Hartley Wintney (0) 0 Bath City (0) 1 (AET) – Tuesday 20 September 2022 – FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round Replay – The Memorial Fields
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Alex Fletcher’s extra-time header saw City progress at the expense of plucky Hartley Wintney.
The attacker’s sixth goal in seven games finally saw off the resilience of the hosts who rued a stoppage time miss from Youel Emmanuel.
Joe Wright’s double save denied Anis Nuur and Aaron McLeish-White in the first half with Adam Desbois matching his heroics from Fletcher’s dipping half volley.
In the end he proved the difference but only after City were made to work hard by their lower league hosts.
City shot down the slope at the hosts’ modest Memorial Ground home and Desbois was first called into action on 12 minutes when he superbly gathered Cody Cooke’s header when it arrowed towards the top corner from Tom Smith’s cross.
Within sixty seconds Wright outdid Desbois’ heroics. Nuur’s header towards the bottom left corner was parried and the keeper somehow denied McLeish-White’s rebound for a corner when he was still grounded.
Smith had a goal disallowed for offside when he tapped in Dan Hayfield’s low cross before Desbois produced the save of the match when Jack Batten, making his first start of the season, saw his free-kick flicked on by Cooke to Fletcher whose shot arced over the home custodian before he did enough to finger-tip it over.
Nuur, whose stunning equaliser at Twerton earned this tie, flashed wide from 25 yards and McLeish-White’s header was well tipped over by Wright in first half additional time.
While City’s first half performance was satisfactory, they looked off-colour after the break as Hartley Wintney turned the screw and enjoyed more possession, denying City time on the ball as they scarcely resembled a side struggling in the level below.
Zidan Akers had an effort zoom across goal away from waiting teammates and Toby Nevile headed wide.
City lost Dan Greenslade to a tight hamstring which saw Luke Spokes come on and Dyer drop back to defence with Kieran Parselle to left-back.
Nuur’s strike took a hefty deflection off Dyer and just flew off target with Wright beaten. The overworked defence kept the Romans in it with captain Parselle excelling, leading by example with a series of telling blocks.
A rare lapse at the back almost led to the deciding goal when Harry Cooksley’s pinpoint cross found substitute Emmanuel but he wastefully nodded over when unmarked.
Cooke’s header from Fletcher’s cross sailed just over in stoppage time in City’s best attack of the second half as neither side could find a breakthrough, resulting in an additional 30 minutes.
The turnaround was swift with a fear that the home side’s floodlights could be switched off before 10pm and the lack of break seemed to hamper Hartley Wintney, who looked visibly tired for large periods of extra-time whereas City grew stronger.
Joe Raynes was caught late by Matt Drage while enjoying a marauding run forward which earned him a booking and relief for the Romans that the Bathonian was able to continue after treatment.
Jerry Gill’s frustrations earned him a caution by referee Steven Hughes in the second period of extra-time, but three minutes later he was dancing in the dugout as Bath made a breakthrough.
Chris Lines’ pinpoint free-kick saw Fletcher dart towards the penalty spot and superbly power a header past Debois into the bottom corner.
It clearly knocked the stuffing out of the Row who made their allocated four substitutions but struggled to maintain possession as City managed the closing stages expertly, holding the ball in the corner to further frustrate the home outfit.
The fact that they had to adopt such a tactic was a compliment to the home team’s efforts and earned City a first meeting with Isthmian Division One South East Sevenoaks Town in the 3rd Qualifying Round on Saturday 1 October.
City’s Line-Up: Wright, Raynes, Greenslade (Spokes 75), Dyer, Batten, Parselle, Fletcher, Hayfield, Cooke, Smith, Lines. Subs not used: Frear, Clarke, Mannings, Wilson.
Scorers: City – Fletcher (113); Hartley – none
City Bookings: Smith (105), Dyer (118)
Officials: S Hughes, D Pilling, J Hillier