Next Match – Braintree Town (A)

Bath City travel to Essex looking to maintain their excellent start in the National League South.

Though his team are without an away win in their last nine and stand 16th in the league, Braintree manager Angelo Harrop has overseen just three home defeats in 33 in all competitions since taking over in the summer of 2022. His side are currently unbeaten in seven across the league and FA Cup, though six of their last 13 matches have ended in a draw.

Last Saturday they came from 0-2 down at the to beat National League North side Brackley Town 3-2 at the Rare Breed Meat Co Stadium in the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, sealing the victory in the dying minutes thanks to a stunning Aaron Blair volley. They also left it late in round before, needing a home replay and a 98th-minute equaliser through Kyran Clements to take Isthmian League Premier Division outfit Canvey Island to extra time before eventually going on to win 3-1. Clements, who was Town’s longest serving player, has just left for Bishop’s Stortford after four years with the Iron.

These games notwithstanding, so far this season they have shown a tendency to score early goals. They have netted five times inside the opening six minutes – though they have won none of those games.

Their standout signing of the summer was striker Nnamdi Nwachuku, who won the Golden Boot at the National Game Awards, but he has already left for Cheshunt. Still with the club, however, is Leon Davies, who played three times for City in 2019 on loan from Cambridge United. Town have already used 25 players this season and are relying heavily on loan signings.

City, meanwhile, have a settled team that has really turned things around since that 2-6 home defeat by Weston-super Mare on a Tuesday night to forget in mid-August. Boosted by a dominant performance in their 2-1 FA Cup win at Weymouth last week, the Romans are also unbeaten in seven league matches – and they have won five of those. Jerry Gill’s men are playing flowing, incisive football that is a thrill to watch. However the game is going, you always feel they have a goal in them. Indeed, they have netted in every game so far this season. Top scorer Scott Wilson now has 24 for 2023, the highest tally in a calendar year since Darren Edwards’ 25 in 2009, and his strike partner Cody Cooke will be looking to return having missed the win over former employers Weymouth with a hamstring injury. Dan Greenslade remains on the sidelines.

Last season’s league encounters between Bath and Braintree saw both sides winning their home games from losing positions. City triumphed 3-1 at Twerton Park (Alex Fletcher and Cooke twice, one from the penalty spot) after going a goal down, while Braintree won 2-1 at the Rare Breed Meat Co Stadium with a goal in added time after Jack Batten had opened the scoring. But though Braintree took all three points that day, it has been their only win against City in the last four meetings.

It is notable that Gill’s first home league game as City manager was against Braintree. That game, in October 2017, ended 1-1. This Saturday’s contest will be played on the sixth anniversary of Jerry’s first match in charge of the Romans.

We hope many City fans make the trip to Essex to see if this strong start to the season continues!

Who – Braintree Town v Bath City
When – Saturday 7 October, KO 3pm
Where – Rare Breed Meat Co Stadium (Cressing Road)