Hungerford Town (1)2 Bath City (0)2

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Hungerford Town (1)2 Bath City (0)2

Post by Kelston Koppite on Sun Jan 01, 2017 11:06 pm

Bath City emerged with a hard earned point from a bruising encounter at Hungerford Town’s Bulpit Lane. The visitors twice found equalising goals, and were indebted to an outstanding penalty save from Max O’Leary which ensured that the West Country side took home a share of spoils.

With the pitch passed fit for play following a 2 p.m. inspection, the underfoot conditions were always going to prove difficult to master, and matters were not helped when the rain that had been steadily falling from the Berkshire skies turned to sleet as the game commenced. Indeed, the dismal weather provided a perfect backdrop to a truly forgettable first 45 minutes.

The hosts, playing up the slope, created an opening inside the first two minutes when Nat Jarvis latched on to a pass through the City defence, only for the ball to become stuck in the mud, allowing O’Leary to block the striker’s shot with his feet.

In took until the 13th minute for City to produce an attempt at goal when Billy Murphy swung a corner into the box, but Axel Andresson could only loop a tame header over the crossbar. The away side’s best opportunity of the half arrived after 23 minutes when Murphy was again the provider. The midfielder picked out Nick McCootie, who had a clear sight of goal, but scooped his effort on to the top of the bar with keeper George Legg at full stretch.

Gary Owers’ side were made to pay for this miss on 32 minutes when Alan O’Brien found space out on the left, from where he delivered an inch perfect pass to James Clark, who carefully half-volleyed his shot from 12 yards into the corner of the net beyond the helpless O’Leary.

The only remaining action of note ahead of the break saw Jarvis strike an effort straight at O’Leary from outside the box.

With the Somerset side now facing the elements and the adverse gradient, they were immediately put under pressure by The Crusaders. Louie Soares’ low cross from the left flashed across the face of O’Leary’s goal, and Mike Jones was then just too high with an overhead kick.

Despite the home side’s possession and territorial advantage, City found a leveller on 55 minutes. Naby Diallo made good ground down the right and pulled the ball back to McCootie, whose drilled effort found the far corner of the net through a crowded box with the aid of a couple of telling deflections.

Whilst Bath were now more in the game, Hungerford continued to look the more dangerous going forward. In the 65th minute, Clark’s powerful shot was beaten away by O’Leary and, when the loose ball fell back kindly to the midfielder, his second effort was deflected wide by a defender. Boardman saw his goal-bound header cleared off the line by George Rigg from the resulting corner as the way goal began to live a charmed life.

Indeed, the hosts should have retaken the lead on 72 minutes when Marvin Morgan was penalised for a handball as he attempted to repel a corner into the box, and the referee, Mr. Matty Buonassisi pointed to the spot. Stefan Brown stepped forward to take the penalty, only to be thwarted by a wonderful diving save by O’Leary as he pushed the ball round the base of his post to safety.

However, this reprieve for the visitors was short lived, as a series of controversial decisions by the ‘man in black’ culminated with the award of another free kick on the right hand edge of the City area in the 75th minute. The cross into the box brought about a frantic goalmouth scramble, with substitute Harry Goodger finally forcing the ball over the line from close range to regain his side’s advantage.

The Romans struck back almost immediately as parity was restored on 77 minutes. Morgan’s persistence earned a corner out on the left which was taken by Murphy, and Chas Hemmings rose the highest to power a near post header into the top corner, leaving Legg clutching at thin air.

The game was now an end to end affair, and Goodger came extremely close with an overhead kick eight minutes from time. The ailing McCootie was replaced by Shaquille Hunter one minute later, and the substitute was then involved in a major flashpoint as Mr. Buonassisi continued to frustrate the away side with his interpretation of the rules. Morgan won the ball out on the left and found Hunter, who raced into the box before his legs were whipped away by a desperate and badly timed defensive challenge. Despite the referee being ideally placed, he dismissed vociferous appeals for a penalty to the complete disbelief of the travelling supporters behind the goal.

The final chance of the game fell to Morgan as the game entered stoppage time, but his shot from 20 yards lacked the power to trouble Legg, who saved comfortably.

This was another tough and competitive encounter between the two sides following their meeting at Twerton Park on Boxing Day. Once again, the game opened up in the latter stages with both teams looking to take all three points, and it resulted in a sense of mixed emotions at the final whistle. On the one hand, frustration that City may have snatched an unlikely victory had the late challenge on Hunter been penalised but, on the other, they took a point having twice trailed, played poorly in the first half, and benefitted from O’Leary’s penalty save. On balance, therefore, a draw was perhaps the most appropriate outcome, with great credit being due to City for their improved performance and strong determination after the interval.

Hungerford Town: George Legg; Scott Rees, Rhys Tyler, Jon Boardman, Mike Jones, Luke Williams, James Clark (Stefan Brown 70), Ian Herring, Nat Jarvis, Nicholas Bignall (Harry Goodger 70), Alan O'Brien (Louie Soares 42). Subs not used: Manny Williams, Matt Day.

Bath City: Max O'Leary; George Rigg, Jack Batten, Axel Andresson, Miles Welch-Hayes, Billy Murphy, Chas Hemmings, Frankie Artus, Nick McCootie (Shaquille Hunter 83), Marvin Morgan, Naby Diallo. Subs not used: Lee Marshall, Josh Hutchinson, Sekani Simpson.

Referee: Mr. Matty Buonassisi.

Attendance: 408.

Kelston Koppite

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Re: Hungerford Town (1)2 Bath City (0)2

Post by comrade powell on Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:12 am

Many thanks KK for filling in the gaps. There are worse grounds in this league than Hungerford's but their lights are probably bettered by most in the Southern League!

I thought our team showed great character in the second half, especially as we looked to be blown away in its opening minutes. Two well taken goals and a superb save by o'Leary.

Let's hope we can take that fight into Saturday's match as I believe Hampton remain the best team we have faced this season along with Maidenhead.
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Re: Hungerford Town (1)2 Bath City (0)2

Post by stillmanjunior on Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:41 am

There aren't many worse commentary positions, highlighted by how we couldn't even identify their penalty taker. Assumed Herring would step up as I know he used to take them for Chippenham.

Felt more like a point gained but we missed a player like Watkins or Harvey. Not sure whether it's just tiredness but Morgan has barely been a threat recently, one goal since the end of September is a poor return.
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Re: Hungerford Town (1)2 Bath City (0)2

Post by BenE on Mon Jan 02, 2017 1:28 pm

Great report. Love the description of Nick's goal.

As for Morgan I thought he looked unfit on Boxing Day. No where near enough movement.

Good point earned I feel.
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Re: Hungerford Town (1)2 Bath City (0)2

Post by SteveS on Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:12 am

I also feel that this was a good point. Hungerford are not a good footballing side but they are one which make it very difficult for the opposition, the sort of team we have often fallen short against in the past so it was good that we dug in and got something.
Looking at the goalkeeper and back line 3 of them were loan players, we cannot hope to build long term on this basis and need to look at permanent signings.

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Re: Hungerford Town (1)2 Bath City (0)2

Post by Beau Nash on Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:54 am

Hungerford were top of the current form table on Boxing Day so not bad results for City.
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