Chelmsford City (0) 1 Bath City (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 31 August 2019 – Melbourne Stadium
For the second year running, Bath City left the Melbourne Stadium as victims of a refereeing injustice as Shaun Jeffers’ penalty proved the difference in an otherwise uneventful contest against Chelmsford City. Billy Knott’s theatrical fall under the slightest of pressure from Connor Riley-Lowe was deemed enough force to warrant a spot-kick according to referee Philip Staynings, and much to the amazement of many in the ground. While the Romans didn’t do enough to win the game, to lose it in such a manner is unquestionably harsh on Jerry Gill and his team, with the manager suffering three successive defeats at the club for the first time since taking charge. Dan Rooney, a free agent following Bury’s sad demise, was drafted in. The attacking midfielder spent time on loan at Truro City last term and replaced his former team-mate Tyler Harvey in the starting XI, who missed out through a calf strain. Andy Watkins and Frankie Artus were also back for Tom Richards and Ross Stearn as City tried a midfield diamond.
Chelmsford missed a glorious opportunity to open the scoring when Chris Whelpdale nodded across to Sam Higgins who, positioned around a yard out, contrived to flick wide of a gaping goal. Higgins snatched a half-volley wide soon after whereas City struggled to make inroads going forward, with former Romans glovesman Carl Pentney tested for the first time on 24 minutes, scrambling across to flick behind Rooney’s deflected effort. Harvey Smith also didn’t get enough purchase on his header from Riley-Lowe’s teasing cross.
The second half became cagey with Artus blazing over after a mix-up between Elliot Omozusi and Ollie Muldoon, and Whelpdale had a header deflected wide at the other end. For the third time in three games, the opposition’s freshening up act caused significant damage to Gill’s charges. This time, the introduction of Knott and Jeffers was just the tonic from the Clarets. Jeffers had a strike cleared off the line by the well-positioned Riley-Lowe on the hour, before the full-back’s next involvement was less positive, as he was the culprit of a baffling refereeing decision. Knott’s attempt to dash past the defender ended when he appeared to run into him, with somewhat ironic cries for a penalty. Referee Staynings thought differently and pointed to the spot, leaving the Bath players incandescent with rage. Their anger was fuelled as Jeffers easily sent Clarke the wrong way to open the scoring. There was an eerie familiarity from the fixture last season when Robbie Cundy was dismissed for a supposed foul on Rhys Murphy, at the same end of the ground, with the converted penalty the only goal of the game. Back then, Bath huffed and puffed but couldn’t find a leveller. Deja vu in 2019. Stearn fired over soon after coming on in a rare attempt on goal as a Chelmsford defence, much-improved from Monday’s mauling at Maidstone, stood firm and didn’t look like conceding. Jeffers nearly added another in stoppage time to add insult to injustice, but Clarke parried well.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Riley-Lowe, T Smith, Artus, Mann (Stearn 77), Watkins (Brunt 77), Rooney (Richards 80), Hartridge, H Smith, Hamblin. Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Simpson.
Scorers: City – none; Chelmsford – Jeffers (pen 64)
City Bookings: Artus (9)
Officials: P Staynings, A Low, J Sandwell