Posted by sean on February 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm in Bath City with No Comments

Bath City 1-2 Grimsby Town
FA Trophy – Round 3
Tuesday 7th February 2012 – 19:45

This latest blog from Sean’s Stories relates to Bath City’s FA Trophy fixture against Grimsby Town. Originally scheduled to be played on Saturday 4th February, but called off due to a frozen pitch, only to be rearranged for Tuesday 7th February. The lateness of this blog is due to a frozen keyboard (and laziness).

To coincide with the fixture, the evening saw the much anticipated launch of the Bath City Rosette. Available from the club shop dog food marquee for a mere £4.00. Not since 2010, when the famous fridge magnets went on sale, has there been so much hype around an item of merchandise. I am sure most will agree, a great way to celebrate finishing 16th in the FA Tinpot Trophy.

I’ll be honest. I did not know what to expect from the game. I was one of the poor souls who made the trip to Grimsby a few weeks ago, only to see City lose 6-0.

As I watched the match from the terrace, Mike York approached. You’ll never find a supporter more pessimistic and scaremongering. Every club has at least one fan like him. Despite this, “Yorkie” is one of the most dedicated and loyal supporters the club has. It is a shame there are not more like him. The fact he has watched Bath City for over five-decades has probably caused him to adopt the “we’re all doomed” attitude. Can’t blame him.

Bath City started with Exeter City loanee, Chris Shephard. Standing at just 4 foot 6, Shephard is officially the smallest player in The Conference. “He’s a midget”, Yorkie shouted as he noticed the winger’s stature. He was right. In Bath City’s ever increasing hunt to score a goal from a corner, the thought of signing a friend of Warwick Davis, did little to make me believe a goal from such a set piece would come anytime soon.

City had started the game well and were creating many chances. Lee Phillips forcing an excellent save from the Grimsby town goalkeeper. We began brightly in our last encounter though and lost that 6-0. Mike was worried “If they score, it’ll be an avalanche!”, before making one of his now infamous predictions. An 8-0 defeat.

Bath City wouldn’t lose 8-0. Mainly thanks to the fact Chris Shephard scored a decent opening goal to send the 464 Bath City fans who had braved the cold weather into a mass of subdued celebration. Why was the joy so restrained? Maybe due to the fact it was the FA Trophy. Maybe due to the fact everyone secretly feared defeat. More likely was the fact it was freezing cold and the symptoms of hyperthermia were beginning to kick in.

Following their opening goal, Bath City created yet more chances, Grimsby shot-stopper James McKeown, possibly proving Mike York right in his assessment that he is “the best goalkeeper in the league”. City’s very own Number 1, Glyn Garner, made his bid for the much-converted ‘Yorkie Best Goalkeeeper Award’, by pulling off an excellent save himself.

Half time came. Freezing cold, but 1-0 up, one hand on the FA Trophy and the dreams of a trip to Wembley Stadium still alive. Time for a hot chocolate and doughnut.

Shortly into the second half, Grimsby won a free kick. In a desperate attempt to prevent them from scoring, Glyn Garner ran to collect the ball, only to collide with teammate Sekani Simpson. Mariner’s striker, Anthony Elding, gratefully accepted the gift of the loose ball and equalised. That was harsh to take, especially as I have previously seen Elding play for Leeds and he was rubbish. The goal excited Yorkie, who announced, almost with delight “They’ve scored”, before making his way round Twerton Park to inform everybody that Bath City would go on to lose the match 14-1.

By the time Mike had made his way around the entire football ground. Bath City had nearly taken the lead again. Paul Stonehouse, one of my new favourite players, creating a great chance which was sadly deflected. While Stonehouse’s defensive qualities are at times questionable, his presence going forward should be commended and I would like to see him used in an attacking role more often.

Even Jim Rollo nearly scored for Bath City – his header cleared off the line. Probably a good thing the attempt didn’t go in. Had Jimmer scored, it would have sparked a mass pitch invasion; such is the love for the City legend.

Both sides created further chances to win the game, with Grimsby’s goalkeeper continuing to do himself proud, pulling off a number of fine saves. “Well done goalie!” Mike York shouted from the Popular Side after one particular impressive stop. A number of fans did offer to escort Yorkie to the away end, to watch the remainder of the match with his fellow Grimsby-supporters, but he declined.

The game looked set to finish a draw. Bath City fans began to discuss the possibilities of a replay the following week. Even Yorkie had hope of a draw, especially when Liam Hearn, the hat trick hero from the 6-0 defeat and the subject of a £500,000 bid from Peterborough United last week, was substituted.

Then, as has been the case so much this season, Bath City conceded another goal to lose the game. Robert Duffy, ironically the substitute for danger-man Liam Hearn, winning the game for his side and sending the 82 hardy Grimsby Town faithful into delight and a rendition of “Wemberleee, Wemberleee…”

It was a sad way to exit the Trophy, but a very encouraging performance from Bath City, especially given the absence of four first team players (three of which still banned following referee Stephen Bratt’s mare).

In recent years, after numerous encounters, I have found that I’ve grown fond of Grimsby Town, I wish them and all their supporters well. Hopefully they will keep up their excellent form for the remainder of the season and win the FA Trophy, promotion and perhaps most important of all, The Lincolnshire Senior Cup.

As for Bath City, its back to the league and survival. At least manager Adie Britton can say he has something in common with Fabio Capello –he won’t be leading his team out at Wembley this year.

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