Bath City (2) 3 Dulwich Hamlet (1) 2 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 22 February 2020 – Twerton Park
Report by Kelston Koppite
Tom Smith completed a brilliant hat-trick to earn Bath City all three points against a spirited Dulwich Hamlet side in an entertaining match at a blustery Twerton Park. The visitors twice came back from behind, but were unable to respond again after Smith had netted his third for the afternoon.
Playing towards the Bath end in the first half with the elements in their favour, Hamlet made the early running, and City keeper Ryan Clarke needed to be alert to repel Dominic Vose’s deflected shot in the 6th minute, conceding a corner kick in the process. Shamir Mullings then sliced a shot well wide from inside the home area, before Danny Mills nodded over Clarke’s crossbar following a long throw-in that had been flicked on.
The hosts responded with an Alex Hartridge cross from the left in the 12th minute that narrowly eluded the head of the diving Sam Pearson. City were now beginning to find their passing game and took the lead on 15 minutes. Pearson’s persistence down the left concluded with the winger heading the ball into the path of Smith, who swivelled before finding the corner of the net with the aid of a nick off a defender, giving Dulwich custodian Charlie Grainger precious little chance.
Bath were now in the ascendancy, although the London side always looked dangerous going forward. Joe Raynes shot straight at Grainger from an inviting position on 22 minutes, but City survived a massive scare four minutes later. A long throw from Marvin McCoy resulted in absolute pandemonium inside the home six yard box, with a combination of Dan Ball and Raynes scrambling the ball to safety off the goalline. Clarke was injured in the general mayhem and required lengthy treatment before continuing, albeit sporting a noticeable limp for the remainder of the game.
The City stopper produced another excellent diving save to keep out Voce’s drive from outside the box, but was powerless to prevent Dulwich levelling in the 40th minute. Dan Martin was robbed of possession out wide by Jeffrey Monakana, who sent a cross into the danger area. The ball fell to Mullings, and his deflected shot from 12 yards flew into the roof of the net.
Undeterred by this setback, the hosts retook the lead two minutes later following a flowing move down the left. Martin delivered an enticing cross into the box, where it was met by Smith’s perfectly timed run, the midfielder emphatically crashing the ball into the net from close range.
The second half commenced with the game flowing from end to end and, despite the wind now being behind their backs as they played down the slope, City were unable to put the Hamlet defence under consistent undue pressure. Raynes shot from 25 yards in the 52nd minute was wide of the target and, on the hour mark, Pearson’s scuffed effort from 20 yards was easily collected by Grainger. Smith then saw his deflected shot pass narrowly wide of the near post and, on 66 minutes, Raynes’ brought a useful diving save from the visiting gloveman.
Dulwich continued to play their full part in proceedings and always posed a threat up front. Indeed, City had an escape after 68 minutes when Clarke spilled a cross from the left that fell to Monakana, who somehow scooped his shot over the bar from 6 yards.
Ryan Brunt was brought on in place of Frankie Artus in the 75th minute and, a minute later, Dan Bowry’s long range effort was directed straight at Grainger, who gathered without issue.
With Bath unable to drive home their overall advantage, they were made to pay with 11 minutes left on the clock. Monakana’s corner from the left picked out Mills, and City’s perennial nemesis scored his customary goal with a well-placed header into the bottom corner.
Rather than licking their wounds, the hosts immediately raised their game again and were rewarded with a truly spectacular winning goal from the boot of Smith. The midfielder found space 30 yards out and unleashed an unstoppable drive into the top corner of the net, leaving Grainger grasping helplessly at thin air.
To their credit, Dulwich refused to throw in the towel and Mills had a good chance as the game entered stoppage time. A cross from the right found the forward at the far post but, under pressure from Ball’s well timed challenge, he was unable to make good contact and the opportunity was lost. There was still time for Mills to head wide of the target following a long throw into the City box, but the home side held on for victory.
This was an open and entertaining match with both sides intent on attacking whenever possible, but Jerry Gill’s men held the upper hand overall and deserved their win. Dulwich will probably feel that they were unfortunate to return to the Capital empty handed but, ultimately, Tom Smith’s ruthlessness in front of goal proved the decisive factor. With other results going in their favour, City have now moved back to second spot in the National League South table, and will look to further consolidate their position when they visit Braintree Town next Saturday.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, T Smith, Bowry, Artus (Brunt 75), Mann, Chilvers, Ball, Pearson, Hartridge, Martin. Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Riley-Lowe, Simpson, Eglin.
Scorers: City – Smith (15, 41, 84); Dulwich – Mullings (40), Mills (79)
City Bookings – none
Officials: J Richardson, W Briers, S Fudge