Billericay Town (1) 1 Bath City (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 7 September 2019 – AGP Arena
Jerry Gill’s 100th match in charge ended all-square as Bath City fought back to earn a deserved point at Billericay Town. Both goals came in the first period as Ryan Brunt converted from the spot for his third goal in two games, Sam Deering having given Ricay the early lead.
The Blues had won all four previous home matches this season and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the opening quarter-hour, which saw Moses Emmanuel’s close-range finish ruled out for offside, having been picked out by Jordan Parkes’ precise set-piece. Their frustration only lasted three minutes. Sam Deering isn’t known as a free-scoring midfielder, but he knows how to net against City. And how. His latest effort, fourth against the Romans, was a tremendous strike from just over 25 yards which flew past Ryan Clarke, his former Oxford United team-mate left clinging at thin air. It didn’t knock the stuffing out of Jerry Gill’s young squad, the outfield players average age just 21 and five months, Billericay’s in comparison shading just over 30. Youthful enthusiasm was on City’s side, and their youngest player won a penalty on 39 minutes, felled by Billericay’s youngest. Having exchanged passes with Tom Richards, Bristol City loanee Owura Edwards burst into the box and was cynically scythed by home debutant George McLennan. Referee Ben Atkinson had little alternative but to award a spot-kick and Ryan Brunt took responsibility. He didn’t disappoint, lashing home via the underside of the crossbar to give Alan Julian no chance.
McLennan paid the price for this indecision further by being withdrawn at the break for the more experienced Alfie Potter to try and nullify further Edwards magic. The first half ebbed, flowed and entertained. The second was a scrappier affair with neither team able to maintain possession for long periods, Billericay going more direct to burly frontman Matt Rhead to little effect. Chances were at a premium. Two inspired blocks from Ronnie Henry denied Ross Stearn and Edwards, Richards also seeing a shot take a wicked deflection off Gavin Gunning leaving Julian stranded, grateful to see it ricochet inches wide. From the resulting corner, Edwards miscued wide when well-placed. Town grew frustrated, more so by halting their own attacks by straying offside, with Alex Hartridge and Matt Bower standing firm against set-pieces and long balls. Clarke was seldom troubled. But despite perhaps shading possession in the second period, Julian’s gloves weren’t warmed much either, as both teams had to be content with a point apiece. A learning curve for Gill’s young pups, as he turns a year older himself on Sunday, and they coped with the examination well. With a bit more luck, they could have passed with flying colours.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Riley-Lowe, T Smith, Brunt (Stearn 64), Rooney (Mann 65), Bower, Edwards, Richards, Hartridge, Hamblin. Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Watkins, H Smith.
Scorers: City – Brunt (pen 39); Billericay – Deering (20)
City Bookings: Raynes (51), T Smith (75), Riley-Lowe (86)
Officials: B Atkinson, A Gray, M Chalkley