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Post by Kelston Koppite on Sun Jan 05, 2020 1:08 am

A late strike by substitute Ross Stearn earned victory for Bath City against Billericay Town in a tough encounter at Twerton Park.  The Essex side made City fight all the way for their three points as they were, once again, forced to come from behind in order to continue their ten game unbeaten run that stretches back to the defeat at Havant & Waterlooville on 16 November 2019.

City were quickly on the front foot and had the ball in the net in the 5th minute, but Tom Smith’s effort from close range following a sweeping move was adjudged offside by the assistant referee.

Billericay signalled their early attacking intent with a 7th minute angled shot from Dejon Noel-Williams that was well saved low down by the diving Ryan Clarke.  It was the home side who continued to play neat progressive football, enjoying the balance of possession, and Town keeper Alan Julian had his palms warmed on 16 minutes by Sam Pearson’s firm drive from distance.

Brian Galach turned adeptly inside the Bath box in the 19th minute, but fired his shot narrowly over Clarke’s crossbar.  However, Billericay took the lead after 24 minutes, albeit against the overall run of play, with the help of an unfortunate and uncharacteristic error by Clarke.  A cross from the right was met with a weak downward header by Noel-Williams, but the ball somehow slipped through Clarke’s grasp and trickled over the goal-line.

City were clearly rocked by this setback, and Town almost increased their advantage three minutes later when Femi Akinwande’s low angled shot deflected off a defender and narrowly past the outside of the far post.

The hosts gradually regained a foothold in the game and struck back on the half hour mark. A frantic scramble inside the Billericay area eventually resulted in the ball running to Frankie Artus 25 yards from goal.  The midfielder calmly took aim, and side-footed a precise shot into the corner of the net beyond the statuesque Julian.

As half time approached, Connor Riley-Lowe’s free kick from the right found Artus inside the 6 yard box, but his glancing header flew wide of the far post.

The second half commenced with the game locked largely in midfield battle, and it was not until the 56th minute that there was a further goal threat.  Billericay’s Odysseus Alfa won possession of the ball deep in the City half, before Clarke made an excellent diving save at the foot of his near post to keep out the wideman’s well struck shot.

The visitors were successfully closing down The Romans in midfield and, hence, stopping them from finding any real rhythm or forward momentum.  Noah Chilvers did produce a run towards the heart of the Town defence in the 69th minute, before slipping the ball through to Tom Richards.  The midfielder went down inside the area under a defensive challenge, but vociferous home penalty appeals were waved away by the referee, Mr. Michael Ryan.

Having played more games over the Festive period than their opponents, there were signs that the hosts were beginning to tire, and it now appeared that Billericay were the more likely side to find a winning goal.

Akinwande flashed an angled shot across the face of Clarke’s goalmouth with no teammate able to apply a crucial touch in the 72nd minute, before Jerry Gill made a double substitution in an attempt to introduce much needed fresh legs.  Louis Britton and Stearn came on for Ryan Brunt and Artus respectively, with Tom Smith then being replaced by his namesake Zac Smith on 78 minutes.

Despite Town holding the upper hand at this stage, they were almost undone by a poor back pass that wrongfooted Julian, with the keeper doing extremely well to clear the loose ball from danger.  Julian was then beaten to a high ball into his box in the 80th minute, and Ronnie Henry had to react quickly to prevent Britton from sliding the ball into the unguarded net.  The keeper required lengthy treatment before resuming, and the resulting corner from Riley-Lowe was headed wide of the near post by Stearn.

Billericay continued to pose a threat going forward, and Alfie Potter’s 85th minute free kick from wide on the left drifted just wide of Clarke’s far post.  At the other end, Chilvers’ free kick into the away box was flicked goalwards, with Julian making a good diving save low down.

With a draw looking increasingly likely, City found a winner one minute into stoppage time.  Stearn picked up the ball on the left hand edge of the box, beat three challenges as he worked his way to a central position, before finding the corner of the net with a venomous drive from 18 yards.

The visitors tried in vain to find an immediate response but were unable to trouble the home defence, and the final action of the game saw Pearson’s goalbound shot deflected over Julian’s crossbar for corner.

This was an extremely hard fought win for The Romans, with both sides playing a full part in a highly competitive match. Undoubtedly, Billericay will feel unlucky to return to Essex empty handed, and it could be argued that a draw would have been a fair reflection of proceedings.  However, City were rewarded for their refusal to settle for a single point, and deserve great credit for finding sufficient energy and drive to see them over the winning line. Certainly their character shone through again alongside the confidence that comes from an excellent run of form.

Bath City;  Ryan Clarke, Joe Raynes, Dan Bowry, Dan Ball, Connor Riley-Lowe, Frankie Artus (Ross Stearn 73), Tom Richards, Noah Chilvers, Tom Smith (Zac Smith 78), Sam Pearson, Ryan Brunt (Louis Britton 73). Subs not used; Harvey Wiles-Richards, Jordan Simpson.

