Havant & Waterlooville (1) 1 Bath City (0) 2 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 19 August 2017 – West Leigh Park
Bath City found half-time mojo to seal a second come-from-behind win in a week at Havant & Waterlooville. Behind to a scrambled Jason Prior goal at the interval, the Romans struck back with little over a minute of the second half played to level through Marvin Morgan. A cracking Connor Lemonheigh-Evans strike followed up before long to hand much-improved City a lead they wouldn’t relinquish to end the home side’s unbeaten start to the National League South campaign.
Gary Owers sent out a line-up unchanged from the midweek victory at Truro, with Darren Jones coming onto the bench in place of Miles Welch-Hayes. City gradually played their way into the ascendancy at Westleigh Park, but goalmouth action was at a premium with each side sporting five-man defences. Lemonheigh-Evans had the first chance for City, which was deflected behind for corner he would work short with Anthony Straker, only for Havant to clear the danger at the last. The Hawks backline determinedly threw their bodies on the line as their stopper, Ryan Young, had little work to do with Andy Watkins and Frankie Artus among those to see shots blocked. Bath were given a scare when Havant hit the bar from a free-kick. The delivery was looped over the defence and bounced up for Theo Lewis, tearing in behind, who nodded up and over Luke Southwood but against the woodwork. There was one sharp stop for Young to make when he parried a Lemonheigh-Evans shot, the rebound just evading Andy Watkins eight yards out. Artus, typically putting his body on the line throughout and in the wars at least twice, then scythed a firm half-volley past the post. At the other end Southwood was barely tested with a Prior shot that dribbled into his gloves from long range. Despite holding the ascendancy City fell behind on 35 minutes. Havant won a free-kick right on the edge of the box when Straker tripped an onrushing frontman. Rory Williams forced a low stop from Southwood at his far post, but the on-loan keeper pushed out rather than wide and Prior was among a kettle of Hawks circling for a rebound and forced the ball in. Battling back against his former employers, Morgan was again well-watched by the home rearguard and had another attempt swamped by defenders before rolling through to Young.
The goal seemed to ruin the rhythm City had found in the first half, but after the break they found their form again. Within two minutes of the restart the Romans were level when Morgan showed superb strength and poise to ease Lee Molyneaux off a high ball into the box and prodded into the bottom corner with composure. The very next attack Watkins’ horizontal leg swiped a volley over the crossbar and, barring another dangerous free-kick Theo Widdrington hit wide, they took a firm grip of the contest. Their second owed much to a bursting Watkins break down the left which stretched the play. From there, he found Moargan, who in turn dropped the ball off for the onrushing Lemonheigh-Evans to thrash into the net from 22 yards. Now firing on all cylinders, only two saves from Young denied City a third, keeping out Lemonheigh-Evans again and then Watkins with his fingertips. A firm McCootie header, off a Lemonheigh-Evans corner, was held by the keeper before Morgan nodded another set-piece past the post. And yet another headed opportunity was denied Morgan at the last as a defensive head leapt up to knock a Watkins cross behind. With the final whistle drawing in, Havant began to put pressure on the visitors as Prior failed to get a clean connection on a header that bumped up kindly for Southwood to catch. The Reading loanee then made a fine save from Prior, darting across his goal to palm away a header when a free-kick swept all the way through to the far post. Havant then had a penalty shout not only turned down, but Lewis booked for a theatrical fall in a bump with George Rigg. As time ticked away, pragmatism became City’s ploy as they slowed the game down and wasted as many seconds as they could en route to a second win in a week. However, there was one final scare in added time when Havant skipper Ed Harris hurriedly blasted over from seven yards.
City Line-Up: Southwood, Rigg, Straker, Batten, Ball, Case, Lemonheigh-Evans, Artus (c), McCootie (Lucas 69), Morgan (Jarvis 71), Watkins. Subs not used: Murphy, Compton, Jones.
Scorers: City – Morgan (47), Lemonheigh-Evans (56); Havant – Prior (35)
City Bookings: None
Officials: R Massey-Ellis, S Elson, E Turner