Havant & Waterlooville (1) 1 Bath City (2) 3 – Saturday 4 December 2021 – Vanarama National League South – Westleigh Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Bath City made it back-to-back league wins with a deserved success at play-off chasing Havant & Waterlooville.
Jack Batten’s header put the Romans ahead before Tommy Wright nodded in from close range.
Cody Cooke’s thunderous drive from an acute angle put the visitors back in front shortly before half-time and Alex Fletcher’s sweetly struck volley wrapped up the win before the hour.
Dave Sims-Burgess also made his long-awaited debut as a late substitute for Cooke.
Injury and suspension-hit Havant went into the contest with seven players on the sidelines and manager Paul Doswell, watching from the stand because of a touchline ban, was dealt another headache early on as Josh Passley was replaced by Benny Read on six minutes having come off worse in an aerial challenge with Cooke, leading to a lengthy delay.
The disruption to the backline could be used as an excuse for the manner of the goal conceded by the Hawks on 19 minutes.
Elliott Frear’s free-kick saw Batten easily escape the attention of Jamie Collins to glance home his first away goal in just over three years.
Havant were restricted to efforts from distance with Billy Clifford blazing over and Oscar Gobern’s tidy dipping strike from 30 yards comfortably gathered by Clarke.
They found a leveller on 35 minutes. James Roberts’ cross to the back post was headed across goal by Jake McCarthy and Wright was perfectly place to apply the finishing touch from a yard out, following up on his goal against Bath in last season’s FA Cup tie at Twerton Park.
On that occasion City crumbled against a powerful unit, but this time they swatted away the irritation of conceding and pressed for the lead gain. Jordan Dyer miscued Joe Raynes’ flick from Frear’s corner, but the Bathonian got his assist just before the signal for six minutes of first half stoppage time.
Having dispossessed Gobern with ease, Raynes spotted the overlapping run of Cooke in the penalty area and the striker stunned Will Mannion with a lethal first time thunderbolt into the roof of the net – his 12th goal of the season.
Roberts got into two decent shooting positions in the second half but his finishing was woeful, blazing wildly over each time much to the chagrin of the home faithful.
Fletcher showed him how it’s done with a more difficult opening. Frear and Mo Touray linked up for a short corner before Frear’s delivery was only half-cleared by Gobern. It landed right on the boot of Fletcher who volleyed low inside Mannion’s left post from 18 yards.
Clifford warmed Clarke’s gloves with an arrowed drive which the captain could only parry to Wright, but the onrushing forward spooned the loose ball over.
Leading scorer McCarthy twisted into space on the edge of the box before forcing Clarke to tip around his right post before the same Havant man headed Read’s cross narrowly wide.
But City stood firm and dealt with a series of crosses well from the hosts, ending their six-match unbeaten run in the process.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Delaney, Batten, Wood, Fletcher, Cooke (Sims-Burgess 88), Frear, Jones, Dyer, Touray (Smith 72). Subs not used: Holness, Fuller, James.
Scorers: City – Batten (19), Cooke (44), Fletcher (57); Havant – Wright (34)
City Bookings: Batten (37), Dyer (65), Clarke (78)
Officials: I Searle, P Barber, A Cox