Shaftesbury FC (0) 0 Bath City (0) 0 – Tuesday 4 July 2023 – Pre-Season Friendly – Cockrams
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Bath City’s first pre-season outing of 2023 ended in a stalemate amid foul conditions at Shaftesbury.
In driving wind and rain the Romans failed to break through a determined home defence, reinforced after an 8-0 defeat to Salisbury at the weekend.
Cody Cooke had City’s two best chances in the first half where Jerry Gill’s side enjoyed a large percentage of possession.
Despite changing all outfield players at the break, the visitors continued to dominate though failed to seriously test Shane Murphy in the home goal as Shaftesbury missed the best opening when Ollie Mayo wastefully side-footed wide when unmarked in the box.
The hosts fielded new signing Brett Pitman in their attack. The former £1m player, once a strike partner of Callum Wilson at Bournemouth under Eddie Howe, was left isolated in the first half as City controlled the tempo and penned the Step 5 outfit back.
For all their possession they struggled to create clear chances against a side defending in numbers. Jordan Thomas looked the likeliest to break the deadlock with the new arrival impressing in attack alongside Cooke.
The former North Leigh man took advantage of Cam Beard’s slice in the box but his shot on the turn was turned behind the post by Murphy.
Thomas went close again on the half hour mark. Having received the ball from Joe Raynes, the attacker’s whistling drive flew inches wide of Murphy’s left upright with the keeper at full stretch.
Five minutes later Cooke squandered a decent opening as Raynes’ fizzed ball was diverted over by the forward, who couldn’t readjust his body in time.
Cooke thought he got his pre-season up and running just before half-time. Tom Smith’s driven ball squirmed underneath Murphy but Lee Francis somehow managed to slide before Cooke and prod the ball out of harm’s way.
It was the striker’s last involvement as he and the rest of City’s outfield players made way at the break for a second half side including four trialists.
Pitman curled wide from 20 yards for Shaftesbury and sent a free-kick over Ollie Wright’s crossbar as the Rockies grew in confidence.
That was nearly dented just past the hour when Scott Wilson nearly started and finished a fine move down the left. A trialist’s low ball in was tipped away by Murphy for the onrushing Wilson, but Brazilian defender Thiago Caze Da Silva threw himself in front of the ball first to snuff out last season’s top scorer.
Shaftesbury made a double switch on 69 minutes and the added freshness in attack nearly helped spark and opener. Connal Morrison, Pitman and Brandon Channel linked up before the latter’s pull back was struck wide by Mayo, who’d only been on the pitch a matter of seconds.
Dan Hayfield threatened most for City in the closing stages. His left-footed curler from 25 yards arced harmlessly wide before his attempted stab from close range trickled off target after Elliott Frear’s hanging cross picked him out.
Frear’s drilled delivery from the left in the closing stages was brilliantly held by Murphy in teaming rain, preventing Wilson a certain tap-in.
It proved the final opening for either side as despite plenty of encouragement the Romans failed to net. They’ll be looking for their first win of pre-season on Saturday at Step 4 Frome Town.
City’s 1st Half Line-Up: Wright, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Batten (C), Cooke, Smith, Thomas, Russe, Trialist A, Trialist B.
City’s 2nd Half Line-Up: Wright (Hamblin 75), Parselle (c), Trialist F, Hayfield, Frear, Trialist C, Lines, Cook, Wilson, Trialist E, Trialist D.
Scorers: City – none; Shaftesbury – none
City Bookings: none
Referee: Paul Barber