Next Match – Braintree Town (A) – Play-Offs

Bath City travel to Braintree Town this Tuesday for a play-off eliminator that will decide who plays Chelmsford City away in the play-off semi-final next Saturday.

Despite losing 2-0 at Aveley in the final game of the regular season, a first defeat in six, the Romans stayed in sixth place in the league, while Braintree’s 3-2 home defeat by Eastbourne Borough meant they fell below Maidstone into fifth on the last day, and therefore host Bath.

Once again, the Iron have been a surprise package in National League South. Angelo Harrop has led his side to a top seven finish for a second year running. A stunning second half of the 2023-24 season, in which their only defeat in 20 games before last Saturday was against champions Yeovil, shows they’re not to be underestimated. It’s Harrop’s second season in charge and Saturday’s defeat by Eastbourne was only his sixth home defeat in 52 in all competitions.

Yet City did come close to winning at Cressing Road earlier this season. It took Aaron Blair’s added time equaliser to clinch a 1-1 draw between the sides in October after Scott Wilson had put City ahead just past the hour with his third goal in three games.

The return meeting at Twerton in February saw Ephraim Yeboah open the scoring for City, becoming the Romans’ youngest scorer at this level. It was the first goal Braintree had conceded in six games. Having survived a few scares, the visitors finished strongly and claimed the points after Blair and a Shaq Coulthirst penalty turned the match around. It was a seventh successive win for the Iron, their best run in 19 years.

Coulthirst missed the final day defeat against Eastbourne as his parent club Ebbsfleet United recalled him from his loan. Having scored 11 for the Iron since arriving in October, it’s a blow to their attacking options. They still have Freddie Sears to call upon. The former West Ham United front man, who netted for them in the Premier League, was on target in Saturday’s loss. It was the first time since January 2021 that Town had lost a home league game having scored first. At the other end, Braintree boasted the best defensive record, conceding 42, but scored fewer than City’s 69 (71 if you include Slough away).

Both these sides have experience of the play-offs. Braintree were beaten finalists in 2007 to Salisbury and missed out in the 2008 semis. They finished sixth in 2017/18, the first year of the expanded play-off format, and won promotion by winning at Hemel, Dartford and Hampton, the first and last tie on penalties. Last year they clinched 7th spot but lost at Worthing in the Eliminator. Tomorrow will be their first home play-off match since 2016 when they hosted Grimsby Town in a National League semi-final second leg. A 2-0 defeat cost them a trip to Wembley and saw manager Danny Cowley depart. The Iron were relegated the following season.

City won the 2010 play-offs, overcoming Chelmsford over two legs and Woking in the final. Their previous two Eliminator ties, in 2019 and 2020 respectively, both ended in defeats at Twerton Park. Wealdstone overcame the Romans five years ago while Dorking prevailed 14 months later, in a tie played behind closed doors following the Covid-19 outbreak. This time there’s an air of confidence in the camp from a tight knit squad – no side made fewer changes than City’s 66 across league games, five short of Braintree who used 46 players in all competitions compared to 31 from the Romans.

It is a long way to Braintree, and it is a Tuesday night, but this is knockout football now and your support will count. There will be a supporters coach driving to the match. The coach departs from Twerton Park at 2pm, with earlier stops at Radstock and Odd Down, and later pick-ups in Bath city centre, London Road and Corsham.

Go to for full coach travel details. Kick-off is at 7.45pm. Allow a good three hours if you’re driving. If you can’t get to the game, there will be coverage as usual on Bath City Radio. Tune in at