Farnborough (1) 2 Bath City (1) 2 – Saturday 25 November 2023 – Vanarama National League South – Saunders Transport Community Stadium
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
A saved penalty from Jack Turner prevented Bath City three points in an action-packed draw at Farnborough.
The keeper guessed right to block Cody Cooke’s spot-kick after the Romans had fought from behind twice.
Elliott Frear and Jack Batten had cancelled out Connor Cullen’s composed finish and Aaron Kuhl’s penalty.
But a rare failure from the spot by Cooke kept the sides deadlocked, City’s second draw in five days.
It proved a tough afternoon for the forward, who dislocated his finger in the first half and winced in agony as it was put back in place by physios Sarah Carr and Lee Williams. That was shortly before Farnborough’s best spell of the contest.
Batten’s short back header was capitalised on by Connor Hall, but his attempted lob over Will Buse on the angle bounced harmlessly wide.
Soon after Selim Saied’s pull-back for the onrushing Michael Folivi saw the forward strike over under pressure from Jordan Dyer.
The opening goal was straight from the route one scrapbook. Turner’s drop-kick bypassed Kieran Parselle and an exquisite first touch from Cullen saw him in on goal. He kept his balance to round Buse before tapping in from near the penalty spot for a 28th minute lead.
City nearly replied instantly when Dan Hayfield found Frear in room on the left, his ball was firmly met just inside the penalty area by Wilson but deflected off CJ Fearn, though a goal-kick was awarded to much confusion.
The pressure intensified and a leveller arrived on 32 minutes. Wilson found room by the byline to dig out a cross to Frear who powerfully headed home from six yards.
Farnborough started the second half the better with 36-year-old substitute Ricky Holmes a livewire.
They were rewarded for their bright opening with a penalty. Kuhl’s disguised pass was latched onto by Folivi and the off-balance Batten appeared to clip the forward with referee Eugene Robinson pointing to the spot.
With the Yellows already missing four of nine spot-kicks this term, the latest volunteer was Kuhl who showed no nerves in smashing into the roof of the net to give Buse no chance.
Wilson squandered a decent chance when Dan Greenslade’s cross picked him out but his downward header at the far post landed off target.
City’s next headed opportunity didn’t go begging. After Jordan Thomas’ initial corner was cleared, substitute Ewan Clark picked up the second ball and dinked to Batten who rose highest to glance in off the post his first goal since January.
New loan signing Oscar Thorn replaced Thomas in the 76th minute for a debut and his first involvement saw him accelerate past Jaden Perez, who had man-marked Thomas before his departure, but his pull-back to Wilson was importantly cleared by Fearn.
With 10 minutes remaining, Thorn’s cross led to a chance of a winner. His delivery was behind Cooke but seized upon by Dyer, whose touch appeared heavy before he went flying under contact from Cullen. Referee Robinson again awarded a penalty but after a lengthy delay Turner was equal to Cooke’s penalty, diving low to his left to bat it away before courageously beating Wilson to the follow-up.
Wilson volleyed wide when Kuhl’s misdirected clearance from Clark’s cross fell to the forward, who reacted sharply to shoot but his placement went awry.
Time ran out on City as they couldn’t find an elusive winner. Having won their previous four National League South matches at the venue they were forced to settle for a point on a strange day where six of the top seven failed to win.
Four successive home matches follow as a busy month lies ahead for Jerry Gill’s charges.
City’s Line-Up: Buse, Greenslade, Dyer, Batten, Parselle (c), Hayfield, Cooke, Frear (Clark 65), Thomas (Thorn 76), Wilson, Russe. Subs not used: Raynes, Smith, Lines.
Scorers: City – Frear (31), Batten (70); Farnborough – Cullen (28), Kuhl (pen 49)
City Bookings: Thomas (45), Hayfield (45+1), Batten (49)
Officials: E Robinson, D Payne, N Blogg