Beavers 3-up conquers Romans
By Richard Parsons
WELL, who would have thought it... who could have imagined, as we watched a laboured Hampton display in the first 40 minutes, that our supporters would be leaving at full-time with a spring in their step, that the players would be pumped up and that Dowse would be celebrating exactly two months unbeaten in the league!
It was not exactly vintage stuff from the Beavers as we approached half-time. We’d gone behind to a goal from the returning Marvin Morgan after 16 minutes and seen a couple of other good Bath chances blocked or go wide as we failed to match the style and spirit shown against St Albans in midweek.
There was a good deal of restlessness on the terraces – certainly around your correspondent - and someone even ventured the opinion that we’d be happy to go in just a goal behind.
Then, Malachi Napa let fly from the left and, with the ball clearly missing the goal, it hit a hapless Bath defender and deflected into the net. A spot of good fortune. We haven’t had too much of it this season, so this was gratefully received. At 1-1, we were the ones on the front foot as the referee blew for half-time.
Whatever Dowse said, we were certainly better after the break, though there was little sign of an equaliser as he started ringing the changes. First, a rare glimpse of Harry Crawford – he’s spent most of the season warming the bench – for Taurean Roberts. Then, worryingly, the need to replace Dan Sweeney, who took a heavy knock, not for the first time in the game, and could not continue. Sean McAuley replaced him in the engine room.
As the minutes ticked by, it seemed as if we were in for yet another draw in this treble chance season of ours. It clearly hadn’t entered Napa’s mind, however, as – with ten minutes left - he cut in from the left and delivered a ball to Josh Casey who might have tried to convert himself. However, in an inspired moment, he shifted the ball to Max Kretschmar, whose finish into the top of the net was spectacular.
A third change saw defender Jack Cook come on for Bradley Hudson-Odoi, whose younger brother was involved in another match of some magnitude in India at the same time! Students of Dowse and his tactics concluded we were going to shut up shop. But no! Cook the defender became Jack the target man as the Bath defenders discovered they were up against an awkward, unpredictable character. Cook might have had a penalty when he was clipped on the edge of the penalty area, but the referee was having none of it.
No fairytale ending for him, then, but the fans still had something to enjoy as the match ticked into added time. The ball broke kindly for Crawford as Bath claimed a handball and he advanced before shooting into an inviting net. Cue delirious scenes on the terrace.
So, Harry was the unlikely hero with a goal and an assist after his so-far-frustrating season. In truth, though, his colleagues can all take a bow for the way they worked to turn things round after the break. There’s nothing the supporters like more than a bit of spirit, a refusal to give it up – and we saw a good deal of that in the second half.
I should return to that Marvin Morgan goal. In four games with us, he failed to find the net and his performances divided opinion among supporters. A script-writer would surely not have dared to have him scoring against his former colleagues within 20 minutes. That sort of corny story line deserves to be thrown out, you’d imagine. But, no, it was true. He shook off Josh Casey’s challenge, with our skipper claiming a foul, and took the ball round Sam Howes before finishing from an angle. Had it been the winner, it would have been particularly galling, but it doesn’t matter too much now. Long before the end, Charlie Wassmer had got his measure and was denying him the freedom he enjoyed earlier in the game.
It was a pity that once again we were denied Brendan Kiernan’s twinkly toes, but the injury he got at Whitehawk continued to keep him out of action. Fingers crossed he can recover for next Saturday’s visit of Chippenham. Also that Sweeney’s knock is not too serious.
There was another good attendance, in excess of 500, which was boosted by a coachload of City followers. They were in the minority, however, as the Bev emptied of its largely satisfied audience.