Southern Premier League

Bath City

Tweddle (35), (78), Hawkins (55)

Hednesford Town

Teesdale (59), McSweeney (68), Bell (81), Charie (84)

(1) 3

(0) 4



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Leon McSweeney



Rugby Town (A) 18.9.04

An utterly absurd second half saw the Pitmen somehow come out of today's all-action clash at Bath City with all three points, despite being reduced to ten men and being 3-2 down with only nine minutes of the game remaining amidst monsoon-like conditions in Somerset

Despite seeing their five-game unbeaten run ended by struggling Banbury United in midweek, player/manager Chris Brindley elected to keep faith in the XI that had started the past two games as they looked to return to winning ways at Twerton Park

Bath - sitting just above the Pitmen in eighth position at the start of play - were playing their second home game in five days after drawing 1-1 against local rivals Gloucester City on Tuesday night. Player/manager Gary Owers made three enforced changes to his side from the one that had started in midweek as Stuart Fraser, Owers himself and John Williams were ruled out due to injury and replaced by Chris Giannangelo, Bobby Ford and Steve Tweddle respectively

The Pitmen started the game well and should have taken the lead inside the first five minutes as Matt Turner made a darting run down the right-wing and crossed low into the near post, where Leon McSweeney turned the ball goalward with a left-footed effort that that blocked by the legs of Bath debutant goalkeeper Giannangelo

Two minutes later, Chris Gray picked up a Lee Williams pass and unleashed a rising shot from twenty yards out that Giannangelo blocked with a two-handed save

The in-form Andy Bell kept the young stopper busy in the tenth minute as he latched onto Turner's through ball and sidefooted the ball goalwards, only for Giannangelo to make another save low down to his right

The hosts finally got their first shot in on goal in the fourteenth minute as Graeme Power's incisive through ball caught the Hednesford rearguard out and found striker Reiner Moor, whose subsequent shot from fifteen yards out was weak and was easily field by Ryan Young

Bath defender Matt Coupe was perhaps fortunate to only receive a yellow card from referee Mr Mackreth in the eighteenth minute as a late lunge on Bell halted the striker's progress twenty-five yards from goal. With many in the ground expecting a red card for Coupe being the last man, the referee only booked the player and gave him a stern warning about his conduct for the remainder of the match

Williams took the free-kick for the visitors and curled it over the four-man Bath wall but saw his effort dip well wide of Giannangelo's right-hand post and into the Hednesford fans gathered behind the goal

The Pitmen were playing some neat, incisive football, particularly through midfield where Williams and Maguire were seeing plenty of the ball. McSweeney was giving Coupe and Mike Trought plenty to think about with his movement and drove a low shot just wide of goal on twenty-three minutes as he got the better of both players just outside the penalty area

Bath forward Darren Hawkins managed to create a pocket of space for himself four minutes later as he took the ball past Richard Teesdale but found Barrow in the way of his low shot as the centre-back deflected his shot behind for a Bath corner kick

On the half-hour mark, Teesdale's flick header at the near post from a Williams corner was punched away by Giannangelo and into the path of Gray, who badly sliced his follow-up and shanked it over the crossbar from fifteen yards out

Despite the Pitmen having much the better of proceedings so far, it was the hosts who took the lead against the run of play in the thirty-fifth minute; a deep corner kick from Ford was headed back across goal by Steve Jones and into the path of the incoming Tweddle, who had the simple task of heading into the empty net from four yards out

This was Jones’ last serious involvement in the game as four minutes later he received a head wound following an accidental clash with Turner. His departure saw Sam Bailey replace him in midfield

Hawkins had a great opportunity to double the home side's advantage on forty-two minutes as he screwed his right-footed effort wide of goal from a tight angle after beating Craig Dean to a slide-rule pass from Ford

A minute before the break, the game seemed to turn in favour of the hosts as Turner took exception to a decision going against him and vented his anger at the assistant on the main stand side. The assistant called Mr Mackreth over and informed him of Turner's actions, resulting in a straight red card for the midfielder for foul and abusive language

The game had started in bright, sunny conditions but were replaced by leaden skies at the half-time break as the clouds rolled in and showers started to fall on the Twerton Park pitch, getting gradually heavier as the second half started. The Pitmen regrouped and made a tactical switch at the break that saw Gray play in a more central role to cover for Turner's dismissal

The home side looked to put the game beyond the ten men of Hednesford early in the second half as Ford's free-kick into the box on fifty minutes was flicked on by Triought and into the path of Tweddle, only for the striker to narrowly miss out on a tap-in as he stretched to reach the ball at the far post

