The hosts began strongly and immediately pushed the visitors deep into their territory. Tom Smith’s cross in the very first minute found Alex Fletcher, whose header flew narrowly over the crossbar. However, this reprieve for Oxford was short-lived and bath were in front on two minutes. A slick passing move saw Fletcher released through on goal by Cody Cooke, and he coolly slotted the ball into the corner of the net beyond the advancing keeper.
The Romans continued to press forward, and Joe Raynes’ long throw in from the right was met with a Cooke header that was held under his crossbar by gloveman, Ben Dudzinski. Fletcher’s shot on 6 minutes was deflected wide, and Dan Ball nodded the resulting corner just over the bar.
Until this point The Hoops had been reeling under the pressure, but they gradually began to gain the upper hand in the midfield areas, playing some neat football in the process. Jacob Bancroft’s effort from outside the box was saved by Ryan Clarke in the 12th minute and, a minute later, the home stopper was forced into another save to repel Ewan Clark’s angled drive.
Fletcher had another shot deflected for a corner, but the tide was turning in Oxford’s favour. Clarke made a good save to keep out Clark’s and Bancroft struck the face of the bar with his follow up effort. The latter also had another 20th minute shot deflected wide of the target. The pressure finally told on 25 minutes when George Harmon’s ball into the home box was helped into the far corner of the net by Joe Iaciofano.
Bath tried to reimpose themselves on the game, but it was the visitors who looked the more likely to add to the scoreline. Josh Ashby’s powerful shot from 25 yards dipped narrowly over Clarke’s crossbar, and Charlie Rowan’s looping header following a corner dropped onto the top of the net. The same player was then too high with a header from a right wing freekick.
Oxford finally took the lead three minutes before the interval when Clark made his way to the byline before pulling the ball back for Bancroft to find the net from close range.
The second period began quietly as the sides tried to find some pattern to their game. The first effort of the half was produced by Oxford’s Clark, but his long-range shot was held comfortably by Clarke.
The hosts came close to finding a leveller in the 54th minute when Cooke headed Smith’s inviting cross against the crossbar, but the away side increased their lead four minutes later. Zac McEachran turned adeptly on the edge of the area before firing a fierce shot into the net beyond a static Clarke.
Bath suddenly found some forward momentum and began to stretch the Oxford backline and they reduced the arrears on 63 minutes. Elliott Frear crossed from the left and Fletcher beat Dudzinski with a thumping diving header from 6 yards.
Fletcher almost created another goal two minutes later, but his cross from the left flank just eluded the onrushing Cooke at the far post.
Tom Richards replaced Ben Seymour in the 67th minute, just before Oxford spurned an excellent opportunity to restore their two-goal advantage. Clark played a clever pass through to Bancroft who found himself clear on goal, but the striker failed to control the ball, and the chance was lost.
Whilst Bath were now enjoying the balance of possession, the away side were always dangerous on the break. One such foray in the 70th minute ended with Clarke producing a fantastic save at full stretch to keep out Clark’s angled drive.
The Hoops were made to pay for their missed chances when The Romans equalised on 76 minutes. An excellent sweeping move allowed Frear to cross from the left, and Richards applied the perfect touch to neatly flick the ball just inside the far post.
Dave Sims-Burgess came on from Eddie Jones with nine minutes left as Bath looked for a late winner. Cooke’s shot from distance was comfortably collected by Dudzinski, but the hosts came agonisingly close in the 89th minute. Frear delivered a wicked freekick from the right-hand side of the area that flashed across the face of goal, and just wide of the far post.
This was certainly an enthralling way to end the league season and, in many ways, the various flows and periods within the game summed up the inconsistencies of the campaign as a whole. The team has shown great resilience over the last two months, and this was again reflected in this performance. This now leaves just one more match to play before the curtain falls on another season, and it is hoped that City can earn some silverware in the Somerset Premier Cup Final at Huish Park on Tuesday evening against our old friends Yeovil Town.
Bath City: Ryan Clarke, Eddie Jones (Dave Sims-Burgess 81), Joe Raynes, Dan Ball, Zak Delaney, Omar Holness, Tom Smith, Alex Fletcher, Elliott Frear, Cody Cooke, Ben Seymour (Tom Richards 67). Subs not used: Will Fuller.
Oxford City: Ben Dudzinski, Zico Asare, George Harmon, Josh Ashby, Dan Matsuzaka, Charlie Rowan, Reece Fleet, Zac McEachran, Jacob Bancroft, Joe Iaciofano, Ewan Clark. Subs: Lewis Coyle, Elliot Benyon, Nana Owusu, Cole Dasilva, Harry Kyprianou.
Referee: Mr. Andrew Humphries.
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A great end to a poor season but of course we still have Tuesday and whilst I couldn’t make yesterday as the song says ‘I am going down to Yeovil….’
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tovid wrote:Thanks Kev another super report. I thought Delaney delivered the cross for the second. He has been an excellent loan, I hope he does well.
You may well be correct about the provider of the cross, but it looked as if it was Frear from where i was standing (admittedly that was under the shed towards the Bath End). I guess the highlights video will clarify.
I agree with your comments about Zak Delaney. He has been outstanding all season.
I also thought Oxford looked a very good side going forward, neat and strong in midfield and quick in attack, and it is easy to see why they have done so well this season.
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