Eastbourne Borough (3) 3 Bath City (1) 4 – Saturday 13 August 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Priory Lane
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Bath City recovered from 3-1 down to record an extraordinary win at Eastbourne Borough on Saturday.
Kieran Parselle’s 95th minute winner sparked scenes of jubilation from players and supporters having looked down and out at half-time.
A remarkable contest had the tone set inside 10 minutes with an own goal for each side, before James Hammond’s penalty and Chris Whelpdale’s header put the hosts 3-1 up and seemingly on course for victory.
But bucketloads of character from Bath saw them recover with Jordan Dyer and Cody Cooke getting them back on track before Parselle’s first goal for the club.
City started well but were undone by the first set-piece they faced on seven minutes.
Hammond’s corner was headed forward by Whelpdale and took a huge nick off Luke Spokes to rebound towards goal where Joe Raynes’ attempted clearance was too late according to assistant referee Joel Lamping, who flagged to signal a goal.
Similar misfortune at the other end saw the Romans reply inside 145 seconds later.
Dyer’s ball from the back saw Cooke remain onside, and after good patience from the forward his low centre was inadvertently touched home at the near post by home debutant Alex Wynter for a second own goal, the third already in City matches this season.
Another nearly followed when Alex Fletcher’s flicked header deflected off the thigh of Mitch Dickenson but not a telling enough touch to deceive Lee Worgan who gathered.
Jerry Gill held a team meeting on Saturday morning during the club’s overnight stay in Crawley, which included the importance of defending set-pieces. Much to his chagrin, Eastbourne’s second corner on 22 minutes produced similar mayhem to the first. With all sorts of grappling in the box, the referee labelled Parselle as the guilty party for pulling back Wynter and pointed to the spot. Hammond, who netted a penalty last week at Oxford City, did so again with relative ease.
Their third on 32 minutes was undisputable. Hammond’s superb crossfield ball picked out Leone Gravata, whose whipped delivery was met by a glancing header of Whelpdale six yards out to help it into the bottom corner, giving Joe Wright no chance.
Fletcher flashed a header over and Elliott Frear’s stinging drive was tipped around the post by Worgan as City threatened going forward before an eventful half concluded.
Hammond tested Wright with a free-kick four minutes after the break, the goalkeeper finger-tipping over smartly, before the Romans snatched one back on 52 minutes.
Chris Lines’ free-kick was headed out to Spokes, whose hooked ball to the far post was misjudged by Worgan allowing Dyer to divert home via his back from almost on the line.
A nervy home side were punished when they conceded a needless penalty just past the hour. Frear’s dinked cross missed Fletcher in the middle but as Raynes attempted to keep the move alive, Gravata foolishly clipped his heels for the second spot-kick of the game.
Cooke took responsibility and in searing heat kept his cool to send Worgan the wrong way and make it 3-3 with 27 minutes remaining.
The City forward had a penalty appeal turned down when he appeared to be shoved from Dickenson in the box who received the benefit of the doubt from overworked referee Robert Ablitt.
Scott Wilson’s introduction gave the visitors more freshness going forward and he nearly had an assist to his name when his clever cross saw Fletcher arrive late but on the stretch he could only poke it straight to Worgan.
Shiloh Remy blasted over when Hammond’s corner was nodded back to him by Dickenson in stoppage time where both sides showed little tiredness in near 30 degree heat, both pressing for the win.
Wilson’s low centre was importantly cleared by Miquel Scarlett but it presented a last chance for the Romans as Raynes marched forward for a trademark long throw.
The vice-captain’s missile was perfect as Worgan hesitated and in a packed box, Parselle headed home to complete an astonishing turnaround, as the skipper charged off in celebration by ripping off his shirt and jumping into manager Jerry Gill’s arms.
It was some treat for their 20 or so fans who made the near 180-mile journey to East Sussex as they applauded their heroes off in an afternoon the club won’t forget in a hurry.
City’s Line-Up: Wright, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c), Fletcher, Hayfield, Cooke, Frear (Wilson 78), Lines, Spokes (Smith 90+1). Subs not used: Clarke, Batten, Bell.
Scorers: City – OG (10), Dyer (51), Cooke (pen 62), Parselle (90+5); Eastbourne – OG (6), Hammond (pen 22), Whelpdale (30)
City Bookings: Greenslade (67), Parselle (90+6)
Officials: R Ablitt, J Lamping, N Blogg