The first FA Cup tie of the season is upon us this Saturday 16th September as the Romans have been paired with local Step 4 outfit Larkhall Athletic – the first ever FA Cup tie between the two Bath-based outfits.
The Securitas UK Stadium has already advertised a record crowd for the upcoming clash with the game officially sold out. With just under four miles between the two stadiums, Bath fans are certain to travel in numbers for this one.
The Larks have enjoyed a solid FA Cup campaign until now, with three confident wins against Step 5 opposition. A local derby against Corsham led to them continuing past the Extra Preliminary Round before two Portsmouth-based teams followed, United Services Portsmouth and Moneyfields. Both were both dispatched in 2-0 victories for the Larks. If they upset the odds this Saturday, Athletic would match their best FA Cup campaign by reaching the 3rd Qualifying Round, which they achieved in 2020. Their fans can take heart from the fact that their last two cup ties with Step 2 opposition here have both finished as draws, 3-3 with Gosport Borough in 2014 and 1-1 with Havant & Waterlooville a year later. Larkhall lost both replays.
Ollie Price, 42 on Tuesday, has overseen his side’s placing of 12th in Southern Division One South after just four games played. Other Somerset clubs occupy this league, with the likes of Frome and Paulton being pre-season regulars for the Romans. The Bath-based side progressed in the FA Trophy on Saturday which saw Archie Ferris net for an eighth time this season, a 2-0 win over Willand means they travel to Hamworthy United in the next round on Saturday 23 September. National League South leaders Bath City currently find themselves 67 places above Larkhall, and are the highest ranked team currently in the competition.
The Romans have reached the 3rd round of the FA Cup six times in their long history, the last time in 1994 when Jerry Gill was part of the side which took Stoke City to a replay. You’d have to look back to 2011 to find the last time City made round one, but there is belief that feat could be replicated this season. Scott Wilson and Jordan Thomas are firing in front of goal with 11 goals combined so far this campaign. They say to never fall in love with a loan player, but Ollie Wright is starting to become a fan favourite at Twerton Park. The young goalkeeper has four clean sheets this season, including the previous league game against Welling United which finished 1-0 in City’s favour. It was a fifth win in six to help them reclaim top spot.
In recent history, City and Larkhall have only met twice in competitive games. Last season, the sides met in the Somerset Premier Cup Quarter Final where City won 5-0 en route to their 25th success in that competition, aided by a Sonny Cox hat-trick plus strikes for Tom Smith and Elliott Frear. If Frear, who turned 33 on Monday, features this weekend, it’ll be his 100th appearance for the club. Chris Lines is one from the half-century. Saturday’s tie will also be a special one for Bathonian Joe Raynes, who made 97 appearances for Larkhall between 2015-2017. Larkhall’s squad contains ex-City academy men Wayne Nderemani and Harley Prior.
This is the most local of local derbies, so make the quick trip to Larkhall and support City in their quest for progression in this world famous competition.
Who – Larkhall Athletic vs Bath City
When – Saturday 16th September, KO 3pm
Where – Securitas UK Stadium, Plain Ham, Larkhall Sports Club