Development squad beaten at Bath
July 22, 2018
For the fixture at Twerton Park, Chris Hargreaves named a starting eleven that blended members of the Development Squad with a proportion of U18’s and trialists.
Josh Bailey and Ben Morgan resumed their partnership in the heart of the defence, while U18’s Zain Walker was also included the line-up.
Rovers enjoyed the perfect start to proceedings – as a mix up inside the Bath City penalty area led to the trialist striker rounding Ryan Clarke and slotting home into an empty net to put Rovers ahead early on.
The advantage in the game was short-lived, as just minutes later Rovers were punished as the referee deemed that a cross from the right struck the arm of Connor Jones and was quick to award the penalty. Former Rovers player Sean Rigg was tasked with taking the spot-kick and held his nerve to glance the ball into the bottom corner to bring Bath back level.
The encounter had an energetic feel, with both sides looking to force attempts on the break. There was an anxious moment for Rovers as the twenty-minute mark passed, as a close-range attempt from Ross Stearn was held up on the goalline by a series of last-ditch clearances.
The Romans did take the lead midway through the first half. A driven effort from Ross Stearn was pushed away by Rovers’ trialist ‘keeper, but the rebound fell favorably for Andy Watkins, who converted from ten-yards to put the home side on top.
The goal signaled a positive spell in the game for Bath City, who had to deal with the loss of Sean Rigg through injury. The setback didn’t hinder the hosts, who added to their lead as Adam Mann connected with a well-struck left-footed volley that flew into the net to give Bath a two-goal cushion heading into the break.
Chris Hargreaves introduced Alfie Kilgour at the break, as the defender was used as a straight swap for Josh Bailey.
The first chance of the second half fell the way of Rovers. A volley from thirty-five yards out from Alfie Clarke looked set to creep under the crossbar, but a touch from ‘keeper Ryan Clarke proved to be just enough to tip the ball over the frame of the goal.
Bath City added again to the lead as the hour mark approached. A corner from the right was flighted into a threatening location – as Robbie Cundy got a run on his man to power home a header.
Rovers still looked to ask questions of the Bath City defence and were awarded a penalty when a trialist was tripped inside the penalty area. The same player took the spot-kick, but Bath ‘keeper Ryan Clarke guessed the right way from the spot and palmed the penalty away from danger to preserve Bath’s advantage.
Clarke was again called upon from the spot as the game entered the final quarter. This time the ‘keeper only had himself to blame, as Cameron Ebbutt was bundled down by the shot-stopper. Clarke redeemed his error by producing another save, diving in the same direction to reproduce a copy of his earlier save.
As the clock ticked down Bath City added two late goals, with John Mills converting home from close-range, before Adam Mann found the net with a curling effort that honed into the far-corner from the edge of the Rovers area.
Inside the final minutes, Sam Heal was introduced, as the member of the U16’s squad made his first appearance for the Development Squad, replacing Alfie Clarke.
Rovers: Trialist GK, Trialist, A.Clarke (81′ Sam Heal), Jones, Bailey (45′ Kilgour), Morgan, Walker (U18’s) (67′ Ebbutt), Leigh-Gilchrist, Trialist, Allen (45 Trialist), Trialist.