Billericay Town;  Alan Julian, Ben Nunn, Barry Hudson, Ronnie Henry, Alfie Potter, Odysseus Alfa (Jake Robinson 82), Jacob Cook, Brian Galach (Doug Loft 53), Femi Akinwande, Dejon Noel-Williams, Oran Jackson (Joshua Urquhart h/t).  Subs not used; Acea Laurent, Jack Paxman.

Referee;  Mr. Michael Ryan.

Attendance;  995


Last edited by Kelston Koppite on Sun Jan 05, 2020 1:30 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by 2weirdtown on Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:31 am

Thanks for your report.  Was Pearson's goalbound shot near the end was the one that was deflected by the defender's upper arm?  Should have been a penalty as he was some way away and couldn't be deemed 'ball to hand'.
I couldn't see how the early goal was disallowed as the cross was hit almost from the byeline.
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Post by Kelston Koppite on Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:53 am

2weirdtown wrote:Thanks for your report.  Was Pearson's goalbound shot near the end was the one that was deflected by the defender's upper arm?  Should have been a penalty as he was some way away and couldn't be deemed 'ball to hand'.
I couldn't see how the early goal was disallowed as the cross was hit almost from the byeline.

I was referring to Sam Pearson's shot right at the very end, but it was not off a defender's arm. I remember appeals for a penalty shortly before that but, from where I was standing, I could not see if there was a deliberate handball involved.

I was too far away to comment on the disallowed goal as it was down the other end from me. However, a few people I have spoken to since said that the ball was pulled back from near the by-line, so Tom Smith could not have been offside. Still, all's well that ends well!

Another great win with great character shown.

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Post by Dave on Sun Jan 05, 2020 1:11 pm

Perceptions are strange aren't they, I was surprised by how many people were adamant the ball was cut back from the line, but...

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Post by Dave on Sun Jan 05, 2020 1:14 pm

The handball incident also, probably a free kick if it was given but it's more shoulder for me anyway

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Post by Kelston Koppite on Sun Jan 05, 2020 1:32 pm

Palms wrote:Perceptions are strange aren't they, I was surprised by how many people were adamant the ball was cut back from the line, but...

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Thanks Palms. That certainly disproves the by-line theory and, from what little can be seen from the screen, Tom Smith could well have been offside!  Obviously, we cannot see what was going on to the left of the picture.
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Post by Dave on Sun Jan 05, 2020 1:45 pm

Not a lot going on, good decision from the lino.

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Post by Kelston Koppite on Sun Jan 05, 2020 1:50 pm

Palms wrote:Not a lot going on, good decision from the lino.

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That looks pretty much conclusive to me!
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Post by tovid on Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:35 pm

However the other lino missed an offside. There was only one defender between Britton and the goal as the goalie was laid out on the edge of the penalty area.
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Post by Colin Voutt on Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:28 pm

Palms wrote:The handball incident also, probably a free kick if it was given but it's more shoulder for me anyway

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VAR has given very similar this season, BUT, there are doubts abouts the laws / VAR.

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Post by Dave on Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:39 pm

tovid wrote:However the other lino missed an offside. There was only one defender between Britton and the goal as the goalie was laid out on the edge of the penalty area.

Na, keeper's feet play him on, another good decision. The officials were decent overall, the only thing that bothered me was the leniency with their #12's over the top physicality, otherwise were fine.

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Post by Ashley on Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:45 pm

Thanks for those Dave, really interesting how you remember things very differently to what actually happened! The offside on Smith looked a pretty clear one live, I’d have had my flag up definitely
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Post by LB on Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:46 pm

Palms wrote:
tovid wrote:However the other lino missed an offside. There was only one defender between Britton and the goal as the goalie was laid out on the edge of the penalty area.

Na, keeper's feet play him on, another good decision. The officials were decent overall, the only thing that bothered me was the leniency with their #12's over the top physicality, otherwise were fine.

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It was later than that that the offside happened. The keeper was on the ground not far from the edge of the box and the ball was hit forward to Britton who only had one defender between him and the goal.

As for the handball, as the laws appear to be at the moment it wouldn't be one if it hits a defender there but if it hits a player on the way to scoring a goal it is and the goal is disallowed.

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Post by Dave on Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:00 pm

Unless he flattened the keeper again later on, that's the moment you're referring to.

https://youtu.be/90AhPj1ac1A?t=776
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Post by LB on Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:20 pm

As Ashley said, amazing how what you think you saw and what actually happened can differ!

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Post by stillmanjunior on Mon Jan 06, 2020 8:33 am

Palms wrote:The handball incident also, probably a free kick if it was given but it's more shoulder for me anyway

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Definitely wasn’t handball for me. If that had been given against us the place would have gone into meltdown. Well, with some people in the stand, if ANY decision goes to the other team it’s seen as incorrect.
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Post by Colin Voutt on Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:29 am

Palms wrote:Unless he flattened the keeper again later on, that's the moment you're referring to.

https://youtu.be/90AhPj1ac1A?t=776

When does an arm stop being an arm?

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Post by tovid on Mon Jan 06, 2020 3:44 pm

That is where I thought it hit him in real time and to me that is upper bicep. However as Dave says it is outside the area.

And anyway I prefer the vagaries of human refereeing/linesmanship to VAR.
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