Bath City (2) 5 Frome Town (0) 0 – Saturday 2 October 2021 – FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Bath City recorded their biggest 3rd Qualifying Round win since 2002 as they soared past Step 4 Frome Town at a sodden Twerton Park.
The Robins headed to Twerton undefeated in all competitions this season and had overcome Bath’s National League South rivals Oxford City in the previous round, but were no match for Jerry Gill’s Romans, who kept up their excellent record against lower league opponents – they’ve now won seven out of seven under the City boss, who celebrated four years in charge on Tuesday.
Town provided some scares with former Romans Jon Davies and George Rigg wasting good openings when they were 1-0 down, but overall Bath relentlessly carved Danny Greaves’ side apart and could have won by more.
Despite the foul weather the attendance of 1,421, boosted by a strong Frome following, was City’s highest in this round at Twerton Park since 1978.
There would have been understandable nerves from the home faithful on arrival – Bath were below-par versus Maidstone a week earlier and Frome, who humiliated City at this stage in 1984 when three divisions below – had conceded just five across nine matches in all competitions this term, seven of them wins.
Tom Smith should have settled any tension inside five minutes when former Frome man Joe Raynes slipped it through but the number 10 wastefully side-footed off target from just inside the penalty area.
Alex Fletcher dragged wide after Marcus Mapstone slipped, but the City forward gobbled up a second opportunity to give the hosts a deserved lead.
Elliott Frear’s cross from the left picked out the late run of Fletcher who headed home from six yards past the helpless James Carey.
Davies should have levelled on 23 minutes. Rex Mannings’ perfectly-weighted through ball sent the striker clear but he unwisely shot early with the outside of his foot, allowing Murphy Mahoney to make an easy save to his right.
Mannings was also the creator of a missed chance which could have changed the complexion of the contest. The Frome forward rode a challenge of Callum Wood and poked through to Rigg, whose shot cannoned off the inside of the post and back out to the midfielder, who hurriedly slashed the rebound over from a narrow angle.
It was the closest Frome would come all afternoon as City killed the game off either side of half-time. Smith’s free-kick was tipped over by Carey and Frear’s corner was glanced home by Jack Batten to score his first goal since March 2019.
The visitors were mightily fortunate to not be reduced to 10 men on the stroke of half-time when Sam Teale’s shocking lunge off the ground wiped out Smith, but referee Jon Maskrey opted for a yellow card against the Frome skipper.
Having set up the first two, Frear got in on the act 96 seconds into the second half. Cody Cooke collected Eddie Jones’ pull-back and teed up the former Hearts man who drove smartly home from just inside the penalty box.
Cooke knocked in a fourth on 64 minutes. Jones skipped past Joe O’Loughlin and played it into the leading scorer’s path, who stole ahead of Mapstone to neatly turn the ball in from six yards.
Frear and substitute Mo Touray hit the post for the Romans who threatened to run riot, with Mahoney’s only scare provided by another former City player in James Ollis, whose 25-yard curler bounced just wide of the loanee goalkeeper’s left post.
A fifth goal arrived at the other end with seven minutes remaining. Again Frear claimed an assist, this time his perfect dinked cross saw Cooke rise highest to head back across Carey for his seventh of the season and score the 250th goal for Bath during Gill’s reign.
Touray should have made it six when Smith’s cross was palmed out by Carey but the striker rushed and half volleyed over with the keeper stranded.
It made little difference. This was a comprehensive win for the stripes who made the two division gap prevalent when it could have been a tricky assignment against their near neighbours. Frome’s wait for a fourth qualifying round spot continues, they haven’t reached it since defeating the Romans en route in 1984, whereas City will bid to overcome one more hurdle for that elusive appearance in the first round which has eluded them for 10 years.
City’s Line-Up: Mahoney, Raynes (Holness 60), Gerring (c) (Touray 68), Batten, Wood, Fletcher, Cooke, Smith, Frear, Jones, Owers (James 71). Subs not used: Richards, Fuller.
Scorers: City – Fletcher (16), Batten (39), Frear (47), Cooke (64,83); Frome – none
City Bookings: none
Officials: J Maskrey, A Ellis, K Bartlett