Bath City (2) 3 Concord Rangers (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 9 November 2019 – Twerton Park
Bath City’s winning run has left the rest of National League South worrying about them, says Jerry Gill. Three goals propelled the Romans up to fifth in National League South as Concord Rangers became the latest victims, 3-1, of their winning streak. They have now triumphed in four straight games – and gone unbeaten in six in all competitions. City flew out of the blocks against Concord and had an early lead through Adam Mann. Tom Clifford equalised for the visitors, but Noah Chilvers netted for the second time in two games to restore the advantage before the break, and Tom Smith made it secure with 15 minutes to go.
“Me and Jim [Rollo] were just chatting in the office and it was fully deserved,” manager Jerry Gill said. “I pay respect to the opposition, but today I thought we were by far the best side out there. We were disappointed we conceded a really poor goal, and that’s me being a bit finnicky I guess, but in all honesty we should have been four-up in the game. We’ve had a couple of good chances, a penalty decision turned down, Tom when he’s gone through could have made it 2-0 on a great flowing move. The goals aside we were terrific as well. It was a real front-foot, strong performance from our boys.”
The Romans ran the show from the get-go and took a deserved lead in just the sixth minute. Concord failed to clear a corner out of the final third, which Pearson picked up on, dashed down the right and crossed to the near post, where Mann was on hand to deflect his finish in off the far stick. There’s was no let up as City looked a constant threat on the attack, Pearson and Smith set free in the channels on multiple counters. After Concord keeper Chris Haigh thwarted a couple of crosses, he had to smother an effort to deny Smith. It was Ollie Kensdale that set the move off, playing Pearson in down the left, his pass across the box perhaps a yard too heavy as Haigh dashed off his line to meet Smith’s pointblank shot. Yet out of nowhere the visitors found themselves level on the half-hour. A throw-in from the right found Decarrey Sheriff, who got free of a couple of defenders to draw a diving stop from Ryan Clarke, but the rebound ran for Clifford to force past the keeper. That leveller matched last week’s scenario at Dulwich Hamlet, when the Romans also went on to finish up 3-1 victors.
“We have good reactions at the moment,” Gill said. “We don’t want goals to affect games, but they do. But the lads have got the right mindset at the moment to put the foot on the gas again. We’re breaking games down into spells at the moment – when to press, when not to press – and the shape and the system looks good with the players we’ve got. In that you’ve got some really exciting individual performances as well. It’s full of energy at the moment and confidence gives you that. When you’re a bit low on confidence your energy drops away a bit at times. Four wins in a row, we’re not going to get carried away with things, but that’s a great little run that puts us in a strong position in the play-offs. It’s got teams worrying about us.”
City responded with an effort dragged wide by Artus, before Pearson jagged in from the left and hit a dipping shot off target. They would have the lead back before the interval though. Pearson, released down the right by Raynes, saw his cross fall for Mann, only for the frontman to mishit his strike. But his blushes were spared as the ball instead found its way for Chilvers to drive across the keeper and restore the advantage. There was still time left before the break for some half-hearted penalty shouts when Pearson went down trying to round a defender, referee Daniel Lamport waving off the appeals.
Seconds after the break Clarke was forced into action as David Olufemi went on a mazy run into the City box and drew a full-stretch save. The Romans almost found a third twice in the space of mere seconds. Up for a free-kick, Dan Bowry’s header first had Haigh scrambling across his line to save, before Alex Hartridge’s follow-up was hooked off the line. In front of the Bristol End Jack Cawley was next to be kept out by Clarke as the City gloveman, on his return to the team after missing out on the victory against Dulwich Hamlet, made another strong stop. Concord looked to turn up the heat in search of a leveller, but their hopes were dashed as the hosts bagged a third. Smith grabbed the goal, collecting and beating a couple of defenders before rifling past Haigh, all after his initial attempted pass for Andy Watkins had been blocked off. Rangers still refused to relent; Aron Pollock’s header was kept out by another fine save from Clarke and Michael Barrington hit a difficult bouncing ball into the Bristol End. But overall City remained steadfast to make sure there was no late comeback and maintain their winning run, which they will next take into Saturday’s away day at fellow promotion hopefuls Havant & Waterlooville.
Gill said: “It all bodes well for Havant away next week. We’ve got a bit of work to do before we do that. At the moment when your team’s playing like that, it’s just ticking them over. We help them out as much as we can Thursdays, we do a lot of work on the opposition, tactically we have to tweak it like we did today when they were constantly tweaking it and changing it. But the boys are really buying into every thing we’re doing. It’s down to them, they’re the ones that have to carry out all the work on the pitch and at the moment we look a good side.”
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Riley-Lowe, T Smith (Brunt 79), Bowry, Artus, Mann (Watkins 70), Chilvers, Pearson, Hartridge, Kensdale. Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Stearn, Richards.
Scorers: City – Mann (6), Chilvers (40), T Smith (74); Concord – Clifford (30)
City Bookings: Mann (14), Artus (72), Chilvers (90+1)
Officials: D Lamport, B White, G Pearce