Bath City. . . . . . . .0
THE gap between the bottom of the Football League and the upper reaches of the GM Vauxhall Conference appeared considerable in last night's FA Cup second-round replay at Abington Avenue as Northampton eventually overran their visitors to earn a home meeting with Rotherham United, from the Second Division.
The difference was confirmed by two goals within a minute midway through the second half, from Ian McParland and Kevin Wilkin. Michael Bell underlined the point two minutes from time as he skipped inside from the left wing to drive a third goal past the luckless Dave Mogg in Bath's goal.
Bath had felt that Northampton's first goal in their 2-2 draw at Twerton Park earlier this month did not cross the line, but had enough experience and talent in their squad to travel up the M4 in expectation as well as hope.
Nevertheless, it was the home side who produced the clearest chance of the first half, after 20 minutes when a free-kick was headed on by Steve Brown to Ian McParland, who hooked the ball unaccountably wide from close in.
On the half-hour Bath's right- back, David Singleton, got his head to a through-ball destined for Michael Bell, rendering it only marginally less effective, but Mogg did enough to put off Northampton's No 9.
At the other end, Paul Randall then harried Steve Terry into the kind of botched clearance which can demoralise a side. Perhaps realising this, Northampton's player- manager Phil Chard drove forward on a determined run which saw him drive the ball only a yard over the bar. Soon afterwards, Mogg's acceleration was called upon again as he came out to the edge of his box to rob Stuart Beavon.
The home side maintained their momentum after the break. Bell's swift cross from the left presented Brown with a chance which he wasted on 50 minutes. A quarter- of-an-hour later, Mogg, perhaps still congratulating himself for successive blocks on Brown and Bell, was left exposed by a swift drop-kick from the Northampton keeper, Barry Richardson, and conceded a free-kick by bringing down McParland.
These two incidents served as a curious dress rehearsal for the two goals which decided the tie. After 76 minutes, Richardson's long kick sent McParland in again and this time he rolled the ball deliberately past the advancing Mogg. Within a minute another sharp cross from the left by Bell invited Wilkin to head Northampton into a 2-0 lead.
Northampton Town: Richardson; Curtis, Beavon, Chard, Angus, Terry, Burnham, Wilkin, Bell, Brown, McParland. Substitutes not used: Scott, Benton.
Bath City: Mogg; Singleton, Dicks, Ricketts (Vernon, 65), Crowley, Cousins, Banks, Gill, Withey, Smart, Randall. Substitute not used: Hedges.
Referee: J Borrett (Norwich).