Hungerford Town (0) 0 Bath City (2) 3 – Monday 18 April 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Bulpit Lane
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Bath City’s first away league win in 2022 has all but secured any lingering relegation fears from National League South.
Dave Sims-Burgess’ first goal for the club and fine strikes from Tom Smith and Elliott Frear saw the Romans ease to success at Hungerford Town, who had little answer to City’s superb display.
Matt Berry-Hargreaves became the tenth Hungerford player to be sent off this season for a professional foul on substitute Ben Seymour with 10 minutes remaining, but it had little bearing on the outcome.
Coupled with defeats for Welling and Billericay, Bath travel to Essex to face the latter on Saturday knowing a win will ensure their survival.
Sims-Burgess was recalled in place of Seymour in City’s only change from Friday’s draw with Havant, and he made the most of his opportunity with a sixth minute opener, the quickest away goal the Romans have scored in the league this season.
Smart thinking by Frear saw his throw-in catch Hungerford off guard. Alex Fletcher squared it across the six-yard box to the onrushing Sims-Burgess who tapped home first time at the far post to give the visitors a dream start.
Having enjoyed a lot of the ball, it took until just past the half hour for the lead to be doubled. After Cody Cooke had been upended by Berry-Hargreaves on the edge of the penalty area, Smith took responsibility with the free-kick and unleashed a tremendous rocket of a shot which flew past Luke Cairney who was beaten by power alone.
The hosts should have equalised inside sixty seconds when Curtis Angell’s cross was met by the head of Duane Ofori-Acheampong, but the big forward nodded over unchallenged from six yards.
The division’s top scorer Ryan Seager was denied by the well-placed Sims-Burgess after Jake Evans’ clever low corner arrived kindly for the front man, whose stinging shot cannoned against the chest of the City attacker with Ryan Clarke beaten.
Town looked fired up at the start of the second half shooting down the slope as an important interception from Dan Ball prevented Seager with Batten well-placed to deny Evans’ follow-up.
Substitute Reece Wylie’s dipping half volley failed to trouble Clarke before City looked to threaten at the other end with Frear’s precise cross headed over from the late arriving Sims-Burgess from six yards.
Omar Holness warmed Cairney’s gloves with a 25-yarder after the Romans picked more gaps in the home backline.
Substitute Seymour nearly exploited another when Berry-Hargreaves misjudged Cooke’s neat flick which left his strike partner in the clear. The Crusaders defender clipped the heels of the forward on the edge of the box leaving referee Oliver Mackey little choice but to send him off for deliberately denying a goalscoring opportunity.
Bath exploited the Crusaders being a man light by adding a marvellous third on 88 minutes. A patient, incisive move down the left saw Smith’s ball to the byline superbly backheeled by Cooke right into Frear’s path who finished with aplomb from eight yards across the helpless Cairney.
Fletcher thought he had a fourth when Smith’s through ball saw him hammer the ball against the underside of the bar and into Cairney’s grasp, with replays showing it looked to have crossed the line.
It didn’t matter as this resounding win coupled with defeats for Welling and Billericay helped confirm a tremendous afternoon for Jerry Gill’s men.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Delaney, Batten, Fletcher, Holness, Cooke, Smith, Frear, Ball, Sims-Burgess (Seymour 77). Subs not used: Fuller, E Jones, Richards, R Jones.
Scorers: City – Sims-Burgess (6), Smith (32), Frear (86); Hungerford – none
City Bookings: Clarke (54), Smith (77)
Officials: O Mackey, A Smith, M Bloor