Bath City (2) 3 Maidstone United (0) 0 – Saturday 12 August 2023 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Jordan Thomas’ quickfire home debut double earned Bath City a superb win over Maidstone United.
The livewire forward netted twice in three minutes at an eventful end to the first half, which also saw Sol Wanjau-Smith’s penalty saved by Ollie Wright.
Tom Smith added a third in added time to seal the Romans’ biggest win over United.
His goal also made it six for City in two games, the most in their opening two matches of a league season for thirty years.
An evenly matched start saw chances at a premium. Smith tried his luck from 25 yards after dispossessing Conor Kelly but his shot rose just over Lucas Covolan’s crossbar.
Levi Amantchi curled wide from the corner of the penalty area for Maidstone after linking up with Liam Sole.
A much easier opening led to the first goal five minutes before the break. Ewan Clark’s clever ball split the away defence, Scott Wilson fired across goal for the perfectly placed Thomas to fire in from a couple of yards.
It took just 115 seconds for him to double his and City’s tally. Clark’s crossfield ball from halfway was a nightmare for Gavin Hoyte and Covolan who hesitated, allowing Thomas to gleefully side-foot home from the corner of the six yard box.
Dan Hayfield struck too close to Covolan before the Stones keeper had a hand in a chance for his side to reduce the arrears.
The Brazilian’s long ball forward saw Wanjau-Smith tumble to the floor when trying to dash past Dan Greenslade in the penalty area. Referee Phillip Eddie pointed to the spot despite it appearing that the City full-back nicked the ball first.
Wanjau-Smith netted from the spot a week previously against Slough but went the opposite way to that success and Wright dived low to his right to bat his penalty away.
In the fourth minute of first half additional time, Chi Ezennolim’s superb cross was headed goalwards by Wanjau-Smith who was left frustrated by Wright again, the keeper reacting brilliantly to palm onto the bar and behind for a corner.
After the breathless ending to the half, the second was more sedate, a favourable shift for the Romans.
Sole cut inside and saw his shot well-blocked by the sliding Smith and Amantchi’s glancing header landed harmlessly wide.
The big attacker had been Maidstone’s most effective player so when he hobbled off midway through the second half it visibly knocked the stuffing out of George Elokobi’s side, who made little inroads against a well-organised City backline with Ben Morgan and Kieran Parselle excelling.
In the closing stages Cody Cooke, Elliott Frear and Chris Lines were introduced for Wilson, Clark and Hayfield and all three substitutes combined for a stoppage time third.
Lines’ perfectly weighted pass over the top was kept in by Cooke on the byline, who held off George Fowler before laying back to Frear. His driven ball was controlled by Smith at the near post before he turned away from Reiss Greenidge and fired in via the underside of the bar.
It was the 150th league goal scored at home under Jerry Gill to cap off a fine afternoon’s work.
City’s Line-Up: Wright, Raynes, Greenslade, Parselle (c), Hayfield (Lines 87), Smith, Clark (Frear 76), Thomas, Wilson (Cooke 71), Russe, Morgan. Sub not used: Cook.
Scorers: City – Thomas (40, 42), Smith (90+2); Maidstone – none
City Bookings: Greeslade (70), Russe (80)
Officials: P Eddie, M Jackson, D David