Swindon Supermarine (0) 0 Bath City (1) 4 – FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round – Saturday 21 September 2019 – Webbswood Stadium
Bath City soared through to the third qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup at the expense of Swindon Supermarine. The 29 places between the sides at kick-off was of chasm proportions as goals from Ryan Brunt, Tom Smith, Andy Watkins and Matt Bower made it a comfortable afternoon for Jerry Gill’s employers, though injuries to Harry Hamblin and Owura Edwards threatened to dampen spirits. Adam Mann, who nearly joined Swindon Supermarine before a U-turn to team up with Bath, came in for Dan Rooney in City’s only change from last week’s draw with Eastbourne.
Swindon had the first opening inside a minute when Brad Gray turned sharply but pulled a shot wide from 20 yards. City reacted well. A ball over the top from Bower saw Mann outpace the defence, but he couldn’t get enough force behind his lob, enabling Martin Horsell to gather easily. The Swindon custodian was tested immediately after. Mann was again involved, storming through the midfield during a counter and laying off to Edwards, who got the ball stuck under his feet before his eventual shot was parried behind by the spreading stopper. Marine had the vastly experienced Stuart Fleetwood in attack, with City among his former clubs. He nearly haunted his former side, benefiting from the lack of an offside flag before cutting inside and having his goalbound shot headed away by Alex Hartridge. Hartridge and Bower nodded over from close range in successive corners as City began to threaten more, and their efforts were rewarded with a 35th-minute opener. A Swindon attack broke down, and the Romans broke devastatingly. Edwards found his way to the byline and dinked across to Brunt, who headed home with consummate ease from close range, marking his 50th appearance with his fourth goal in four matches. Hamblin limped off soon after with a tight hamstring in the only fly in the ointment during an otherwise positive first half, Tom Richards taking his place.
Brunt looked keen to add to his tally after the interval. Smith slipped him through and when attempting to shrug off Matt Williams, fired over. Mann also saw Horsell react sharply to tip over an 18-yard piledriver before City’s dominance was finally rewarded with a nerve-settling second just past the hour. Richards and Stearn were the providers, Smith, tremendous throughout, rounding off the tidy move by giving himself a yard of space against Williams before lashing into the roof of the net from eight yards. Watkins, who’d only been on the pitch for four minutes, chipped in with a third on 68 minutes. Richards’ persistence in midfield and perfectly weighted ball saw the forward remain onside before coolly rolling in his first goal of the season, all-but securing City’s place in the next round. Having used all three substitutes, with Jordan Simpson given a rare run out in place of Stearn, the Romans were forced to play the final seven minutes with ten men as their recent injury woes struck again. This time it was Edwards coming a cropper, coming off second best in a firm Simon Downer challenge, which initially saw him limp on before he was sensibly withdrawn. Ironically, Downer’s afternoon also ended prematurely in the closing stages, leaving it ten a-side. By then, City had added a fourth. Connor Riley-Lowe’s precise former was met by 6ft6in Bower, who nodded in with Horsell only able to help it into the net. It was the big defender’s first for the club to round off a splendid afternoon. Kane Simpson tried to rescue a consolation for the hosts but he glanced Louis Spalding’s cross wide, as the hosts failed to record an effort on target all match.
A difference in class and a healthy addition to the bank balance, as the City chief will be hopeful of investing some of the £6,750 winnings into a player or two. City’s last four FA Cup matches against lower league opponents have been won by an aggregate of 15-0 and their professionalism shone once more in the September heat. Hemel Hempstead, victims of a cup upset at Beaconsfield Town, will surely pose more of a threat next week, but with confidence boosted, there’s no reason to head to Hertfordshire in fear.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Raynes, Riley-Lowe, T Smith, Mann (Watkins 63), Brunt, Stearn (Simpson 68), Bower, Edwards, Hartridge, Hamblin (Richards 37). Subs not used: Wiles-Richards, Rooney.
Scorers: City – Brunt (35), T Smith (62), Watkins (68), Bower (87); Supermarine – none.
City Bookings: T Smith (16)
Officials: S Tallis, M Jackson, D Frizzell