Rovers returned to Twerton Park tonight, some 21 years after leaving what had been their temporary home for ten years.
A crowd in excess of 1,000 were treated to a fairly scrappy game, settled in the 73rd minute by a goal from Ryan Case, though although Rovers will undoubtedly rue some of the chances they squandered, particularly in the first half.
Goalkeeper Sam Slocombe did well tonight and the battle between him and Adam Smith for the number one shirt will be a fascinating one. In truth, there is competition for places all over the park and with the manager still hoping to add to his squad that will only intensify in the coming weeks.
Manager Darrell Clarke fielded a number of players aiming for a place in the starting lineup for the season’s opener, at Charlton, now only ten days away.
For very different reasons, tonight was a special one for two players in the squad. Defender Joe Partington was able to take part in his first pre-season game following a calf injury while Dominic Thomas was named in a Rovers squad 22 months to the day since his last competitive game.
Partington skippered the side this evening and linked up well with Dylan McCade in the first minute, and his ball into the trialist saw the youngster go close but his ferocious drive was saved by home keeper Oliver Davies.
The keeper was in action again moments later when he saved a close range effort from Tom Nichols.
The home side then enjoyed a spell of pressure, though they failed to trouble Sam Slocombe in the Rovers goal.
James Clarke moved up for Ryan Broom’s 11th minute corner and headed just over and Broom also fired over after good work by Marc Bola and Partington.
Rovers should have scored with 15 minutes on the clock when James Clarke was first to reach Broom’s free kick into the box, but with only Davies to beat the defender’s first touch let him down and the ball drifted harmlessly wide of the upright.
In Bath’s next attack Cameron Hargreaves was penalised for a challenge on Toby Ajala on the edge of the area and Darren Jones stepped up to take the resulting free kick. However his effort was woeful and high and wide of the target.
McGlade really should have given Rovers the lead in the 26th minute when he latched on to Rory Gaffney’s ball in from the right. As Davies rushed off his line in an attempt to clear the trialist, with the goal at his mercy, opted for power and saw his thundering drive come back into play off the crossbar.
At the other end, a cross from Anthony Straker caused Slocombe an anxious moment as the ball hit the bar and bounced behind for a goal kick.
Jonny Burn was then penalised for a foul on Nat Jarvis, but Ajala hit a tame free kick over the defensive wall and straight into the arms of Slocombe.
Former Rovers striker Jamie Lucas then went close for the home side, but his low shot was deflected behind for a corner.
Slocombe was Rovers’ saviour in the 42nd minute, though, making a fine double save. He was only able to touch a cross from the left as far as Jones but then produced an outstanding save from the experienced defender, diving full length to his left to touch the ball round the post.
Davies proved that he was just as athletic as his opposite number moments later when he did well to touch Bola’s drive round the post.
The home side made five changes at the start of the second half but it was Rovers, who remained unchanged, who were first to show and the lively McGlade saw his shot blocked.
Gaffney might have scored for Rovers on 51 minutes, but dragged a left foot shot wide of the upright and immediately afterwards the home side were denied a penalty when Bola appeared to bring down Nick McCootie. However referee Savvas Yianni angered home fans and players alike when he ruled that no infringement had taken place.
Nichols might have made more of the chance created for him by Broom, but seemed to get the ball caught under his feet and the ball was eventually cleared by the home defence.
It was the home side who broke the deadlock, on 73rd minute when Ryan Case powered a header past Slocombe from McCootie’s cross.
Rovers almost conjured up an equaliser when Broom’s close range effort was cleared as far as Gaffney, and keeper Luke Southwood did well to block his angled drive.
Bath City: Oliver Davies , Miles Welch-Hayes, Dan Ball, Darren Jones, Ryan case, George Rigg, Toby Ajala, Billy Murphy, Jamie Lucas, Nat Jarvis, Anthony Straker.
Substitutes: Marvin Morgan, Nick McCootie, Jack Batten, Will Christopher, Luke Southwood, Naby Diallo (All used)
Bristol Rovers: Sam Slocombe, Joe Partington (Rollin Menayese, 60), Marc Bola (Lewis Ellington, 74), Cameron Hargreaves, James Clarke, Jonny Burn, Dylan McGlade (Michael Kelly, 60), Connor Jones (Dominic Thomas, 60), Rory Gaffney, Tom Nichols, Ryan Broom
Substitute: Thom Jonkerman