Braintree Town (0) 0 Bath City (2) 2 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 10 February 2018 – Cressing Road
A dominating first-half performance for the second Saturday running paved the way for Bath City’s first away win of 2018, as they comfortably saw off a toothless Braintree Town side at a wet and windy Cressing Road. The hosts went into the game without a goal in their past two outings, and rarely looked like ending that sequence as Luke Southwood didn’t face a single shot on target. The ten players in front of him remained unchanged from the win over Hampton & Richmond with new signing Sean Rigg added to the bench alongside Antoine Semenyo and Kieran Hodges, plus the returning Andy Watkins and Kevin Amankwaah. Ryan Case, Matt Richards and George Rigg were left in the stands as Jerry Gill had the rare luxury of a fully fit squad to choose from.
Braintree created the first opening inside two minutes with Reece Grant set free beyond the static defence, but he dragged his shot wide. It was a rare highlight of the first 20 minutes on a stodgy surface, with the match turning into a midfield battle, City enjoying more possession. Tom Smith, on target four times in his last four away appearances, nearly added another when Jack Batten’s ball forward saw the Swindon loanee remain onside, but goalkeeper Nathan McDonald stood his ground and denied the midfielder with his legs. The Romans found a deserved breakthrough on 24 minutes. After a period of sustained pressure, Anthony Straker’s shot from 20 yards was too hot to handle for McDonald, who could only parry straight to Nat Jarvis to gleefully nudge in his first goal since mid-November. Jarvis swiftly followed it up with a wayward shot off target, but it only took another eight minutes for the visitors to double the lead. Receiving the ball from Frankie Artus, Jack Compton found space by the corner of the penalty area and deliciously curved the ball around the helpless McDonald, who could only watch it nestle into the net. His tenth for Bath and another contender for his own private goal of the season competition. Buoyed by his wonder strike, the winger tried his luck from some 35 yards with a free-kick which McDonald was forced to turn around his post for a corner. A sign of the frustration emanating amongst the Braintree side was evident just before half-time when Ben Wyatt’s delayed pass to Roberts found the forward offside by a distance, who retaliated by blasting the ball out of the ground.
Home boss Brad Quinton reverted to a back three for the second half, introducing Mahrez Bettache for Christian Frimpong, but it didn’t have an immediate impact as Artus, making his 150th Romans appearance, flashed a shot just wide soon after the interval. Braintree reacted by enjoying more ownership early in the second half, but failed to threaten, with City looking defensively sound. Luke Allen’s deflected strike over was the only real moment of excitement for the Iron faithful in a surprisingly insipid display. Sean Rigg was introduced for his Bath debut with just under 20 minutes remaining for the impressive Compton. In a second half devoid of chances, he bucked the trend with a low drive which fizzed into the hands of McDonald. It was the last action of a low-key final 45 as Gill’s charges saw out the game expertly, and this second win in succession, plus performance levels, should give them real confidence for the remaining 12 matches.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Straker (c), Artus, Batten, Ball, Stearn (Watkins 88), Morton, Jarvis (Semenyo 83), Compton (S Rigg 72), Smith. Subs not used: Amankwaah, Hodges.
Scorers: City – Jarvis (23), Compton (32); Braintree – none
City Bookings: Straker (35)
Officials: L Brennan, R Carter, K Sear