Report - Bath City 1 - 3 Wealdstone
Updated: May 2, 2019
Wealdstone produced a spectacular and assured away performance against Bath City at Twerton Park yesterday evening; defeating the Romans in compelling fashion, as they propelled themselves into the National South League play-off semi-final.
Jake Sheppard provided the Stones with a half-time lead before Jeffrey Monakana doubled Wealdstone's advantage in the second half, Adam Mann made the game interesting by scoring 10 minutes from time but David Pratt assured Wealdstone's place in the semi-finals in the 95th minute.
The Stones started the match in a lively and urgent manner, pressing high, and enjoying the majority of possession in the early exchanges. However, Bath City’s first chance came in the sixth minute, as James Morton volleyed from distance, but his effort was always rising over the cross bar.
A minute later, Wealdstone registered their first shot on target; a free-kick from Jonathan North found Daniel Green, who headed down to Stefan Brown, but his effort was comfortably claimed by keeper Ryan Clarke. The Stones continued to stay compact, pressurising well in midfield, as Godfrey Poku, Sheppard, and Christian Smith tirelessly closed down play.
In the 11th minute, Wealdstone were duly rewarded for their efforts, assuming the lead through a stunning strike. The in-form Sheppard found himself in space on the edge of the box and rifled a left foot strike low into the bottom right hand corner past Clarke; providing the Stones a justified early advantage.
The Romans responded well, as they pushed to seek a quick equaliser, with Ross Stearn generating a fantastic point-blank save from North in the 19th minute. A minute later, a whipped in corner from Bath City found defender Robbie Cundy, but his header was brilliantly blocked on the goal line, as the Stones produced some superb last-ditch tackles and blocks to clear the danger.
In the 21st minute, Sheppard was again involved in the action, intercepting and skipping past two Bath City challenges, to surge into the box, and smash another effort goal bound; this time blazing just over the cross bar. Five minutes later, the influential Sheppard was replaced by Simon Mensah, due to injury.
As the first half progressed, the Romans began to gather impetus, dominating possession and chances, but resolute and stalwart defending from the Stones’ back four of Rhys Tyler, Freddie Grant, Connor Stevens, and Jerome Okimo, along with midfield dynamos Poku, Smith, and Mensah, ensured that Wealdstone entered half-time with a deserved lead.
Bath City began the second half in determined fashion, with Cundy directing another headed effort goal bound in the 48th minute; but, Wealdstone’s first-class keeper was on-hand to deny the Romans once again, producing another tremendous save. Further crucial blocks by the steadfast Stevens in the 52nd and 54th minute, respectively; enabled to the Stones’ to preserve their lead.
As Wealdstone continued to look for a second goal, cohesive link up play between Tyler and Brown on the right hand side provided the stimulus for the Stones; resulted in a darting Jeffrey Monakana coolly slotting home Brown’s cross at the back post, in the 64th minute, doubling the lead.
In the 73rd minute, North came out to claim a through ball, only to be caught late on the head by striker Ryan Brunt. North was stretchered off, with referee Matthew Russell producing a straight red card to Brunt, reducing the Romans to ten men. Making his debut, Dylan Paterson replaced the injured North in goal for Wealdstone.
In the 82nd minute, the Romans were handed an unexpected lifeline, as Adam Mann’s shot took a wicked deflection, looping over Paterson to reduce the deficit.
Due to the severity of North’s injury, fourth official Mark Howes indicated a minimum of nine additional minutes to be added at full time. However, in the 95th minute, substitute and top goal scorer Pratt, pressurised 'keeper Clarke, prompting a surprising error, which enabled him to seize the ball and slot into an empty net.
Absolutely colossal performances from all of the Stones ensured that they held out for an emphatic away victory. Wealdstone advance to the semi-final of the National League South play-offs and will face Woking FC at the Laithwaite Stadium on Sunday 5th May at 3pm.
North (Paterson, 78), Tyler, Grant, Stevens, Okimo, Poku, Monakana, Smith, Brown (Pratt, 67), Green, Sheppard (Mensah, 25). Subs not used: Clark; Antwi.
Report by Nicole Cho-Lee
Bobby Wilkinson's post-match interview is available HERE