Weston Super Mare (0) 0 Bath City (0) 1 – Tuesday 23 January 2024 – Vanarama National League South – Optima Stadium
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Cody Cooke’s 50th goal for Bath City decided the Somerset Derby at a windy Weston-super-Mare.
The striker stole in to divert home Ewan Clark’s cross as City recorded their first win of 2024.
A strong defensive rearguard kept the Seagulls at bay with Bath’s back four outstanding, enabling Josey Casa-Grande to clinch a second clean sheet in two starts.
The hosts threw on former City men Alex Fletcher and Opi Edwards in the latter stages but still couldn’t find a breakthrough against Jerry Gill’s well-drilled outfit.
Having seen the Dartford match postponed 24 hours before kick-off at the weekend, an afternoon inspection saw the Optima Stadium surface passed fit, to the relief of both sides.
In a cagey start, City’s maiden corner provided their first opportunity as Clark’s delivery was met at the near post by Dan Hayfield who flicked wide.
Reuben Reid recorded the game’s first shot on target, a tame trickling effort from the edge of the box which was easily held by Casa-Grande.
Lloyd Humphries shot too close to the loanee keeper following a quick corner and Reid’s goalbound effort was tremendously blocked by the flying Kieran Parselle, this after James Dodd and Jordan Bastin did remarkably well to engineer room from a tight space on the Weston left.
Keiran Thomas shot wide on the turn in first half added time as the hosts produced the more telling moments, albeit well short of the stunning attacking display in their 6-2 win at Twerton in August.
City roared out of the blocks in the second half.
Scott Wilson, prolific for the Seagulls in the 2015/16 season, lashed way over from the edge of the box after Cooke’s tenacity teed him up.
Cooke was more accurate minutes later. Clark received the ball from Hayfield on the right, made half a yard away from Bastin which was all that was needed to whip in a teasing ball towards the near post. Cooke nipped in ahead of Sam Avery to cleverly clip over former City stopper Max Harris from eight yards, aptly netting his 50th goal in Stripes in the 50th minute and at the same venue where Andy Watkins, Bath’s previous half-centurion, recorded his landmark goal.
A series of in-swinging corners with the wind behind them appeared Weston’s trump card in getting back to level terms. Bastin’s delivery was nodded towards goal by Rex Mannings but Casa-Grande kept out the ex-Roman.
Bastin’s next set-piece nearly sailed straight in as Casa-Grande was forced to punch away with Parselle and Joe Raynes doing enough to prevent Reid on the follow-up.
Bastin drilled Reid’s lay-off wide across goal as Weston upped the pressure though it was a rare clear shot towards the target as Parselle and Jordan Dyer’s bravery regularly snuffed out telling openings through the middle.
Parselle momentarily went down injured which saw the ball kicked out of play for a Weston throw which Keiran Thomas sent back down the line rather than sportingly return it to City. Reid initially looked keen to exploit before his conscience got the better of him as he allowed Casa-Grande to collect.
City had the opportunities on the counter to double their advantage. Cooke volleyed Jordan Thomas’ hanging ball into the ground and wide, Oscar Thorn’s centre unwittingly hit the back of Humphries’ heel to stop a Cooke tap-in and debutant James Alabi’s ambitious try from distance bounced harmlessly wide with Harris stranded.
A last-ditch, firm challenge from Dyer on Jamie Soule stopped the Weston substitute getting an effort on goal and typified the all-round outstanding defensive performance, clinching a much-merited clean sheet and a return to winning ways.
City’s Line-Up: Casa-Grande, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c), Clark (Thorn 69), Hayfield, Cooke, Thomas, Wilson (Alabi 72), Russe. Subs not used: Batten, Smith, Frear.
Scorers: City – Cooke (50); Weston – none
City Bookings: Wilson (37), Thomas (45), Clark (61), Hayfield (76)
Officials: P Eddie, S Swan, J Duffy