Hemel Hempstead Town (1) 1 Bath City (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Tuesday 27 March 2018 – Vauxhall Road
It was honours even at Vauxhall Road as two well-matched sides couldn’t be separated in an entertaining clash in Hertfordshire. Sean Rigg put City ahead on 14 minutes with a fine strike, but it was cancelled out six minutes later by Sanchez Watt’s close-range finish.
Hemel started the brighter with David Moyo and Watt giving the Bath defence plenty to think about, but the visitors opened the scoring with the first shot on target. Having been afforded space down the left to attack, Anthony Straker darted into the penalty area and pulled the ball back for Rigg, whose first-time drive from 18 yards soared past Laurie Walker. Before too long, Straker went from hero to villain. Attempting to cut out a long pass, he struck the ball straight against Watt, who accelerated past him and the City defence before prodding past the advancing Luke Southwood. The rest of the half was action-packed at both ends, with the Romans creating the better chances. Rigg should have done better when sent clear through by Andy Watkins’ superb reverse ball but attempted to round Walker, who got enough of a touch to send the ball spinning off target before Matt Saunders could clear. An offside flag denied a moment of magic from Jack Compton on 26 minutes. Miles Welch-Hayes’ precision cross-field ball was superbly controlled by the former Yeovil winger, who controlled and expertly volleyed past Walker from just inside the penalty area, before being left aghast to see the flag up on the far side. Southwood bravely denied Spencer McCall at the other end, and had to be alert to prevent Moyo a sight on goal before the players headed in for a much-needed break after a breathless opening 45.
In comparison, the second half was cagier, with defences coping with a lack of final quality in the final third. Jordan Parkes, a man with nearly 100 goals for Hemel, struck a free-kick straight at Southwood and tamely fired wide from distance. Compton’s set-pieces caused the biggest worry for the home defence. A pinpoint delivery from the right just evaded Rigg in the middle, before one of his corners saw Dan Ball thwarted by Walker’s presence. A vital interception from Straker on Watt denied the former Arsenal man a second, with the forward’s hesitancy from McCall’s pass costly as he found himself with just Southwood to beat. It was a draw which is more use to Hemel, who are in the play-offs, than it is for Bath, who will be hoping to get the better of another side with play-off ambitions, Welling United, on Good Friday.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Straker (c), Richards, Batten, Ball, Edwards, Smith, Watkins, S Rigg, Compton. Subs not used: Semenyo, G Rigg, Jarvis, Morton, Hodges.
Scorers: City – S Rigg (14); Hemel – Watt (20)
City Bookings: none
Officials: I Fissenden, S Finnigan, J Connolly