Maidstone United (1) 2 Bath City (1) 2 – Tuesday 5 March 2024 – Vanarama National League South – Gallagher Stadium

Maidstone United (1) 2 Bath City (1) 2 – Tuesday 5 March 2024 – Vanarama National League South – Gallagher Stadium

Match Report by Mark Stillman.

Cody Cooke and Elliott Frear’s goals weren’t enough as Bath City were pegged back twice from Maidstone United.

Mo Faal and Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong quickly replied for the hosts in an absorbing encounter at the Gallagher Stadium.

A strong finish saw the Stones nearly snatch all three points, with Josey Casa-Grande magnificently denying Matt Rush in added time.

But defeat would have been harsh on Jerry Gill’s side who played their part in Kent, missing plenty of openings themselves against this season’s FA Cup giantkillers.

City reverted to a back four and looked far more accomplished in the opening stages, frustrating the hosts into several errors.

Kieran Parselle’s fine block prevented Faal in a rare move where it clicked for the Stones, who failed to reproduce the form which took them to round five of the FA Cup this term, the run only ending eight days previous at Coventry.

City took the lead on 37 minutes. Frear’s cross from the left saw Dan Hayfield’s header kept off the line by Raphe Brown, but Cooke was perfectly placed to tap in his 15th league goal this season.

The Romans somehow failed to make it two soon after when Scott Wilson and Hayfield were denied, before Ewan Clark’s delicate cross towards the far post saw Cooke stretch but fail to connect.

It proved costly as George Elokobi’s side levelled on 45 minutes. Jephte Tanga pulled the ball back from the byline to Faal, who had time to control and plant low into the bottom left corner from 10 yards.

A stunning clearance from Reiss Greenidge denied Hayfield as another Frear cross caused the home defence issues.

The second half saw no shift in momentum as entertainment flowed and chances arrived at both end.

Rush dragged wide having charged down Joe Raynes’ clearance and Frear was denied at the far post by the dogged Tanga, who put his body in the way.

Frear wasn’t to be denied just before the hour. Clark whipped in a ball from the right and his opposite winger was left in oceans of space, glancing a header just inside Lucas Covolan’s right post.

Faal fired inches off target from range as the Stones sought a quick response, and they got their wish as City were breached within five minutes of retaking the lead.

A tidy move down the right saw Tanga find space on the right and his perfect centre was side-footed home by Berkeley-Agyepong, his first goal since April 2022.

Hayfield mishit Clark’s ball into the ground and wide on 69 minutes in one of the Romans’ last clear openings.

They were forced to defend late on as Faal poked wide just before seven minutes added time, where the full-time outfit enjoyed their best spell of the game.

Rush escaped and found himself one-on-one but Casa-Grande excelled, springing to his right to glove over.

From Sam Corne’s resulting corner, Greenidge’s header was nodded off the line by Hayfield to secure a second successive away draw for the Romans.

Att: 1865

City’s Line-Up: Casa-Grande, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c), Clark, Hayfield, Cooke (Alabi 90), Frear, Wilson, Russe. Subs not used: Batten, Smith, Lines.

Scorers: City – Cooke (37), Frear (58); Maidstone – Faal (45), Berkley-Agyepong (63)

City Bookings: Russe (36)

Officials: I Searle, C Williams, A Merchant