Keynsham Town 0 Bath City 1
There wasn't a space in sight when I arrived at the car park for this Somerset Cup second round clash. This was my first experience of a County cup game and I was surprised by the bumper attendance. I wrongly assumed National League South Bath would field a much weakened team against Western League Div 1 (10th tier) opposition Keynsham. As it turned out both teams fielded pretty much full strength sides and the attendance was way up on Keynsham's average, boosted by plenty of Bath fans who'd made the short journey up the A4.
This was my first visit to Crown Field though I have viewed it from the main road and train line between Bristol and Bath countless times. It's quite impressive for a Western League ground and in the last couple of years a make over has seen a smart 3G artificial pitch installed. The main feature of the ground is the white painted main stand on one side of the pitch which has a nice mix of terracing and seating with changing rooms and club house at it's rear. There's not much else in the way of stands though behind one goal the narrow terrace is raised 5 foot above the pitch affording a good viewing position. A Rugby club is on the other side of the pitch and there are some smart looking training pitches behind the other goal. Keynsham have been main stays of the Western League since the 70's and it is slightly surprising to find out they haven't ventured further up the pyramid in their recent history given the relative opulence of their home.
Despite the four divisions between the two clubs, the home team gave a good account of themselves in the first half and had a couple of chances, including a header from a long free kick which the Reading loanee in goal saved well. The away team, as expected, were moving the ball about nicely and created the majority of the chances. Shortly after he was booked for descent, Bath's number 11 Compton hit a post from a free kick and was subbed off with what looked alike a hamstring injury shortly after.
The home team competed well and it was 0-0 at the break. Having done a lap of the ground in the first half I settled behind the goal that Bath would be attacking in the second - up on the raised terrace.
The away team began to dominate more after the restart and Keynsham were having to defend resolutely were managing to survive goal mouth scramble after goal mouth scramble. By this time ex Bristol Rovers forward Jamie Lucas had been bought on up front to try and secure the breakthrough for the Romans and avoid a penalty shoot out.
I got chatting to a Bath fan called Geoffrey and a couple of his mates who proved good company. On balance Geoffrey probably just about falls in to the 'happy drunk' category and in his fuggy haze seemed to take comfort in moaning and quipping about how poor his team were and how they were struggling to overcome western league opposition.
With about 20 minutes to go, Bath eventually took the lead with a near post finish from a corner. This seemed to knock the stuffing out of Geoffrey somewhat and he was noticeably quieter, seeming slightly ill at ease with his team winning. This gave me the opportunity to notice a few more of the mostly Bath fans behind the goal. A few young youths were on the beers and involved in a halfhearted attempt at being twats to the Keynsham keeper. To their credit, I suppose, they couldn't quite pull it off. The home team continued to defend well, limiting the amount of clear cut chances for the away team and occasionally looking to break with intent themselves.
With a few minutes to go Bath resorted to taking the ball to the corners and time wasting, showing respect to the opposition and how seriously they were taking the tie. This show of nerves evidently reassured Geoffrey and he rallied, returning to his chatty self. He pointed out that he was surprised to see right back Welch- Hayes playing. He's been on loan at Oxford City and played the full 90 minutes in their impressive in FA cup win at League 2 Colchester. Presumably he'd been recalled and here he was just 3 days later playing in the second round of the county cup. Fair play to him.
1-0 at the final whistle. The first time I've been really cold at a game this season, a very enjoyable outing none the less and I look forward to seeing the draw for the third round.