Concord Rangers (0) 0 Bath City (1) 1 – Saturday 15 February 2020 – Vanarama National League South – The Aspect Arena
Ross Stearn marked his return to the starting XI with the only goal of the game at Concord Rangers.
The forward poked home the 200th goal of Jerry Gill’s reign on 40 minutes from close range after Joe Raynes’ low cross struck the inside of the post.
Stearn was later forced off with a knee injury in a match dictated by the conditions as Storm Dennis swept across the Aspect Arena.
Ryan Clarke showed sharp reflexes to deny Danny Green as the Romans held on for a deserved double over the Essex outfit, gaining revenge for their FA Trophy exit 11 days ago.
Stearn’s inclusion was in place of Sam Pearson, injured for Bristol City in the week, and he looked keen to make an impression with a curling effort from 20 yards which flew just over the angle of post and crossbar with Chris Haigh beaten.
Concord struggled to get out of their own half with the wind largely sent their attempted clearances behind them and penning their defence further back.
The pressure eventually paid off on 40 minutes. Raynes whipped in a cross on his unfavoured left foot which just evaded Tom Smith. It cannoned off the inside of the post and fell perfectly to Stearn, who gleefully tapped in.
There were fears that City hadn’t made the most of the conditions as an onslaught appeared inevitable from the hosts.
The Romans were dealt a blow when Stearn crashed into the advertising hoardings challenging Lee Minshull and injured his knee, with Vince Harper taking his place.
The substitute made an instant impact, dashing to the byline and pulling back to Smith, who’s shot was blocked by Steve Cawley.
It ran loose to Noah Chilvers whose effort towards the top corner was palmed onto the bar by Haigh and cleared.
Kreshnic Krasniqi missed a decent opening for the hosts when he found space in the box but miscontrolled and Clarke did enough to smuggle out attempts from him and Decarrey Sheriff.
The keeper was tested again on 68 minutes when Danny Green’s raking strike from 40 yards carried in the wind and forced Clarke to tip over.
Clarke did enough to keep out Minshull’s downward header in a third close opening in as many minutes but afterwards City’s back four, defended high up the field to good effect, with Frankie Artus superb in protecting them.
Taylor Maloney tried his luck from 40 yards but Clarke parried it away from danger to help clinch a 30th clean sheet in National League South – a record for a Bath City goalkeeper in the division.
More importantly, the win gave Bath a 10-point buffer in the play-off spots, and was a much needed positive reaction to last week’s disappointing loss to St Albans.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Riley-Lowe, T Smith, Bowry, Artus, Mann, Chilvers, Stearn (V Harper 54), Ball, Hartridge. Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Britton, Brunt, Simpson.
Scorers: City – Stearn (40); Concord – none
City Bookings: T Smith (35), Riley-Lowe (38), Bowry (62), Raynes (79)
Officials: S Hughes, C Pullen, P Stratton