Five minutes later, the hosts were handed a great opportunity to double their lead as they were awarded a slightly contentious penalty kick; Teesdale and Jimmy Benefield clashed as they chased down a Ford through ball, resulting in Benefield taking a tumble in the penalty area. The challenge looked innocuous at best with very little contact between the two players, but Mr Mackreth immediately pointed to the spot without bothering to consult with his assistant. The decision was greeted with disbelief across both sets of players and supporters, with the match official waving away vociferous challenges from the Hednesford players. Hawkins took the resultant kick and placed it at a comfortable height for Young to make a fine save. However, the ball ran kindly for Hawkins once more and he tapped home the rebound

You doubted that the Pitmen had the ability to get themselves back into the game, now two goals down and also a man down with just over half an hour left of play. However, they showed tremendous character to get back into the game as the conditions took a turn for the worse with a deluge of rain dumped on the Twerton Park pitch in the next ten minutes

On fifty-nine minutes, the visitors gave themselves a lifeline as they pulled a goal back; Williams sent over another fine corner kick that was met by Teesdale, who headed firmly past Giannangelo from six yards out to reduce the deficit

Bath should have put the game to bed with good opportunities to stretch their lead once more in the next ten minutes. Trought headed wide of goal from Coupe's cross on sixty-two minutes, followed two minutes later by Tweddle drilling a shot well wide of goal after being played in by strike partner Moor

Moor was also wasteful on sixty-seven minutes as he managed to twist his way past Barrow but got his laces underneath the ball and lifted it over the crossbar from twelve yards out

Two minutes later, McSweeney brought the Pitmen level once more as his well-struck free-kick took a nick off the Bath wall and wrong-footed Giannangelo in the process, sending the ball into the net to equalise

The game was flowing from end to end at this point in the game with both sides having chances to take the lead; Tweddle saw his shot palmed away by Young at his near post on seventy-two minutes, followed by Barrow's off-target effort two minutes later that had fallen at his feet from Gray's deep cross

Three minutes later, Jim Rollo's run to the byeline saw him clip the ball into the six-yard box, where Young made a hash of the clearance as he weakly punched the ball away and into the path of Hawkins. The striker wanted too much time to compose himself and allowed Ross Adams to clear the danger

The hosts got their noses in front once more with twelve minutes remaining with a superb goal from Tweddle, picking the loose ball up twenty-five yards out and spotting Young off his line before lobbing the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net with a fine opportunistic strike

The Pitmen made a bold double attacking change a minute later as Damien Charie replaced Maguire and Grant Beckett came on in place of Gray, reverting to a 4-2-4 formation in the process

This move paid immediate dividends as they pulled themselves level once more on eighty-one minutes as Bell added to his goal tally to make it 3-3, breaking clear down the left flank and cutting inside of Rollo's challenge before firing in a shot that was parried by Giannangelo at his near post. The ball spun away from the goalkeeper and carried into the net despite Power's efforts to keep the ball out

Unbelievably, the Pitmen then turned the game on its head three minutes later with what was to turn out to be the winning goal; another fine delivery from Williams saw the midfielder deliver a delightful free-kick into the penalty area and onto the head of the slight figure of Charie, who headed beyond the reach of Giannangelo to make it 4-3

Bath pushed the Pitmen backwards in the final minutes and forced a succession of corner kicks looking to grab an equaliser. Trought headed wide of the near post on eighty-seven minutes before Rollo drove a quickly-taken Ford corner just wide of goal two minutes later

In added time, City should have levelled matters as Ford's brilliant cross from the right flank was met by Benefield, who arrived late at the far post but headed agonisingly wide of the far post

It had been a superb advert for the Southern Premier League, with both sides playing their part in a thoroughly entertaining and high-scoring encounter. The Pitmen had shown tremendous resilience and character in the second half to come back into contention when many other sides would have folded. A return to winning ways moves them up to seventh place in the table, above today's opponents in the process. Brindley's men take a break from league duty next weekend when they make the short journey to Rugby Town in the first qualifying round of this season's F.A. Cup

Bath City: Giannangelo, Rollo, Power (Hulbert 85), Coupe , Trought, Ford ©, Benefield, Jones (Bailey 39), Tweddle, Moor, Hawkins      Subs Unused: Evans, Monelle, Klukowski

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Dean, Barrow ©, Teesdale, Williams, Maguire (Charie 79), Turner(44), Bell, McSweeney, Gray (Beckett 79)    Subs Unused: Branch, Brindley, Evans

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