Weston-super-Mare notched their first point of the Vanarama National League South campaign on bank holiday Monday against league leaders Bath City at The Woodspring Stadium, and perhaps rediscovered their identity in the process.
A vastly improved performance was granted reward when Ollie Barnes’ late header cancelled out Nick McCootie’s fortuitous opener 5 minutes prior to half time to get the Seagulls’ league campaign off the mark.
Weston swiftly established their presence in the game, maintaining possession and keeping the Romans’ attack at arm’s length, but were limited to a number of efforts from range that did little to trouble experienced City stopper, Steve Phillips.
And the Seagulls were to be punished for failing to capitalise on their ascendency, when Ashley Kington’s speculative effort on the turn was dragged across goal, knicking off McCootie, sending the ball dribbling inside the far corner with 40 minutes gone.
Home fans may have begun to bemoan ‘one of those days’ when two quality second-half sightings of goal failed to produce an equaliser.
Firstly, Scott Wilson escaped in behind the Bath back line before hitting a half-volley that was expertly palmed away by Phillips with 9 second half minutes elapsed, followed 1 minute later by a swift Seagulls’ counter-attack resulted in Jake Mawford crossing for Jacob Cane, but the former Exeter midfielder could only fire wildly over with the goal gaping.
The Seagulls continued to push for a much deserved leveller in the closing stages, and Wilson almost netted his first league goal of the campaign with 7 minutes to play, but the striker’s wicked effort from distance was superbly tipped behind by Phillips, who had a near-flawless afternoon for the visitors.
The ex-Bristol City ‘keeper wouldn’t remain unbeaten for much longer however, with Weston’s persistence rewarded when Seagulls’ skipper Dayle Grubb crossed for Ollie Barnes to steal in at the back post, with the eventual man of the match diving to head home from 3 yards to send the home fans wild.
Barnes’ goal left 5 minutes to settle encounter as Weston targeted a dramatic winner, but it was the visitors who mustered two gilt edged chances to snare the points and maintain their perfect record, both falling to David Pratt.
Pratt first headed well over from 6 yards after Kevin Nicholson’s inch perfect cross gave the energetic striker an uncontested chance to regain the lead.
This was followed by an even clearer opening deep into added time, where it appeared nearly impossible not to score, but Pratt shanked his effort horribly wide to the palpable relief of the Seagulls, maintaining parity and securing the long-awaited first point of the season.
Final Score: Weston-super-Mare AFC 1-1 Bath City – McCootie (40), Barnes (84).
Weston starting XI: Purnell, WIthey (Byrne), Barnes, Keary, Edge, Fortune, Filipov, Mawford, Wilson, Grubb (c), Cane.
Subsitutes: (Not Used) Ash, Wring, Jackson.
Man of the Match: Ollie Barnes – Scored the equaliser and head a very steady display in a more comfortable position for the left-sided defender.