Posted by sean on January 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm in Bath City with No Comments

Bath City 3-2 Newport County
Conference National
Tuesday 3rd January 2012 – 19:45

Bath City entered the New Year in fine form. Despite still bottom of the league, things were looking good – unbeaten during the whole of 2012. The only problem being, they hadn’t played a game of football during 2012. In fact, the last game was against Kettering Town in mid-December. Trips to Chippenham Town and Odd Down gave me the football fix I craved up until now.

The visit of local rivals, Newport County, who are having almost an equally poor season, brought fresh optimism to Twerton Park. Kind of. “If we lose this, we’re down” announced one supporter, while his ever-optimistic friend offered his prediction “We’ll get stuffed”.

Like most of the country, Bath had experienced awful weather in the run up to the game. Luckily, neither Twerton Park or The Severn Bridge had been washed away by the storms, so the game was able to go ahead. The pitch was actually in excellent condition, mainly owing to the fact no football had been played on it for an entire month.

A couple of reserve Newport players warmed up by hoofing the ball to one another in a manner which would make Nathan Rudge proud. One particularly strong hoof saw a large chunk of turf go flying with the ball. Thankfully the County player retrieved the section of the pitch and replaced it. Despite coming from The Nathan Rudge Football School for Donkeys, he makes a good grounds man.

While the pitch repairs were being carried out, Planet Funk’s Chase the Sun was played across the stadium. If you closed your eyes, it was if you were at Alexandra Palace, waiting to see two 30-stone men throw things at a wall, all in the name of sport. The song didn’t have quite the same feel as when it is played on the telly, with thousands of intoxicated darts fans singing along.

Bladud the Pig performed his usual pre-match routine – dancing around the pitch, scoring penalties into open goals and doing an Ali G ‘respect’ fist to bemused supporters. One supporter, clearly not feeling the love for the porktastic mascot, refused to fist the pig back. To be honest, I wouldn’t have fisted the pig either (sorry, that sounded wrong); if it was that blue bird from Chippenham Town, however…

Is it cos I iz pink?

Bath City started the game well, testing the Newport goalkeeper and its leaky defence. Unfortunately, City’s defence is also comparable with a rusty colander, which is why they’re bottom of the league.

It wasn’t long before the deadlock was broken. A cross flying into the Bath City box, which goalkeeper, Jason Matthews, misjudged, allowing on-loan Nat Jarvis to tap in probably the easiest goal he will ever score. Poor Jase. Everyone makes mistakes. You’re still a non-league legend. The 400+ travelling Newport fans (very impressive away support) went wild.

City responded well to the goal, with Scott Murray running up and down the wings, causing problems for the Newport defence. He has recently stopped moaning on Twitter about not playing, mainly as he is now starting games – a good thing too, as he’s scoring goals. His Twitter rants haven’t stopped completely though. Only the other week, he Tweeted how his car had broken down outside Bitton’s football ground. The funny thing being, we drove past him and his conked-out Audi, only realising it was him later that day after checking the social-networking site.

Back to the match. Despite creating chances, we weren’t finding the net. I was feeling unlucky, especially when Sean Canham’s effort hit the post. Typical. Newport put in a cross, which somehow finds its way into the net. We have an even better attempt on goal and hit the post. Damn you, Lady Luck.

City eventually broke Newport down. Adam Connolly, now a household name after scoring live on ESPN, slammed home Marley Watkins’ pass. 1-1. The home fans go nuts.

The celebrations of the players were minimal. A draw was clearly not good enough. 3 points were essential. Cue the ever-dependable Lewis Hogg and his magic boots, letting a pass to tear through the weak Newport defence and allowing Sean Canham, back on loan, the chance to score a second goal for City. Lady Luck, I love you. Lots of man-love for Hoggy and Canham too.

Half time came with the score line at 2-1. There was an announcement that the toilets at one end of the ground had become blocked and would therefore be closed. It would appear the majority of the 400-travelling Newport fans took the song “Always shit on the English side of the bridge” quite literally.

Behind me stood a group of Bristol Rovers fans, clearly out celebrating the fact their club’s manager, Paul Buckle, had lost his job that afternoon. They speculated who should replace them. A number of names were mentioned, including Lawrie Sanchez and Sven.  They could be accused of being optimistic, until one of them predicted Emile Heskey would score a hat trick against them at the weekend. They also complained about the recent decision by the BBC to axe the popular Football League Show at the end of the season. I didn’t have the heart (or rather, courage) to tell them as the show doesn’t cover non-league, Rovers probably wouldn’t be featured on it next season anyway.

The second half began well. Very well. Very, very well. Fucking fantastic in fact. Scott Murray, the Twitter-addict, scoring past the hapless Newport keeper. “@scotty_murray 3-1 Bath City! #getinthere #dodgykeeper Plz RT”

Bath City 3-1 up! We’re going to win! We’re going to stay up! Everything’s going to be OK! I was getting excited.

Come and play us every week

Then Newport scored. Out of nothing. I feel sad to report that Matthews was at fault again. Maybe he wasn’t the wonder-keeper I once thought.

My excitement had turned to worry. I would spend the remainder of the game, which seemed like hours, pacing the terrace, waiting to hear the cheer of 400 Welshmen, confirming we had messed it up.

There were two more cheers that evening. One in sarcasm from the home fans, when Matthews caught the ball, following a Newport cross. The second at fulltime, when the referee blew his whistle to end the game. Bath City had won 3-2. Everyone was happy. The Wurzels were playing. We can now dream and Tweet about staying up, until at least Saturday when we play Braintree.

Former City midfielder, Adie Harris in the clubhouse. How I would love him to return.

Highlights of the game are available here.

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