Bath City 2 – 1 Dover Athletic
Pratt 24’, Hemmings 29′; Sterling 69′
Kick Off: Tuesday 10 February 2015 19:45
Competition: FA Trophy Quarter-Final Replay
Bath City put Saturday’s disappointment behind them as they reached the last four of the FA Trophy after beating Dover Athletic 2-1 in a gripping replay at Twerton Park. The home side completely dominated the first half and deservedly went into half time with a two-goal advantage after headers from Dave Pratt and Chas Hemmings. Dover vastly improved after the interval though and pulled a goal back through midfielder Tyrone Stirling. A late red-card for Naby Diallo ensured a nervy finish for Bath, but their defence held strong to see out the game.
Bath settled into the game much quicker than their Conference Premier visitors, and thought they had taken the lead after just 8 minutes when Andy Watkins nodded in the loose ball after goalkeeper Mitch Walker had fumbled Frankie Artus’ free-kick. However, referee Lee Swabey had blown for a foul on the keeper to cut short City’s celebrations.
Dover started the game in disappointing fashion and their sole chance in the first 30 minutes came when Nick Deverdix headed wide from Tom Winter’s cross. Bath continued to have the better of the game and created further opportunities when Naby Diallo nearly caught out Walker with an over hit cross, before Artus and Watkins combined well only for Artus’ shot to be blocked. The home side’s goal finally came in the 24th minute though when Watkins broke away down the left hand side before crossing for strike partner Dave Pratt, whose near post header found the far bottom corner.
Bath’s second goal came just 5 minutes later, when a Chris Allen free-kick from the left-hand side was headed into the top corner by Chas Hemmings. After scoring, Hemmings’ confidence was clearly up and he had a shot blocked from 20 yards before riffling a 25-30 yard dipping free-kick off the corner of the upright.
In the final 10 minutes of the half, Dover finally started to come into the contest, with a series of long balls being pumped into the Bath box and putting the home side under pressure. The final action of the half was the closest they came to scoring when Phil Walsh’s sliced clearance flew inches over his own bar following a Deverdix cross.
The second half saw Dover starting to control the contest and show the league difference between the two clubs. However, the away side were struggling to create any clear-cut opportunities with Bath defending resolutely. Goalkeeper Jason Mellor was first called into action when Chris Kinnear headed a corner goalwards. Mellor was required again a couple of minutes later when Barry Cogan found himself free at the back-post after a Deverdix free-kick. However, with Dover struggling to break the home side down, it looked like it was going to need a Bath error to give the away side a route back into the match. That mistake came in the 69th minute when Phil Walsh slipped over, allowing substitute James Poole to get in down the right and pull the ball back for Tyrone Sterling to side-foot home.
The goal increased Dover’s belief of another two-goal comeback, as they had managed it in Saturday’s original tie with Kinnear glancing another header wide. Bath were still managing to restrict the visitors to few opportunities, but Naby Diallo received a second yellow card in the 85th minute to heighten the nerves around the stadium. The home side were nearly made to pay for their indiscipline when Poole headed inches wide after fellow sub Ricky Modeste had crossed in. This was to be Dover’s last big chance though and as the game headed into injury time, it was Bath who nearly sealed the tie when substitute Ross Stearn was put through 1 on 1 with Walker, but he was denied by the keeper’s outstretched boot.
The final whistle was greeted by a chorus of cheers as Bath now go on to face Conference North side North Ferriby United in a two-leg semi-final with the winners facing a trip to Wembley.
The home leg of the semi-final will take place on Sat 21 Feb and tickets are available from the Bath City website: http://www.bathcityfc.com/index.htm