One of the best performances of the season from Hayes & Yeading United got scant reward when Bath City scored two late penalties to earn a draw.
Promotion chasing Bath were chasing shadows for much of the evening as United ran the show, only to succumb to a cruel double blow towards the end of the match.
Manager Garry Haylock recalled Charlie Mapes, who was ineligible for the previous FA Trophy match, in place of Michael Barima. In a rather uneventful first half, it was United who dominated possession and carved out the few chances on offer. A Nevin Saroya long ball was misjudged by Matt Coupe on eleven minutes and Kieran Knight attacked the space behind him. His shot beat advancing keeper Steve Perrin but rolled inches wide of the far post.
Knight, who was a menace to the home defence throughout, was the architect of the next chance when although he was tackled, Josh Scott retrieved the loose ball and when he was tackled, Knight fired in a first time shot from 20 yards only for the ball to swerve wide.
Hayes & Yeading took a deserved lead on 36 minutes. Liam Collins picked up a half cleared corner on the right and although his low cross was cleared, Toby Little sent a high ball back into the danger area. Steve Perkins rose highest to nod the ball down and amidst a crowded scene in front of goal, Ram Marwa turned and guided the ball past Perrin into the net.
Bath were showing their frustration and both Scott and Lewis Hogg were booked for a skirmish in the middle of the pitch. Then when Charlie Mapes was penalised for dangerous kicking (and subsequently booked), again the officials had to keep a close eye on the intimidating reaction from several Bath players. From the resulting free kick, Bath had their first shot at goal, but Mark McKeevor’s effort rose too high.
Just after half time, Knight collected Will Hendry’s clever pass and hit a firm shot which Perrin saved well. A further skirmish soon afterwards saw Knight and Chris Holland both added to the referee’s notebook as once more tempers threatened to boil over.
Knight recovered his composure immediately and was just over with a long range effort from Mapes’s square pass. Minutes later he forced another fine save from Perrin with a firm drive.
The second half was already far more entertaining than the first and Bath started to stir from their slumber, Dave Gilroy heading wide from a good position after a fine run and cross from Sekani Simpson.
In the 62nd minute, United missed a glorious chance to double their advantage when Ram Marwa showed sublime skill to break free from his marker on the right. He cut inside with just Perrin to beat, but as his angle was tight he rightly squared the ball towards Scott and Knight who had the goal at their mercy. Somehow though, they left it to each other and the golden opportunity was wasted.
It wasn’t to matter too much however. Just four minutes later, United did get their second goal. Marwa was again orchestrating things from midfield, and just as it looked like he was losing possession, he prodded the ball to the left channel where Toby Little was waiting. The 18 year old winger controlled the ball before driving in a shot with his right foot which Perrin could only deflect into the far corner.
Knight was again just wide of goal with a long shot soon afterwards but Bath went in search of a foothold in the game and the introductions of Scott Partridge and Steve Jones were beginning to take effect. Partridge advanced on the right wing and although his cut back was deflected away from goal, Justyn MacKay fired in a fierce shot which Delroy Preddie brilliantly palmed away for his first save of the game.
Knight again went close with a long shot after Liam Collins’s cross was half cleared by Jim Rollo, but Partridge was soon on the attack again for Bath, cutting inside from the right before firing in a low shot which Preddie pounced upon.
With eleven minutes left, Bath City began their fight back. Gilroy turned sharply in the box and attempted to take the ball past Preddie who got to the challenge a fraction too late and conceded a penalty. Hogg duly converted by sending Preddie the wrong way.
Incredibly, just two minutes later, Hogg was required to take a second penalty. This time Walsh tried to get the ball under control with his back to goal right on the edge of the area and Nevin Saroya lunged in with a rather reckless challenge. Hogg went the opposite way with his second spot kick but again sent Preddie in the wrong direction.
United went in search of a late deserved winner, but despite a succession of corners, couldn't carve out a notable chance and had to be content with the knowledge that the home side greeted the final whistle with much relief at gaining a draw having been outplayed by Hayes & Yeading United.
Report by Nick Bell. Photos by Ray Peploe.