Wealdstone (0) 2 Bath City (1) 1 – Vanarama National League South – Saturday 7 April 2018 – Grosvenor Vale
A failure to see out a lead cost Bath City once again as Bobby Wilkinson’s Wealdstone inflicted a damaging defeat on the Romans, who will be kicking themselves for not adding to Matt Richards’ first goal for the club. They had plenty of chances in the opening hour to put the game to bed, but were made to pay as two losses of concentration cost them dearly in the closing stages, which Bath had to play a man light following the 81st-minute dismissal of Antoine Semenyo. The Bristol City loanee was installed into the starting line-up in place of the injured Sean Rigg, in City’s only change from Monday’s thumping win over Gloucester. Wealdstone, who didn’t play at all over the Easter weekend, made five alterations to the side that lost at home to Eastbourne 12 days’ previous, with former Bath man Dave Pratt leading the line.
He had little to work with in the first half as the directness of the home side wasn’t easy on the eye, and had little effect as City created the first clear openings. Miles Welch-Hayes, buoyed by a goal against Gloucester, nearly repeated the trick, but saw his header from Jack Compton’s corner well palmed away by Jonathan North. Wealdstone’s longest serving player came to the rescue again, palming away Opi Edwards’ stinging strike with Tom Smith unable to latch on to the rebound. The home side managed to finally create a chance on 36 minutes. Jeffery Monakana burst clear of the Romans defence before Luke Southwood bravely denied him with his legs. The winger reacted quickest to the loose ball but in trying to pick his spot was robbed by Dan Ball’s superb interception, in the defender’s 191 start in National League South, overtaking Sekani Simpson’s long-time record. From the resulting throw-in, Southwood again had to show his courage in denying Jerome Okimo as the full-back bore down on goal. The Wealdstone captain was then involved in two key incidents with half-time nearing, with the second inadvertently helping City open the scoring. Andy Watkins’ through ball saw Edwards seemingly out-pace the home back-line, before Okimo vitally denied him with an outstretched leg. With the ball still in play, Welch-Hayes’ cross into the box was blocked by the hand of Okimo, with referee Alex Blake pointing to the spot. Having missed three from six penalties this season, Jack Compton handed responsibility to Matt Richards. The midfielder finished with aplomb, stroking the ball just inside North’s post, his first goal since November 2008 for Cheltenham against Swindon Town in the FA Cup.
Like Easter Monday, Jerry Gill’s men flew out of the blocks in the second half, with the hosts struggling to re-adjust to two half-time substitutions with Johnson-Schuster and Matt Whichelow replaced by Dylan Kearney and Eddie Oshodi. North was by far the busier keeper, keeping out strikes from Smith and Semenyo, before the narrowest of margins prevented City doubling their lead. Having robbed Taofiq Olomowewe, Smith started a move which saw the Stones hopelessly outnumbered. He slipped it through to Watkins, who drilled a shot across goal, against the inside of the posts and back into the relieved hands of the beaten keeper. Anthony Straker and Semenyo both entered the referee’s notebook for innocuous looking fouls, the latter’s perhaps a case of persistent offenses with his exuberance resulting in the occasional mistimed tackle. Bradley Bubb poked wide for the hosts in a rare foray forward. Despite Kearney adding support for Pratt, Bath’s defence, Jack Batten in particular, coped well against a front-two combination of energy and power. Three minutes after Watkins was withdrawn having struggled through illness, Wealdstone equalized. A rare lapse from a throw-in saw Sam Cox receive the ball and play in Jake Sheppard, who blasted into the roof of the net from 12 yards, his first goal for the club. The afternoon unraveled for Jerry Gill’s men ten minutes later. Home leading goalscorer Daniel Green was introduced from the bench, and was clipped by Semenyo, right in front of the home dugout, who voiced their frustrations. Contact seemed minimal, but it was enough for referee Blake to produce a second yellow and, for the sixth time this season, left City having to complete a match a man light. Green’s brief cameo proved more fruitful soon after. A fantastic threaded pass saw Pratt initially denied by Southwood’s heroics. The ball ran loose to Kearney, who looked certain to score, but was left speechless as Welch-Hayes popped up on the goal-line to deny him. It mattered little. From Green’s resulting pinpoint corner, Olomowewe rose highest to nod in from six yards, and turn the game in the hosts’ favour. Despite introducing another striker in Nat Jarvis, City only created one more half-chance, with Batten’s cross on the turn flashing across goal, evading Compton at the far post. Several away players dropped to their knees at the end, realising a missed opportunity in breaking into the top seven, as the majority of the Grosvenor Vale crowd breathed a sigh of relief, ending their four-match losing streak. Whilst City played the prettier football, Gill would undoubtedly have settled for an ugly three points, as it seems likely that only four wins from four would give them a chance of extending their season further.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Straker (c), Richards (Jarvis 83), Batten, Ball, Edwards, Smith, Semenyo, Watkins (Morton 67), Compton. Subs not used: G Rigg, Amankwaah, Hodges.
Scorers: City – Richards (pen 42); Wealdstone – Sheppard (70), Olomowewe (84)
City Bookings: Straker (59), Semenyo (60)
City Dismissal: Semenyo (80)
Officials: A Blake, C Kissi, S Scott