Slough Town (0) 0 Bath City (0) 0 – Vanarama National League South – Tuesday 8 January 2019 – Arbour Park
It all seemed inevitable that Bath City’s National League South trip to Slough Town would finish in goalless stalemate. Exactly 25 years to the day, the Romans battled to a 0-0 draw at Stoke City in the FA Cup third round, manager Jerry Gill part of the side that held the second-tier club in their own backyard. Their previous meeting with Slough, in March 1997, finished goalless. Slough’s home, Arbour Park, has witnessed the fewest goals in National League South this season, just 22, with nine conceded the best home defence. They hadn’t scored in their last two matches, City hadn’t conceded in their last three. In the event, there were more cautions than shots on target. Six times City entered Lee Brennan’s notebook, which will result in a fine from the FA, Slough receiving two in the encounter, which wasn’t as fiery the statistics suggest.
Slough started brightly, Kevin Amankwaah nearly putting through his own goal in connecting with Warren Harris’s driven cross, Ryan Clarke showing sharp reactions to block. Clarke was the first to be booked when he was adjudged to have upended Ben Harris, though replays suggest he was hugely unfortunate. Robbie Cundy, Jack Batten and Joe Raynes joined the club before the half was out.
Gill changed the shape at half-time, reverting to a back four, but was thrown into a further quandary when Amankwaah pulled a muscle, with Matt Richards taking his place five minutes into the second period. The Rebels took advantage of this reshuffle, with Clarke keeping out Scott Davies’ stinging drive. City’s fitness through this hectic schedule has earned much praise from their manager, who would have been impressed with debutant Freddie Hinds’ energy levels considering his lack of game time. He created three openings for himself late on, narrowly driving wide from a difficult angle, before producing the best quality of the match, expertly controlling Cundy’s knockdown and arrowing a shot towards the top corner, but Jack Turner splendidly palmed it over. The Bristol City loanee hit the outside of the post in the dying stages to almost nick the points, but in the circumstances, a point away from home with a threadbare squad was deemed useful.
It was a first 0-0 away in the league in 89 matches for the Romans, so maybe it wasn’t as predictable as stated.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Amankwaah (Richards 50), Straker (c), Cundy, Batten, Mann, Artus, Raynes, Hind, Smith (Rigg 78), Stearn. Subs not used: H Wiles-Richards, Ball.
Scorers: City – none ; Slough – none.
City Bookings: Clarke (16), Cundy (23), Batten (26), Raynes (34), Straker (65), Richards (82)
Officials: L Brennan, S Rea, J Hurst