With each team finding the net within minutes of the whistle to start each half, a draw was probably a fair result in this top of the table clash at Church Road.
The visitors from Team Bath were quickest to attack at the start of the first half and after just three minutes Dean Smith found Matt Cooper on the edge of the United area but his shot was just wide of the post. Three minutes later United took the lead, seemingly in controversial circumstances. Team Bath keeper Darren Chitty came out of his area to intercept a throughball but had to wait until the ball entered the area, it seemed he had dived back onto the ball in the area only to be flagged for handball outside. Josh Scott stepped up and placed his free-kick into the bottom left hand corner, the keepers strong side (pictured left).
The obligatory lull in proceedings saw very little goalmouth action until the 22nd minute when a Will Hendry throughball caught the Team Bath defence napping and Kieran Knight tried to lob Chitty but he was quick enough to back peddle and catch the ball. The visitors then had a good spell of possession, Marc Canham fired the ball across the pitch to Takumi Ake who turned Danny Allen-Page only to be denied by Aaron Howe in the United goal who pushed his shot around the post.
Canham then had a side footed effort from the edge of the area deflected wide by a Steven Gregory challenge and in stoppage time Ake centred to Smith but once more Howe was equal to his drive from 25 yards touching it around the post. In between these chances United came close themselves when Chitty came from his area to head clear, the ball fell to Gregory 40 yards out but his lofted effort just cleared the crossbar.
Team Bath started the second half at great pace and within four minutes could have found the United net on no fewer than four occasions, the last chance actually hitting the back of Howe's net for a deserved equaliser. Just 21 seconds had been played when a Matt Lock cross was met on the volley by Ake at the far post but Howe pushed the effort away to safety. Next to try his luck, twice, was Cooper. Howe pushed away his first shot and seconds later from an almost identical position Howe was beaten but the ball went inches wide of the far post. The breakthrough for the visitors finally arrived on 49 minutes, Howe punched clear a corner, Ake volleyed back into the mix and after a scramble in the six yard box Shaun Benison poked the ball past Howe from close range.
Three quarters of the game had passed before another chance was forthcoming, Greg Lake played a neat ball into the area where Benison held of Cadmore only for Howe to reach up a strong hand and keep out his close range effort, the ball rebounded to Benison but his second effort was across the face of goal and away for a throw-in. Minutes later United took a quick free-kick on the right hand side, James Mulley received the ball and set up Scott but his shot was too high to trouble Chitty.
The final four minutes saw both sides create a single chance that may have brought victory. The visitors were first when Mike Perrott's right wing cross was met by Cooper under extreme pressure from Danny Allen-Page who did enough to force the striker to head over. For United Hendry sent Mulley on a forward raid, he in turn played the ball to substitute Ram Marwa who was to miss the goal by inches with a curling shot from 20 yards.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.
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