Bath City (3) 6 Bristol Rovers XI (1) 1 – Pre-Season Friendly – Saturday 21 July 2018 – Twerton Park
Goal-hungry Bath City recorded another supreme tally as they took apart a young Bristol Rovers XI 6-1. It was the second time this pre-season the Romans had netted six in a game and came two days after they struck five past Street – when they also came from behind. This time City were down inside two minutes as Deon Moore made the most of a mix-up, yet they still opened up a 3-1 lead by half-time. Sean Rigg drew them level from the penalty spot, with Andy Watkins’ first goal of pre-season and the first of two from Adam Mann putting the hosts in control. There was no stopping 6ft 4in centre-half Robbie Cundy from adding the fourth with a header from a set-piece 12 minutes into the second half. Despite the goalrush, Romans stopper Ryan Clarke was also amid the thick of the action with two carbon copy penalty saves in the space of 12 minutes. Substitute John Mills bagged his third friendly goal in three days with a poacher’s finish, and Mann converted a stunning second to wrap up the rout.
The visitors began brightly and had a gilt-edged chance within 30 seconds. Dan Armstrong took a long diagonal ball down on the left and skipped past Joe Raynes’ tentative challenge, only to shoot across the face of goal. They did have the lead momentarily, however, when a through ball failed to reach Clarke’s area, Moore nudging round the hesitating keeper and rolling into the empty net. Ryan Brunt flicked an Anthony Straker cross well off target in City’s maiden chance, but they were level by the ten-minute mark. Ross Stearn teased the defence before looking to chip back towards the centre. That pass found the arm of Connor Jones, which handed nerveless Rigg the chance to convert from the spot. Rovers came right back up the other end and Cundy had to get a good block on a Moore effort. With every passing minute the Romans grew into the game and they created the next chance when the Pirates half-cleared a Watkins cross to Mann, whose half-volley finished in the Bristol End. Unperturbed, Mann came much closer when he took and turned with a Raynes pass in one movement, laid off for Brunt and then saw his nudged effort cleared from the line by Fin Hay from Brunt’s return pass. Another increasingly slick Romans build-up saw Rigg shoot wide, but the second came soon enough. Watkins was the scorer, reacting first to race in and tap home after Rovers keeper Pat O’Flaherty could only parry a stinging Stearn drive. There was palpable concern around Twerton Park when Rigg was hacked down by Cam Allen’s swinging boot – which earned the Rovers man a rare pre-season booking. Rigg stayed down for attention from physio Lee Williams and was eventually replaced by Kevin Amankwaah, despite going for a walk up and down the touchline. As part of the switch, Raynes moved into central midfield and almost instantly he sent a spectacular overhead kick past the post. He played a part in the third, too. The new signing collected a chipped ball at the byline and though his cross was lifted over Ryan Brunt, Mann was on hand to thunder in. Amankwaah had to get a sliding block in to keep Armstrong from testing Clarke, while Ben Morgan looped a later corner over the crossbar.
Rovers improved after the break. Indeed, Ryan Clarke was scrambling back to tip over when Alfie Clarke attempted an audacious 40-yard volley that almost sneaked in under the bar. For City, a delightful Brunt backheel found Watkins to fire a shot into the defence. And from the resulting corner, Cundy rose highest by a mile to power a header past O’Flaherty. A dream chance came and went for Rovers when substitute Kunle Otudeko ran at the heart of the home defence and saw his shot parried straight to Zain Walker, who blazed over with the goal gaping. They then wasted a penalty, after Armstrong found a way around Straker before being felled by the Romans’ captain. He stepped up to the spot himself, but was denied by a flying save as Clarke plunged to his right. Remarkably, clarke saved another penalty, diving the same way to stop Moore, after he had brought down Cam Ebbutt. That preceded City’s fifth, Mills stepping off the bench to turn in the loose ball once O’Flaherty had stopped Richards’ initial strike. And then it was six, as Mann looked up and struck a sweet shot across a flailing O’Flaherty for his second of the afternoon. The former Gloucester City player was unable to complete his hat-trick when he missed the target with a free-kick. But the hunt for seven did not finish there as James Ollis wriggled away from a defender, and watched on as Morgan almost deflected the cross into his own net.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Straker (c), Richards, Batten, Watkins (Mills 64), Rigg (Amankwaah 34 (Ball 76)), Brunt (Ollis 76), Stearn, Mann, Cundy, Raynes. Sub not used: Hodges.
Scorers: City – Rigg (pen 9), Watkins (26), Mann (36, 81), Cundy (57), Mills (75)
City Bookings: none
Officials: M Underhay, J Ainscow, D Bugg