Torquay United (0) 1 Bath City (0) 0 – Saturday 4 November 2023 – Vanarama National League South – Plainmoor
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Shaun Donnellan’s heavily deflected strike decided a riveting contest in Torquay’s favour.
The full-back’s shot from 30 yards took a massive change of direction via the head of Kieran Parselle and looped over the helpless Will Buse.
Buse had kept City in it in the first half with a fine save from Brett McGavin, but was otherwise well protected by his back three.
Despite plenty of possession in the closing stages City couldn’t find a way past Rhys Lovett, consigning them to back-to-back league losses and a failure to score in both.
Lovett was in for Mark Halstead for the hosts following an injury at Hampton & Richmond the week before, but he was a virtual spectator for the opening 20 minutes as Torquay tore into the Romans, keen to return to form following three losses in four.
Jack Stobbs was heavily involved down the right and he created an opportunity 12 minutes in.
His jinking run across the edge of the box concluded with a lay-off for McGavin, but his well-placed strike towards the top right corner was well tipped away by Buse.
The on-loan stopper parried Callum Dolan’s long-ranger over from the resulting corner in a bright start for Gary Johnson’s side.
With teaming rain in their faces it was proving difficult for City to create much going forward but they stood up stronger to the original onslaught and managed to frustrate the hosts into errors, adding to the frustration of their expectant fans.
Jordan Thomas’ mazy run saw his eventual shot blocked by Dean Moxey and Parselle fired over from distance around the half hour mark as the Romans improved.
They carried this into the second half. On 49 minutes Thomas’ testing free-kick saw Jack Batten try and make room for a shot but he hooked off target.
Another Thomas set-piece saw City go even closer to breaking the deadlock.
His corner from the left was met by the head of Jordan Dyer and Lovett managed to fortunately bat the ball away before it was scrambled behind for another corner.
Dyer, back in for the unwell Joe Raynes, proved his worth at the other end on 79 minutes. After Lewis Collins was set free down the right, he centred for the onrushing Asa Hall but Dyer threw himself in the way to block his goalbound attempt with Parselle’s flying header keeping out a follow-up cross.
Unfortunately for the visitors, the captain’s next attempt to block out a Gulls attempt went awry, through no fault of his own.
Donnellan picked up the ball 30 yards out and his speculative effort caught the head of the captain to deviate it away from Buse, who couldn’t stop it zooming into the roof of the net.
The Romans didn’t let their heads drop and searched for a leveller. Dan Greenslade’s low centre saw Ollie Tomlinson clear against substitute Cody Cooke, with Lovett grateful to pounce on the loose ball.
With a minute of added time remaining they nearly snatched a dramatic leveller when Luke Russe’s hanging cross to the far post was met by Parselle but his glancing header went inches wide much to the relief of the home faithful.
Debutant Theo Williams could have wrapped it up in the dying seconds but his low shot was well held by Buse.
The final whistle blew immediately after to call time on an entertaining match. A point would have arguably been the right outcome but football doesn’t do fair and City will be hoping for a recovery at Weymouth on Tuesday night.
Att: 2288 (217 away fans)
City’s Line-Up: Buse, Greenslade, Dyer, Batten, Parselle (c), Hayfield, Smith, Clarke (Cooke 59), Thomas, Wilson, Russe. Subs not used: Raynes, Frear, Lines, Morgan.
Scorers: City – none; Torquay – Donnellan (82)
City Bookings: Batten (58)
Officials: G Laflin, R Cornelius, J Woolley