Paulton Rovers (1) 1 Bath City (2) 2 – Pre-Season Friendly – Wednesday 14 July 2021 – Winterfield Road
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Tom Smith scored his first goal of pre-season as Bath City bounced back from Friday’s defeat against Cardiff.
Step 4 Paulton were put to the sword early as Smith and substitute Eddie Jones put the Romans in command, but the hosts recovered to pull one back through Dave O’Hare.
Leighton Thomas spurned two gilt-edged chances for Paulton late on as Bath ended the match with three trialists in the back four following injuries to Ben Gerring and Jordan Williams.
Such concerns were not in the offing in the opening stages as Bath City controlled proceedings, scoring twice inside 11 minutes.
The first was a gift. Smith picked the ball up on the left and floated an aimless cross from 45 yards out which looked like catching practice for Jack Scrivens. Astonishingly, the young keeper missed the ball completely, possibly losing it in the sun, and watched on in horror as it bounced past him and into the net.
City lost Gerring to a thigh strain immediately after, resulting in Jones’ early appearance from the bench and trialist Kyle Anderson shifted to centre-back.
Jones’ first venture forward proved worthwhile. Mo Dobre and Cody Cooke linked up before Jones sprung the offside trap. Keeper Scrivens initially stalled his progress but Jones kept his balance and found room to curl in via the right post from 12 yards to put the Romans firmly in control.
Dobre and Cooke fired over as City looked keen to heap more misery on a Paulton side missing six first-teamers, but the home side improved and were rewarded with a goal on 34 minutes.
With Williams hobbling in defence, Paulton took advantage as stand-in full-back Jayden Neilson was robbed by Thomas in his defensive third. The Cayman Islander hit the inside of the post but O’Hare was perfectly placed to touch home the rebound from close range, his third goal in two friendlies versus the Romans after a brace for Street three years ago.
Williams was replaced by Ryan Harley as City regrouped and probed at the Paulton goal, with Scrivens showing tremendous reactions to deny Lloyd James and Dan Ball in quick succession.
Boyce-Clarke put his side in trouble when his quick goal-kick caught out Ball, who upended Adam Kelly on the edge of the box. The keeper redeemed himself by palming behind O’Hare’s stinging free-kick.
Alex Fletcher volleyed Jones’ cross wide from six yards and was denied by stunning Scrivens reflexes before Paulton wasted two openings to snatch a draw.
Lee Ibrahim’s squared pass found Thomas in room in the penalty area but he side-footed wide when he should have tested Boyce-Clarke, and later curled off target from 25 yards when left one-on-one with the advancing City keeper after Dan Barnard’s backpass put the forward in on goal.
City held on to record their third win in four friendlies, a positive for Jerry Gill, but the City boss is likely to be more worried about his growing injury list ahead of Friday’s visit of League Two Exeter.
City’s Line-Up: Fuller (Boyce-Clarke HT), Anderson, Williams (Harley 37), Neilson, Gerring (c) (Jones 8), Ball (Barnard 70), Dabre, Richards, Cooke (James 63), T Smith (Dowling HT), Fletcher.
Scorers: City – T Smith (4), Jones (11); Paulton – O’Hare (34)
Officials: G Pearce, K Mann, D Gay