Bath City’s face Welling United this Saturday in their final home match of the year.
For the second successive weekend the Romans face a side who have spent almost the entire season in the bottom four. Danny Bloor was appointed in the summer and was dealt a tough hand as the club reverted to part-time status amid a budget cut. This saw a summer clear out and 12 players making their debut on the opening day at Truro. Welling were 5-1 down before the break in a far from ideal start – it’s one of five occasions they’ve conceded four or more away from home in all competitions. Despite staying overnight for trips to Truro, Torquay and Weston, the extra rest has done the Wings little good – they’ve leaked 14 in those three and only Havant & Waterlooville have a worse defensive record in the division.
Forty players used in all competitions is a divisional high – United have used 163 since the start of the 2020/21 season (admittedly including the occasional academy graduate in county cups) with five permanent managers in that time. Latest incumbent Bloor oversaw defeat to his former employers Eastbourne at the weekend but it was the first time they’ve failed to score in 12 games. They’ve proved they’ve got what it takes – a stunning 4-1 win over Yeovil with an equally eye-catching 12-minute hat-trick from top-scorer Tristan Abrahams – demonstrated their potential. But it’s one of only two league wins since August, they’ve won as many FA Trophy matches in that timeframe. Their reward for beating Taunton and Brackley at home on penalties is tie at J Hearnden Skip Hire Community Stadium with runaway National League leaders Chesterfield on 13 January.
Bath City also remain in that competition and will be keen to pick up some more league points before Walsall Wood or Coalville Town arrive next month. After tomorrow’s game they’ll have completed half their campaign in National League South. Their record of 34 points from 22 games is similar to their previous two forays in the top seven, when the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons concluded with losses at the eliminator stage.
Welling did the double over the Romans in the 2018/19 campaign when both finished in the top five, but have only beaten Gill’s men once since, that a 1-0 in DA16 nine months ago thanks to a late Max Harris own goal. City gained revenge in the September meeting with Jordan Thomas’ goal enough in blistering heat. Despite a late siege, the Romans held on to record a fifth win in six games.
Last year’s fixture was switched to a Friday night to avoid clashing with a potential England match during the World Cup. The game at Twerton Park, just over a year ago, ended 1-1. Callum Ebanks’ only goal for City was cancelled out by Taylor Maloney in the 81st minute. Following Amadou Kassarate’s departure from Welling on Monday, Rob Howard and Antony Papadopoulous are the only players remaining from United’s squad ahead of the weekend fixture, Howard having recently signed for a second spell.
If City win on Saturday, it’ll be their first double over Bloor’s charges since the 2009/10 season. Back then centre-backs Gethin Jones and Chris Holland netted in a 2-1 win in August before forwards Kaid Mohamed and Dave Gilroy did the damage six months later. Adie Britton’s Bath went on to win promotion via the play-offs.
Discount tickets for this latest encounter are available here if you’d like to cheer on the Romans one last time at Twerton Park in 2023.