Adam Bygrave strikes late on to deny Bath City unlikely victory at Hayes & Yeading
A determined Bath City side were denied three points by Adam Bygrave’s late leveller in a 2-2 draw after twice going ahead at Hayes & Yeading.
City coach Lee Howells was only able to name three substitutes for his team’s first game in 11 days, with Kerry Morgan ill with food poisoning and a number of development squad players unavailable.
Yet the visitors demonstrated no lack of commitment to the cause and probably should have returned home with all three points.
City could have gone in front in the seventh minute when a fine move started by Josh Low saw Chris Allen to shoot narrowly wide.
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Four minutes later, Allen crossed for the cultured Low, who fired straight into goalkeeper Brandon Hall’s hands from close range.
Perhaps the more remarkable fact was that, while Hayes opted for the long downfield lob to little effect, City elected to pass the ball around with a skill that belied a surface closely resembling a sponge pudding that had spent too long immersed in custard.
Although the home side rarely threatened, they did go close just before the half-hour.
Daniel Wishart crossed from the right to Daniel Braithwaite, who flicked the ball across to the far post for Luke Williams. However, the midfielder managed to balloon his shot horribly wide.
It clearly served as a wake-up call to City and they soon went in front.
Mark Preece headed home a corner, his effort flicking off the crossbar.
City could have then added to their advantage nine minutes later when Low struck a powerful volley, only for Hall to tip it on to his crossbar.
Hayes improved after the break, though, and within two minutes of the restart the hitherto anonymous Alasanne N’Diaye combined well with Dan Spence to set up Wishart, whose header sailed over.
The visitors drew level just before the hour, though, when N’Diaye slid the ball beyond Mellor at pace.
Bath’s Adam Connolly had a goal disallowed, but the visitors soon made amends when Danny Ball was fouled on the halfway line and, as Hayes hesitated, the referee rapidly waved play on.
Marc Canham played a perfectly-weighted pass and Low powered towards goal and drew the goalkeeper to the left before sliding the ball under his body to put the visitors back in front.
That is probably the way it should have remained. However, as Hayes pressed forward in the closing stages they won three free-kicks in quick succession.
The first two were easily defended but the third, played deep, sailed over the defence and the outstretched hand of Mellor. With the goal at his mercy, Bygrave made no mistake through a crowd.
At the end, City reflected on two points lost rather than one gained, but the team were greeted by warm applause from the travelling fans who made up a significant proportion of the sparse crowd.
Bath are back in league action tomorrow when they host high-flying Welling (7.45pm).
Welling are the closest challengers to leaders Salisbury.