Bath City (3) 3 Dartford (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 30 November 2019 – Twerton Park

Bath City (3) 3 Dartford (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 30 November 2019 – Twerton Park

Report by Kelston Koppite

An outstanding performance by Bath City earned a convincing victory over perennial bogey side Dartford at Twerton Park this afternoon.  A blistering first half display ensured the home team built a three-goal lead by the interval, an advantage that they never looked likely to surrender.

The men from Kent started well and enjoyed the bulk of early possession, with a shot from Ky Marsh-Brown from outside the box in the very first minute narrowly clearing Ryan Clarke’s crossbar.  However, City soon began to gain control and they took the lead on 9 minutes.  Adam Mann’s measured pass released Tom Smith into the Dartford area, who took the ball in his stride and planted his shot into the roof of the net beyond the advancing goalkeeper.

The Darts sought a quick response, but were thwarted by Clarke in the 13th minute.  A corner from Marsh-Brown found Josh Hill, whose looping header was brilliantly tipped over the bar by the back-peddling City gloveman.

The home side were now dominating the midfield and looking dangerous going forward, but Dartford continued to pose a threat with their pace in attack.  Another corner from Marsh-Brown on 21 minutes again picked out Hill, but the defender’s extravagant attempt at an overhead kick could only direct the ball well wide of Clarke’s far post.  Luke Wanadio then tried his luck from distance but was also well off target.

The Romans, who were producing some neat and incisive football, deservedly doubled their lead after 25 minutes when Tom Smith found space on the right hand side of the box before squaring the ball into Andy Watkins’ path.  The striker calmly took his time, and then found the top corner of the net with an emphatic finish that rendered keeper Mark Smith a mere spectator.

Nine minutes later, with the visitors still reeling from their latest setback, City delivered a third and decisive blow.  Noah Chilvers’ deep free kick from the left was headed back across goal by Alex Hartridge, where Watkins was on hand to nod firmly past Mark Smith.

City remained on top until the break, but Dartford emerged for the second half looking to find a foothold in the game.  Indeed, a left wing cross from Wanadio in the 47th minute was met with a goalbound header by Elliott Romain, only to be denied by Clarke who expertly turned the ball over his crossbar.

The home side were content to sit back deeper as they sought to preserve their lead but, on 55 minutes, Ryan Brunt’s well struck shot from outside the box drew an excellent diving save from Mark Smith. Two minutes later Watkins cut inside from the left, but sliced his effort high and wide.

Watkins continued to pose a danger to the away defence, and his run and shot in the 58th minute brought a scrambling save from the Dartford custodian.

Whilst the game had been competitive with a number of crunching, although fair, challenges in evidence, there was a flashpoint after 62 minutes when Brunt was the victim of an over jealous lunge by Cameron Brodie. Once calm had been restored, the referee, Mr. Marc Whaley, produced a yellow card, with Brodie perhaps fortunate that it was not a different colour.

Dartford were given the opportunity to reduce the arrears when Mr Whaley awarded a spot kick on 67 minutes, penalising Frankie Artus for a foul on Liam Gordon when he had seemed to have taken the ball cleanly.  However, in the event, Romain lifted his shot from 12 yards so high over the crossbar that it would have caused more consternation to pilots of low flying aircraft than to the City goalkeeper.

Debutant Louis Britton replaced Brunt and Artus made way from Tom Richards, before Tom Smith’s 77th minute angled shot flew straight in the arms of Mark Smith.

Bath’s final substitution saw the introduction of Ross Stearn at the expense of Watkins in the 78th minute, and the remainder of the game was played largely in the home half of the pitch.  Ryan Hayes’ free kick passed tamely wide of Clarke’s post and, as the match entered stoppage time, Andy Pugh’s similar effort from 25 yards was deflected behind for a corner off the City defensive wall.

The last chance fell to the home side as they quickly turned defence into attack, and Britton’s fierce shot from the edge of the box was narrowly wide of the near post, flicking the outside of the side-netting.

This was a well-deserved three points for Jerry Gill’s men and they were particularly merciless in the first half.  Dartford were certainly no pushovers and played some good football of their own at times.  However, City were clinical with their finishing and, crucially, drove home their advantage when they were on top.  Consequently, Dartford had too much ground to make up after the break, and the hosts were able to soak up any pressure they could muster.  This result will keep The Romans in confident mood ahead of next Saturday’s eagerly awaited visit of league leaders Wealdstone to Twerton Park.

Att: 794

City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, T Smith, Bowry, Artus (Richards 74), Mann, Watkins (Stearn 80), Chilvers, Brunt (Britton 69), Ball, Hartridge. Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Kensdale.

Scorers: City – T Smith (9), Watkins (25, 34); Dartford – none

City Bookings: Artus (47), Chilvers (54), Bowry (72), Ball (90)

Officials: M Whaley, D Campbell, R Clarke