Tonbridge Angels (1) 1 Bath City (0) 2 – Saturday 5 November 2022 – Vanarama National League South – Longmead Stadium
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Goals from Dan Hayfield and Alex Fletcher saw City recover from 1-0 down to collect a well-earned three points at Tonbridge Angels.
The Romans trailed at the break when Jeremy Santos’ curler was parried by Ryan Clarke straight to Louis Collins, who side-footed home.
Santos was forced off just before half-time with a hamstring injury which proved costly as his invention was missed, while two substitutions in City’s favour paid off.
The win means Jerry Gill’s men have collected 12 points from losing positions this term while Tonbridge had won their previous six this season scoring first.
Both teams made four changes for the meeting in Kent where the club’s new 3G surface meant the driving rain was at no threat to the fixture.
One of those recalled for Bath, Luke Spokes, set Scott Wilson away inside five minutes with a ball over the top but the returning centre-back Ben Swift slid in to superbly block his goalbound effort.
TQ Addy nearly caught Clarke out with an 18-yarder which the 40-year-old stopper batted away to his left and the same player shot too close the glovesman on 28 minutes from distance.
Jon Henly showed terrific reactions to palm Spokes’ stinging drive onto the roof of the net and earned his luck from the resulting corner when Chris Lines’ low ball found the onrushing Spokes, whose first-time strike rebounded away off the chest of the unsighted stopper.
The same fortune wasn’t available to Clarke as Tonbridge took a 38th minute lead. Tariq Hinds’ pull-back saw Santos’ shot beaten away by the City keeper but straight to Collins who easily dispatched from 10 yards.
Santos’ afternoon was soon over as the Ecuadorian pulled up and had to be helped off.
Tonbridge’s best move of the game culminated with Scott Wagstaff’s shot deflected behind off Lines, ending a fine passing move from the hosts.
Gill replaced top scorer Cody Cooke and midfielder Spokes for Elliott Frear and Rex Mannings on the hour and it proved a timely double swap.
Frear was involved in a patient move which saw Fletcher’s ball delicately touched by Mannings perfectly into Hayfield’s path, who lashed past Henly from 20 yards.
The match was turned on its head on 71 minutes. Lines’ near post corner was won by Jordan Dyer in the air and in a messy six-yard box Fletcher somehow poked past Henly to net his first goal in seven games.
Dylan Gavin missed his kick after Hinds and debutant Dajon Golding linked up down the right as further attacks for the home side were blunted by a well-organised City defence to preserve their lead.
Wilson could have wrapped it up in added time when Swift passed straight to the forward some 45 yards out, but with Henly outside his area his attempted lob flew harmlessly against the goalkeeper’s chest.
It didn’t matter as they saw out nearly six minutes of added time to pick up a first win in four games and move up to sixth in National League South.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c), Fletcher, Hayfield, Cooke (Frear 59), Lines, Spokes (Mannings 61), Wilson. Subs not used: Batten, Morton, Jones.
Scorers: City – Hayfield (63), Fletcher (71); Tonbridge – Collins (38)
City Bookings: Raynes (20), Lines (69)
Officials: M Robertson-Tant, L Dawsen, P Burnham