Dartford (0) 0 Bath City (0) 0 – Saturday 10 December 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Princes Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman
Bath City picked up their first ever point at Princes Park, claiming their first away goalless draw since February 2020.
On six previous visits to Dartford in National League South, City had lost the lot and failed to score in their previous five.
While the scoreless run continues, it wasn’t for the want of trying as Jerry Gill’s men were unlucky to not win, though they denied the second placed Darts a ninth successive home league victory, which would have been a record for them in the division.
Instead it was the first time they failed to score at home all season as City’s Josh Gould claimed a maiden clean sheet, with Charlie Sheringham’s second half header chalked off to keep that intact.
With kick-off brought forward to 12.30pm to allow players and supporters to watch England’s World Cup Quarter-final with France, it meant a 7am departure from Twerton Park for Gill’s outfit.
Despite the fear of jadedness City started well with Dan Hayfield’s free-kick charged down by the home wall and Callum Ebanks just failing to connect with James Morton’s superb diagonal which carved the Darts defence apart.
Gould was grateful to see Sheringham’s cross-shot land safely onto the roof of his net as Dartford were restricted to such desperate efforts thanks to the visitors’ resolute defending.
In the second half City caught Dartford cold in the sub zero temperatures with Joe Raynes’ searching ball down the right chased down from Scott Wilson, who dragged across goal from a tight angle with no support arriving for the hard-working forward.
One rare lapse from the Romans saw Maxwell Statham allowed time on the right to cross to Sheringham who nodded home firmly at the far post, but was penalised for a push on Raynes much to the away side’s relief.
Wilson linked up with Lines before the former’s effort from the edge of the penalty area deflected off Tom Bonner and needed to be tipped behind for a corner from the scrambling Archie Mair.
It took until the 71st minute for Dartford to register a shot on target as Pierre Fonkeu backheeled to debutant Malachi Napa, whose low attempt from distance was comfortably gathered by Gould to his left.
Ebanks smartly volleyed home Wilson’s precise cross at the end of a counter but an offside flag bailed out the hosts, who began to look panicky under pressure from Bath.
Wilson was again involved in an attack swiftly after when his delivery from the right sat up for Hayfield but Bonner’s block took the sting out of it as the ball looped comfortably into Mair’s grasp.
Morton’s raking drive was too close to Mair before the Dartford custodian was mightily fortunate to get away with an error on 82 minutes.
Hayfield’s cross from the right looked comfortable for the Scottish stopper, however he fumbled towards the alert Ebanks whose flying header came back off the grateful goalkeeper to gather.
Mair wasn’t needed six minutes later as immense defending let his side off the hook. Dan Greenslade’s pull back from the byline found Tom Smith who controlled and attempted to steer the ball into the corner, but Bonner threw himself in the way to block and preserve their clean sheet.
The long-serving captain had an entertaining battle throughout with Ebanks and was momentarily turned by the on-loan striker in the closing stages, who went to ground in the penalty area but referee Jack Packman wasn’t interested.
While it’s now four without a win for the Somerset side, the performance alone should send a few winter shivers towards fellow Kent outfit Bromley next Saturday when the Romans meet the FA Trophy holders at Twerton Park..
City’s Line-Up: Gould, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c), Hayfield, Smith, Lines, Wilson, Morton, Ebanks. Subs not used: Clarke, Batten, Spokes, Mannings, Ford.
Scorers: City – none; Dartford – none
City Bookings: Hayfield (31), Dyer (63), Greenslade (90+3)
Officials: J Packman, J Woodman, S Goldup