Welling United (0) 0 Bath City (0) 2 – Vanarama National League South – Tuesday 24 April 2018 – Park View Road
Bath City signed off their 2017/18 away campaign with a commanding win over Welling United, ending the hosts’ National league South play-off hopes in the process. Second-half goals from Antoine Semenyo and Tom Smith did the damage, meaning City effectively need a point on Saturday to confirm a top-ten finish for the second successive season. Even though a win could have left Welling the chance of a play-off spot, there was a strangely subdued atmosphere around Park View Road, not lifted by Jamie Philpot forcing Luke Southwood into his first save within a minute. City reacted positively with full-back Miles Welch-Hayes unusually at the forefront of a few attacks. His daisy cutter was easily gathered by Bailey Vose, who was later relieved to see his header flash wide from Matt Richards’ corner. Such was City’s dominance that it forced United player-boss Jamie Coyle into a rejig, swapping from 3-5-2 to a back four, which helped stifle the Romans’ goalscoring chances, though didn’t invoke any serious attacking threat from his team. Dan Ball came close to opening the scoring at half-time. His near-post header from Richards’ corner was hacked off the line, denying him a first away league goal in over four years.
Both teams opted for a few changes at the break, with the home side introducing Joe Healy and Adam Coombes for captain Conor Dymond and Jack Jebb, while City were forced into a swap, Nat Jarvis on for Opi Edwards, victim of a thigh strain, adding another figure to a lengthy injury list. Jarvis started brightly and played a part in the opening goal. Having kept the ball in play on the left, he found Semenyo in the attacking third. After exchanging passes with Smith, Semenyo shrugged off Coyle and expertly drove the ball across the helpless Vose to give City a deserved lead. It sparked Welling into life. Almost immediately, Brad Goldberg fired high and wide, before Jack Batten almost inadvertently headed Philpot’s cross into his own net, Southwood grateful to see it loop over his own crossbar. A few dangerous Ryan Hall deliveries provided moments of uncertainty, but United were unable to capitalise, nor were they just before the hour when they should have found themselves on level terms. A smart lay-off from the impressive Olu Durojaiye found Goldberg with just Southwood to beat, but the Wings’ leading marksman sent his half-volley wide when he should have ended his 11-game goal drought. They were made to pay within 60 seconds. Richards’ hold-up play 30 yards from goal was followed by a cleverly dinked pass into Smith’s path. Appeals for offside were in vain as Smith took a touch and rifled the ball past Vose from 12 yards to give Jerry Gill’s charges some breathing space. Southwood kept his 18th clean sheet of the season intact by almost juggling Healy’s close-range effort away from danger, before Smith almost added a second with a shot through the legs of Jack Parkinson but just wide. Coombes, who scored twice in the corresponding fixture last season, showed assured control in the box before shooting straight at the well-positioned Southwood, as Welling saw hopes of an unlikely comeback slip away. Indeed, they could have fallen further behind had Vose not smartly blocked Smith’s stinging half-volley. With a threadbare squad at his disposal, and on the back of a defeat which ended play-off dreams, Gill will be impressed by the character shown by his squad, and hope that they sign off their campaign on a high against a St Albans City side still hunting a top-seven spot.
City’s Line-Up: Southwood, Welch-Hayes, Straker (c), Richards, Batten, Ball, Edwards (Jarvis HT), Morton, Semenyo, Smith, Watkins. Subs not used: Ollis, Buck, Amankwaah, Hodges.
Scorers: City – Semenyo (48), Smith (60); Welling – none
City Bookings: none
Officials: D Spain, S Rea, D Hurst