Hampton & Richmond Borough (0) 0 Bath City (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 28 December 2019 – The Jezzards Beveree Stadium
Report by Kelston Koppite
Bath City and Hampton & Richmond Borough shared the points in a goalless stalemate at The Jezzards Beveree Stadium. Both sides came into the match in excellent form, and perhaps it was an inevitable outcome that they effectively cancelled each other out.
Jerry Gill was forced into a change in personnel when Sam Pearson withdrew shortly before kick off with a sickness bug, with Ross Stearn coming into the starting line-up and Jordan Simpson taking the final seat on the bench.
The stodgy underfoot conditions ensured that free flowing football would always be challenging, particularly following the exertions in the Boxing Day fixtures only two days earlier. The game sparked into life on 8 minutes when City created the first genuine opening. A crisp move ended with Ryan Blunt slipping the ball through to Tom Smith, who guided his shot beyond home keeper Dan Lincoln. Alas, the assistant referee’s flag had been raised for offside and the scores remained level.
The hosts gained the upper hand in terms of possession and territorial domination as the half wore on, but they were unable to make any telling impression on the City back-line. Dean Inman looped a header on to the top of Ryan Clarke’s net in the 20th minute following a cross from the right. Seven minutes later at the other end, Stearn found space out on the left flank and cut inside, but his attempted angled shot was high and wide of the far post.
The home side’s midfield were in lively mood and were quick to every loose ball, thereby restricting City’s ability to play their usual passing game. Indeed, the visitors were forced to defend resolutely as Hampton looked for a breakthrough, albeit gloveman Clarke was largely untroubled.
The final half-chance of the half fell to Bath when Brunt crossed from the left, only for Dan Ball’s toe-poked effort to be directed straight at Lincoln.
Connor Riley-Lowe replaced Stearn ahead of the restart as manager Gill adjusted his team’s formation to allow two wing backs, but it was The Beavers who continued to have the better of the early exchanges. A cross on 46 minutes from the left by Kyron Farrell flashed across the face of Clarke’s goal and behind for a corner and, three minutes later, a long free kick from the right found Tyrone Lewthwaite, but the striker could only head straight at the City goalkeeper.
Ryan Hill’s cross-shot from the left of the area was narrowly wide of the far post as Hampton continued to enjoy the balance of play and, on the hour mark, a low cross from Farrell was very well gathered by Clarke as a number of home players lurked in the 6-yard box.
As time progressed, the visitors were beginning to make some headway down the flanks, and Riley-Lowe’s 65th minute delivery from the left was firmly nodded just over Lincoln’s crossbar by Adam Mann. Alex Hartridge sent in another cross from a similar position and, this time, Joe Raynes’ stooping header was deflected past the post off a defender’s knee. The resulting corner was cleared only as far as Frankie Artus, and his shot from 20 yards was also diverted wide of the target.
Louis Britton was brought on at the expense of Brunt in the 74th minute but, shortly afterwards, a corner from Hill caused consternation in the City box, with Clarke needing to react quickly to avert what would have been an unfortunate own goal by one of his defenders. Clarke was then called upon to make an excellent diving save at the foot of his near post to repel a dangerous free kick from Hill.
Britton was having some joy down the right, and a marauding run in the 87th minute ended with his cross from a promising position being held by Lincoln. The Romans almost snatched victory with one minute left on the clock when Raynes’ long throw-in fell to Dan Bowry, but the defender’s angled shot-on-the-turn struck the outside of the near post and bounced to safety.
The final whistle was greeted with a warm reception from the City supporters who had travelled in healthy numbers. It was certainly a hard earned point for their team from a keenly fought contest and, whilst Hampton had the greater share of possession, the Somerset side probably had the better chances alongside a goal that had been disallowed by a marginal off-side decision. Thoughts will now turn to the return A4 Derby fixture against Chippenham Town on New Year’s Day where City will look to extend their unbeaten run.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, T Smith, Bowry, Artus, Mann, Chilvers, Brunt (Britton 75), Stearn (Riley-Lowe HT), Ball, Hartridge. Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Richards, Simpson.
City Bookings: Brunt (62)
Officials: P Johnson, A Connor, H Blair