City will look to quickly bounce back from their Good Friday loss against Taunton Town when they head to the Dorset coast tomorrow to face Weymouth. The 2-0 defeat leaves the Romans eight points adrift of the final play-off place, and Jerry Gill and his players will know they can’t afford any more slip-ups if they are to extend their league season into the month of May.
They will face a Weymouth side in even more desperate need of a win as the games begin to run out in their battle to avoid a second successive relegation. The Terras picked up a welcome point on Friday thanks to a last minute equaliser against fast-fading Havant & Waterlooville – which saw manager Bobby Wilkinson declare “the boys are still fighting” – but with Dulwich Hamlet edging out Cheshunt by a single goal, the gap to safety widened to six points. A defeat against City would almost certainly leave them on the brink of a return to the Southern League.
Former Hungerford Town and Wealdstone manager Wilkinson took over at the Bob Lucas Stadium midway through September following the sacking of David Oldfield. Oldfield had overseen a start to the season where his side picked up just two points from a possible 24, his final game in charge the 2-1 defeat against City at Twerton Park. Although league results didn’t immediately improve, Wilkinson’s first game in charge saw them beat Winchester City in the FA Cup that began a run to the 1st Round proper, where they took League 2 AFC Wimbledon to a replay before bowing out.
A first league win was secured in October against Slough Town and then a run of four wins and a draw in November/December raised hopes that a corner had been turned. However, five successive defeats followed and although they have enjoyed several excellent wins – including 5-0 at Concord Rangers and 3-1 against play-off chasing Dartford – defeats against fellow strugglers Hungerford Town and Cheshunt have left them in their current precarious position.
City’s last visit to the Bob Lucas Stadium – where manager Jerry Gill was briefly in charge for 44 days back in 2010 – was during the opening week of the 2018/19 season. An early own goal by Alex Hartridge gave the home side the lead before Tyler Harvey’s second half penalty secured a point for the Romans. City have won 27 times in their 81 visits to the south coast, although only two have been at Weymouth’s current home, having moved from the Recreation Ground in October 1987. The victories came just over twenty years apart, goals from Paul Randall and John Freegard giving them a 2-1 win in August 1989, before Chris Holland and Darren Edwards were on target in a 2-0 win. Both seasons ended with City winning promotion.
Although the weather forecast suggests it won’t the nicest day at the seaside, no doubt a large number of Romans will head south to cheer their team on. Direct trains run from both Oldfield Park and Bath Spa, taking just over 2 hours, whilst the journey by car is slightly quicker, although that may depend on Bank Holiday traffic. Bath City Supporters Club are running a coach and details can be found here.
City supporters should note that the game is segregated with the Windowman Terrace and red section of the main stand allocated to the Romans. Tickets can be bought in advance here or bought on the gate.
As ever, for supporters unable to make the trip there will be full commentary on Bath City Radio.