Dulwich Hamlet (0) 1 Bath City (1) 3 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 2 November 2019 – Champion Hill
Report by Kelston Koppite
Bath City recorded their third consecutive National League South victory at wet and windy Champion Hill, home of Dulwich Hamlet. This was achieved by virtue of an outstanding performance in extremely testing conditions in front of a bumper crowd of 2,816, with excellent goals being recorded by Noah Chilvers, Sam Pearson and Tom Smith.
The hosts began proceedings in the ascendancy and goalkeeper Harvey Wiles-Richards, in for the injured Ryan Clarke, was called upon to hold a firm shot from Ben Chapman under his crossbar in the 4th minute. Two minutes later, at the other end, Smith’s shot from distance was well wide of the Hamlet goal.
Dulwich continued to have the better of things and, when Ade Yusuff found space on the left hand side of the City area on 10 minutes, Wiles-Richards was forced into a useful diving stop to push his angled drive round the near post. Connor Hunte then sliced a shot high and wide of the target from outside the box.
Thereafter, The Romans began to take control of midfield and looked the more dangerous going forward. Adam Mann was unable to direct his attempted overhead kick goalwards following a City corner, and Chilvers saw his 20th minute goalbound shot blocked to safety by a defender.
There was a moment of consternation in the Bath defence on 24 minutes when a Dulwich free kick from the left was directed towards goal by Quade Taylor, and needed to be hurriedly headed over Wiles-Richards’ bar by a defender on the goalline. However, City produced a quick counter-attack which provided Chilvers with a decent opening but, with goalkeeper Charlie Grainger off his line, the midfielder could only shoot straight at the grateful custodian.
At this stage, the prevailing miserable light drizzly conditions upgraded to a downpour of monstrous proportions, but this did not deter the visitors. Smith’s rasping shot from 25 yards was well held low down by Grainger, but the keeper could do nothing to prevent City taking the lead on the half hour mark. The ball fell invitingly to Chilvers just inside the left hand side of the area, and he took full advantage by curling a firm shot into the far top corner of the net for a delightful finish, leaving Grainger a mere spectator.
Dulwich, who always looked lively going forward, responded with a period of pressure leading up to the interval, and Wiles-Richards was called into action on a number of occasions. Firstly, his palms were stung by a shot from Barnes, then he made a fine save low down to keep out Yusuff’s angled effort. Chapman’s powerful drive from distance was confidently gathered and, on the stroke of half time, the keeper came quickly off his line to make a brave save at the feet of Yusuff.
Fortunately the monsoon-like conditions abated during the break, before City re-emerged looking to drive home their advantage. Pearson’s 47th minute shot was narrowly too high but, a minute later, the hosts were back on level terms. Uncharacteristic dithering in the Bath defence allowed Yusuff to nip in and profit by slipping the ball under the advancing Wiles-Richards.
Undeterred, the away side continued with their neat midfield play and pushed forward as they looked to restore their lead. Their reward came in the 53rd minute when a swift break saw Smith deliver a delicate pass into the path of Pearson, who advanced goalwards rapidly, before confidently tucking the ball into the corner of the net beyond the outrushing Grainger.
Pearson’s pace continued to cause issues down the right and his cross on 57 minutes picked out Smith in the box, but his shot-on-the-turn was straight at Grainger. Dulwich remained a threat on the break and Wiles-Richards needed to remain vigilant to hold another shot from Chapman, and he also made a good save at his near post to repel Yusuff’s angled drive from the right in the 70th minute.
The referee, Mr. Tom Bishop, turned down strong home penalty appeals when Yusuff went to ground in the City area, and then Danny Mills headed over Wiles-Richards’ crossbar following a cross from the right.
The men from Somerset came desperately close to putting the result beyond doubt in the 81st minute, as Mann’s shot from the edge of the box took a nick off a defender before clipping the top of the bar, and flying away for a corner. Andy Watkins and Ryan Brunt replaced Mann and Pearson respectively as City looked to run down the clock, but Dulwich were now pushing forward in increasing numbers.
With five minutes remaining, Wiles-Richards again made a good save at the foot of his post after a goalmouth scramble resulting from a corner but, as the game entered stoppage time, Bath finally secured the three points. Brunt, whose initial ambition was seemingly to take the ball to the corner flag out on the right, cleverly turned two defenders and sent in a low cross that picked out Smith’s well timed run, allowing the midfielder a simple tap in from close range. It was Smith’s last involvement as he was replaced by Ross Stearn, and the remaining time passed without further notable incident.
This was a fine performance by City and they were full value for their victory. The good number of travelling supporters in attendance, whilst somewhat battered and drenched by the elements, gave their side a fully deserved rousing ovation at the final whistle. To be fair, both sides played some excellent football in particularly difficult conditions, and whilst Dulwich were always a threat with their pace upfront, the visitors were the more controlled overall and generally dominated the midfield exchanges. The Romans played with the confidence that comes with a good run of results, and they will look to continue this when Concord Rangers visit Twerton Park next Saturday.
City’s Line-Up: Wiles-Richards, Raynes, Riley-Lowe, T Smith (Stearn 90), Bowry, Artus (c), Mann (Watkins 82), Chilvers. Pearson (Brunt 86), Hartridge, Kensdale. Subs not used: Simpson, Richards.
Scorers: City – Chilvers (30), Pearson (53), T Smith (90+1); Dulwich – Yusuff (47)
City Bookings: none
Officials: T Bishop, M Mackey, L Lugeralla