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Bath City Agony

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Bath City had an FA Trophy semi-final spot snatched away in sensational fashion as ten-man Dover netted twice in the space of seven desperate minutes late on to salvage a replay tomorrow night.

It was former City striker Jake Reid who equalised for the Vanarama Conference Premier side in the fourth of nine stoppage-time minutes, heading home after a mistake by goalkeeper Jason Mellor.

Stefan Payne had opened the scoring for the hosts with the visitors appealing for offside, but was dismissed for retaliation just before half-time.

That handed the initiative to City and they roared back after the break, with skipper Andy Gallinagh drawing them level on the hour.

When Ross Stearn struck twice the underdogs appeared to be heading for the last four, but Richard Orlu's header set up a tense finale.

Reid pounced to leave City crestfallen and new boy Naby Diallo saw red as tempers flared again before the referee finally blew his whistle.

Dover's long-ball game brought them success in a helter-skelter opening to the game at the Crabble.

After just three minutes, Mellor collected a low shot from Sean Raggett. Phil Walsh then headed behind to give Dover their first corner and two minutes later City found themselves behind in controversial circumstances.

Diallo looked to clear the ball out of defence, it flicked off a Dover player and Payne stepped up to slot the ball home. He looked at least two yards offside and the City players protested vehemently, but even after a long consultation between referee Mr Kinseley and his assistant, the goal stood.

The visitors looked stunned and it took some time for them to recover. In the meantime, Dover could have gone further ahead when Tom Murphy had a shot which Mellor did well to deflect away from goal. Gradually, City came to terms with the situation, with Chris Allen latching on to a ball into the box from Gallinagh, only for the goalkeeper to snatch it from his feet.

But the game then turned with two dramatic incidents in the closing stages of the half.

First, Payne got the better of Phil Walsh after a ball that bounced over the defender's head but then, clear on goal, put his shot wide.

Two minutes later and Payne's involvement in the match ended. He tangled with Sekani Simpson and as Mellor stepped in to separate the two players the Dover man swung a punch at the City goalkeeper and was shown a red card.

Dover reverted to a lone forward in Murphy and City went into overdrive. Within three minutes of the restart, Frankie Artus set Gallinagh on his way down the left flank and the defender's goal-bound shot was tipped behind by goalkeeper Andrew Rafferty.

However, City were then forced into a substitution as Walsh limped form the pitch to be replaced by Stearn.

In the first half it could have meant disaster as Walsh's clearing header on occasions was the only thing that stood between Dover and the goal. Now, however, with the visitors rampant it hardly seemed to matter.

On the hour mark, Artus again got the ball to Gallinagh and this time he cut inside from the left to fire home.

Ten minutes later and City were in front. Dave Pratt laid the ball off to Stearn, whose shot from the edge of the 18-yard box took a slight deflection to wrong foot the goalkeeper before nestling in the bottom left-hand corner of Rafferty's net.

Then, with eight minutes to go, Nick McCootie got the ball to Stearn. After rounding the defender, and a little shimmy, a perfectly-timed lob surely sent the visitors into the semi-final for the first time in the club's history.

Then came the final drama as the game took another twist. With three minutes to go a ball into the box from Dover substitute Ricky Modeste saw Orlu head home.

Suddenly all the impetus was with the home side as City began to panic. The board went up for five minutes of additional timer and in the fourth of those, disaster struck.

Another cross into the box towards the far post found Jake Reid, who had only been on the field for four minutes. Mellor looked to have held the striker's shot, but it somehow squirmed away and Dover had their equaliser.

Somehow the referee found a further four minutes to add on, which was just enough time for Diallo to be dismissed with a straight red card for a high tackle.

For City the semi-final had been in their grasp, but like Mellor's save it slipped through their hands. It now leaves the City management with a hard task to raise their side for the replay after what must have felt like a defeat.

Read more: http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/

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