bath city Slough stale­mate could be cru­cial in play-off run

Bath Chronicle - - SPORT - @Bathc­itylive | 01225 322300 [email protected] Mark Still­man

Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the value of Bath City’s point at Slough Town. That was the mes­sage from Ro­mans boss Jerry Gill, who watched his side com­plete a hec­tic sched­ule of six games in 19 days with a goal­less draw in Berk­shire. Though his side were down on num­bers again, Gill felt they had the bet­ter chances from the evening’s ac­tion and saw out an­other clean sheet to go over 400 min­utes since last con­ced­ing. The re­sult moved City up to third in Na­tional League South and as they push to se­cure an end-of-sea­son play-off place, Gill said their point could be key come the last week of April. The City boss said: “We’ve gone un­beaten again. That’s nine now [un­beaten] away from home; that’s a fan­tas­tic base. “We’re aim­ing for the play-offs. I’m not talk­ing about any­thing else, if we can go in the play-offs that’s a mas­sive achieve­ment for us and we be­lieve we can. “This re­sult can be mas­sive come the end of the sea­son.” Gill was with­out Michee Efete, who has signed a long-term deal with Billericay Town. James Mor­ton was miss­ing af­ter pick­ing up an an­kle knock train­ing with par­ent club Bris­tol City, while Ryan Brunt was also un­fit and Andy Watkins had work com­mit­ments. Kevin Amankwaah had to leave the field early with a tight groin, though there were pos­i­tive signs as Sean Rigg re­turned for a brief cameo late on. The spirit shown by his squad in the cir­cum­stances nev­er­the­less im­pressed Gill. “We’re miss­ing a hell of a lot of play­ers,” he said. “We’re third in the league which is a great feat for us. “We haven’t got the big­gest bud­get in the league, we’d be midtable on bud­get, but we have a group of play­ers that want to achieve and want to win things. “That’s five clean sheets in six we’ve kept. That’s a re­ally good back­bone to have. “It shows we’ve got some grit, some de­ter­mi­na­tion in the group; they knew they weren’t play­ing at their best but they didn’t want to get beaten.” On the game, Gill added: “I thought they came out the blocks and were bet­ter than us in the open­ing stages. “We looked low on en­ergy and had to change the shape, go back to a 4-3-3 just to block it out a lit­tle bit. “The one thing I’ll say about our boys is they dig deep in the well and that’s what they’ve done. “I al­most felt as if it could be a game too far for our lads phys­i­cally as we’ve used the same team over the course of time, and we haven’t got big num­bers. “But they’ve dug deep and got a point. I said to them there that could be a big point come the end of the sea­son.” Other than a first-half stop to pre­vent an Amankwaah own goal, there was lit­tle work for City stop­per Ryan Clarke on the night. That was ow­ing to the ef­forts of those in front of him - in­clud­ing the re­turn­ing An­thony Straker - with only lead­ers Torquay United hav­ing con­ceded less than the Ro­mans this term. “Ryan’s got great ex­pe­ri­ence in be­hind as well,” Gill said. “He pulled off a re­ally good save first half, it was off­side af­ter­wards when it hits Kev. “We’ve got some play­ers that have got some good league ex­pe­ri­ence. “The back­bone of the team will al­ways be re­ally im­por­tant to you and when you’ve got peo­ple like Kev Amankwaah and now Jack Bat­ten and Rob­bie Cundy, they’re form­ing such a for­mi­da­ble part­ner­ship whether they’re play­ing a three or a two. They know what they’re do­ing, they work off each other. “Strakes has come back in tonight and we know all about him, prob­a­bly the best left-back in the league on his day. “The joy tonight was that I could flip it to a 4-3-3 and they knew the job straight away, so it’s nice that we’re adapt­able, we can play a three or a four and we’ve got per­son­nel that can go and do it. “We’ve got to rest up now and re­ally get some bod­ies back on the pitch for what will be a tough game against East Thur­rock.” The only frus­tra­tion, how­ever, came in the form of six book­ings for City play­ers, four in the first half alone, from card-happy ref­eree Lee Bren­nan. “I’ve got to go care­ful what I say. I thought the game got ru­ined tonight,” Gill said. “There were six book­ings for our team and I don’t think there was a bad tackle in the game what­so­ever. “Then we’ve been had at for time­wast­ing, ap­par­ently, in an at­tack­ing area on a throw-in high up the pitch, which is far­ci­cal. They’re tak­ing throw-ins and it’s tak­ing just as long as well. “It’s a shame that the game gets ru­ined be­cause the two guys here run it re­ally well, they’ve got a good team who work ever so hard for each other.”

PIC­TURES: Si­mon Howe

Ross Stearn cap­i­talises on a Dul­wich Ham­let mis­take to touch in the Ro­mans’ sec­ond goal in their 2-0 week­end win in Lon­don

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