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Bath City 2 Chelmsford City 2
12:36pm Monday 18th March 2013 in Sport
BATH City's Noah Keats denied Chelmsford City the full three points at a rain swept Twerton Park with an injury time equaliser to seal a 2-2 draw which keeps the visitors in the top four of the Blue Square Bet South ahead of their final ten games, edging Bath away from the drop zone at the same time.
The home team had moved in front on 9 minutes through Gethin Jones but Justin Miller's fine strike levelled the scores in the 33rd minute and Michael Bakare swung the pendulum in the direction of Glenn Pennyfather's men right on half time.
But the spoils would ultimately be shared when Keats nipped in with a header to restore parity once more.
Glenn reacted: "I'm proud of our players, who all dug in after a bad week. To a man, they came here and put their bodies on the line. We went 1-0 down in disappointing fashion, then deserved to be 2-1 up, and we had chances to put the game to bed.
"It's still an important point to stop our bad run. It should have been three, but it was a hard earned point."
Pennyfather again had decisions to make before selecting his starting 11, with a suspension for winger Anthony Cook meaning a return for Rob Edmans, while top scorer Jamie Slabber left a gap for Bakare to fill due to a groin strain.
David Rainford's suspension saw Justin Miller move into midfield and centre-half Kenny Clark selected, plus Omer Riza's knock meant Aiden Palmer also advanced into left midfield, with Joe Whight replacing him.
Chelmsford had the first effort of the game when the wet conditions assisted Edmans, whose early header caused more problems for goalkeeper Jason Mellor than would usually have been the case. But Jones opened the scoring shortly afterwards when the home captain tapped home from close range via a deflection after a dead ball wasn't cleared.
Mid-way through the period Chelmsford almost replied as Whight's accurate long ball fed Jack Ainsley and he centred for Kyle Vassell to angle a header at goal which Mellor saved excellently low down.
However, he could do little about the Clarets' opener, watching as Miller let go of a brilliant drive from distance which buried itself into the bottom corner.
A goalmouth scramble at the other end could easily have put Bath back ahead, Ryan Charles' effort missing the post by inches, yet it was their opponents who would enjoy an interval advantage. Ainsley's pass picked out Bakare and his strike took multiple deflections before wrong-footing Mellor and rolling past him into the net.
Bath's Ryan Charles provided a threat in the early stages of the second half, firstly heading off-target himself then setting-up team mate Charlie Griffin who wasn't quite able to divert home.
Chelmsford also looked dangerous when they attacked and Palmer had a chance to seal the game with a dozen minutes left with his half-hit shot.
For all their effort, Bath rarely called Clarets goalkeeper Stuart Searle into action after the break until the moment when he had to push Aaron Brown's strike around the upright.
Towards the end an intense rain storm made play more difficult but Bath pressed for a second and they broke through three minutes into injury time, Josh Low's inviting right wing cross finding Keats, who won a point with his header.
"Our players have taken a lot of criticism, so this was a big game for our club," said boss Pennyfather after the game. "Considering who we had missing this was an excellent team effort, with a lot of good individual performances as well.
"Now we'll regroup, assess our walking wounded, and prepare ourselves for Monday against Farnborough."