Bath City (2) 3 Gloucester City (0) 3 – Saturday 24 July 2021 – Pre-Season Friendly – Twerton Park

Bath City (2) 3 Gloucester City (0) 3 – Saturday 24 July 2021 – Pre-Season Friendly – Twerton Park

Match Report by Mark Stillman.

Jordan Young’s extraordinary stoppage time goal from the halfway line secured a draw for Gloucester at Twerton Park.

The midfielder caught out Will Fuller from some 50 yards with the last kick of the game.

It looked like Joe Raynes had made a dream return after 16 months out when his assist helped Alex Fletcher put City 3-2 up, after Matt McClure’s second half double helped Gloucester back in the game.

Elliott Frear’s debut strike and Cody Cooke’s header had City in control at the break before a remarkable second half concluded with Young’s brilliance.

The Gloucester man wasn’t as potent from a mere 25 yards early on, bending wide after Tom Richards was dispossessed.

Frear looked lively having signed in the week following a year with Heart of Midlothian. His attempted cross hit the top of the crossbar with Jake Cole momentarily panicked.

At the other end Fabien Robert squandered two glorious openings for the Tigers. He was first left unmarked 12 yards out from Kevin Dawson’s wicked delivery but volleyed over, and soon after his initial shot was parried by Fuller to Young, whose return cross was headed over by the Frenchman.

Bath took the lead on 35 minutes. Picking up a loose ball from Tom Harrison, Frear tried his luck from 25 yards out and his shot appeared to take a slight deflection to wrong-foot Jake Cole and fly into the net.

The advantage was doubled five minutes later. Mo Dabre’s teasing run into the box preceded a stinging shot which Cole parried into the air, but Cooke was on hand to head in his sixth goal in six friendlies.

Scoreline-wise it was positive for the Romans, but Jerry Gill, watching from the gantry in the first half, was left telephoning the bench for reassurance as three more players picked up knocks – Fuller, Tom Smith and Jack Batten. Fuller appeared to pull a muscle and handed over goal-kick duties to trialist Will Richards.

Gloucester replicated their positive start to the first half by looking menacing at the start of the second with Dan Leadbitter heading over and they were rewarded with a 54th minute goal through McClure.

Captain Dawson carved the home defence open with a clever ball behind for McClure who tricked his way past Batten and Dan Ball before coolly rolling past the stricken Fuller.

The former Maidstone striker netted 13 in National League North for Gloucester last season and showed the finishing touch again with just under 20 minutes remaining.

Batten lost possession at the back allowing Young to slip it behind to McClure, who casually progressed into the penalty area before rifling across Fuller to level the game.

A raft of substitutions stifled the match at times in the second half, with Gloucester listing eight of them as trialists whereas one of Bath’s four made a welcome return with nine minutes remaining.

Having spent 504 days on the sidelines, Joe Raynes was welcomed back onto the pitch by teammates, management and most of the 482 in attendance and the Bathonian made an instant impact by turning provider for the Romans’ third.

Chasing Cooke’s crossfield ball down the right, Raynes was given the benefit of the doubt when he appeared to upend Trialist C before pulling the ball back from the byline to Fletcher. Having just been denied by Cole, the keeper couldn’t deny the striker a second time as his powerful shot from a tight angle zipped under the keeper’s body and into the roof of the net.

Smith nearly confirmed the win when his glancing header from Cooke’s cross was superbly tipped away by Cole, with Smith’s follow-up across goal too hard for Fletcher to connect.

It looked like a morale-boosting victory was Bath’s, but Young stole the plaudits when his audacious effort a yard inside Bath’s half flew over Fuller, whose attempt at backtracking and jumping was clearly hampered by his earlier injury.

There was barely enough time to restart as the 32nd goal witnessed in six Bath City’s friendlies thus far is unlikely to be forgotten regardless of the importance of the contest. Eye of the Tiger from Young? Perhaps. City rose up to the challenge of their rival all right, next time they’ll hope to see off their opponents when they’re on the ropes.

Att: 482

City’s Line-Up: Fuller, T Richards, W Richards, James (Harley 68), Batten (c) (Dowling 80), Ball, Dabre (Raynes 82), Frear (Neilson 80), Cooke, T Smith, Fletcher.

Scorers: City – Frear (35), Cooke (40), Fletcher (84); Gloucester – McClure (54,71), Young (90+5)

Officials: R Lawrence, S Ouchene, B Lee