Bath City 0-1 Bristol RoversAttendance: 1,127
Rovers recorded a narrow victory against Bath City last night, thanks to a goal from James Clarke.
It was another good workout for Darrell Clarke’s 20 strong squad, all of whom were given a run out following a tough training session this morning
Twerton Park hasn’t changed that much since Rovers spent ten years there, between 1986-1996.
One thing that has changed, though, is the pitch which was in pristine condition and nothing like the surface Rovers had to contend with during their time in exile.
Bath City’s squad contained a few familiar faces, in goalkeeper Steve Phillips, Shaquille Hunter and George Rigg, cousin of Sean, who spent time on trial with The Gas in the summer of 2013.
Danny Greenslade, who spent time on loan with The Romans last season, was in Darrell Clarke’s squad, while Peter Hartley made his first appearance in a Rovers shirt, alongside James Clarke and Tom Lockyer at the heart of the defence.
There was an early scare for Rovers when Nick McCootie picked up on a poor clearance by Will Puddy but his hurried shot flew over the bar much to the shot stopper’s relief.
Rovers then dominated possession for the next ten minutes, though at times their final pass went astray and they but failed to trouble Steve Phillips in the Bath goal.
Rovers forced two corners in quick succession midway through the half which came to nothing before Ellis Harrison flashed a shot wide after good work by Jake Gosling down the left.
The home side had another opportunity to take the lead on 26 minutes when Lee Marshall picked up a clearance by Puddy and advanced a couple of yards before just clearing the crossbar with his shot.
Rovers suffered a blow on 33 minutes when Tom Lockyer, who was skipper for the night, left the pitch with what appeared to be a knee injury. He was replaced by Alfie Kilgour and Chris Lines took the armband.
McCootie went close to giving his side the lead two minutes later when he fired a shot straight at Puddy. The ball hit the shot stopper in the chest and rebounded to the striker who blazed his second effort over the bar.
Rovers fashioned a good opportunity five minutes before the break when Lee Brown’s cross was met by Harrison whose header was blocked by Chas Hemmings and rolled behind for a corner.
Shortly afterwards Harrison curled a shot over the bar before Ollie Clarke hit one of his long range efforts straight at Phillips.
Rovers made eight changes at the start of the second half, only James Clarke, Will Puddy and late first half substitute Alfie Kilgour remaining from the first 45 minutes.
Neither side created any openings in the first 15 minutes of the half and Jermaine Easter’s shot that flashed across the area and out for a goal kick was the only meaningful effort seen as we reached the hour mark.
A dangerous cross from Danny Greenslade almost reached Byron Moore as Rovers went in search of a goal, but Jack Batten deflected the ball behind for a corner.
The ball in from the corner, taken by the triallist, was headed past Phillips by James Clarke, who registered his second pre-season goal.
Clarke went close again on 78 minutes, when he met another corner from the right but on this occasion his header was saved by Phillips. Clarke picked up an injury whilst challenging for the ball and went off, presumably as a precautionary measure, which meant Rovers finishing the game with ten men.
Hunter fired a free kick high over the bar for the home side as the game drew to a close but ten man Rovers held out to clinch the win.
Bath City: Steve Phillips, George Rigg, Dan Ball, Jack Batten, Chas Hemmings, Manny Monthe, Lee Marshall, Frankie Artus, Stuart Fleetwood, Nick McCootie, Billy Murphy
Substitutes: Eilan Gordan, Andrew Ellington, Ben Last
Substitutes used at the start of the second half: Andy Watkins, Ronald Huth, Shaquille Hunter
Dan Bowman used on 60 minutes
Jordan Williams used on 66 minutes
Josh Hutchinson used on 69 minutes
Ben Last used on 78 minutes
Rovers: Will Puddy, Daniel Leadbitter, James Clarke, Tom Lockyer (Alfie Kilgour, 33), Peter Hartley, Lee Brown, Ollie Clarke, Chris Lines, Jake Gosling, Ellis Harrison, Billy Bodin
Substitutes, all used from the start of the second half Jermaine Easter, Danny Greenslade, Byron Moore, Tyler Lyttle, Ryan Broom, Jay Malpas, Luke James, Triallist.