Bath City (2) 5 Hungerford Town (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 14 April 2018 – Twerton Park
Bath City racked up another comprehensive home victory as Hungerford Town were dispatched back to Berkshire well beaten. From the ninth-minute, when Matt Richards converted the opener from the spot, never did the Romans look like missing out on all three points. Opi Edwards, one of a number of star performers on the afternoon, made it 2-0 before the interval with Andy Watkins notching the third shortly after half-time. It was up to Jack Batten and former Crusader Nat Jarvis to round out the rout, which made it consecutive five-goal hauls at Twerton Park on the back of the Bank Holiday thrashing of Gloucester City. As for the play-off hopes for Jerry Gill’s men, they remain tenth with a five-point gap still separating them from seventh-placed St Albans with three games to go.
For the opening minutes Hungerford looked as though they could pose a threat, but as the half wore on the Romans grew and grew into the contest. Despite their bright opening Hungerford were almost punished early on when a loose pass from James Rusby had Edwards licking his lips, only for Bristol Rovers loanee Alfie Kilgour to just beat him to the ball. Jack Compton would make an interception and spark a three-on-two break. He cut inside one defender and played the ball right to Tom Smith, but both he and Watkins were unable to get a shot away. Nevertheless, City recycled the ball and when Watkins jinked back in the left side of the box, he was felled by Rusby’s challenge. Experienced head Richards stepped up to coolly convert his second spot-kick in as many games. From then on Hungerford were rarely given a sniff. They made occasional territory in wide areas without ever truly threatening. Both Anthony Straker and Smith could not find team-mates from good crossing opportunities, the latter’s centre somehow evading both Watkins and Compton. Edwards got his feet in a muddle when through on goal, stepping on the ball before regaining control, but with a defender back to challenge his eventual shot was held by Oliver Davies. Quickly there was another chance for Smith, played in deftly by Straker, which was fired into Hungerford legs. The youngster swiftly followed that up with a stinging low strike hit straight at Davies. He then failed to get clean contact on a header, though the Romans maintained possession and eventually found Morton at the corner of the box to curl off target. All-action Smith jinked away from Anton Rodgers next, sending in a low cross that Watkins dummied for Compton to fire in a blocked shot. There was consternation on the City bench when Morton and Tyler both went into a 50-50 challenge fully committed, Gill furious to see the free-kick awarded the other way as Tyler appeared to go in with both feet. The hosts created a lovely move to set up a chance for Watkins. Edwards’ far-post cross is nodded back across by Smith to the frontman, who saw his effort blocked from six yards. Rodgers failed to test Southwood with a free-kick easily held from around 21 yards in rare action for the City shot-stopper. The one-goal lead became two just before the interval. Watkins laid a short pass into the path of Compton, whose delicious, arcing first-time cross was nodded in by Edwards, out-leaping his marker to find the net just inside the far post.
The third was soon to come after the interval, when Edwards’ electric break, from inside his own half no less, earned a corner. Miles Welch-Hayes could not get a solid connection attacking the set-piece, yet neither could the Crusaders clear as the ball found the feet of Watkins to tap home from two yards. Only the offside flag delayed the fourth as Batten and Smith converged on a Compton free-kick, turned in by the former. The introduction of Alex Wall added a physical threat to the Town frontline, and he soon had the defence scrambling to turn a cross behind. The resulting corner, drilled to Wall ahead of the near-post, was headed high and wide with the striker never likely to find the target from a tough angle. Southwood then had to make a good save when Nicholas Bignall got a kind bounce and went one-on-one. However, he telegraphed his far-post aim and the home custodian was able to spread well to keep his sheet clean.
With 25 minutes to go Batten would stab in a Compton set-piece for the second time, and this one would count as he nudged home a right-flank corner. The chances continued to flow as Watkins led the hosts on a two-on-one break, his square ball lifted over by Smith as Davies raced off his line. The keeper would back off his next chance as Jarvis latched on to a long ball but toe-poked wide. The Crusaders probably should have got one back when the unmarked Bignall nodded wide from no more than seven-yards out. Davies twice prevented Edwards from bagging his second, tipping over a thumping long-range drive and then dropping to stop a low effort, after the loanee had jagged in from wide left and struck.
The fully merited fifth came in stoppage time when Jarvis received the ball, spun and stroked his effort hard and low past Davies.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Straker (c), Richards, Batten, Ball (Amankwaah 67), Edwards, Morton, Watkins (Jarvis 73), Smith (Buck 73), Compton. Subs not used: G Rigg, Hodges.
Scorers: City – Richards (pen 9), Edwards (43), Watkins (49), Batten (63), Jarvis (90+2); Hungerford – none
City Bookings – none
Officials: A Ajibola, S Pearson, J Topp