Bath City (2) 2 Hampton & Richmond Borough (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 3 February 2018 – Twerton Park
Two goals before the break and a determined defensive effort on their return helped Bath City boost their play-off hopes while putting a dent in Hampton & Richmond Borough’s title bid. Hosting the second-placed Beavers, City put two disappointing away performances behind them by seeing off their visitors with little fuss. They were two goals to the good by the 25-minute mark through a Frankie Artus header and Jack Compton penalty. Luke Southwood was called upon to make a smattering of impressive saves on an afternoon his goal rarely looked like being breached.
There was little to warm the chill around Twerton Park for the opening ten minutes. Brendan Kiernan rolled an early effort comfortably into Southwood’s hands, while Ross Stearn screwed the first City shot wide from 30 yards at the Bath End. But gradually the hosts and their midfield began to find some rhythm. A wonderful reverse pass from Artus almost produced the opener for Tom Smith, whose attempted finish was charged down by Hampton keeper Manny Agboola. The lead was theirs just after the quarter-hour when Artus’s glanced header nestled in the bottom corner from Compton’ whipped right-flank free-kick. The wideman then added a goal of his own to that assist, sending Agboola the wrong way from the spot after Josh Casey had upended Nat Jarvis in the penalty area. It could easily have been three before the break when Stearn made the most of a couple of kind bounces and raced down the left. His cut-back found Jarvis around the penalty mark, but the frontman screwed horribly wide of the Hampton goal. The Beavers could also count themselves a little lucky when James Morton picked up on a skied Agboola clearance and crossed just clear of Compton. Though City were resolute in defence throughout the first half, Southwood was called upon to make a superb double save before the whistle. Having sprawled low to his left to keep out Josh Taylor’s header, the Reading loanee then rose quick enough to block the follow-up from Christian Jolley. Any other danger produced by the visitors, however, was dealt with relatively comfortably.
The City stopper was called upon once again to deny Hampton a route back into the contest come the second period. A deadly through ball from Shandon Baptiste had Kiernan in behind and trying to race around Southwood, but the keeper stayed on his feet and shut down the angle long enough to repel the Hampton man’s attempt. In no mood to give up their advantage, the home defence held their own as the London side built a spell of pressure, which ended when Kiernan’s effort was blocked out. There were more City bodies on the line when Hampton right-back Ben Wynter had two efforts blocked, the second from the resulting corner, while a stinging strike from substitute Harry Crawford also found a black and white shirt. In a period of slim City chances, their best opportunity came and went when a Stearn free-kick was skewed just over the crossbar, but called back for offside anyway. It all went a bit tame entering the final ten minutes, a half-hearted header from big striker Elliott Charles and an attempted curler from Crawford both held by the well-positioned Southwood as Hampton’s comeback hopes ran down. There was still time before the end for Bristol City loanee Antoine Semenyo to come on, weave past a defender and have Agboola scrambling to keep out a third.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Straker (c), Artus, Batten, Ball, Stearn, Morton, Jarvis (Semenyo 77), Compton (Buck 86), Smith. Subs not used: Case, Richards, Hodges.
Scorers: City – Artus (17), Compton (pen 25); Hampton – none
City Bookings: Artus (55), Semenyo (83)
Officials: T Reeves, A Berrow, A Ricketts