Having left it late to down Hemel in their last league fixture, Fleet had the tables turned on them as Bath City left it until stoppage time to steal the points with an excellent strike from 25 yards.
Bath have themselves fallen victim to stoppage-time goals in recent weeks and maintained their record of having never been beaten by the Fleet at National League South level as the win ended a bleak run of form.
Fleet were rather let off the hook as results elsewhere in the division went their way and can now seek to rectify this blip at home to Concord Rangers on Boxing Day.
There was one change from the Trophy exit at Oxford City, with Jordan Parkes in for Stuart Lewis, while Bath had top scorer David Pratt on the bench and fellow striker Andy Watkins didn’t make the squad at all.
Fleet were nearly caught on the hop when a ball through the middle as the defence stepped up found Nick McCootie who was clean through but he overhit his first touch to give Brandon Hall the chance to gather. The home side took six minutes to really threaten the Bath goal when Matt Fish’s long cross found Danny Kedwell lurking at the far post but he couldn’t get a header away.
As usual, Fleet had plenty of possession but trying to pass their way through the middle, they met a wall of Bath players who managed to break up play sufficiently to prevent the red shirts from clicking into top gear. Fish carved out another chance on 21 minutes, crossing again for Kedwell who nodded the ball down into the path of Jordan Parkes who crashed a shot into a Bath body from 10 yards. Kedwell was involved again four minutes later, bringing down a pass and deftly switching to the other foot but his shot was turned behind by Steve Phillips for a corner.
Bath’s chief threat was Kaid Mohamed and he burst through to be denied by a Tom Bonner tackle. It looked clean enough but the City camp were up in arms, claiming a penalty. At the other end, Anthony Cook turned a defender but got the ball tangled beneath him and then Parkes played Matt Godden through who did very well to dribble the ball clear but his shot from an angle bounced back off the post.
Fleet continued to press and John Paul Kissock flashed another shot wide and Kenny Clark planted a corner just over with his head. Bath responded when Fleet failed to clear and the ball fell to Mohamed who momentarily looked like he was through but Joe Howe got himself in the way.
A flashpoint between McCootie and Dean Rance resulted in numerous players clashing. It was McCootie’ fourth foul and he was booked, as was Rance for retaliation, his fifth yellow of the season.
It was thus little surprise that McCootie failed to reappear in the second half, replaced by Pratt, and Fleet sought to build on a useful first half. Bath, however, dug in and with some early sights of goal – although blasted wide – they sounded a warning for the Fleet.
There was little action until the hour mark when Parkes’ quickly taken free-kick almost sent Kedwell through and his shot flew just over. Two minutes later, Mohamed almost took advantage of Bonner’s misplaced clearance, curling an excellent shot just high of the target.
Fleet threw on Danny Haynes and Charlie Sheringham as they pressed for a winner but were constantly frustrated by Bath’s rearguard. Fish managed to get behind that back line eight minutes from time, launching a cross into Sheringham but the ball bounced high and the striker couldn’t bring it under control. Bath continued to defend on their own penalty area line as Fleet attempted to play their way through but Parkes fired over after a good build-up with the minutes ticking away.
It looked like a goalless draw was on the cards into the three minutes of time added on but Bath had one last flourish. Mohamed was afforded plenty of space to line up a shot and it was one of those that screamed “Goal” from the moment it left his boot as it sped past Hall and into the top corner.
Fleet must hope the frustration they felt today is unleashed on Boxing Day as the season reaches its halfway point.
EUFC: Hall, Fish, Howe, Kissock (Sheringham 78), Clark, Bonner, Rance, Parkes, Kedwell, Godden, Cook (Haynes 69). Subs not used: Miles, Acheampong, Lewis.
BCFC: Phillips, Simpson, Gallinagh, Batten, Ball, Adelsbury, Bowman, Williams (Hemmings 72), McCootie (Pratt 46), Mohamed, Artus. Subs not used: Coupe, Smith.