Bath City travel to Hemel Hempstead Tuesday evening as they resume their National League South campaign in a fine vein of form. Three successive wins with two clean sheets into the clash in Hertfordshire full of confidence, in contrast to the hosts whose mini-revival came to a juddering halt at the weekend.
Hemel hosted Step 4 Walsall Wood in the FA Trophy on Saturday. In a day of upsets (16 sides beat those from higher divisions), Town fell victim to the Northern Midlands Division mid-tablers. Wood came from a goal down to draw 1-1 despite ending with 10 men, and then converted all five penalties while George Williams skied his over the bar. It leaves Brad Quinton’s side with the league and Hertfordshire Senior Cup to concentrate on – they progressed in that last Tuesday at Ware.
This is Hemel’s tenth successive season playing at this level. In the past two seasons they have finished 15th, and they are currently 14th in the table, level on points with our arch-rivals Chippenham Town and Taunton Town. They are the only team in all competitions to have stopped Yeovil Town from scoring this season, beating them 1-0 on the opening day of the campaign. The Yeovil side that day included Will Buse in goal, the keeper City have loaned from the Glovers as a replacement for the injured Ollie Wright. Wins at home to Torquay and away to Chelmsford prove they can be a tough side on their day.
Top scorer Joe Iaciofano. The former St Albans City, Havant & Waterlooville and Oxford City forward has with nine in all competitions since signing from Oxford following their promotion to the National League last May. He has scored against Bath City in the past for St Albans – in a 3-0 win at Twerton Park in February 2020 – and for Oxford City – in a 3-3 draw at Twerton in May 2022. Iaciofano netted in the shootout on Saturday which is no surprise – he’s scored his last 10 league penalties, a run stretching back to March 2020.
Also of note is that 10 of Hemel’s 21 league goals this season have been scored in the final 15 minutes of games. This has helped them take 12 points from losing positions, a league high. They have won seven of those points at home, which is also a record in this division. Their biggest NLS defeat is 6-0, which has been recorded three times – once at Twerton Park, in March 2017. That result also stands as City’s most emphatic win at this level.
If Jack Batten plays, it will be his 223rd game in the NLS, which will move him to outright second place in most appearances for City in this division. His good friend Dan Ball, now at Taunton Town, is the only player to have represented the Romans more often, with 255 outings in the Stripes during his decade at Twerton Park. Those two have played their parts in 92 clean sheets under Jerry Gill. City’s next shutout will be the highest under a manager since Ted Davis’ decade in charge between 1927-1937.
Going forward it’s been a joy to watch Bath this term. Forty-one scored in all competitions is an average of around two a game and three players could hit double figures before Christmas for the first time since 1989. Wilson has already surpassed it with 13, Cody Cooke, who made his 100th outing on Saturday, is tied on nine with Jordan Thomas, who was player of the match at the weekend.
The home side has won the last four contests between these two teams. The most recent meeting here ended in a 0-1 defeat for City at the Focus Community Arena (Vauxhall Road) last December. This is the third successive match between the two clubs to be played on a Tuesday night. The return fixture, to be played next March, is also scheduled for a Tuesday night.
There will be no supporters coach but do try and come along to see if City can keep up their fine form at the top of the table!