Another National League game, another 90 minutes of frustration. Hot on the heels of Saturday’s setback to Hampton & Richmond, the Peacocks were soundly beaten at Twerton Park against their Somerset rivals, sitting one place below them at the start of play. However, had Town made better use of their opportunities in the first half the scoreline may well have evolved differently. As it was, the performance level dropped following a goalless first half as City went on to net twice in the final 12 minutes to overinflate the final scoreline.
Zac Smith stepped back into the starting eleven to replace Dylan Morgan, the only swap from the weekend, and on a miserably wet evening the Peacocks could and arguably should have found themselves two goals to the good inside the opening five minutes. Firstly a long Nick Grimes pass found Smith on the left and his cutback set up Nat Jarvis with a clear sight of goal. His effort was going wide until Ross Stearn got something on it and Bath keeper and former Peacock Will Buse, who was only signed during the day on loan from Yeovil, reacted superbly to the push the goalbound diversion away one-handed. Then another Smith assist, this time when he headed down a ball across, again fell to Jarvis who missed the target as he sent an angled strike past the far post.
Town then won the first corner of the evening, but the home side rode the early storm as the game began to even out over the course of the first period. City started to make inroads inside the Taunton area, a quick throw-in releasing Luke Russe whose looped cross dropped just ahead of Scott Wilson at the back stick while a bobbling shot from Jordan Thomas was safely held by Dan Lavercombe and then left back Danny Greenslade drilled a low ball across the face of goal with no Roman able to capitalise.
Top National League South scorer Wilson was then brought down on the edge of the box with Dan Hayfield’s free kick gathered by Lavercombe before the momentum swung the Peacocks’ way again. A fine passage of play down the left saw Smith eye up Jarvis for the final pass until Kieran Parselle also read the intention and intercepted while Jarvis connected with an Austen Booth cross to see a back header deflect over.
Both sides then wasted a chance within the space of two minutes to keep the scoreboard dormant at the break. Jarvis chested down a pass to Ollie Chamberlain whose deft footwork found Stearn and his strike from 12 yards crashed back off the post with Buse blocking the follow-up effort from Foulston. Focus then switched to the opposite end where Lavercombe spilled a Thomas shot into the path of Wilson who somehow put it wide of the inviting net.
As the rain got heavier, the teams retired for their break in the knowledge that it was anyone’s game. The difference was that Bath raised their levels for the second half while Town’s went the other way. A run from Tom Smith down the left side found Wilson who turned to fire wide, and Smith had a strike held by the diving Lavercombe who could do nothing to prevent the hosts from taking the lead on 57 minutes, Thomas moving inside from the right to curl a skilful finish into the far corner.
Two corners from Foulston in response came to nothing as the Peacocks now faced a battle to get back into it but their fluency from the opening 45 minutes was being washed away whereas the lively promptings of Smith and Ewan Clark down the flanks were putting the Romans on top. Morgan replaced Lloyd James around the midway point of the half and the young midfielder set about trying to reinvigorate Town’s endeavours. The tide remained towards the Town goal though and when Wilson got past Booth down the left, he set up Smith for a shot which Cameron Evans blocked and when the rebound fell to Smith for another go, the Taunton No 17 repeated the obstruction.
The visitors made a double striker switch with around 20 minutes to go, Dave Sims-Burgess and Nick McCootie coming on for Stearn and Jarvis, and this appeared to be the catalyst needed when Foulston’s cross from the left evaded the attentions of the two new Town subs in the middle and nestled inside Buse’s left-hand post. Celebrations from players and fans alike were curtailed when an assistant flagged for offside and after discussions with referee Eddie the goal was wiped out. The subsequent reason given for refusal seems to be that an offside player obstructed the visibility of Buse and was therefore interfering with play despite not getting a touch on the ball. Post-match evidence would seem to suggest otherwise.
A contentious decision but Town needed to forget it and refocus. Instead the final stages became a nightmare. After appeals for handball following a Thomas shot were waved away, City doubled their lead on 78 minutes. Hayfield was fouled just outside the area and when Lavercombe failed to grasp the free kick from Thomas, Wilson was there to steer the ball over the line. Further salt was rubbed into the Peacock wound two minutes later when City surged forward, Hayfield breaking to play square to Greenslade and his 18 yard piledriver scorched into the far corner to give the Romans an unassailable lead.
It might have got even worse when a shoddy stray pass allowed Wilson to break and he set up Clark whose shot was blocked by Booth on the line with the follow-up deflected for a corner. A rare foray from the Peacocks whose second half showing resembled something of a wet flannel actually did pose a moment of menace when Morgan did well to create an opening for Smith who planted his shot over the bar. Five minutes of added time were akin to a pass around in a pre-season friendly as City leapfrogged their visitors into second place while Town slip to fourth on a difficult night in North Somerset.
Taunton: Dan Lavercombe, Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Austen Booth, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James (Dylan Morgan 66), Nat Jarvis (Nick McCootie 69), Ross Stearn (Dave Sims-Burgess 69), Zac Smith, Cameron Evans, Lee Lucas. Unused subs: Dan Ball, Steve Phillips
Bath: Will Buse, Joe Raynes, Dan Greenslade, Jack Batten, Kieran Parselle, Dan Hayfield, Tom Smith (Chris Lines 87), Ewan Clark (Elliott Frear 83), Jordan Thomas, Scott Wilson (Cody Cooke 85), Luke Russe. Unused subs: Alex Fletcher, Ben Morgan
Referee: Phillip Eddie (Plymouth)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Sean Jenkins (Southampton)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Jonathan Pike (Wimborne)
Unfortunately due to logistical issues no post-match filmed interview was possible.
Head of Football Rob Dray commented:” A very disappointing and another frustrating night after doing so many good things and nullifying Bath’s obvious threats. The first half was a good advert for local football at this level and we were good value at half time but the second half was different and hinged on individual errors and the decision on the disallowed goal. Bath took their three goals really well and good luck to them for the rest of the season. The last two games haven’t gone our way for a number of reasons so we now need to redouble our efforts and focus on Saturday and another tough trip.”
Match highlights courtesy of Bath City FC can be seen HERE
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance MOM
Cameron Evans receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Peacocks’ Coach Driver Dave Wraight