Bath City (2) 5 Gloucester City (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Monday 2 April 2018 – Twerton Park
Bath City picked up a win from a losing position for the first time under Jerry Gill as a scintillating final hour resulted in their biggest league victory of the season. Star of the show was Antoine Semenyo, a first-half substitute for calf injury victim Sean Rigg, who tore the Gloucester backline apart with his pace and strength. Opi Edwards wasn’t far behind as the duo on loan from Bristol City impressed Brian Tinnion in the main stand. Edwards’ deflected strike got City back into the game and set the tone for a fine performance.
The Twerton Park pitch survived the recent deluge but both sets of players struggled to keep their balance early on, with Gloucester’s Lewis Hall slaloming through the Bath defence before losing his footing much to Luke Southwood’s relief, who was able to smuggle the loose ball. City forced a few quick corners with Jack Batten deflecting Jack Compton’s low delivery wide from close range. Gill earmarked a front Gloucester three that ‘run around like mad’ in an interview on Good Friday, and this proved an accurate description as Joe Parker, Ed Williams and Hall didn’t let up in the opening half-hour. Anthony Straker made a vital covering interception on Williams when Parker’s intricate through ball set the Tigers forward clear. It took a set-piece for the visitors to open the scoring on 24 minutes. After Dan Ball had upended Joe Hanks some 30 yards from goal, Hall curled the resulting free-kick towards the back post and it managed to bounce straight past a surprised Southwood. Keiran Parselle tried to claim a final touch but Hall was credited with the goal, his first in the league since January 2016. The Romans were dealt a further blow when Rigg limped off to be replaced by Semenyo, but his arrival sparked life into Gill’s men and proved an inspired, albeit not planned, substitution. A rampaging run from the recent arrival helped create the leveler on 36 minutes. Having out-muscled Kieran Thomas, his low cross just evaded Edwards in the middle, but was retrieved by Miles Welch-Hayes. He found Edwards, who turned Matt Williams before his deflected strike beat James Hamon all ends up. It spurred City on, as they looked a shadow of the side that started the contest. Within two minutes, Andy Watkins was brought down by Robbie Cundy right on the edge of the box, with Compton’s resulting free-kick thumping off the post with Hamon beaten. Soon after, a jinking run from Watkins saw him somehow find room for a shot, which flashed just wide of Hamon’s left-hand post. Welch-Hayes gave City the lead on 43 minutes. After sustained pressure, Compton’s floated corner was nodded home by the full-back from ten yards, with his header trickling under Hamon’s outstretched dive.
City started the second half as strongly as they ended the first, adding a third within 50 seconds of the restart. With people still returning to the terraces, Straker found space on the left and centred a pinpoint cross for Tom Smith, who surprisingly out-jumped a tall Gloucester backline to head into the corner. Tom Webb, the visitors’ captain with over 700 appearances to his name, shot straight at Southwood in a rare opening for the Tigers, with Watkins following suit at the other end after Semenyo’s persistence rattled the away defence. Semenyo got the goal his performance deserved on 57 minutes, not that he knew much about it. Edwards’ surging run down the right saw his driven cross was inadvertently hammered against his own post by Cundy, with the rebound flying against the knee of Semenyo and into the net. Gloucester should have cut the deficit, but they wasted two glorious openings. Matt Williams headed Hall’s corner wide when well placed, before Parker latched on to a long ball from Hanks before placing his lob too high of Southwood’s crossbar, when he should have found the target. Semenyo and Edwards were leaving the Tigers’ defence dizzy, eventually consigning them to their biggest defeat in National League South. Cundy did enough to block a goalbound effort from Semenyo, but with nine minutes remaining, he was unable to prevent the substitute notching a second. Ball’s diagonal pass looked like Cundy would be favourite to reach it first, but he hesitated and was brushed aside by Semenyo, who drilled the ball across Hamon and into the net. Another substitute, James Morton, nearly made an immediate impact when he sent a fizzing shot wide, with Semenyo denied a hat-trick as his free-kick deflected off the wall and just wide. It was nearly the last action in a surprisingly open contest, a treat for the majority of the 739 in attendance. Few teams would have coped with the Romans’ attacking threat, Gill will be hoping they can replicate it at Wealdstone on Saturday.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Straker (c), Richards, Batten, Ball, Edwards, Smith, Watkins (Jarvis 76), S Rigg (Semenyo 28), Compton (Morton 83). Subs not used: Amankwaah, Hodges.
Scorers: City – Edwards (35), Welch-Hayes (43), Smith (46), Semenyo (57, 81)
City Bookings: Welch-Hayes (89)
Officials: J Richardson, H Gilroy, T Ellsmore