wide and Aguiar, scorer in the reverse fixture at Hardenhuish, warmed Clarke’s gloves with a curler from 25 yards.
City had a claim for a penalty turned down when Touray appeared to be shoved by Richards as Chippenham lived a charmed life at the back, illustrated further when Will Henry’s attempt to shepherd the ball behind went awry thanks to the persistence of Cody Cooke. The striker fended off the goalkeeper and laid back to Omar Holness whose strike was blocked by a combination of Richards and Parselle with appeals from City players that either centre-back had used an arm.
A tremendous block from Callum Wood deflected Parsons’ attempt over after Clarke failed to get full purchase in punching away Ethan Hill’s ball forward.
City took the lead 12 seconds into first half stoppage time in bizarre fashion.
Fletcher’s surging run to the byline saw his cross palmed away by Henry straight against the shoulder of Richards with both having to watch on as the ball bounced back agonisingly over the line for an own goal.
It sparked a lively few minutes to end the opening period. Jones was flattened by Santos in front of the dugouts which sparked a melee between both teams, eventually settled by two yellow cards for each side, Jones the unfortunate recipient of one of them.
When play restored, Jack Batten’s free-kick following the incident was flicked on by Cooke to Fletcher, who shimmied along the byline and somehow slipped the ball beyond Henry at his near post.
After a dramatic, action-packed first half, the second was surprisingly forgettable, which suited the Romans.
Joe Raynes’ arrowing drive nicked off Spencer Hamilton and flew inches wide, with Batten’s header from the resulting corner just missing Henry’s right post.
Chippenham had a penalty appeal turned down on 79 minutes when Parsons tried to spin away from Batten before falling to ground with the officials uninterested.
Fletcher tried to wrap up a fine individual performance but shanked horribly off target from 18 yards.
Joe Hanks’ corner gave City a few issues as Clarke could only bat it to substitute Abdulrasaq Tajudeen, whose attempt at a first goal for his club was twice prevented by the presence of Zak Delaney on the line.
It was that sort of determination which helped claim City’s first shutout in the league at Twerton since the opening day, with Wood edging out the others thanks to another superb display from the defender who has seldom put a foot wrong for the stripes since arriving on loan from Bristol City in the summer.
Overall a perfect Christmas and New Year for Jerry Gill, who remains unbeaten in eight contests in the A4 derby. He’ll be hoping his side continue to do the business some 170 miles further east at Chelmsford City on Saturday.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes (Kadji 56), Delaney, Batten, Wood, Fletcher (Richards 87), Holness, Cooke, Smith, Jones, Touray (Frear 81). Subs not used: Ball, Fuller.
Scorers: City – Own Goal (45+1), Fletcher (45+6); Chippenham – none
City Bookings: Smith (45+4), Jones (45+4), Holness (73), Touray (74)
Officials: M Whaley, C Hubbard, P Barber