Bracknell Town (0) 1 Bath City (0) 0 – Saturday 14 January 2023 – FA Trophy 4th Round – Bottom Meadow
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
A stoppage time opportunist’s strike from Bracknell’s Jack Dean sent Bath City tumbling out of the FA Trophy.
The Southern Premier South side benefitted when Dan Greenslade made a hash of attempting to clear Ashley Lodge’s mishit corner and Dean curled home from 10 yards to spark scenes of delirium.
The tie looked destined for penalties as defences excelled throughout on a heavy surface in Sandhurst.
Cody Cooke returned from the bench after missing two months through injury but he couldn’t find a breakthrough as the lower leaguers knocked a National League South side out of the competition for a third round in succession to progress to the last 16, a record-breaking run for Jamie McClurg and Carl Withers’ side.
Bracknell were without three cup tied players in their fifth trophy match of the campaign but gave City issues in the first half. Darryl Sanders and Joe Grant worked a one-two before the latter shot too close to Ryan Clarke who denied him with his legs.
Sanders attempted to catch Clarke out from 35 yards with a dipping free-kick which the 40-year-old punched over his crossbar when backtracking.
City regrouped as Scott Wilson linked up well with Elliott Frear down the left before defender Sean Fraser threw himself in the way of Wilson’s goalbound shot, deflecting it behind for a corner.
Jerry Gill made a change at the break, withdrawing knee injury victim Olly Thomas for Sonny Cox.
The pace of the Exeter loanee benefitted the Romans who looked more assured in possession, which nearly resulted in an opener within five minutes of the restart.
Greenslade’s pull-back from the left saw Dan Hayfield get the ball under control and shoot towards the top corner, but the luck was on goalkeeper Michael Eacott’s side as the ball slithered through his grasp onto the crossbar before it was eventually cleared.
Grant’s shot on the turn crept inches wide for Town and Gary Abisogun rushed on to Kamaron English’s cross to the back post only to fire wide in a rare carving open of the Bath backline.
Cooke was introduced for Frear for his first outing since 5 November and he nearly marked it with a breakthrough goal, only to see his header from James Morton’s corner well gathered by Eacott through a crowd of bodies.
The game opened up in the closing stages with neither seeming keen to settle for penalties. Hayfield was released by Cox down the right, but Fraser’s intervention prevented the Devonian netting at Bottom Meadow for the second season running, having knocked the Robins out of the competition last term when at Tiverton.
Bracknell pressed City back keeping the defence busy with Jack Batten in outstanding form, though he was powerless to prevent a winner to deflate the visitors.
Lodge’s corner, Town’s third in quick succession, looked easy for Greenslade to clear from the front post, but he miscued and in attempting to hook the ball towards the back post, Dean’s luck was in as the ball floated perfectly over the helpless Clarke to settle the tie.
There was barely enough time to restart as for the 20th time in their history, City’s FA Trophy journey ended to a lower division side.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Greenslade, Dyer, Batten, Parselle (c), Hayfield, Frear (Cooke 72), Spokes, Wilson, Morton, Thomas (Cox HT). Subs not used: Smith, Lines, Mannings.
Scorers: City – none; Bracknell – Dean (90+5)
City Bookings: none
Officials: A Ajibola, M Carmichael, T Kelly