Stockwood Wanderers (Women) 1st (1) 2 Bath City Women 1st (2) 2 – Sunday 28 January 2024 – South West Regional WFL Eastern Division – Blueprint Stadium

Stockwood Wanderers (Women) 1st (1) 2 Bath City Women 1st (2) 2 – Sunday 28 January 2024 – South West Regional WFL Eastern Division – Blueprint Stadium

Match Report by Mark Stillman.

Bath City Women lost a 2-0 lead as they were held by Stockwood Wanderers.

Abby Gray and Emily Dellow gave the Romans the upper hand, but the deficit was halved by Toni Blenkinsopp moments before the half-time whistle.

Lauren Phillips’ penalty earned a deserved point for the hosts, their second stalemate against Matt Abreu’s side.

Dellow thought she’d won it for the Romans but her tap-in was flagged for offside.

Stockwood started strongly, forcing a succession of early corners. One of Phillips’ early deliveries saw Jody May Hall’s header deflected onto the bar from City’s Chelsea Pearce in a fortunate escape.

Pearce was forced off soon after, one of several first half knocks which eventually saw 10 minutes added.

After another lengthy stoppage following an injury to the hosts’ centre-back Milly Russ, City took the lead. Mils Bellotti’s in-swinging corner picked out Gray, who nodded in her second goal in two games.

Abreu’s side added a second five minutes into added time. Lily Simmons’ ball from the right was only partially cleared by Abigail Raine, allowing Dellow to stab home from close range.

Sadie Farley brilliantly denied Phillips but from the same player’s resulting corner, Blenkinsopp somehow forced the ball home when grounded towards the conclusion of a 55 minute half.

It was the first goal City had conceded in 2024 and the defence was dealt a further blow with Harleigh Curtis hobbling off.

City improved after the break, posing a greater threat in the final third with Farley’s goal protected well. Bellotti’s free-kick was headed just wide by Gray, Tara Taylor shot too close to Jenna Bedford having created space and Amy Key curled wide.

But their remained a sense of danger from the hosts, whose only defeat all campaign was a fortnight previous against champions elect Poole Town.

The outstanding Phillips played Blenkinsopp through on goal but Farley charged off her line to block with her legs.

Katie Whitmarsh cut inside on the left but again found Farley a difficult barrier to pass, the 17-year-old keeper denying her at the near post.

With just under 20 minutes remaining Stockwood were afforded an opportunity to level. Whitmarsh’s ball in behind was kept in on the byline by Hall, who in trying to dash past Bellotti went to ground with referee Dickinson pointing to the spot.

Phillips stepped up and although Farley went the right way, her kick was well placed in the right corner to secure her 10th goal of the season.

City thought they’d retaken the lead within 20 seconds of the restart. From the kick-off, Key received the ball from Taylor, cut inside of Alexandra Andrade and saw her curler fumbled by Bedford to Dellow, who was immediately flagged offside while tapping the ball into the unguarded net.

Debutant Lily Simmons caught the eye on the right having come on at half-time. Her teasing ball from the right was met by the stretching Tanea Wright, but she didn’t get enough purchase as Bedford did well to tip behind for a corner.

Stockwood had the best two chances late on to seal a dramatic recovery. Hall’s cross from the left saw Blenkinsopp steam into the six yard box but she prodded wide before the same player’s effort from Phillips’ corner was touched wide on the line from Bellotti, with strong appeals from the vociferous home dugout that it was handled.

Despite obvious frustration at surrendering a two-goal lead, the outcome was a fair one as City remain fourth with four matches remaining, extending their unbeaten run to three with a three week break before travelling to Frome on 18 February.

City’s Line-Up: Farley; Bellotti, Gray, Curtis; Trivett, Taylor, Pearce, Giles, Key; Sabic, Goater. Subs used: Dellow, Harris, Simmons, Wright, Harvey.

Scorers: City – Gray (39), Dellow (45+5); Stockwood – Blenkinsopp (45+7), L Phillips (pen 71)

Referee: Matthew Dickinson