Jon Underwood was philosophical in defeat after Scott Wilson’s goal on the stroke of half-time proved enough to lift Vanarama National league South high flyers past his Beaconsfield Town and into the next round of this seasons Isuzu FA Trophy at Twerton Park on Saturday.
Bath came into the game, witnessed by the largest crowd a Rams team have entertained since the reformation and switch from SYCOB to Town, in free scoring form. Netting eight goals in their previous 2 home games with just one Home defeat this season.
Underwood’s team though came with a game plan and produced a controlled, disciplined and committed performance that always had them in the game, frustrated their hosts and very nearly paid off.
The tone of the game was set from the outset. Beaconsfield set up with a rigid 5-4-1 formation and sat off their hosts, allowing them the majority of possession, defending resolutely in the final third. Limiting the chances for City whilst carrying their own threat on the break through the energy and endeavour of Zidan Akers whose strength and pace created problems for the home defence throughout.
Wilson had the best early chance with a downward which reared up on Matt Rowley who did superbly to instinctively turn it away. That was largely it for chances. The Rams system and application reducing Bath to several dangerous looking crosses all of which were well defended by Sam Togwell, Joe Morrison and Luke Neville.
Opinion prematch took the view that the game against an opponenet of this quality on their own pitch in front of a large partisan crowd would likely go one of two ways. Either The Rams would perform up a level and produce a tight affair, or the class of Bath would tell. The choice would likely rest on The Rams ability to nor=t concede early. With memories of Poole Town fairly fresh their was a certain amount of nervousness among The Rams faithful.They needn’t have worried. Having avoided the early Concession it was the Rams, in the person of Joe Morrison who came closest to taking the lead. After 26 minutes Asher Yearwood’s ball to the far post was met by Akers who headed it back the way it had come, arriving at Morrison six yards out in the centre of the goal. The bounce wasn’t the kindest but the defender made good contact with an acrobatic volley. Bath Keeper Will Buse made a brilliant reraction save reaching to his right and getting just enough to turn it away for a corner. Yearwood then saw a shot from just outside the box dip narrowly over with Buse stretching to cover the late dip on the midfielders effort.
Football is often noted to be a cruel mistress but even by her usual standards it was harsh on The Rams to concede within seconds of a break they thoroughly deserved to reach on level terms.
A low cross found the lively Wilson who made what was barely a half chance into the opening goal with a sharp neat tern and snap shoy that before squeezed in at the post from eight yards out.
Half Time 1-0
In the second period Bath asserted their class and carried more threat, whilst The Rams still defended resolutely as proceedings ware on they were more and more stretched but their hosts failed to create many clear opportunities and when they did Matt Rowley was on hand to keep The Rams in the Tie but the visitors carried little threat at the other end and Buse was a virtual spectator. As Beaconsfielf risked more in attack space opened up for City on the counter, Rowley saved well from Joe Raynes.
Underwood used his attacking options from the bench for the final 20 minute push with the tie still in the balance but in truth Bath held The rams at arms length at the back defending with composure and discipline they saw out the tie and very nearly doubled the lead in the minute but the excellent Rowley turned Thomas’s low shot away for a corner.
In the end Bath were worthy and deserved winners but the Rams emerged with credit from a highly enjoyable and absorbing cup tie.
They now head home for another cup engagement as they welcome Bracknell Town to Holloways Park on Tuesday night for this season Berks and Bucks league cup opener.