Weymouth (0) 1 Bath City (1) 2 – Saturday 30 September 2023 – FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round – Bob Lucas Stadium
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Dan Hayfield and Scott Wilson were on target as City eased through to the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup at the expense of divisional rivals Weymouth.
Tom Bearwish’s deflected free-kick pulled one back for the hosts, who were second best for large periods in a scoreline which didn’t match the Romans’ superiority.
A brave stoppage time block from Joe Raynes prevented a possible replay when City should have been in cruise control.
But they deservedly progressed in Jerry Gill’s first success over Bobby Wilkinson as a manager at the sixth attempt.
The home boss was dealt a blow on the eve of kick-off when Charlie Rowan dropped out in the warm-up meaning a late call-up for David Sesay and Leo Hamblin forced to move into the back three.
It didn’t deter the Terras from the off as they squandered a presentable opening inside a minute.
Harvey Slade and Bearwish combined to tee up Teddy Howe, whose first time side-footer from 18 yards drifted a yard wide of Ollie Wright’s right post.
Soon after Dan Roberts prodded too close to Wright as Jack Batten struggled with an aerial ball from Slade.
City first posed a threat in the 11th minute when Jordan Thomas’ ball over the top saw Wilson out-pace Anthony Cheshire before his stinging drive was gloved away by Gerard Benfield.
Wilson’s glancing header from Ewan Clark’s delivery was guided wide as the Romans improved by the minute, taking advantage of Weymouth’s sluggishness in possession.
The hosts were often struggling to contain Clark on the right. Ten minutes before the break his nifty footwork fooled Hamblin before his pull-back saw Hayfield almost stumble on the ball when well-placed.
The recalled midfielder had another opportunity two minutes later. Wilson’s exquisite reverse ball saw Hayfield smartly nip past the home defence before the advancing Benfield snuffed him out with Wilson’s follow-up blocked by Cheshire.
Both goalkeeper and defender were powerless to prevent an opener shortly after.
Luke Russe brought down an attempted Hamblin clearance and whipped in a terrific delivery for Hayfield, who snuck in front of Calvin Brooks and powerfully headed home from eight yards, Benfield only able to help it into the net.
Kieran Parselle’s quick play with Hayfield from a throw saw the former’s shot clip the heel of Sesay before bouncing inches wide with Benfield scrambling.
The momentum continued in Bath’s favour after the break with Clark again the ringleader, his curler just wide of Benfield’s right post after Weymouth, who swapped to a back four to deal with his threat, again cheaply gifted the Romans possession.
Wilkinson’s charges nearly manufactured an equaliser on 69 minutes when Parselle’s misdirected header towards his own goal saw substitute Ben Thomson steal in, but Raynes stormed across to hook the ball away from the line before Howe could convert.
Having survived that scare City doubled their lead on 76 minutes.
Elliott Frear’s lofted corner saw Jordan Dyer’s booming header flicked onto the bar by Benfield with Wilson on hand to convert via his thigh from a yard out.
Weymouth sought for a way back with Hamblin’s powerful strike well tipped behind by Wright at his near post.
They were afforded another opening in added time. Ezio Touray’s theatrical fall from Ben Morgan’s challenge resulted in a free-kick wide of the penalty area. Bearwish tried his luck from the set-piece and his delivery glanced off the head of the unfortunate Hayfield to bypass Wright and nestle in.
The superb Raynes blocked Touray’s effort in the dying seconds to ensure City’s win and keep them nine unbeaten in all competitions as the quest for a first appearance in round one since 2011 continues.
City’s Line-Up: Wright, Raynes, Dyer, Batten (Morgan 80), Parselle (c), Hayfield, Smith, Clark (Fletcher 89), Thomas (Frear 74), Wilson, Russe. Subs not used: Forester, Lines, Cook.
Scorers: City – Hayfield (39), Wilson (76); Weymouth – Bearwish (90+2)
City Bookings: Russe (24), Raynes (62), Smith (85)
Officials: L Corbett, J Woolley, A McAnoy