Bath Chronicle

Boss fo­cuses on pos­i­tives af­ter open­ing night de­feat

- Mark Still­man sport@bathchron.co.uk Sports · Soccer · Oxford · Oxford United F.C. · Winchester · Wealdstone F.C. · Walsall F.C. · Walsall · Tom Smith · Brackley Town F.C. · Wealdstone · Weymouth · Slough · Donovan Wilson

Jerry Gill re­mained up­beat de­spite City’s open­ing league day de­feat at Ox­ford on Tues­day night.

Hav­ing over­come Winch­ester City at the week­end in the FA Cup, City’s lat­est start to a league cam­paign since 1939 didn’t get off to the ideal start against a side who made life dif­fi­cult for the Ro­mans.

A sec­ond half im­prove­ment nearly earned a point for Bath but Josh Ashby’s sec­ond in added time killed the con­test off.

“I don’t think we were at our best in the first half but the sec­ond half was a re­ally pleas­ing per­for­mance.” said Gill.

“There was a lot more speed to the way we moved the ball.

“Ox­ford pressed like no team I’ve ever come up against. They re­ally get af­ter you. It’s a re­ally strong weapon they’ve got with their press.

“They prob­a­bly had the bet­ter of the first half with­out cre­at­ing much but we had the bet­ter of the sec­ond. We showed a great strength men­tally and con­fi­dence to try and beat that press sec­ond half.

“I don’t want to be too over-thetop up­beat be­cause we’ve lost the game 2-0, but it’s two free-kicks.”

The City chief couldn’t knock the qual­ity of Josh Ashby’s fin­ish­ing from the set-pieces but wasn’t im­pressed with the award­ing of either.

“The first one is very soft,” he said. “He’s been clever against Jack Bat­ten. Whether it’s a foul is de­bat­able, and for the sec­ond Tom Richards is say­ing he took the ball.

“They were two very good ex­e­cu­tions, dif­fi­cult for Ryan to do any­thing about, but we have to learn whether they were be­ing clever or we’re at­tach­ing our bod­ies on the edge of the box. We don’t seem to get those de­ci­sions.”

Tom Leak signed on loan from Wal­sall just prior to the game and met his team­mates for the first time on ar­rival to Marsh Lane, where Jack Bat­ten also made his first start since April 2019 af­ter long-term in­jury.

“We felt as if we needed to freshen the de­fence up,” said Gill.

“The three cen­tre-backs were ex­cel­lent, and Ja­son (Pope) when he came on did well, showed great char­ac­ter af­ter be­ing left out.

“It was in our mind­set to pick Jack Bat­ten. He’s only go­ing to get bet­ter by start­ing games. We were al­ways go­ing to give him around 60 min­utes, it didn’t mat­ter about the cir­cum­stances of the game.

“He will ben­e­fit from tonight. I’m so pleased for him, I thought the back three were ex­cel­lent.”

As well as adding to his de­fence, Gill wants to re­in­force the squad fur­ther in at­tack.

“We’re ask­ing Tom Smith to play in a higher role be­cause we’re strug­gling for num­bers a bit up top,” he said. “I’m talk­ing to a few clubs in try­ing to bring an ex­tra body in so we can ad­dress that.

“When you want to tweak it and go for a bit more pace up top we haven’t re­ally got it at the mo­ment.

“Whether we’ll get a deal done in time for Satur­day I don’t know.”

City get their home league cam­paign un­der way at the week­end with the visit of Bil­ler­icay Town, who have made a stut­ter­ing start to 2020/21.

Jamie O’hara’s men blew a 2-0 lead at Brack­ley Town in the FA Cup at the week­end and went out on penal­ties, be­fore los­ing at home to 10-man Ton­bridge An­gels on Tues­day night.

The Es­sex out­fit un­der­achieved last sea­son and had the di­vi­sion’s worst away record, col­lect­ing just two wins and 12 points on their travels.

One of their nine de­feats was at Tw­er­ton Park, los­ing 2-1 thanks to Ross Stearn’s late win­ner.

Bath only lost two home league games at Tw­er­ton in 2019/20 with pro­moted duo Weald­stone and Wey­mouth the only teams to pick up more points at home.

“I’ve told our play­ers to come back in for train­ing Thurs­day with a bit of con­fi­dence,” said Gill. “We’ll win a lot of games play­ing the way we did tonight. No sea­son will be won or lost on the first night.

“We’re gen­er­ally strong at home so we have Bil­ler­icay to look for­ward to. My mind­set is think­ing about that good stuff we have done tonight.

“We will have to think about the line-up again with Satur­day and then a tough FA Cup one at Slough on Tues­day. They won again tonight so will be full of con­fi­dence.

“There’s no rea­son why we can’t be either.”

Gill is hope­ful that Frankie Ar­tus will be fit in time for Satur­day’s match hav­ing limped off with 13 min­utes re­main­ing at Ox­ford.

Striker Dono­van Wil­son re­mains side­lined for a cou­ple more weeks with a groin strain sus­tained in pre­sea­son.

 ?? Pic­ture: Si­mon Howe ?? Bath City boss Jerry Gill of­fers in­struc­tions to his play­ers from the touch­line
Pic­ture: Si­mon Howe Bath City boss Jerry Gill of­fers in­struc­tions to his play­ers from the touch­line
 ??  ?? Jack Bat­ten made his first start since April 2019 af­ter long-term in­jury
Jack Bat­ten made his first start since April 2019 af­ter long-term in­jury

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