Hemel Hempstead Town (0)0 Bath City (1)3

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Post by Kelston Koppite on Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:42 pm

A hat-trick from substitute Ross Stearn earned Bath City a richly deserved victory at Vauxhall Road, home of Hemel Hempstead Town.  The Somerset side not only had to conquer their hosts, but also had to master the strong blustery conditions that blew down the slope of the pitch.

Starting the game with the elements in their favour, City enjoyed the balance of possession with the majority of play being in home territory.  Skipper Anthony Straker tried his luck from distance in the opening minute, but his effort was wide of Laurie Walker’s goal.  

Three minutes later, Freddie Hinds confounded his marker before crossing from the left, only for Ryan Brunt to slip his shot wide of the near post. In any event, an offside flag rendered the action invalid.

Bath continued to push forward and, on 8 minutes, James Morton unleashed a stinging drive from 25 yards that was tipped over the bar by the leaping Walker.

Hemel responded through a Kyle Connolly cross from the left that was just out of Leon Lobjoit’s reach and, in the 15th minute, Jordan Parkes found Lobjoit in space, but the striker fired wildly over Ryan Clarke’s crossbar from the edge of the box.

The away side remained the more threatening going forward, and Sean Rigg’s 17th minute pass into Hinds resulted in the latter’s low shot being turned around the near post by Walker at the expense of a corner.

On the half hour mark, Straker’s swirling cross from the left narrowly eluded both Brunt and Frankie Artus at the far post.  Two minutes later Rigg, who was injured in an earlier tackle by Connolly, was forced from the field and was replaced by Stearn.  

The substitute’s introduction proved pivotal as City forged in front in the 34th minute following Straker’s cross from the left.  The ball found Brunt whose shot deflected off Stearn’s posterior, and gently rolled into the corner of the net beyond the bewildered Walker.  Whilst there was undoubtedly a huge slice of luck to the goal, in was certainly no more than City deserved for their overall dominance.

The hosts were being restricted to breakaways into the Bath half, and they were unable to put any pressure on the visitors’ defence. Indeed, it was City who continued to pose more forward threat, and they came close to extending their lead on 40 minutes.  An intricate free kick routine 25 yards from goal saw Hinds’ firm effort repelled by the diving Walker.  The loose bouncing ball fell to Brunt who was unable to direct his shot on target.

Straker and Jack Batten both tried speculative, but wayward, efforts from distance which failed to trouble the Town custodian.

Strong penalty appeals were waved away by referee Mr. Tom Bishop when Stearn was clearly pushed in the back by a defender inside the home box, and the Cityman was subsequently cautioned for over emphasising his displeasure.

The main worry amongst the travelling support at the break was that their side had not made the most of their first half superiority, with the expectation being that The Tudors would use the conditions to exert considerable second-half pressure.  As anticipated, the early moments after the restart saw the hosts push City back and the first chance of the half fell to Lobjoit on 49 minutes, but the forward blazed his shot well over Clarke’s bar from 18 yards.

Parkes then tried his luck with a lobbed volley from distance that Clarke did well to tip over the crossbar but, thereafter, City began to regain control of possession and played some good progressive football.  Straker shot wide from 25 yards in the 58th minute after Brunt had won the ball, and the Hemel defence was now gradually being pushed deeper into their own territory.

The pressure finally told in the 68th minute when The Romans increased their advantage with a goal of real quality.  Joe Raynes did extremely well to gain possession out on the right before crossing the ball into Stearn, who completed the move with an assured side-footed finish from 8 yards, giving Walker no chance.

The outcome was put beyond doubt on 70 minutes when Walker failed to hold on to Straker’s searching cross from the left, and Stearn took full advantage by diving the loose ball into the far corner of the net.

Parkes tried to respond for the hosts with an outrageous effort from the half way line that narrowly cleared Clarke’s crossbar, with the City stopper rapidly back-peddling.

On 80 minutes Andy Watkins came on for Brunt, who received an ovation from the away supporters for his earnest endeavours.

Batten delivered a 78th minute pinpoint cross-field pass into the path of Hinds, who cut inside from the left, only for Walker to make a useful diving save to keep out his angled drive.

With 6 minutes left on the clock Connolly crossed from the left to Kavan Cotter, who was foiled by a good diving save from Clarke.  The keeper was forced into action again on 87 minutes when Parkes latched on to a long ball into the City area and volleyed goalwards, only for Clarke to produce a wonderful reflex save despite initially being completely wrong-footed.

The unfortunate Watkins went down with an apparent calf injury in the 89th minute which heralded a long awaited return to action for Dan Ball.

Oliver Swain nodded over the City bar from close range following a Parkes corner as the game entered stoppage time, but the final action saw the unmarked Ball head over the crossbar at the other end after being picked out by Stearn’s excellent right wing cross.

There was no question that City were worthy victors having posed the greater goal threat upfront throughout and playing some neat football, particularly in the second half.  Whilst Stearn will, quite rightly, receive the plaudits for his hat-trick, great credit must also go to the solid defensive unit that largely restricted their hosts to scraps in front of goal.  Jerry Gill’s men will now look to consolidate this performance when Hampton & Richmond Borough are the visitors to Twerton Park on Tuesday evening.

Hemel Hempstead Town:  Laurie Walker, Jacques Kpohomouh, Kyle Connolly, Jordan Parkes, Darren Ward, Tom Hamblin, Kavan Cotter, Scott Shulton, Leon Lobjoit, Kieran Monlouis, Jack Snelus.  Subs; Oliver Swain, Arthur Read, Arel Amu, Matteo Mendy, Danny Boness.

Bath City:  Ryan Clarke, Jack Batten, Robbie Cundy, Joe Romanski, Joe Raynes, Anthony Straker, Frankie Artus, James Morton, Sean Rigg (Ross Stearn 33), Ryan Brunt (Andy Watkins 80 (Dan Ball 89)), Freddie Hinds.  Subs not used; Kevin Amankwaah, Harvey Wiles-Richards.

Referee:  Mr. Tom Bishop

Att:  413


Last edited by Kelston Koppite on Sun Mar 10, 2019 12:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Corstonian on Sun Mar 10, 2019 12:12 am

Great report as ever. The injury situation doesn't seem to be letting up unfortunately - good to have Dan Ball back in contention but it seems as though Sean Rigg and Watto are jinxed this season.

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Post by comrade powell on Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:39 pm

It was good to see City legends Paul Gover and Sir Richard Bourne there yesterday. I'm sure they were impressed with our defence.
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Post by Ashley on Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:59 pm

'Outrageous' is a lovely term for that shot from the half way line! Very Happy
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Post by A36 on Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:42 pm

Was hoping you would describe Stearn's hat trick as a "perfect" hat trick, right foot, left foot and backside. Well, maybe the Conference South version of the "perfect" hat trick.

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Post by the demon headmaster on Sun Mar 10, 2019 6:12 pm

Swirling was the word of the day.

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