Dartford (0) 1 Bath City (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 17 October 2020 – Princes Park Stadium

Dartford (0) 1 Bath City (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 17 October 2020 – Princes Park Stadium

Report by Mark Stillman

Noor Husin’s second half strike meant Bath City’s long-awaited bid for a win at Dartford continued, in a match with a later than anticipated conclusion. A calf injury to assistant referee Michael Marsh caused a 40-minute wait before a replacement was found locally by Kent FA, meaning the second half didn’t get underway until 4.35pm. Before that, City had survived an early onslaught from the hosts who finally broke through soon after the lengthy stoppage. Tommy Conway had a 90th minute tap-in disallowed for offside as Jerry Gill’s Romans made it two away defeats in a row in National League South and five on the spin at Dartford’s Princes Park.

The Darts penned City back in the first 20 minutes but didn’t force Clarke into action, with the energetic Jack Barham curling over from 18 yards and Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong missing the target from similar distance with the City stopper momentarily panicked. Callum Evans’ low cross at the other end missed Lucas Tomlinson by a whisker to escape a certain goal, a move replicated soon after as the visitors started to show more threat. Barham and Elliott Romain shot wide on the turn for the Darts whereas City’s only attempted efforts on goal in the first half were all blocked as the experienced Dartford backline stood firm.

The half-time break was an extended one as confusion reigned following Marsh’s injury. With no fourth officials at National League South level, the usual policy is an appeal for a qualified referee from the crowd. As matches remain behind closed doors, there appeared little chance to locate a replacement. Eventually, a local referee was located to take over assistant duties, and after a long delay, the match re-commenced. Dartford were nearly gifted an opener when Clarke misjudged a throw to start an attack, which resulted in Husin’s ball just missing the well-placed Romain. Another moment of Clarke indecision proved costly on 52 minutes. Having failed to gather Craig Barham-Barrett’s hanging cross at full-stretch, Romain’s shot was blocked by Jason Pope but ran loose to Husin who managed to slot it under the City glovesman from 16 yards. It was an untidy goal but one of great relief to Steve King’s men, who knew a third clean sheet on the bounce would seal their second 1-0 win of the season. They should have doubled their lead midway through the second half when Romain’s dangerous ball from the right was somehow fired over by the stretching Barham. Tom Smith curled inches over from 20 yards for Gill’s men, and the same player made a mess of a gifted opportunity when home keeper Craig King passed straight to him, only for Smith to knock it to Freddie Hinds who was stood yards offside. Another offside denied a dramatic point as substitute Freddie Grant drilled across to Conway to tap-in, but Jake Woodman’s flag cut short celebrations. A courageous Jordan Wynter block from Conway’s goalbound shot preserved the hosts’ lead and Hinds’ daisy-cutter was easily gathered by Craig King as City’s first shot on target was almost the last action of the game.

It remains a venue where Bath just can’t any joy from, but will take heart from Steve King later labelling it as Dartford’s best performance since he took over a year ago. The second half effort would have pleased Jerry Gill but he would have substituted that for a win ahead of next Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Havant & Waterlooville.

Att: n/a

City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Smith (James 80), Batten (Grant 72), Ball, Evans, Harley, Conway, Pope, Leak, Hinds, Tomlinson (Richards 72). Subs not used: Henry, Watts.

Scorers: City – none; Dartford: Husin (49)

City Bookings: Smith (45), Ball (76), James (90)

Officials: to follow