Yeovil Town (1) 2 Bath City (0) 0 – Saturday 6 January 2024 – Vanarama National League South – Huish Park
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
League leaders Yeovil Town saw off a brave fightback from Bath City in the West Country Derby.
A bumper crowd of just over 5,000, including 616 from Bath, saw the Glovers complete a first league double over the Romans since the 1975/76 season thanks to goals in each half from Jordan Young and Frank Nouble.
Dan Hayfield’s free-kick brushed the side-netting in the closest City came to netting against their arch-rivals.
But despite a commendable display, Jerry Gill’s side’s five-game unbeaten run ended, one which began after December’s loss at home to the same opposition.
City fielded Slav Huk in goal with Will Buse ineligible against his parent club, and one of his first tasks was to pick the ball out of the net.
Nouble’s terrific diagonal ball was collected by attacking full-back Michael Smith in the penalty area. His perfect centre was steered home by Young from eight yards to break the deadlock.
It was a rare opening in an otherwise cagey first 45. The Romans’ best moment was engineered by the recalled Ewan Clark, who cut inside of Alex Whittle before his thumping drive was deflected over by the sliding Charlie Cooper.
Two former Yeovil loanees nearly constructed a leveller five minutes before the break. Clark’s hanging free-kick was met with a firm header by Jordan Dyer but keeper Joe Day gloved over for a corner.
Cody Cooke was introduced six minutes after half-time as a further attacking threat and his target man presence caused havoc soon after.
Joe Raynes somehow made room for a cross wide right, his delivery was flicked on by Cooke towards Scott Wilson, but the slightest inadvertent touch by Dyer in the box took it away from the forward with the ball deflecting off his hip before being belted away by Michael Smith.
Cooper’s dipping strike from 20 yards was batted behind by Huk in a rare test for the glovesman. Substitute Oscar Thorn nearly made an instant impact after Tom Smith and Jordan Thomas linked up down the left before Thorn’s half-volley was deflected wide.
There was heart in mouths of the Yeovil fans on 71 minutes when Hayfield’s curled free-kick had Day beaten but it hit the side-netting with some thinking it had crept in.
Instead, a scruffy second made the game safe. Cooper’s corner was headed across by Jake Wannell to Nouble, who benefitted from a Hayfield slip to poke home his third goal in three games.
Day’s biggest scare in the closing stages was when Michael Smith’s back-header nearly bypassed him, but the keeper reacted sharply to gather.
It meant a second clean sheet in two against City for the title favourites as they moved 10 points clear thanks to other results going their way, with the Romans now back to concentrating on other sides firmly in the play-off mix.
City’s Line-Up: Huk, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c), Clark (Thorn 60), Hayfield, Smith, Thomas, Wilson, Russe (Cooke 61). Subs not used: Batten, Frear, Lines.
Scorers: City – none; Yeovil – Young (14), Nouble (76)
City Bookings: Wilson (20), Russe (25), Thomas (50), Smith (55), Greenslade (84)
Officials: E Swallow, J McRitchie, T Copping