Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Bath City

Rollo (19), Gosling (23) (penalty), Williams (28), Eaton (67)


Hednesford Town

Airdrie (5)

(3) 4

(1) 1




Current Form

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Michael Bingham



Tiverton Town (H) 15.2.03

The Pitmen's wretched away form in the league continued to frustrate and disappoint their supporters this afternoon, as they are blown away by a first-half master class in finishing by Bath City despite initially being gifted the lead through Stewart Airdrie


 Ian Painter stuck with the side that had demolished Welling the previous week in a rare show of consistency from the Hednesford manager, moving Graham Lancashire onto the substitute's bench in favour of Wayne Simpson


Bath's season had been a similar one to the Pitmen's so far, with only four points separating the two sides at the start of play. However, City were in fine recent form after an inconsistent 2002 and were six games unbeaten going into today's game. Manager Alan Pridham made two changes to the side that drawn at local rivals Newport County last weekend, with Gary Kemp and Drew Shore replaced by Gary Thorne and Paul Milsom as City looked to continue their unbeaten run to move into the top ten of the Dr. Martens League table


The Twerton Park pitch was heavy and slick following a long bout of rain on the pitch during the morning, with the rain continuing to falling intermittently during the game to add to the tricky conditions


And what a whirlwind start to the game it was, as the Pitmen were handed the gift of a goal in the fifth minute through an error from highly-rated Bath keeper Mark Bryant; Mike Trought rolled the ball back to Bryant, electing to do so rather than clearing his lines. Bryant took a touch that invited Airdrie to close him down before completely missing his second touch, allowing Airdrie to gleefully tap the ball into the empty net from close-range


Alas, that was as good as it got for Hednesford as their dream start very quickly descended into a nightmare. Bath upped the tempo after their early setback as Jason Eaton testing Michael Bingham in the Hednesford goal with a low shot on eight minutes, followed two minutes later by an effort from Jamie Gosling that also forced Bingham into a flying stop


A quick break down the right flank on eleven minutes from Bath saw Stuart James feed Eaton, with the forward sending over a fine cross that ex-Southampton man Frankie Bennett poked just wide of Bingham's post


However, Bath were back on level terms five minutes later as a quick break down the right flank saw Bennett drift out wide and cross well into the Hednesford penalty area. Darren Simkin's weak clearing header fell to Jim Rollo, whose first-time volley shot past Bingham on its way into the net


Bath completed the turnaround four minutes later, as a run from the ever-willing Andy Williams saw him beat Simkin down the flank before sending over a fine cross that struck the arm of Chris Brindley. Bennett made a strong appeal to the referee, with Mr Hawkes taking a moment to compose himself before pointing to the spot. Stuart Lake took exception to the decision and was booked for his protests - something that was to cost him and his team a few minutes later. Gosling stepped up to send Bingham the wrong way from twelve yards and put Bath into the lead


The Pitmen were all at sea, particularly in defence, as Bath attacked at will through the talented trio of Williams, Gosling and Eaton. Gosling struck a shot well wide of goal after Bennett had laid the ball off into his path on twenty-five minutes before a flowing move from the Romans opened the Pitmen up once more and grabbed a third goal just before the half-hour mark. Superb one-touch football from the hosts saw Eaton and Bennett link up again to play Gosling in, with his inch-perfect ball to Williams playing the striker in behind the Hednesford defence. Williams had the simple task of firing past a totally exposed Bingham, finishing off a fine move from the hosts to put the game beyond the Pitmen


The visitors were cleared frustrated at the meek conceding of goals, with simple passes going astray and players in red arguing with each other as the half progressed. It all became too much for Lake, who was shown a second yellow card on thirty-six minutes after a crude challenge on Trought gave the referee little option but to send the midfielder off


Trought's run deep into the Hednesford penalty area almost grabbed a fourth goal for the hosts on forty minutes, as he made a move untracked into the Hednesford penalty area and fired a shot across the face of Bingham's goal


Two minutes later, a header from Thorne skimmed the crossbar from a Gosling corner kick that had sailed over the heads of the retreating Hednesford defenders


Painter had seen enough from his team and made a bold double substitution at the break by bringing on Ashley Williams for the out-of-sorts Paul Ware and youngster Anthony Maguire for Kevin Francis


 The Pitmen looked a lot more organised in the early stages of the second half with the changes made, as Bath were limited to long-range efforts in the first ten minutes through Eaton and Gosling that were both wide of the target


Bingham was excelling himself inbetween the sticks for the Pitmen despite the scoreline, making another fine save on the hour mark to deny Eaton from close-range before smothering the ball low down at the feet to deny the superb Williams three minutes later after he had been played clean through on goal by Trought


The Pitmen were in damage limitation mode at this point, closing ranks and playing on the counter-attack with little effect going forwards. It was perhaps unsurprising then that it was Bath who were to strike again on sixty-seven minutes, as a brilliant run and cross from Williams forced Bingham into another fine save. The ball dropped kindly to Eaton, who managed to bundle the ball across the line from close-range despite Brindley's best efforts to keep the ball out


The ten men of Hednesford dropped deeper into their own half after conceding a fourth goal, with David Berks dropped back from his ineffective wing position to play as a more defensive player against the flying Bath attack


Bath substitute Dave Toomey - on his debut after signing from Barry Town last week - came on and impressed with a late cameo appearance for the hosts that saw him have three good chances to inflict more pain on the away side. On seventy-five minutes, his marauding run saw him skip past the hapless Simkin and try his luck with a dipping shot that Bingham turned over the crossbar


With ten minutes remaining, the tiring Airdrie was taken out of the firing line and replaced by forward Mark Jones as Painter made his final substitution of the game


 Williams continued to give the Pitmen the runaround with a fine run on eighty-five minutes that saw him find James with a low cross. With the goal gaping, James took a swing at the ball and missed it as it took a bobble off the slick turf at the crucial moment


Bingham left his best save until last, as he made an incredible stop in the final minute of the game to tip Toomey's goalbound shot away from goal when it looked certain to be nestling in the corner of the net


In added time, the Pitmen's one and only shot in anger in the second half fell to Piearce, whose rising, if a little speculative, shot was saved well by Bryant to deny the Pitmen a consolation goal


A dreadful afternoon for the Pitmen was added to at the end of the game with news of an injury to Brindley as well as suspected ligament damage for skipper Les Robinson, to leave Painter's battered troops dealing with more than just three points dropped. They now face the long trip down to the south coast next weekend to face Dover Athletic, a side sitting just outside the current clamour for the top five


Bath City: Bryant, James, Trought, Thorne ©, Milsom (Shore 78), Rollo, Gosling (Jefferies 82), Harvey, Eaton, Bennett (Toomey 70), Williams    Subs  Unused: Cleverley, Honor


Hednesford Town: Bingham, Simkin, Ryder, Robinson, Brindley ©, Lake   (36), Airdrie (Jones 80), Ware (Williams 45), Francis (Maguire 45), Piearce, Berks    Subs Unused: Lancashire, Jenkins