Billericay Town (0) 0 Bath City (0) 2 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 27 April 2019 – New Lodge
Bath City rounded off their league campaign with a commanding win at Billericay Town, who had little answer to the Romans’ dominance in all areas. Goals from Robbie Cundy and Tom Smith in the space of four minutes sealed victory and an elimination tie with Wealdstone on Wednesday night, costing Town’s play-off place in the process.
City were dealt a pre-match blow as Andy Watkins injured his groin in the warm-up, giving Ross Stearn a late call-up. A swirling wind caused chaos for both sides early on as Smith produced the first shot on goal, whipping an effort just wide from 25 yards with namesake Mark Smith beaten. Bristol City loanee Freddie Hinds looked lively on the left of a front three, his pot-shot from 25 yards gathered by the home custodian. Joe Kizzi headed Calum Kennedy’s free-kick wide in a rare Billericay foray, as they lacked fluidity going forward, their threat largely nullified by a near faultless defensive performance from the visitors. Stearn tested Smith at his near post after Tom Smith’s pass slipped him through, following a Kennedy slip. James Morton’s corner was fisted away by Smith, but the ball was returned to Cundy who, on the turn, blazed over.
Morton tried his luck just before the interval, a low free-kick parried by Smith with Cundy eventually stabbing wide amid desperate attempts to clear.
The second half started scrappily with Billericay seemingly nervous, knowing results were going against them with a win only certain to seal a play-off spot. Their situation worsened on 57 minutes as City made a breakthrough. Stearn’s trickery won a corner which Morton floated straight onto the head of Cundy, who arrived unannounced to powerfully head home from six yards.
A sixth goal of the season for the Supporters’ Player of the Year, but poor marking on Billericay’s part. They were undone by another set-piece three minutes later as frustration crept in for Harry Wheeler’s men, diving in needlessly and conceding free-kicks aplenty. Danny Waldren was a touch fortunate to escape a second yellow, but instead it was a second goal to add further punishment. Hinds, Morton and Smith lined up for the free-kick, the latter taking evasive action with a low shot which took a nick off a defender and slipped through Mark Smith’s desperate grasp.
Billericay threw three men up front with Jamar Loza introduced. Jake Robinson saw a powerful drive parried by Ryan Clarke, before their substitute tried to get in on the act. Jinking inside of Raynes in the box, Loza went to ground, but referee Dean Brennan was unimpressed, cautioning the Jamaican for simulation. Hinds wildly followed over from an acute angle after the tireless Stearn picked him out, but victory was already assured.
City had saved their most complete away performance of the season until last. Although Chelmsford City’s win at arch-rivals Chippenham Town secured them fourth spot, Jerry Gill will be more than satisfied with their end to the season, finishing with a magnificent 19 clean sheets.
With two draws against Bobby Wilkinson’s Wealdstone this term, it promises to be a competitive battle but one City will relish.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Straker (c), Batten, Artus, Hinds (Pryce 86), Brunt (Mann 68), Stearn (Ball 89), Cundy, Raynes, Morton, Smith. Subs not used: H Wiles-Richards, Romanski.
Scorers: City – Cundy (57), Smith (60); Billericay – none
City Bookings: Batten (66), Pryce (90)
Officials: L Brennan, J Hurst, J Bloxham