Bath City v NFU (FAT SF 1L)

FA Trophy sponsored by Carlsberg
Semi-Final First Leg
Bath City v North Ferriby United
Saturday 21 February 2015 ; KO 3.00 pm

Ferriby return to FA Trophy action on Saturday when they visit Vanarama Conference South Bath City in the first leg of the semi-final. The two clubs have never met before and are really unknown quantities for each other. Comparisons between clubs from different divisions, even at the same level, are difficult to make but, no doubt, each club will have done a certain amount of homework on the other. However, The Villagers have beaten two Conference South sides en route to the semi-finals.

This is the first time that The Villagers have reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy. It is also the first time since 1997 that Ferriby have reached a national semi-final. On that occasion they beat Guisborough 3-1 on aggregate in the FA Vase to claim a Wembley place.

Ferriby and Bath go into this game with fairly similar scoring and defensive records in their respective divisions. Ferriby have won 10, drawn 12 and lost six of their league games, scoring 41 goals and conceding 34 in the process. Bath City have won 12, drawn four and lost 11 league games, scoring 39 goals and conceding 36.

Bath’s confidence will be high after a 7-4 league win at home to Farnborough in midweek. Farnborough were defeated by Ferriby in the third round of this season’s Trophy run. Bath’s top scorer this season is David Pratt with 16 goals. Following him are Ross Stearn with 12 goals and Nick McKootie with 10, four of which came against Farnborough in midweek.

Bath have won all six home games since Christmas. During this period they have also won 2, drawn 2 and lost 2 on their travels. Bath have beaten three Conference Premier clubs, Bristol Rovers, Altrincham and Dover on their way to the semi-final so are not likely to be daunted by facing a Ferriby side that plays at the same pyramid level as them. Equally, The Villagers will remember that they put out Conference Premier clubs in last season’s Trophy run before losing to Conference South Gossport. As always in cup-ties, it is what you do on the day, not what you did in previous rounds. A lot depends on how players’ reactions to the atmosphere and importance of the match. Hopefully, Ferriby will be able to use last year’s experience to their advantage.

Ferriby go in to this game with six wins and four draws in their last ten games. Manager Billy Heath made a few changes for last Saturday’s home draw with Tamworth. Despite only drawing, it was a good result and performance against a Tamworth that is probably the most in-form side at the moment.

Following the Tamworth game, Heath commented, “It was a good performance against a side that is in a good run of form. Tamworth are well-organised and difficult to break down. We defended well and kept another clean sheet which is always pleasing.”

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game at Bath he said, “It’s a massive game as there is a lot at stake. It’s big in terms of both finance and prestige for the club. For the players, it presents a great opportunity to reach and play in a final at Wembley.

“I’m sure both Bath and ourselves were happy to be drawn against each other.  There is not going to be much between the two sides. We have to respect their record in this season’s Trophy but there is probably not much between the two sides.

“We will be looking to win both legs. We are not going to be negative because we are not a side that sits back and plays on the counter-attack. That’s just not our game. We have shown we can defend when we need to with clean sheets in our last four games.

“The win over Ebbsfleet in the last round laid a couple of ghosts. We have matured both individually and as a team since last season’s quarter-final defeat to Gosport. Ebbsfleet have been one of the best teams we have played but we deserved the win on the day. If we can re-produce that level of performance we have a great chance of going through.”

Apart from Danny Emerton who is unavailable due to injury and Curtis Bateson is ineligible, Heath should have virtually a full squad to choose from

NFU’s probable squad : Adam Nicklin, Tom Nicholson, Sam Topliss, Louis Bruce, Josh Wilde, Nathan Peat, Mark Gray, Gregg Anderson, Danny Hone, Adam Bolder, Liam King, Jon D’Laryea, Russell Fry,  Tom Denton, Ryan Kendall, Jason St Juste, Nathan Jarman, Danny Clarke, Matt Wilson

The second leg is at Ferriby next Saturday (28 February) with the usual 3pm kick-off.

Admission is being held at the usual prices of £12 (£6 concessions/ £3 under-16). Season passes are not valid for this game. The game is PAY AT THE GATE on the day.

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