Chippenham Town (0) 1 Bath City (1) 4 – Sunday 26 December 2021 – Vanarama National League South – Hardenhuish Park

Chippenham Town (0) 1 Bath City (1) 4 – Sunday 26 December 2021 – Vanarama National League South – Hardenhuish Park

Match Report by Mark Stillman.

Ten-man Bath City claimed a remarkable comprehensive win against local rivals Chippenham Town.

Jordan Dyer’s 4th minute header gave the Romans the perfect start before Ricky Aguiar’s delightful free-kick had the hosts back on terms early in the second half.

Omar Holness nodded in from close range to put City ahead five minutes later, though their task to hold on looked problematic when Dave Sims-Burgess was sent off for a second yellow on 71 minutes.

Instead they soaked up pressure and leading scorer Cody Cooke punished the Bluebirds on the counter twice, the first from the penalty spot, to seal bragging rights against their Wiltshire neighbours.

Jerry Gill was without Jack Batten and Elliott Frear, who missed his first match for the club through illness, whereas Chippenham had no recognised left-back in their ranks after former Bath defender Danny Greenslade picked up a knock in training.

His stand-in Luke Russe conceded the game’s first corner and City immediately made it count. Joe Raynes’ delivery was met by Dyer, who spent a brief spell on loan at Chippenham last season, to head home from 12 yards thanks to some questionable marking.

The face of the crossbar denied Alex Fletcher doubling the Romans’ lead on 23 minutes when his tremendous curler from 25 yards came back off the frame of the goal with Sims-Burgess shooting over on the turn from the rebound.

Chippenham gradually fought their way back with Brazilian Alefe Santos curling just wide of Ryan Clarke’s right post, and saw another effort from distance comfortably taken by the away stopper.

Last ditch defending from Dyer twice denied Harry Parsons, fresh from an eight-minute hat-trick in his previous outing, to preserve the visitors’ lead at half-time.

Instead it was fellow Swindon loanee Aguiar who found a way past Clarke eight minutes into the second half.

Having won a free-kick 25 yards out following a foul from Eddie Jones, Aguiar stepped up and nonchalantly dinked it over the wall and watched it dip perfectly inside Clarke’s right post, who couldn’t get across in time for his sixth goal of a productive spell with the Bluebirds.

Undeterred, City bounced back to regain the lead within five minutes.

Again Raynes was the provider, this time skipping past Russe with ease, and again the marking left a lot to be desired as his fizzed ball from the byline saw Holness left alone to head home his first league goal for the club.

Sims-Burgess picked up a caution on 68 minutes for clipping Joe Hanks on the halfway line and a similar offence on 71 saw him receive the same punishment, this time Russe upended, meaning a red card in his first A4 derby.

A superb interception from Zak Delaney prevented Aguiar and Callum Wood threw himself in the way of Hanks’ goalbound fierce strike with Chippenham players and around two-thirds of the bumper 1,600-strong crowd screaming for handball.

With Chippenham throwing bodies forward, a counter looked inevitable and City broke with devastating effect to win a penalty. Tom Smith’s driving run through the middle saw the ball ricochet back off him into Cooke’s path, whose shot was saved by Henry but the City striker was adjudged to have been tripped by the retreating Will King in the process. Having scored three from three spot-kicks away in the league already, Cooke made no mistake in side-footing home another, tucking it to Henry’s right with the keeper outfoxed.

Raynes was replaced with stoppage time approaching to allow a debut for Dylan Kadji, a 6’3 midfielder signed on loan from Bristol City to help bolster Jerry Gill’s squad.

He made an instant impression by dispossessing King in midfield allowing Smith to break against the helpless home captain Kieran Parselle, left with three men attacking at him. Smith squared to Cooke who still had the energy to charge up the Hardenhuish Park slope and calmly sidefoot past Henry for his 14th goal of the season.

It rounded off the perfect way to conclude 2021 for Gill’s men. It’s been a tricky one at times on and off the pitch at times but they managed to see out the year on a high and will hope to start 2022 in similar fashion against the same opponents on Sunday 2 January at Twerton Park.

Att: 1600

City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes (Kadji 89), Delaney, Wood, Fletcher (Touray 60), Holness (Richards 85), Cooke, Smith, Jones, Dyer, Sims-Burgess. Subs not used: Fuller.

Scorers: City – Dyer (4), Holness (58), Cooke (pen 84, 90+1); Chippenham – Aguiar (52)

City Bookings: Smith (20), Sims-Burgess (68)

City Dismissals: Sims-Burgess (71)

Officials: S Yianni, J Welsh, B White