Farnborough (0) 0 Bath City (0) 1 – Saturday 27 August 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Easy as HGV Stadium
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Alex Fletcher’s tremendous finish got Bath City’s August Bank Holiday off to an excellent start at newly promoted Farnborough.
The attacker unleashed a thunderous first-time strike from 20 yards just after half-time to make it four unbeaten for Jerry Gill’s Romans.
Fletcher was lucky to escape serious injury in the first half when Kevin Lokko’s reckless lunge sent the number seven flying but the defender received just a yellow card.
Kieran Parselle wasn’t as lucky, leaving with a suspected broken nose in the second half, but his replacement Jack Batten was near-faultless as well-organised City deservedly claimed their first clean sheet of the campaign.
Before the game, Farnborough were thrown into a quandary when CJ Fearn pulled up in the warm-up, meaning a late inclusion of Ade Olumuyiwa.
It didn’t deter them as they made a lightning start from the kick-off which eventually saw Liam Ferdinand shoot on the turn to force Joe Wright into a save on 19 seconds.
Cody Cooke flashed an effort inches wide a minute later after good work by Fletcher as the game lived up to its high-scoring potential with the previous four meetings containing an eye-watering 32 goals.
Parselle headed over when Boro’ switched off from a short corner as Fletcher’s dinked cross picked out the captain.
Opposition skipper Lokko caught Fletcher on 39 minutes with a high challenge just past halfway and was lucky the City man made little of it which probably swayed referee Kirsty Dowle into just cautioning the centre-back.
The second half saw the Romans start on the front foot and they were rewarded with an opener within five minutes of the restart.
Cooke’s handy flick-on just inside his own half sent Scott Wilson away down the left. Olumuyiwa’s attempt to intercept saw him inadvertently flick the ball to Fletcher on the edge of the box, who let the ball run across his body before producing a marvellous shot into the top right corner which beat Jack Turner all ends up.
Jordan Dyer’s bravery kept his side ahead when the lively Reggie Young saw his pull-back from the byline toed away by the defender, who was caught by Tony Lee on the follow through but was fine to continue.
Wright had been a virtual spectator since his early save but his concentration levels were intact to bat away Sam Deering’s 20-yard curler after Lines slipped when trying to carry the ball away.
Parselle and Lee required treatment for a horrible accidental collision in midfield which saw the City man come off worse. He initially tried to battle on with a replaced shirt after blood had spilt onto the original but within minutes realised his afternoon was up, allowing Batten to come on for his first outing since City’s previous clean sheet, a 1-0 win over Tonbridge Angels in April.
Cooke was centimetres away from making it 2-0 on 65 minutes. Lines’ free-kick was headed back across goal by Dyer and despite being at full-stretch the striker couldn’t make contact as the ball agonisingly evaded him near the goalline.
A remarkable stop made Cooke realise it wasn’t going to be his day. Fletcher’s drive along the six-yard box was met by the onrushing striker but Turner’s trailing leg somehow diverted it to safety.
Chances were arriving frequently for Jerry Gill’s men. Dan Hayfield’s goalbound volley was blocked by Lokko as they couldn’t find a second to kill the hosts off.
Elliott Frear entered the fray for his 50th City appearance and he linked up with Fletcher on 86 minutes which saw the latter’s stinging shot palmed away by Turner at his near post.
The home stopper came forward for late set-pieces, but Bath stood firm to clinch three points their performance warranted.
City’s Line-Up: Wright, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c) (Batten 65), Fletcher, Hayfield, Cooke, Lines, Spokes (Smith 72), Wilson (Frear 78). Subs not used: Clarke, Backwell.
Scorers: City – Fletcher (50); Farnborough – none
City Bookings: Wilson (74), Hayfield (90+3)
Officials: K Dowle, T Copping, J McRitchie