Good Friday? I don’t mind if I do 😊
A thoroughly proficient display from the Peacocks saw them secure a fantastic win in their first ever visit to Twerton Park for a competitive League fixture. After an opening 45 minutes which sailed along in the sunshine without too much to write about, Town picked off City after the break to claim victory and virtually seal their National League membership for 2023/24.
The visitors showed one change from the win over Concord three days earlier, former Bath skipper Dan Ball returning to his old stomping ground at centre half following a few games out with a hamstring niggle and Joe Guest reverting to the bench. And the presence of Ball alongside Nick Grimes and Jake Wannell proved a major factor in Town’s success as the trio stood firm against any Roman invasion throughout the contest.
Backed by a large and vocal travelling support, initial signs were positive from the Peacocks. Two early forays saw crosses from Ollie Chamberlain and Lee Lucas cleared before the hosts won the opening corner of the game after five minutes with Ball clearing a dangerous low cross from Dan Hayfield. This tended to set the tone for the remainder of the half, play switching from end to end but despite numerous centres, corners and endeavour, no clear opportunities arose for either side. City keeper Max Harris punched away a great cross from Ross Stearn, one of six former Bath players in the Peacocks’ squad, before clutching another centre from Chamberlain underneath his bar while Peacocks glovesman Jack Bycroft remained similarly untroubled, safely holding a Jack Batten header after a corner to the far post had been hooked back in.
Whilst contemplating whether my eyesight was failing or in fact the numbers on the Bath shirts were that unidentifiable, Town enjoyed a decent spell in the ten minutes leading up to the break. The clearest opening arrived when Grimes got on the end of a Lloyd James free kick but planted his header just over before Chamberlain won another corner from which James delivered and Wannell saw his header held by Harris.
Bycroft was pressed into some form of real action as the second half commenced, Tom Smith finding Scott Wilson who cut in from the left to see his strike parried while Harris did well to backpedal and tip over a deflected Chamberlain shot at the opposite end. Dave Sims-Burgess squeezed a header narrowly over under pressure from a Bath defender before the Peacocks were forced to soak up some pressure from the hosts who had their best spell of the match. Joe Raynes flashed a ball across the face of goal before a decisive intervention by the Town defence prevented Wilson from profiting from another Raynes cross. Penalty appeals were ignored after Cody Cooke went down in the box and Wilson had another effort deflect for a corner but Town’s steely resolve at the back had an answer for everything City had to offer, the only aberration of the afternoon being a sloppy pass allowing a Bath player of unknown name to drag a shot wide.
After treatment for Zac Smith who was proving a real nuisance for City down the left, the final quarter of the match belonged to the Peacocks. Nick McCootie who had earlier replaced Stearn got on the end of a Lucas pass to post an effort from ten yards which took a deflection to loop towards goal, Harris diving to his right to hold. However the City keeper could do nothing to prevent Town from grabbing the lead after 76 minutes. Smith delivering into the box and the hosts failing to clear, culminating in Sims-Burgess’ hook at the far post being blocked by Harris and Man Of The Match Cam Evans was there to force the ball over the line, sparking delirium on the terraces behind the goal.
Sims-Burgess deflected a Lucas shot into the net moments later, but the offside flag curtailed further celebrations which weren’t however long in coming again. Dylan Morgan came on for Sims-Burgess with ten minutes to go and within two minutes he had doubled the Town tally with his sixth goal of the campaign. McCootie rose well to win an aerial challenge to find Morgan on the left and he advanced to the edge of the box to fire into the corner past the despairing dive of Harris who probably knows he should have done better.
In the earlier fixture between the sides at the Cygnet Health Care Stadium, City had snatched an equaliser eight minutes into stoppage time but that never appeared the remotest possibility in this game as Town remained cool and in control. City won two late corners, Kieran Parselle heading one over the top, while four minutes extra failed to provide any solace for City, Wilson firing a strike across goal and wide before being crowded out as he sensed another opening. Nothing though was going to prevent the Peacocks from completing a massive win and a clean sheet to boot. Happy Easter!
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Nick Grimes (captain), Dan Ball, Jake Wannell, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Ross Stearn (Nick McCootie 62), Zac Smith, Cameron Evans, Dave Sims-Burgess (Dylan Morgan 80), Lee Lucas. Unused sub: Joe Guest
Bath: Max Harris, Joe Raynes (Luke Spokes 62), Dan Greenslade, Jack Batten, Kieran Parselle (captain), Dan Hayfield, Cody Cooke, Tom Smith (Elliott Frear 68), Chris Lines, Scott Wilson, James Morton. Unused subs: Ryan Clarke, Rabby Minzamba, Opi Edwards
Referee: Neil Pratt (Evesham)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Antony Smith (Christchurch)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Cain Collins (Melksham)
“What a way to pretty much secure National League South status next season and come to beat Bath City away, absolutely fantastic…..”
“I thought we were comfortable throughout really…..” watch the Match Reactions of Rob Dray, Connor Sidley-Adams, Nick Grimes and Lee Lucas on Peacocks TV HERE
Match Highlights courtesy of Bath City FC can be seen HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Cameron Evans receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Club Steward Martin Hebditch