After a strong pre-season and bolstered by an exciting new crop of freshers, it was with high expectations that the University of Bath’s Men’s Football second XI met to discuss their season objectives. The message from the coach (Tom King) and club chairman (Jack Stanbury) was clear; after back to back relegations it was absolutely essential that the team achieved promotion.
The season began with a trip to Cardiff to play against their medic first team and any preconceptions about playing in what was thought to be an easy league were soon dismissed as within the first 15 minutes the opposition were busy and well drilled, with Bath struggling to break them down. Thankfully, despite the lashing rain and boggy pitch the boys were able to show their class and after a barnstorming run for the opener from centre forward Steve Sides the team ended up 4-0 winners.
Over the following weeks the team turned in strong performances against USW and Gloucester, meaning that as they journeyed to play UWE 2s, they had scored 13 goals without reply in 3 games. What should have been an easy win in light of recent results turned out to be a difficult fixture with the strong current from a nearby wind turbine causing the Bath defenders all sorts of problems under the home side’s long ball tactics. However, strong performances from the Duke (Johann Kirsten) and Hayden Rogers allowed the team to grind out an uncomfortable 1-0 win.
As the last Wednesday before Christmas approached the Bath goal remained unbreached in the league and the boys welcomed the return leg of their contest against Cardiff Medics. A change in goal saw Jack Penn come in for the unavailable Rogers and this was to prove costly as Cardiff nodded in a free kick early in the second half to see Bath fall behind for the first time this season. The boys rallied amongst some strong play from the Welsh Wizard Jake Cross, but it was Luke Wilson who would poke in the equaliser in the 80th minute. A frantic last ten saw Bath go close but fail to win all 3 points. The medics would later tweet that they are not only good footballers but also save lives for a living – we wish them all the best in their careers.
After a long Christmas break Bath returned to action with another away trip to Wales knowing that two more wins would secure the title. The task in front of them was a strong USW outfit whose first team had just won the Southern Prem Title. The game turned out to be Bath’s strongest of the year with Ben Sawney scoring 6 goals in what was a 7-0 romp. The game also saw the return to action of a new streamlined Alex Zubaidi, though sadly there appeared to be little improvement in the fitness levels of the ex-Chelsea legend.
The following round of fixtures saw a title decider between first placed Bath and their closest rivals Gloucester. Lifted by the promise of a packed balcony of fans, family and potential suitors the boys were suitably buoyant in the pre match huddle. Coach Tom King wasn’t afraid to mention how often he had tweeted about it and there were rumours of more than one retweet. Despite the large support the game turned out to be a relatively dull 2-0 win for the home side. In a game of little quality, two long balls from Joseph Priestley finished by Jake Cross and Ben Sawney, were enough to see Bath secure promotion.
It has been a wonderful season so far but no less than the boys expected. Currently the record stands as: Pl 8 W 7 D 1 L 0, with 27 goals scored and just one conceded, with two games against the bottom two sides to go. The team also look forward to a semi-final against Hartpury in the Regional Cup this Wednesday (5th March) after an impressive 3-1 quarter final win against a Cardiff Met side from the league above.
Photo credit: Michael Powell