Chippenham Town (1) 1 Bath City (1) 3 – Vanarama National League South – Wednesday 1 January 2020 – Hardenhuish Park
Report by Kelston Koppite
Bath City rounded off their festive fixtures with a New Year’s Day victory over Chippenham Town at Hardenhuish Park and, in the process, completed the ‘double’ over their local rivals in the A4 Derby. In similar fashion to the Boxing Day match at Twerton Park, City were required to come back from behind after Chris Zebroski had given the Bluebirds the lead, but goals from Ryan Brunt, Tom Smith and Louis Britton ensured that the Somerset side took all three points.
Playing down the slope, Chippenham always looked dangerous on the break and created the first opening on 4 minutes. The pacey Karnell Chambers crossed into the City box from the right, and the ball narrowly evaded the head of Nat Jarvis as the striker threw himself forward. Jarvis then found himself clean through in the area, but he was denied by Ryan Clarke who quickly narrowed the angle.
The Romans were playing the more controlled football and thought that they had opened the scoring after 10 minutes, when Joe Raynes crossed from the right and Brunt headed into the net at the far post. However, the effort was ruled out by the referee, Mr. Andrew Humphries, for an infringement.
Town continued to pose the greater early goal threat and, on 14 minutes, Chambers shot wide of the target from the edge of the penalty area. At the other end, Brunt brought a diving save from Will Puddy with a low drive from 18 yards.
Chambers found himself clean through on goal when he latched on to a long ball downfield but, with Clarke well off his line, the wideman could only clip a tame shot straight into the grateful arms of the keeper.
Smith received a pass on the edge of the Chippenham area in the 21st minute, but his first effort was blocked and his follow up was well saved low down by the stretching Puddy.
The game continued to flow from end to end, and Dan Bowry needed to produce a fine last ditch saving tackle to block Jarvis’s attempt from inside the 6-yard box. Frankie Artus then headed well wide of Puddy’s goal following Connor Riley-Lowe’s 26th minute free kick.
City were beginning to gain the upper hand, and Raynes lifted a shot over the bar after he had been picked out by Noah Chilvers’ ball in from the left. The same player tried his luck again on 34 minutes, but his shot from the edge of the box suffered a similar fate.
With five minutes left on the clock before the interval, Clarke held Zebroski’s looping header under his crossbar, but the keeper was powerless to prevent his side going behind in the 42nd minute. Zebroski found space inside the City box and drove his shot firmly into the bottom corner of the net.
The visitors responded almost immediately, firstly through Adam Mann’s shot from 25 yards that was wide of Puddy’s post, and then they restored parity two minutes into stoppage time. Bowry and Raynes combined on the right, and the eventual cross fell to Brunt who rifled his shot into the roof of the net from close range.
Now with the gradient in their favour, the second period saw the away side take control of the game, largely quashing Chippenham’s forward raids that had been so prevalent before the break. City dominated the midfield areas and the hosts were gradually pushed further back into their own territory. On 51 minutes, Chilvers let fly from 25 yards but the ball passed narrowly over Puddy’s bar, and Brunt’s optimistic back-heeled effort three minutes later lacked the venom to trouble the home stopper.
Ross Stearn was introduced at the expense of Riley-Lowe in the 55th minute as his side continued to press forward in search of goals. However, it was The Bluebirds who had the next opening, but Grant Horton’s shot from the point of the box was well over Clarke’s crossbar.
Brunt made way for Britton on 66 minutes before George Rigg tried his luck from distance, but he was unable to repeat his Boxing Day Twerton Park heroics, and his shot was sliced high and wide of Clarke’s woodwork.
City’s overall superiority was finally rewarded in the 69th minute in spectacular style. A free kick 30 yards from goal was touched sideways by Chilvers into the path of Smith, and the midfielder unleashed a thumping shot that flew into the top corner of the net with Puddy left helplessly clutching at thin air.
Tom Owen-Evans attempted a similar effort with a free kick from just outside the City box, but he was well off target, and Kieran Parselle’s free kick attempt on 77 minutes was wildly blazed high and wide.
The visitors pushed forward in search of further reward, and Mann chased a long ball into the box where he was clattered by the outrushing Puddy with the ball drifting wide of the goal. Muted appeals for a penalty were waved away by the referee, but City came close to increasing their advantage after 79 minutes. Artus clipped a looping shot from the edge of the box over the stranded Puddy, who could only spectate as the ball struck the face of the far post and bounced to safety.
With seven minutes remaining, Bath were awarded a penalty when Stearn was felled as he raced into the area. Alas, Smith’s spot kick was well saved by the diving Puddy, who palmed the ball round the post for a corner. However, the game was put completely beyond the hosts in the 88th minute following a right wing cross from Smith. Britton beat Puddy to the ball at the near post and joyfully lashed his shot-on-the-turn into the corner of the net from just inside the 6 yard box.
This was another impressive performance from Jerry Gill’s charges and they thoroughly deserved to prevail. Chippenham made life difficult for their opponents during the first half and, had they made the most of their chances, there may well have been a very different outcome. However, not only were City the better side overall, they were also more clinical in front of goal and, ultimately, that was the deciding factor.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Riley-Lowe (Stearn 56), T Smith, Bowry, Artus, Mann (Richards 90), Chilvers, Brunt (Britton 67), Ball, Hartridge. Subs not used: Simpson, Wiles-Richards.
Scorers: City – Brunt (45+1), T Smith (69), Britton (88); Chippenham – Zebroski (42)
City Bookings: Bowry (72)
Officials: A Humphries, M Peters, G Kornasiewicz