Dorking Wanderers (0) 0 Bath City (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 1 February 2020 – Meadowbank Stadium
Report by Kelston Koppite
Bath City took a hard earned point from a goalless draw at Meadowbank, home of Dorking Wanderers, on a sunny afternoon in Surrey. Both sides created the opportunities to snatch all three points but, in the end, they had to settle for a share of the spoils.
With the match taking place on an artificial surface both teams attempted to play a passing game, albeit that Wanderers adopted a more robust approach in the midfield areas. Indeed, Jake Gallagher was fortunate to escape sanction in the 4th minute after crudely upending Adam Mann. In the first of his many questionable decisions, the referee, Mr. Robert Whitton, decided that a stern lecture was sufficient punishment for the home midfielder.
The hosts enjoyed the better of the early exchanges, but City had the first scoring chance on 13 minutes. A corner kick was cleared only as far as Dan Ball inside the Dorking box, but the central defender completely miskicked his attempted shot. A minute later, Jake Gallagher struck an effort from the edge of the City area that flew high over Ryan Clarke’s crossbar.
Sam Pearson produced an excellent run down the right flank on 17 minutes before passing inside to Mann, whose shot was deflected wide of the far post for a corner. Thereafter ensued a period of midfield stalemate as the sides looked to stamp their authority on the game.
Jason Prior had the ball in the Bath net after 35 minutes, but his effort was ruled out by an offside flag. As the half time whistle approached, City had the best chance of the match when Niall McManus was penalised for handling the ball just outside the right hand side of the Wanderers’ box. Noah Chilvers’ free kick was played back towards goal by Alex Hartridge, only for Frankie Artus to head narrowly wide of the far post.
Shortly after the restart, Jake Gallagher produced another lunging challenge, this time on Pearson, and was duly shown a yellow card by Mr. Whitton. Many of those amongst the travelling support considered that the Dorking man was extremely lucky to still be on the pitch given his earlier unpunished assault on Mann.
Clarke was called into his first serious action of the game on 55 minutes, when he showed excellent reactions in tipping Prior’s powerful rising shot over the crossbar. Prior then almost turned provider when his low cross from the right just eluded Jack Barham in front of goal.
Matt Briggs burst into the City box on the hour mark but was denied by a well timed challenge from Dan Bowry. The resulting corner slipped through Clarke’s hands, only for Prior to blast his angled shot over the bar.
Chilvers and Tom Smith both had shots that were off target, before Pearson’s deflected drive on 67 minutes was met with an outstanding one-handed diving save by home custodian, Slavomir Huk, at the foot of his post. Chilvers then delivered a corner kick that was met with a downward header by Bowry, but Huk was again equal to the task as he smothered the ball on the goalline.
Smith saw his angled shot in the 75th minute pass wide of the far post and, seven minutes later, his effort from 20 yards flew uncharacteristically high over Huk’s crossbar. Sandwiched between these, James McShane’s firm shot from the edge of the City box was pushed over the top by Clarke.
City continued to push forward in search of a winner, with both Chilvers and Pearson firing wide of the target from 20 yards. However, in the time remaining, including at least six minutes of stoppage time played, Dorking put the Bath defence under concerted pressure but could not find a way through. Prior was agonisingly wide of the far post with his header following a cross from the left and, with the goal at his mercy, Jimmy Muitt shot wide from inside the box.
The final whistle was greeted with a rousing ovation from the City supporters who were fully appreciative of their team’s tenacious performance. Jerry Gill’s men probably had the better of the game as a whole, but they were required to work very hard for a valuable point against a Dorking outfit whose style, whilst being physical, was also skilful and pacey. It is difficult to argue that a draw was not the fairest outcome, and City will now look to return to winning ways when St. Albans City visit Twerton Park next Saturday.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), T Smith, Bowry, Artus, Mann, Chilvers, Brunt, Ball, Pearson, V Harper, Hartridge. Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Stearn, Simpson, Riley-Lowe, Eglin.
Scorers: City – none; Dorking – none
City Bookings: Artus (80)
Officials: R Whitton, E Robinson, C Husman