East Thurrock United (0) 1 Bath City (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 24 February 2018 – FutureFuel Stadium
Bath City picked up their 11th league draw of the season as Montel Agyemang’s second-half strike cancelled out Jack Batten’s fortuitous opener. The Romans also had to play the last 25 minutes with ten men following Sean Rigg’s dismissal for two yellow cards, with crucial late saves from Luke Southwood preserving a point they probably deserved. Jerry Gill, himself struggling from ‘flu, made three changes from last Saturday’s win over Whitehawk, with Kevin Amankwaah, Antoine Semenyo and Andy Watkins in for Dan Ball, Nat Jarvis and the injured Frankie Artus.
East Thurrock – with National League South’s leading-scorer Sam Higgins absent – created the first opening when Agyemang slipped the ball through to Lewis Smith but Southwood was on hand to block the attacker with his legs. Compton had City’s first effort on goal; driving just off target after linking up with Rigg. Rigg picked up the game’s first caution for tugging on Marvin Ekpetita’s shirt as the centre-back attempted a barnstorming run forward. The visitors opened the scoring on 32 minutes. Jack Compton’s corner, awarded after Ekpetita’s vociferous appeals that Rigg touched it last, saw Batten rise highest and receive a slice of luck when Ryan Sammons’ headed clearance hit the back of the centre-back’s head and ricocheted past the helpless Lucas Lidakevicius. Compton’s persistence nearly created a second when his shot was eventually charged down by the Rocks defence, with Watkins reacting quickest to the loose ball only to be thwarted by the home stopper.
East Thurrock regrouped at the break and started the second half brightly; equalizing with their first shot on target. Reece Harris got the better of Batten and whipped in a dangerous ball from the byline, which found Agyemang who was able to shimmy past Anthony Straker and shoot low past Southwood to make it 1-1. Batten, who went into the game without a single away goal to his name, nearly had a second on 55 minutes when Compton’s free-kick was met by a glancing header from the 22-year-old, but it sailed just wide. Rigg went even closer; his sweet strike from 25 yards whistling past the post, while Lewis Smith blazed over at the other end when well-placed following intelligent hold-up play by Agyemang. The contest was given a twist on 65 minutes when Rigg caught Harry Phipps late in the City half and referee David Spain had little option but to dish out a second yellow. It was The Romans’ first dismissal in an away match since Rigg’s cousin George was given an early bath at Eastbourne last March. The one-man advantage spurred East Thurrock, but they only created one clear opportunity to snatch the points. A mix-up between James Morton and Batten saw Agyemang race clear with just Southwood to beat, but the Reading loanee stood tall and prevent the forward’s attempt with an outstretched leg. Harris was also smartly denied by City’s number one. The victors nearly claimed all three points in spectacular fashion when Watkins’ hooked shot from 18 yards arced just over the stranded Lidakevicius’ goal. It would have been a cruel winner as, in truth, neither team did enough on a tricky surface to warrant a win. Although the visiting players looked downbeat afterwards; claiming a draw with ten men away from home is commendable. However, a conversion of draws to wins is required if City want to land a coveted play-off spot.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Straker, S Rigg, Amankwaah, Batten, Semenyo (Jarvis 66), Morton, Watkins, Compton, Smith. Subs not used: Ball, Buck, Richards, Hodges.
Scorers: City – Batten (34); East Thurrock – Agyemang (52)
City Bookings: S Rigg (15)
City Dismissal: S Rigg (65)
Officials: D Spain, G Heron, T Fell