Weymouth (1) 1 Bath City (2) 2 – Pre-Season Friendly – Saturday 28 July 2018 – Bob Lucas Stadium
When Jerry Gill set-up Bath City’s closing pre-season encounter at Weymouth he was in search of a testing encounter. And an examination his side were given for the opening 45 minutes of their 2-1 win at a Terras side hoping to repeat last season’s fine Southern League Premier campaign, albeit without the play-off heartbreak. The second period was less of a test, more an example of how the Romans will wish to shut down and control opposition – imperiously. For the opening period, Weymouth were a regular threat on the break, with dead-eye hitman Brandon Goodship and hustling strike partner Ben Thomson a continual menace. To top it all off, City had fallen behind to Goodship’s opener, all while playing on a bone-dry Dorset surface. By the interval it was the visitors that held the lead as Ross Stearn hit a stunner and John Mills struck with another classic striker’s goal, while Ryan Clarke made his third penalty save of pre-season on the back of a contentious decision. The result completed City’s run of friendlies with a confidence inspiring record of seven wins from eight games – only losing to a strong Exeter City side – and a club record 24 pre-season goals.
Stearn was presented with the first opening of the match when a poor clearance from home keeper Jordan Seabright fell his way. The winger looked to take advantage of the open goal, but his effort struck a defender and went behind. Jack Batten shot over from the resulting corner. City’s strong start continued when Frankie Artus hit the crossbar. Central midfield partner James Morton floated a free-kick for Artus to flick-on, Seabright touching the ball on to the woodwork. The hosts first signalled their danger on the break when, coming off a City corner, Abdulai Baggie fed Ben Thomson, whose attempted pull back was cut out. They had the lead, however, from another counter-attack just past the quarter-hour as Robbie Cundy misjudged a high ball, allowing Thomson to play a perfect low cross for Goodship to control and finish. A mix-up in the Weymouth defence allowed another chance at an open goal when an attempted lob from Ryan Brunt dropped wide. The dangerous Thomson then rode multiple challenges to get a sight of goal, but instead chose a cross that City would clear and survive. A low, skiddy effort from Adam Mann was no trouble for Seabright, although the next City strike was the polar opposite. Stearn picked up a flick-on 25 yards from goal and immediately fired an inch-perfect shot into Seabright’s near top corner to level. Weymouth came right back with Baggie seeing a shot deflected over and Jake McCarthy twisting away from two challenges before drilling another effort into a defender. It was the Romans on the board next though. Artus won possession back 30 yards out and drove into the box, the ball running for Brunt to chip into the near post, where Mills tore in to nod home from five yards. There was almost a second for Mills as he read Callum Buckley’s back-header like a book, but couldn’t get his own header up and over the hands of Seabright. The Terras had the opportunity to level in first-half stoppage time courtesy of a baffling penalty decision. Harry Baker nipped in as Straker took a poor touch on the edge of the box and appeared fairly stopped as Clarke rushed out to smother the ball. Referee Martin Underhay saw the situation differently and, after some deliberation, pointed to the spot. An unimpressed Clarke put that frustration behind him to dive left and keep out Goodship’s low penalty.
The second period saw the Romans in greater control as Weymouth struggled to carve out opportunities. That said, Seabright was not especially tested as his defence frustrated Gill’s men. Stearn was denied a shooting chance by McCarthy’s clearance, having bamboozled a defender with a series of step-overs. Mills dragged wide, ignoring Stearn’s screams for a wide pass, while Morton hit a similar effort after intercepting a loose pass. Joe Raynes livened up the contest when he found himself in an advanced spot from right-back and speared narrowly wide from range. There were also two chances for opposite full-back Anthony Straker, the City skipper shooting into a defender with his right foot and later volleying into the terracing with his left, given acres of space as the ball sat up kindly. Seabright was finally made to sweat in the final ten minutes when he got down at the feet of substitute Andy Watkins, played in by a Brunt through ball. There was final drama when the referee deemed Cundy had tripped up himself, rather than via Baker, at the edge of his own box. That allowed Weymouth to go three-on-one as Thomson returned the ball to Baker, but Clarke was sharp off his line to ensure victory for City.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Straker, Batten, Artus (Richards 64), Mills (Watkins 64), Brunt, Stearn, Mann, Cundy, Raynes, Morton. Subs not used: Hodges, Ball.
Scorers: City – Stearn (27), Mills (34); Weymouth – Goodship (16)
City Bookings: none
Officials: M Underhay, L Ward, M O’Donovan