Football / FA Cup: Bath remain in contention

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The Independent Online
Bath City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Northampton Town. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

AN extraordinary equaliser struck from 45 yards by Paul Randall, a substitute who had been on the pitch no more than five minutes, earned Bath City a deserved second attempt to reach the third round of the FA Cup at a muddy Twerton Park yesterday. The dubious pleasure of a home tie against Rotherham awaits the victors.

Northampton Town were clinging on to a 2-1 lead with nine minutes left when the GM Vauxhall Conference club's other substitute, Dave Singleton, won a tackle on the right touchline. The ball fell kindly for Randall, the former Stoke City and Bristol Rovers forward who is 36 this week. He aimed a high, dipping cross to the far post and was delighted to see Barry Richardson misjudge the flight of the ball and allow it to drop into the net behind him.

The game's opening goal, in the first minute of the second half, also owed much to an error by a goalkeeper: the home side's David Mogg. Steve Brown drove in a fierce cross-shot from the left that should have been a simple catch for Mogg, but he dropped it on his line and was aghast to see the linesman signal a goal.

After a first half of precious little penalty-area incident, a goal from any source was a welcome relief. The soggy conditions defeated both sides before half-time. The Cobblers, the Football League's bottom club, struggled to get out of their half, while the Romans found it difficult to dig the ball out of mud that would have halted a legion.

Gary Smart, energetic on the left flank for Bath, had the first half's best efforts, with one shot that hit a post in the 11th minute and another that was parried by Richardson six minutes before the break. However, 12 minutes after his side had fallen behind, Smart, another former Bristol Rovers man, hit the target. Dave Palmer's deep cross from the right was headed on by Graham Withey, and, as the visitors' defence hesitated, Smart, beyond the far post, hooked the ball back and in from a narrow angle.

Bath were buzzing and looked like adding to their tally. Phil Chard, Northampton's player- manager, brought himself off the bench to take charge on the field, and put his side ahead again in the 71st minute, when he flicked home a low cross from Mike Bell. That set the scene for Randall's late, lucky strike - and these two well-matched teams try again at the County Ground tomorrow week. Having won at Cardiff in the last round, Bath will have nothing to fear.

Bath City: Mogg; Palmer (Singleton, 73), Dicks, Gill, Crowley, Cousins, Banks, Weston (Randall, 76), Withey, Smart, Vernon.

Northampton Town: Richardson; Curtis, Beavon, Harman, Angus, Terry, Burnham, Wilkin (Chard, 61), Bell, Brown, McParland. Substitute not used: Benton.

Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy).

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