City will be regretting missed chances after some how allowing
Team Bath to steal a point from a match that the Tigers dominated
for long periods. Another smart finish from Whittington and a first
City goal for Mike Fowler twice put us ahead, but each time City
were pegged back by the Team Bath who capitalised on a marked reluctance
by the home players to get really tight on the students in midfield.
Despite some moments that suggested City were beginning to find
some attacking form this is a result that shows we still haven't
quite learned the art of closing matches down to make sure of a
City could have taken the lead in the opening few minutes as Alex
Sykes went close with an incredible effort from inside the centre
circle. The England Futsal international certainly still has an
impressive touch and he spotted the Team Bath keeper venturing out
of his goalmouth, and the lob was inch perfect and Darren Chitty
in the student's goal did exceptionally well to back pedal and manage
to tip the ball over. City were in control and Wilson's cross was
stopped by the keeper at the feet of Fowler, with Mustoe also seeing
a rasping shot tipped over the bar by the busy Chitty.
City kept the pressure up when Webb's defensive clearance fell
to Wilson who ran nearly the length of the pitch before his shot
skidded into the post with the keeper stranded, and Chitty must
have felt even his colleagues were out to get him when he was forced
to again tip the ball over the bar, this time from a misplaced header
from one of his defenders. However it was no surprise at all when
City scored - a long Fowler free kick was well won in the air by
Bevan and Michael Whittington
reacted first to the knock down to crisply hammer his shot high
past the keeper.
City looked comfortable enough and even when Team Bath got forward
they were finding Tomkins and Hamblin awkward. However things were
to get tricky for City as skipper Chris Thompson limped off and
minutes later Team Bath leveled. It was a simple goal as City didn't
get close to a corner, with City keeper Jacob
Giles looking a little sluggish as the cross came over. The
player who met the ball first was Team Bath centre-back Matt Taylor
who planted a firm downward header into the net.
City were even more dominant in the second half as we seemed to
take control of the midfield. Wilson was again causing Team Bath
problems and City should have regained the lead as Sykes swung in
a free kick following another foul on the winger. Hamblin won the
header at the near post and the ball fell to Fowler, but he couldn't
quite get his toe to the ball ahead of the scrabbling keeper. If
Fowler's touch had let him down there, he didn't have to wait long
to more than make amends. Chitty gave away possession with a careless
sliced kick and as Wilson was tripped, Mike
Fowler picked up the loose ball. The ref allowed play to go
on and the Welsh wizard showed some nimble footwork to pick his
way through three defenders, switch feet and slot the ball beneath
the despairing keeper. It was a great goal to open his City account
and showed signs of the skills City fans had been hoping for on
his signing in the summer.
It looked as if City had the game sewn up, with Whittington showing
plenty of flashes of danger as City broke from midfield. Hamblin
also went close to scoring with a header that just grazed the bar,
but with the clock ticking down it looked as if the points were
in the bag. Whittington went off to a good ovation in what looked
sadly like a fond farewell - but perhaps he'd been taken off just
a few minutes too soon. City had shown signs of beginning to stand
off the Team Bath players and suddenly paid the price as a speculative
shot from sub Jake Arnold caught a huge deflection off a City defender
and looped over Giles stranded in the City goal.
With just a few minutes left City looked as if we'd been mugged,
and with Whittington off one of our main threats had gone. It was
a desperate late push for a deserved winner but we didn't look like
we could break through the massed student ranks easily and when
the last chance came it fell to the wrong person. Sykes and Mustoe
moved the ball well and Mustoe spotted Wilson unmarked at the far
post. The cross was inch perfect but for all his ability Wilson
might not be the player you'd choose for a crucial header, and unfortunately
he got under the ball and his effort looped over the bar.
T-Ender Match Snaps
There was little surprise
as Tim Harris stuck with the same line-up that held on to win at
Banbury the previous week.
"More drums than
Team Bath fans."
Wilson is proving a real problem for SLP defences this season
and is now being swopped from flank to flank to identify an opposition
weak spot. Today he started out on the left but it was when he was
switched across to the right that Team Bath started to be pushed
back. With Whitt going the City boss might be tempted to opt for
Wilson's pace up front to make sure opposition defences continue
to have a speed merchant to worry about.
Sadly it seems this
match was Whitt's last at City, at least in this loan spell. His
strike today takes his total for us to 10 goals in his two visits
to Meadow Park from Ch#*enham Town. The last loan player to enjoy
such fleeting success with the club was Marcus Browning, loaned
from Bristol Rovers in two sessions in 1989-90 and 1990-91 and also
scoring 10 goals in 12 matches. Whitt looks to have the same promise
and hopefully will go on to enjoy a succesful career like Browning
- who has now made more than 450 league appearances for Rovers,
Huddersfield and now Bournemouth, as well as 5 Welsh caps.
When people talk about
luck evening itself out they don't always mean over the space of
two games, but if we were fortunate to get a win at Banbury we were
unlucky to see ourselves denied victory here. For all the misfortune
a genuine promotion side would take all the points from this type
of match at home against a side that didn't look that special.
With many clubs still competing in the FA Cup there were few
league matches today, but Bath City's home problems continued
with Darren Edwards equalising for Yate in a 1-1 draw at Twerton
Park. Chippenham's poor run ended with a 1-0 win at Tiverton while
Wealdstone pulled out of the bottom four with a 4-2 win at Corby.
Slimbridge's incredible FA Cup run ended in a 2-0 defeat at Merthyr,
while SLP leaders King's Lynn also marched into the last FA Cup
qualifying round with a 2-1 win at Halesowen. That result will
mean City's planned visit to King's Lynn on 28 October will now
be postponed. Maidenhead United also progressed, overcoming one
of the clubs that litter our own unhappy recent Cup history to
beat Worthing 3-1.