Bath open season with defeat at Cheltenham

25th September 2021

Bath travelled to Cheltenham for the opening competitive fixture of the 2021/22 season. The two teams are due to play each other at least 4 times this season and this particular encounter was for the local league. For Bath, there was a debut for Gavin Donaldson with Doug Mackay making his first appearance for a few years. Student James ‘Stella’ Parrett made his first start in goal for Bath. Alex George captained the team in the absence of this season’s new captain Gareth Davies.

Despite a pristine playing surface, the game had a scrappy start to it. Cheltenham saw more of the ball, but play from both teams wasn’t fluid. Bath defended well, especially during a series of man-down defences. While both teams had spells of possession, it took until midway through the first quarter for the deadlock to be broken. Cheltenham’s no 28 finally converting their possession into a goal. Not long later, Bath hit back. Donaldson’s first shot from crease was pushed behind, but Luke Wilmot recycled the ball back to him for a second opportunity from which he did not miss. The quarter ended even.

1st Quarter – 1:1 (Goal: Donaldson, Assist: Wilmot)

A tight contest continued into the second quarter. Cheltenham went ahead when they worked the ball to find a spare man that the Bath defence hadn’t picked up. 14 added another when he cut onto crease in one of Cheltenham’s set plays. Bath had plenty of the ball this quarter, and avoided unnecessary send-offs for the most part, but lacked a clinical edge in front of goal.

2nd Quarter – 3:1

Bath started to get some more opportunities from the face-off. Ramzi Nasr, facing off with a long pole, not giving his opposite number an inch. Bath settled into the quarter, conserving energy well.  A goal came when Wilmot and Mark Lane worked some space on the left to give Lane the space to slot in. At the other end, the defence worked hard and ‘Stella’ was more than a match for a number of long shots from Cheltenham. However, that hard work was undone when George lost it in attack, leading to a Cheltenham fast break. This culminated in the Cheltenham number 94 pinging a shot into the side of the net. The quarter got worse at the end with an injury to the returning Mackay.

3rd Quarter – 6:2 (G: Lane, A: Wilmot)

The injury to Mackay and all-round tiredness across the team led to some haphazard line-ups for Bath in this quarter. Players rotated across all three positions and this lack of cohesion showed. Cheltenham exploited this well, both on the fast break and in settled play.

Bath got a late goal in the match. George scrapping after the ball from a face-off and, under pressure from the Cheltenham defenders, shovelled the ball out to Wilmot. Wilmot finished smartly past the Cheltenham ‘keeper.

4th Quarter – 11:3 (G: Wilmot, A: George)

The final result was a deserved win for Cheltenham, though Bath would feel that the final score was perhaps harsh on as they had competed for the majority of the game.