Taunton Town (0) 1 Bath City (0) 1 – Tuesday 27 September 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Cygnet Health Care Stadium
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Alex Fletcher’s header in the eighth minute of added time secured Bath City a second draw in four days.
The forward’s eighth goal in nine matches earned the Romans a point in their first league meeting with Taunton Town, who had led through Joe Budd’s cross-shot which flew past an embarrassed Joe Wright.
City thought they had netted seconds before Fletcher’s intervention when Cody Cooke’s header was hooked onto the underside of the bar by Jay Foulston with protestations that it had crossed the line.
Instead the resulting corner from Elliott Frear created the leveller to spark scenes of jubilation from players and large numbers of away support.
Jerry Gill opted for the side which finished Saturday’s match at Oxford City against a Taunton side with seven former Bath players accumulating 729 appearances between them, notably Dan Ball at the heart of the defence.
On a zippy surface, City started well with Rex Mannings warming Jack Bycroft’s gloves inside two minutes with a low drive.
Taunton looked comfortable in possession but their record of six goals scored in nine league games became evident on 12 minutes when Nick McCootie saw off Dan Hayfield and located Budd just outside the corner of the penalty area, but he shot wildly off target with time to weigh up his options.
Cooke blazed well wide from 18 yards in a half of few chances with well-drilled defences standing firm to opposition attacks.
The deadlock was broken on 53 minutes in freakish circumstances. Budd’s attempted cross from the right arced towards goal and over the back-peddling Wright who couldn’t prevent it nestling in the far corner.
Five minutes later James Morton and Mannings linked up to present Cooke a sight of goal, but from 20 yards his powerful strike was fisted away by Bycroft.
McCootie was fortunate to escape with a yellow card on 71 minutes for a clumsy lunge on Wright which sent the keeper flying. It was the former Romans forward’s final action as he was replaced by another ex-City man in Nat Jarvis. Seconds later City made their final change with Chris Lines on for Morton and it proved key as the 36-year-old’s passing range helped Gill’s men create more openings in the final third.
Luke Spokes’ curler from 25 yards was well gathered by Bycroft as the Peacocks restricted City to half-chances thanks to their immense backline, searching for a fifth clean sheet already this term. Bravery from Nick Grimes, Jake Wannell and Ball irked the City attack as frustration continued to the dugout where Gill was cautioned for a few words with assistant Devon Campbell.
A cynical lunge by Joe Guest on Lines did the Taunton man more damage as he picked up a caution and injured himself while wiping out the midfielder long after the ball had been played. It was one of many stoppages which accumulated to six added on, further extended by a head injury to Wannell.
It allowed time for City to mount two more attacks. Frear’s superb cross saw Cooke’s deft header miraculously cleared onto the underside of the bar from Foulston and scrambled behind for a corner. From Frear’s second delivery, Fletcher arrived at the near post to superbly glance a header past Bycroft to rescue a deserved point and break Taunton hearts.
City’s Line-Up: Wright, Dyer, Batten, Parselle (c), Fletcher, Hayfield, Cooke, Smith (Frear 65), Spokes, Mannings (Wilson 59), Morton (Lines 71). Sub not used: Clarke.
Scorers: City – Fletcher (90+7); Taunton – Budd (53)
City Bookings: Smith (14)
Officials: C Scriven, D Campbell, S Swan