Another 2-0 win and a clean sheet saw Fleet achieve the double over Bath City and maintain the club’s recent run of good results at Twerton Park. Goals at the beginning of each half courtesy of Ben Chapman and substitute Dominic Poleon achieved the same result as last week at home to Eastbourne, but Dennis Kutrieb was effusive in his post-match praise for his team’s pressing game and defensive work.
It was Sido Jombati’s first return to Twerton Park since departing Bath 11 years ago as he kept his place in the starting lineup but Kutrieb had to make two changes due to injuries. In came Kieran Monlouis and Jack Paxman, with Tobi Adebayo-Rowling and Ashley Nathaniel-George out.
And it was the perfect start for the Fleet after they’d cleared from Omar Holness’ run behind the back line in the first attack of the game. Two minutes in, Paxman – playing wide on the left – found Tanner who crossed into the middle of the box. Chapman appeared to be flattened by goalkeeper Ryan Clarke as he rose to challenge and as the Bath defence stopped, Shaq Coulthirst dug the ball free. Chapman got off the floor to then hook it behind him and into the net with confusion reigning supreme in the home defence.
Another Chapman run minutes later threatened to take Tanner all the way through on goal but his shot climbed too high to trouble Clarke. More hesitant home defending took Coulthirst by surprise but he managed to carve himself a chance that was cleared out to Chapman. The goalscorer headed it back towards Coulthirst who again saw the defence close him down and they just about got the ball away to safety.
After that poor start, Bath began to gain plenty of possession across the middle of the park and Louie Moulden had to be alert to claim an Eddie Jones cross to Holness at the foot of his near post. Callum Rowe was next to trouble the Fleet defence as Bath played some neat football but a red shirt put that behind for a corner.
The ever energetic Chapman supplied Coulthirst again on 19 minutes when his interception and break forward caught Bath napping but the ball again got away from the striker who struggled to bring it down on the bouncy, sloping surface.
Fleet lost Tanner to injury on 24 minutes to be replaced by Lee Martin before Sefa Kahraman sent a left-footed free kick on target that Clarke was able to gather at the second attempt.
Bath’s best opportunity for an equaliser came on 37 minutes when Cody Cooke fashioned an opening running across the Fleet box. A superb challenge by Chris Solly denied him and as Bath recycled it, Fleet required an equally important tackle by Monlouis on Jordan Dyer to clear their lines.
When required, Moulden showed great confidence and speed of thought in claiming crosses, with Eddie Jones firing another in towards the angle of the goal a minute before half-time before Ryan Jones’ effort was deflected by a teammate over the Fleet bar.
Dominic Poleon was introduced for Coulthirst at half-time and the change paid almost immediate dividends for the visitors.
As in the first half, Fleet’s first attack of note of the second extended the lead. That came on 51 minutes, Martin tackled on the edge of the box as he tried to place a shot, Monlouis following up with a great curling effort that Clarke could only parry into Poleon’s path and the sub buried it from 10 yards.
That took something of the sting out of Bath’s game for a spell and Fleet were happy enough to simply repel any venture forward by the home side. Jombati might have grabbed a goal on his return to Twerton Park on the hour mark, finding himself in a good position to the right of the box but slid a ball along the floor that Clarke cleared. Poleon’s strong running also threatened again but the bulky Batten put in a solid challenge on Fleet’s 14-goal top scorer.
Bath made two more substitutions after that and showed they were still dangerous when Tom Smith ran through on goal. Moulden came out and Smith’s effort failed to gather enough power but still needed Kahraman to hook out of the six-yard box.
While the home side looked no more threatening than that chance for Smith, much of that was down to a disciplined performance by the Fleet who were organised when on the back foot and bright through midfield which gave Bath no time to settle to mount any comeback.
Monlouis’ strength on the ball when running through the middle was noteworthy and Paxman was busy keeping Bath’s full-backs on their toes. The home side created a couple more half-chances with two goalmouth scrambles 10 minutes from the end but Jombati mopped up the first and there was little conviction from the home forwards when the second lingered around the Fleet box.
Joe Raynes glanced a cross wide at the end but Moulden never looked uncomfortable with the defenders in front of him and it was apparent that 2-0 would be enough long before the final whistle.
EUFC: Moulden, Solly, Jombati, Kahraman, N’Guessan, Monlouis, Chapman, Paxman, Tanner (L.Martin 24), Romain, Coulthirst (Poleon 46). Subs: Mekki, Finney, Haigh
BCFC: Clarke, Raynes, Delaney (Smith 46), Batten, Holness (Sims-Burgess 64), Cooke, E.Jones, Ball (Frear 64), Rowe, Dyer, R.Jones. Subs: Fuller, Richards