Bath City (2) 5 Slough Town (1) 1 – Monday 29 August 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Twerton Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Bath City romped to their biggest August Bank Holiday Monday win since 1968 as Cody Cooke’s hat-trick helped sink Slough Town.
Tom Smith and Alex Fletcher netted the others with the visitors’ fine equaliser from Johnny Goddard proving fruitless.
Slough were also forced to change from their away grey shirts in the early stages due to a kit clash, forcing them to don City’s 2016/17 azure blue away shirts.
Three clearances off the line saw the Rebels unfortunate to not score more than once, while Jerry Gill’s men were lethal from the off.
Scott Wilson reacted sharply to Cooke’s flick-on and after an innocuous looking tangle with Lee Togwell, referee Neil Pratt pointed to the spot on 44 seconds much to the visitors’ fury.
Cooke wasn’t perturbed by the lengthy delay as he sent Jonathan North the wrong way with his penalty.
Soon after the restart, the referee was called over by assistant Graham Pearce, and after a lengthy chat with both benches it became clear that the shirt colours were too difficult to tell apart. The solution saw Bath kit man Simon Jenkins locate a past City kit and the match continued after a four-minute delay and change of attire.
The break appeared to benefit the away side more and they duly levelled on 16 minutes. Matt Lench and George Hunt linked up down the left before the latter’s pass was delicately controlled by Goddard, who showed excellent footwork to spin and lash past Joe Wright from 12 yards.
Cooke was inches away from restoring the Romans’ lead when Wilson’s tantalising cross saw Josh Jackman get the slightest touch away from the forward at point blank range.
Wright did well to parry Scott Davies’ stinging free-kick behind on the half hour and was grateful that Kieran Parselle was on hand to clear off the line when Goddard’s attempt was parried by the keeper with Jackman trying to turn in the loose ball.
This intervention proved more telling when City went 2-1 up just before half-time. Wilson latched on to Dan Hayfield’s pass over the top and having his initial shot blocked by Jackman, he showed great awareness to square for the onrushing Cooke who easily side-footed home past the exposed North to put the Romans ahead into the break.
The Rebels poured forward from the restart. Elliot Benyon’s header back was met by George Wells, who struck his shot sweetly and would have been forgiven for pre-celebrating. To the amazement of the players and vast Twerton Park crowd, Parselle emerged from nowhere and threw himself in the way to keep it out of harm’s way.
Hunt headed too close to Wright from Davies’ cross before slack defending at the other end saw Slough pay on 58 minutes.
Fletcher’s flick was only cushioned by Guy Hollis to Cooke and from a tight angle, the number nine’s low left-footed drive across North completed his first City hat-trick and take him to six goals in August.
Parselle received a yellow card for a cynical lunge on Matt Lench which forced the Town midfielder off soon after but despite these setbacks they kept fighting and forced Bath to put bodies on the line. Imran Kayani somehow couldn’t bundle the ball home from the line after Hunt’s harmless effort came back off the post with Jordan Dyer being importantly placed to clear.
Such determined defending wasn’t evident at the other end as City were gifted a fourth on 82 minutes. Wells’ misdirected header was pounced upon by Tom Smith, who found himself through on goal and although he appeared to mishit his shot, it bounced past the advancing North to make it 4-1.
Raynes threw himself in the way to prevent Jackman’s shot troubling Wright before North, who performed wonders in the 1-1 draw with City in March, finally kept an effort out as Fletcher’s cheeky backheel from substitute Zac Bell’s centre was gathered by the relieved stopper.
In truth he was let down by his defence too often to warrant any blame and it was a similar story in added time when City made it five.
Elliott Frear’s mesmerising footwork sparked a counter which saw Bell race away. He cut inside of Davies and saw his shot parried by North but Fletcher gobbled up the rebound to give the scoreline a convincing look.
City’s Line-Up: Wright, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle, Fletcher, Hayfield, Cooke (Bell 87), Lines, Spokes (Smith HT), Wilson (Frear 66). Subs not used: Batten, Clarke.
Scorers: City – Cooke (pen 3, 44, 58), Smith (82), Fletcher (90+1); Slough – Goddard (16)
City Bookings: Raynes (28), Parselle (69)
Officials: N Pratt, J Woolley, G Pearce