Welton Rovers (0) 0 Bath City (1) 1 – Tuesday 22 February 2022 – Somerset Premier Cup Quarter Final – West Clewes
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Alex Fletcher’s goal ensured Bath City progressed to the semi-finals of the Somerset Premier Cup for the first time in four years. The forward benefitted on an error by home keeper Jakob Glover, who misjudged Elliott Frear’s corner allowing Fletcher to get a telling touch from a yard out. It was a deserved win for the Romans who created a hatful of openings against a side four levels below them, with Fletcher and Tom Richards both hitting the upright in the second half.
“It should have been a lot more comfortable,” said Jerry Gill. “No-one would have really complained had we scored seven or eight. I thought we were excellent, we played with a real good swagger. We passed the ball really well on a very difficult pitch. We replicated the patterns from Saturday. We overloaded areas really well. All we needed was that ball to go in again. This might be the catalyst for us to go on a run now. It’s a win, a clean sheet and important we go to St Albans in good confidence.”
An inspired block from the excellent Lewis Russell prevented Jordan Dyer an opener after Eddie Jones’ lung-busting run set up a chance. Fletcher’s pull-back saw Frear denied a tap-in by Archie Morris’ timely clearance but from the resulting corner Frear turned assist for Fletcher’s simple finish after Glover appeared to lose track of the ball. A mix-up at the other end almost immediately from the restart nearly let Will Gould in but Will Fuller and Dan Ball did enough amid initial confusion to clear. Ball had been given the captain’s armband to mark his 300th appearance. The centre-back has been with City nearly 10 years and Gill praised his attitude.
“He’s had to come back and prove himself and he’s done it,” said the City manager, who loaned the defender to Swindon Supermarine twice this season. “He’s very resilient. He’s been a revelation since he came back. We wanted to get him a win on his 300th appearance.”
After Fletcher headed against the bar at the end of a sweeping move in the second half, Ball was denied just his ninth goal for the club when the ball was deemed not to cross the line during a scramble from Frear’s corner with protests suggesting otherwise. Richards side-footed against the post in another lively move down the left involving the excellent Callum Rowe, Zak Delaney and Frear. The evening ended on a sour note with Omar Holness having to hobble off following a senseless lunge from Jacob Watson with under a minute left on the clock.
“Omar’s taken a whack at the end from a terrible tackle,” said Gill. “I was getting worried near the end that there could be a serious injury when they (Welton) were getting tired. We’ll try and ice him down and see how he is. That’s our luck – we try and get everyone back fit and he takes a bang.”
Welton struggled to make inroads in attack with substitute Toby Cole seeing a strike whistle wide in a rare opening for the Green Army in the second half. It enabled second choice keeper Fuller to claim his first clean sheet for the club, well protected by the familiar centre-back pairing of Jack Batten and Ball.
“I know we keep losing but I feel like the back four has been playing well,” said Ball afterwards. “We just need to give ourselves something to hang on to. Tonight when we went 1-0 up I felt like we were never going to concede or lose. I always think if you don’t believe in yourself you’ve got no chance. I think I’ve been playing all right, but in truth I’d rather not play great and we win.”
Ball, 30, is the 22nd player to reach 300 appearances for Bath City and had memories of his debut at Welling United in August 2012.
“I think I should have done better for their goal,” he recalled. “We drew 1-1 and I was dropped for the next game. I wasn’t so sure about that,” he laughed. “I’ve stayed loyal because I love all the people here, I love the club. I still think I can play at this level. You don’t play football all your life – I’d rather stay as high as I can for as long as I can.”
City’s Line-Up: Fuller, Delaney, Batten, Fletcher (Cooke 73), Holness, Frear, E Jones, Ball, Richards, Rowe, Dyer. Subs not used: Clarke, Smith, Raynes.
Scorers: City – Fletcher (25); Welton – none
City Bookings: none
Officials: S Ouchene. T Jeffery, K Rodd