Tonbridge Angels (1) 3 Bath City (2) 2 – Saturday 21 October 2023 – Vanarama National League South – Longmead Stadium
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Full-back Joe Raynes was forced to play the second half in goal as City suffered late heartbreak at Tonbridge Angels.
A dislocated shoulder to Ollie Wright right on half-time saw him withdrawn and with no replacement stopper on the break, Raynes took the gloves and was only beaten by two penalties.
Jamie Fielding had headed Tonbridge ahead before quickfire strikes by Cody Cooke and Scott Wilson put City in the ascendency.
But two spot-kicks from Lewis Gard saw the hosts return to winning ways, inflicting City’s first away league defeat for six months.
Tonbridge started positively and were rewarded with an eighth minute opener.
Sean Shields’ floated corner saw Fielding arc into space and he perfectly headed back across Wright into the top right corner.
It kicked City into gear and they were unlucky not to level when Dan Hayfield’s low drive thudded the inside of the post and ricocheted to safety.
Wilson had a goal controversially disallowed, seemingly for offside when the touch to put him clear appeared to be off home full-back Scott Wagstaff.
City continued to probe levelled when Ewan Clark’s teasing delivery from the left was tidily touched home by Cooke from five yards.
An exquisite finish from Wilson just past the half hour put the Romans ahead. Kieran Parselle’s ball forward saw Wilson spin Tom Parkinson and superbly half volley over the stranded Jon Henly, his 10th goal of the season.
A chaotic conclusion to the half saw the officials become centre of attention. Gard’s effort from Shields’ corner was parried by Wright, who did brilliantly to prevent the rebound. Gard charged in to force the ball home, potentially through a foul, with Dan Greenslade scooping the ball a yard behind the line with his hand. Referee and assistant Ryan Dix appeared to claim the ball had not gone in and blew for half-time with Wright writing in agony. After being treated by both City physios and paramedics, he was forced to withdraw with a confirmed dislocated shoulder and Raynes took over in goal.
Unsurprisingly the hosts set about testing him regularly. Shields cut inside and shot too close to the rookie stopper, who batted away and just beat Jordan Greenidge to the rebound.
To City’s credit they nullified the threat from Jay Saunders’ side, aided by Raynes’ confidence off his line and safe handling, but they undid their good work midway through the second half.
Joe Turner’s low cross from the byline hit the arm of the sliding Jordan Thomas, with referee Robinson deeming it to be in an unnatural position.
Gard stepped up and was mightily relieved when his kick just beat Raynes to his right, with the glovesman getting a hand on it.
Thomas proved a threat at the other end when his jinking run concluded with his cross spilt by Henly to Wilson, whose attempt to tap in was thwarted by Parkinson on the line.
With the game set for a draw, there was another twist when Shields’ corner saw Parselle grapple with Fielding and a second penalty was awarded.
This time Gard slammed it down the middle to end Tonbridge’s seven-game winless run and leave the Romans wondering what might have been.
City’s Line-Up: Wright (Thomas HT), Raynes, Greenslade, Batten, Parselle (c), Hayfield, Cooke, Smith, Clark, Wilson, Russe. Subs not used: Fletcher, Frear, Lines, Cook.
Scorers: City – Cooke (27), Wilson (31); Tonbridge – Fielding (8), Gard (pen 69, pen 89)
City Bookings: Clark (69), Parselle (89)
Officials: E Robinson, R Dix, P Conn