Havant & Waterlooville (0) 2 Bath City (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 16 November 2019 – Westleigh Park
Danny Kedwell’s contentious second half penalty ended Bath City’s four-match winning run at West Leigh Park. The experienced Havant front man succeeded where Noah Chilvers failed, the midfielder seeing his spot-kick parried in the first half, shortly before Adam Mann opened the scoring. Alfie Rutherford levelled, the goal standing despite the substitute appearing offside, before Kedwell slammed in a 74 minute winner. Despite their efforts, an equaliser wasn’t forthcoming, as Jerry Gill’s men were left irked by the manner of defeat.
The City boss was without three starters from last week’s win over Concord. Sam Pearson and Dan Bowry’s impressive form went unnoticed by their countries, the duo away with Wales under 19s and Antigua & Barbuda respectively. Alex Hartridge meanwhile headed back to Devon, recalled by Exeter. It earned Dan Ball a first start since April 2018, with Andy Watkins and Tom Richards also recalled. Havant tried their best to gift City a 10 minute opener. Watkins chased a lost cause but with the ball safely about to drift out of play, Craig Robson inexplicably body-checked the forward, clipping his heels inside the area, with referee Sunny Gill pointing to the spot. Chilvers stepped up, having converted a winning penalty in a shoot-out for Colchester in the League Cup against Crystal Palace earlier this term. This time, Ross Worner guessed right and batted his effort away, gathering Mann’s rebound for good measure. He couldn’t prevent the latter in City’s next move. Again it was suspect defending from the hosts, who had plenty of numbers back but left Mann unmarked from Tom Smith’s pinpoint delivery, allowing the attacker to simply nod home from six yards. Jonah Ayunga pulled a shot narrowly wide from a tight angle for Havant, the 15-goal striker a handful but well marshalled from City’s new look backline. Smith nearly made it two, concluding a flowing move on a tricky surface with a low strike from Watkins’ cross. Worner gathered well. Tempers flared in each dugout following a rough foul on Richards which saw Josh Taylor and Simon Walton cautioned for Havant, Walton for his actions from the substitutes bench.
The second half started well for the Romans. A slalom-like run from Watkins saw him try his luck from 20 yards, but was left crestfallen to see the ball thud against the inside of the post and into Worner’s grateful mitts, leaving him still tied as the club’s all-time leading scorer at this level. Havant’s performance became more streetwise than stylish with the pitch beginning to deteriorate, and Paul Doswell introduced Rutherford for Nicky Bailey in an attacking change. It paid off handsomely. Having been on the field for under three minutes, Rutherford was ideally placed to stroke home from close range after Ayunga, who seemed to be fouled, inadvertently teed him up. City were adamant Rutherford was offside, but their protests fell on deaf ears and the goal stood. Further controversy arose on 74 minutes. Chilvers appeared to nick the ball away from Taylor, with the interception close to the edge of the penalty area. Referee Gill decided it was a foul, inside the box to add further punishment, and Kedwell took full advantage. With Havant missing their previous three penalties at home, he opted for power and drove it down the centre. A shocking miss from the same player, from a near identical position, should have made the game safe. Ayunga’s powerful run and perfect centre saw the forward have the goal at his mercy, but he sliced wide. It didn’t prove costly. Havant’s recovery took them to 14 points rescued from losing positions this season, whereas City have lost the same number from ahead. It would be unfair to categorise this loss alongside others of a similar manner, as the Romans’ performance deserved more. They’ll be hoping for a bit more luck against other Hampshire opponents, Gosport Borough, next week.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Riley-Lowe, T Smith, Artus, Mann, Watkins, Chilvers, Ball, Richards (Stearn 82), Kensdale. Subs not used: Brunt, Wiles-Richards, Simpson, Hamblin.
Scorers: City – Mann (14); Havant – Rutherford (56), Kedwell (71 pen)
City Bookings: Richards (66), Artus (90)
Officials: S Gill, C Hastings, S Jenkins