Eastbourne Borough (1) 2 Bath City (0) 0 – Saturday 26 March 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Priory Lane
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Goals from Charley Kendall and Jaden Perez ended Bath City’s four-match unbeaten run at Eastbourne on Saturday.
The Romans failed to build on a bright start and posed little threat in the second half as the hosts recorded a fifth successive win with ease.
Kendall’s 20th league goal of the season broke the deadlock before Perez notched a second after the Sports flew out of the blocks following the interval.
Kendall also rattled the upright in stoppage time which prevented further damage to the scoreline.
Despite a near five-hour coach journey from Somerset, City looked fresh in the early stages, keen to complete a league double over their East Sussex rivals for the first time since the 2014/15 season.
Tom Smith almost opened the scoring on 12 minutes. Elliott Frear’s cross from the left wasn’t fully headed away by Jack Currie, who was fortunate that Smith’s volley from eight yards was blocked by unsighted goalkeeper Lee Worgan.
Joe Raynes’ trademark long throws also gave the home defence something to worry about as they looked surprisingly panicky and slack in possession for a side who’ve recently propelled themselves into a play-off place.
Zak Delaney’s hanging cross proved troublesome as the slightest touch from Mitch Dickenson prevented a tap-in for Alex Fletcher, unable to add to his double in the previous fixture.
Eastbourne took the lead on 24 minutes. A string of 19 uninterrupted passes on their immaculate 3G surface concluded with Jake Elliott allowed time to slip it behind to Kendall, who planted it first time across Ryan Clarke from 10 yards.
This demonstrated the adage of ‘goals change games’ as it settled Danny Bloor’s men whereas City looked deflated at their early work reaping no rewards.
On the half hour, Chris Whelpdale’s delivery picked out Dickenson at the far post but while the centre-back did well to out-leap Eddie Jones, he couldn’t end his four-year goal drought as he nodded wide from six yards.
Bath kicked off the second half but immediately lost possession and Whelpdale’s low drive from 25 yards required a fingertip save from Clarke to his right.
Eastbourne missed a more presentable opening within a minute when Greg Luer’s ball from the right was well dummied by James Hammond to leave Charlie Walker a free shot from 18 yards but he snatched wide.
The hosts’ incessant pressure earned a deserved second on 49 minutes.
A superb challenge by the near-faultless centre-back Trent Mahorn on Cody Cooke started a move, which saw the ball worked out to Luer on the right. He wandered across the penalty area with relative ease before laying off to Perez, who turned and shot home in a flash from 12 yards to leave Clarke helpless.
Jerry Gill opted to switch formation to 3-4-3 on 63 minutes, introducing Omar Holness and Dave Sims-Burgess for Smith and Frear.
Sims-Burgess’ downward header from Ryan Jones’ corner was uncomfortably turned over by Worgan, in his final meaningful action of the contest.
Kendall spurned two openings late on. Substitute Kai Innocent, making his second debut on loan from QPR, fizzed across for Kendall but he failed to fully connect.
The striker, who will move to League One outfit Lincoln City in the summer, dinked against the post in added time after Hammond’s incisive pass left him free of a tired backline.
It mattered little as the Sports celebrated a win which makes them near certainties for the play-offs, while City will hope to recover in time for next Saturday’s home contest with Dulwich Hamlet.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Delaney, Batten, Fletcher, Cooke, Smith (Holness 63), Frear (Sims-Burgess 63), E Jones, Dyer, R Jones. Subs not used: Fuller, Ball, Richards.
Scorers: City – none; Eastbourne – Kendall (24), Perez (49)
City Bookings: Fletcher (68), Sims-Burgess (79)
Officials: B Atkinson, C Britton, C Fidler