Bath City (4) 5 Chippenham Town (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Tuesday 1 January 2019 – Twerton Park
If 2019 is to be the year of the Romans, Bath City could not have made a better start. Not just the team, but the club as a whole had a day to remember as they thrashed A4 derby rivals Chippenham Town 5-0. The rampant Romans routing of their Wiltshire victims was witnessed by 1,727 fans packed into Twerton Park – the highest ever home gate in National League South which included Jesse Stollings, a Football Manager fan whose love story with the club saw him travel over 4,000 miles from North Carolina to attend. Such was City’s control over the contest the points were virtually secured just past the half-hour with a stint of four goals in 15 minutes. Chippenham had no response as the hosts popped the ball around well in attack, harried and pressed, and comfortably mopped up anything going at the back and in midfield to reset into their rhythm. Every time they came forward in the first half the home side looked capable of scoring as Chippenham showed neither any inclination to shore up at the back, nor re-evaluate their plan of attack until it was far too late. Michee Efete, maintaining his right wing-back role as Jerry Gill continued with the 3-5-2 system that saw off Weston-super-Mare three days prior, ran riot in the early stages and had a hand in both of the first two goals. Anthony Straker converted the first from the penalty spot, the second drilled in by Ross Stearn, who popped up all over the pitch before his 72nd-minute withdrawal. Stearn also netted the third with an inadvertent assist from the growing central midfield presence of Joe Raynes, well backed up by Frankie Artus and James Morton behind. The non-stop running of Adam Mann was rewarded with the fifth and final goal. The contest would quell in the final 20 minutes but that was no less than what a small City squad had earned for their efforts in securing ten points in 11 days. That total has seen Gill’s men back into the National League South top seven, sitting fifth with a game in hand on each of the two teams above them.
Neither side shied away from attacking in the opening stages with no real chances until a free-kick was nodded down for Chippenham skipper Curtis McDonald to backheel over at the corner of the six-yard box. Raynes also had a shot blocked from a low, swinging Stearn free-kick before the rout really got under way. Maidstone loanee Efete found himself on the edge of the D and beat two defenders before his mazy run was ended in the box by a third. Continuing his duties from 12 yards, skipper Straker never looked like missing as he deceived Chippenham keeper Brad House for his fourth successful penalty from as many attempts.
Ryan Clarke had to knock a cross from former City man Jack Compton over the bar as it circled towards the goal in a moment of brief Chippenham respite. Efete had a major hand in the second with another break into the box. This time he did get a shot away and though it was blocked, the ball ricocheted for Stearn to blast in from a tight angle. Four minutes later it was 3-0. Mann’s shot deflected into the path of Raynes, whose tame shot on goal turned into the perfect set up as it ran into into the path of Stearn to touch into the bottom corner.
Unbelievably the fourth arrived before the interval from an unlikely source. Cundy was sent up for a long throw-in and stayed there when Raynes took it short, the ball worked to the defender’s feet via Straker at the edge of the box, where he belied his centre-half status with a sweet finish. Only inches kept the Romans from a fifth as Mann raced after a ball over the top and rounded House at the edge of his box, but shot just across goal from a tight angle under pressure. The visitors did twice come close to getting one back by half-time, with Clarke back-tracking to turn a looping Kieran Parselle cross wide and Nick McCootie nodding a back header wide from a long, lifted cross into the box with the City stopper off his line.
City continued to run the show after the break and racked up a top-notch fifth. Stearn played a ball in behind for Mann to run on to and as House came out of his goal, the home hitman diligently dinked the ball into the net.
Chippenham wing-back James Guthrie blasted a free-kick into the wall, while Parselle had a shot of his own blocked. There was also a free-kick fired into the Bath End terrace by Mann, with Cundy coming close to grabbing a second when Morton swung a set-piece in towards the near post. The visitors might have grabbed an unlikely goal before the end with a couple of chances. McCootie could not turn home a bouncing ball at the near post which ended up skidding into Clarke’s gloves. And a double chance also came and went when Clarke raced off his line to thwart McCootie, who then teed up Tariq Ossai to volley well over.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Amankwaah, Straker (c), Batten, Cundy, Efete, Artus (Smith 65), Raynes, Morton, Mann, Stearn (Brunt 72). Subs not used: Mills, Wiles-Richards, Richards.
Scorers: City – Straker (pen 18), Stearn (22, 28), Cundy (33), Mann (54); Chippenham – none
City Bookings: Stearn (47), Artus (64)
Officials: R Massey-Ellis, J Clench, R Martin