Bath City slip to defeat at Havant & Waterlooville despite Noah Keats' early goal
MATCH REPORT: Havant & Waterlooville 2 (Palmer 56, Harris 71) Bath City 1 (Keats 9)
Bath City suffered their second away defeat in four days as improving hosts Havant & Waterlooville battled back to deservedly take the points at Westleigh Park.
With midfielder Chris Allen unwell City head coach Lee Howells handed a first start to former Newport County and Luton Town man Ryan Charles, who signed non-contract forms with the club before the game.
And the visitors made the perfect start as they broke forward from a Havant corner to take the lead on nine minutes.
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A long clearance downfield found Elliot Chamberlain, who, after twisting and turning down the right, sent a ball to the far post. Noah Keats arrived late into the box the midfielder steadied himself before carefully placing his shot across keeper Clark Masters and into the net.
From then on the home side pressed, although Jason Mellor in the City goal was mainly confined to taking down crosses from the excellent Chris Arthur. Havant’s best chance of the half came just after the 30-minute mark when Christian Nanetti’s shot from around 25 yards flashed just wide of Mellor’s upright.
But if ever the old adage of a game of two halves was true then it could readily be applied to this match.
Playing up the slope, Havant’s possession began to tell and the runs of Sahr Kabba that City had been able to control in the first half started to take effect.
Eleven minutes after the restart a good run by Kabba down the left led to his cross being flicked wide for an unmarked Ollie Palmer. With Mark Preece stranded, Palmer easily shot across Mellor to bring the scores level.
The home side could have gone in front when Arthur whipped the ball in from the right and Palmer was only inches from heading home at the far post.
Then, with just under 20 minutes to go, Havant got their reward. Another good right-wing cross by Arthur saw the ball flicked on by Eddie Hutchinson and Ed Harris fired home what proved to be the winner from close range.
Havant then had further opportunities to extend their lead and a flowing cross-field move involving Kabba, Arthur and Nanetti ended with the latter’s shot being cleared off the line for a corner by Dan Ball.
City had little to offer in reply and introducing Marc Canham, Josh Low and Kerry Morgan for Griffin, Jones and Chamberlain never looked likely to have much impact on the final result.
Having slipped to 15th in the table, now travel to second-from-bottom Hornchurch on Saturday knowing that a win is essential if they are not to get sucked back into a relegation fight.
HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE: Masters, Newton, Grant, Hutchinson (Ramsey 72), Harris, Strugnell, Nanetti (Bossman 82), Ryan, Palmer, Kabba (Ighoriae 82), Arthur. Subs not used: Woodford, Hinshelwood.
BATH CITY: Mellor, Simpson, Brown, Preece, Ball, Keats, Jones (Low 73), Connolly, Griffin (Canham 65), Chamberlain (Morgan 82), Charles. Subs not used: Lennox, Norris.
Referee: Adrian Quelch (New Milton).