FA Trophy: Horsham 1, Bath City 2: Battling Hornets come up just short against National League South opposition

A battling Horsham came up just short despite pushing National League South Bath City all the way in the FA Trophy at Culver Road this afternoon.

Sunday, 25th November 2018, 5:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 5:04 pm
Horsham's Charlie Harris. Picture by John Lines

It was the Somerset outfit that edged things in the third qualifying round thanks to goals from Jack Batten and a fine individual second-half effort from Sean Riggs.

But the Hornets could be more than proud of their performance as Charlie Harris' fine free kick saw them go in level at the break after they had had the better first-half chances.

They did somewhat run out of ideas in the second half after Riggs curled home with just over 20 minutes to play and it was a play-off chasing Bath side that booked their spot in Monday's first round draw.

The Hornets made one change from the team that clinched a fantastic 4-0 victory over high-flying VCD Athletic in the Bostik League South East last Saturday as Rob Smith, who was away on holiday, was replaced in the starting XI by Will Hoare.

And it was Hoare that had the first shot after just a minute as the ball was shifted across the edge of the box, but Bath's 16-year-old reserve goalkeeper Harvey Wiles-Richards held comfortably.

Moments later, a misplaced clearance fell to Tyrell Richardson-Brown some 27 yards out, but despite there being an open goal, he miscued horribly. In an all-Horsham start, Joe Shelley was close to getting on the end of a free kick that flashed across the goalmouth.

Despite that, it was the visitors that took the lead on ten minutes with their very first effort at goal. A well-worked short corner routine was drilled into the near post where centre-back Jack Batten finished.

A brilliant Richardson-Brown run down the right then saw him skip past three players, but his cross was easily collected by the keeper. The attacker was then put through by Harris after Anthony Straker missed his clearance, but Wiles- Richards made a good diving save to his right.

The hosts were then awarded a free kick right on the edge of the box due to a pull-back from a previous set piece. Horsham argued that it was in the box, but they need not have worried. Harris stepped up to get his effort over the wall and down into the top corner via the inside of the post to level with 28 minutes played.

Brunt should have headed the visitors ahead again before half-time as he rose unchallenged to connect with Rigg's pinpoint cross, but somehow Bath's topscorer failed to hit the target.

Bath made a half-time substitute bringing Cheltenham loanee Tom Smith into central midfield for Frankie Artus and he had the first effort of the half, driving one at Josh Pelling which the goalkeeper was down to hold well on the turf.

O'Toole turned and finished after challenging with the goalkeeper on 57 minutes, but he was adjudged offside, despite the ball being headed back by a defender.

The hosts were happy to let Bath have the ball without being caused too many problems and play themselves on the counter attack with Richardson-Brown's pace. Harris drilled just wide from one such move.

A moment of individual skill, however, saw the visitors retake the lead on 67 minutes as Riggs showed good feet on the edge of the box, skipped across the area and curled beautifully into the bottom corner past a diving Pelling.

Horsham boss Dominic Di Paola made a double substitution to try and roll the dice with Dean Lovegrove and James McElligott replacing O'Toole and Metcalf, putting Brivio and Richardson-Brown up front.

But chances were few and far between with Bath continuing to have lots of the ball, although stout body-on-the-line defending from Joe Shelley and Dylan Merchant kept them at bay.

Horsham tried to press late on, but failed to carve out any real chances, while they had Pelling to thank for denying Evans from adding what would have been an unfair gloss to the scoreline.

There was one late controversial moment as Streaker handled on the edge of the box and while initialing letting play go on, he then blew with Richardson-Brown driving towards goal.

Horsham were fuming that play wasn't allowed to go on and the resulting free kick was cleared and the full-time whistle went to end their impressive Trophy adventure.

Horsham: Pelling, Metcalf (McElligott 72), Shelley, Merchant, Sparks, Hoare (Taylor 64), Brivio, Harris, Richardson-Brown, O'Toole (Lovegrove 72). Unused subs: Harding, Hyde.

Bath City: Wiles-Richards, Raynes, Cundy, Batten, Straker, Mann, Rigg, Artus (Smith 46), Morton, Stearn, Brunt (Moore 65). Unused subs: Matthews, Baghdadi.

Attendance: 328.

Referee: Sunny Gill.