Extra time heartbreak denied Gloucester City a mouthwatering FA Trophy first round tie away at Bristol Rovers.\r\n\r\nRoss Stearn’s brace for Bath City killed the tie after 180 minutes couldn’t separate the two West Country rivals and booked the Romans a trip to face their former tenants at the Memorial Stadium.\r\n\r\nA soft finish from Andy Watkins had seen Bath steal a march before a howler by goalkeeper Jason Mellor allowed Matt Groves to equalise.\r\n\r\nA stalemate ensued before a cruelly deflected Stearn effort nestled into the far corner, before his thunderbolt sent the home side into the first round.\r\n\r\nWith such a lucrative carrot dangling, Tim Harris’ men began stronger as debutant Chris Knowles peppered the Bath goal from distance.\r\n\r\nHarry White and Groves both tested Mellor with shots from either side, player-coach Marc Richards flicked a header wide and Tom Webb half-volleyed into the arms of the Bath stopper as the Tigers couldn’t convert their dominance into a goal.\r\n\r\nAs is so often the case, all that possession meant nothing as against the run of play Watkins slotted a soft goal from just outside the area to take the Romans into the lead.\r\n\r\nThe goal spurred the Conference South side who looked a completely different team, Ashley Kington testing with a drilled effort and former Cheltenham Town man Frankie Artus blasting over with the goal gaping.\r\n\r\nLuck seemed to be smiling down on Gloucester just before the half-time break as a tamely hit effort from Groves trickled through the legs of Mellor for a fortuitous equaliser.\r\n\r\nWith such a prize at stake, the second half lacked the fizz of the first, with only a scruffy Artus chance highlighting a 20 minute lull in action.\r\n\r\nBecoming scrappy, Groves spearheaded a quick breakaway that ended in White being crowded out and both central defenders captain Jack Harris and Matt Williams trying their luck from afar.\r\n\r\nPat Keary came close with a header, three late chances fell the Tigers’ Bristol Rovers loanee Jamie Lucas way and a brilliant free-kick by Harry White was stopped by Mellor as the game petered out into extra time.\r\n\r\nIf luck was on Gloucester’s side for their equaliser, that luck ran out emphatically in the 94th minute.\r\n\r\nAn angled drive by Stearn deflected and looped for what seemed an eternity and nestled inches inside Jasbir Singh’s back post.\r\n\r\nThere was nothing lucky about Bath’s third as the substitute fired a fierce strike into the top corner, and sealed a big money date against the Vanarama Conference big boys and leaving Gloucester City to dwell on what could’ve been.\r\n\r\nBath City:  J. Mellor, S. Simpson, D. Ball, P. Keary, P. Walsh (A. Gallinagh 105), C. Allen, A. Watkins, A. Kington, D. Pratt (B. Adelsbury 116), F. Artus, D. Bowman (R. Stearn 58)\r\n\r\nSubs not used: N. McCootie, L. Perry\r\n\r\nGoals: Watkins 19, Stearn 94, 108\r\n\r\nGloucester City: J. Singh, M. Green, L. Hall, J. Harris, M. Williams, C. Knowles (G. Miller 105), M. Richards, T. Webb, H. White (C. Griffin 100), N. Modest (J. Lucas 46), M. Groves\r\n\r\nSubs not used: S. Avery, A. Connolly\r\n\r\nGoals: Groves 45+1\r\n\r\nAttendance: 291

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.