Bath City 3-1 Bristol Rovers: Who stood out on return from Portugal and facing former hero Chris Lines

Rovers returned to their former ground to face National League South opposition in their latest warmup game.

Bath City v Bristol Rovers
Bath City v Bristol Rovers
Bath City v Bristol Rovers

Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers side lost 3-1 on their return to Twerton Park on Tuesday evening, following their training camp in Portugal.

Fresh from facing European heavyweight giants FC Porto at the weekend in an unpublicised training game, a 3-0 loss but no doubt a great experience for all, to just 12 miles down the road, Barton will want to see improvements from his team after this defeat to non-League opposition.

There were no signs of jet lag as the Gas started on the front foot and threatened through Aaron Collins and others, but Bath City prevailed as they came from behind to grab a confidence-boosting win ahead of their own 2022/23 campaign.

But a bumper crowd of 1,908 for this part of the South West were on hand to see cult hero Chris Lines face his former side and to mark the trip to their former ground.

What happened

The visitors took the lead as a cross from Harry Anderson was touched by goalkeeper Joe Wright but the ball landed fortuitously for Ryan Loft to prod in at the back post, with the goal open on 12 minutes.

Bath City came back into the game however, with Luke Spokes doing well in midfield for the Romans.

After James Connolly had butchered the move of the match that resulted in the defender running the ball out of play, the team in black and white equalised.

Alex Fletcher deflected the ball in after a low cross from Elliott Frear on 30 minutes, after the winger was released by an excellent pass from Spokes.

And the attacking midfielder grabbed his second of the game just before the break: meeting a well-judged ball over the top from new Bath signing Dan Greenslade, before flicking into the near top corner past James Belshaw.

There were no changes from Joey Barton, watching on from the sidelines despite another game at Chippenham Town (with John Marquis netting a brace and a brilliant strike from Harvey Saunders), at the break.

But things didn’t get much better for the Pirates at Twerton. A harsh penalty was awarded against James Gibbons, as the defender took out Cody Cooke with a push with the striker trying to reach Lines’ chip into the area.

Cooke stepped up and stroked to his right to make it 3-1 in the 53rd minute.

Sam Finley tried to find space with a mazy run into the box on the hour mark after Antony Evans had cracked a free kick at goal, into the wall, as the men from north Bristol struggled to add to the scoreline. Perhaps the trip had taken something out of the side in quarters?

The Gas were beginning to dominate but sub Tom Smith went closest to scoring as his deflected shot almost made it four for the hosts.

Belshaw stopped a Cooke header as the Romans enjoyed a good spell with 10 minutes to go, but a late tussle involving Evans and Smith was the only action of note.

Who stood out

Collins threatened often but last season’s top scorer was not given the ball enough in the right spaces.

Evans showed some touches of class at times, but beyond that it was not a great Gas display.

Presumably the side that won at Chippenham and new signing John Marquis, netting twice, will have caught Joey Barton’s attentions more.

Who has work to do to impress Joey Barton

Midfielder Finley didn’t do enough and was arguably shown up by Spokes and Lines who looked very useful, despite playing in the National League South.

Anderson was kept in check by Greenslade for much of the game while Connolly and Grant did not impact the match enough to help Rovers dictate proceedings.

Starting teams:

Bath City: Wright; Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle, Fletcher, Spokes, Cooke, Frear, Lines, Hayfield

Bristol Rovers: Belshaw, Hoole, Kilgour, Connolly, Gibbons, Finley, Grant, Evans, Anderson, Collins, Loft