“IF YOU score goals, you’re going to get noticed and thankfully that’s what happened.”

Tom Bath’s assessment of a striker’s constant desire to score offers a glimpse into the brutal pressure on forwards.

All youngsters harbour dreams of playing at as high a level as possible, but the path to prominence for current Dorchester striker Bath was not always signposted.

Bath began his career as a winger at Alphington, where he showed his talent for hitting the back of the net.

As a teenager, Bath excelled in his first taste of men’s football and Willand Rovers soon came calling.

In a masterstroke, Rovers opted to deploy Bath as a striker and he continued to terrorise opponents, earning a move to Tiverton in his early twenties.

Moving up to Southern League football hardly fazed the Devon dynamo, duly banging in 45 goals in 143 appearance for Tivvy.

Looking for a new challenge, Bath was tempted by the rebuild at Dorchester under Callum Brooks’ stewardship.

Although the Magpies were bottom of the league when the FA voided the BetVictor Southern Premier South, Bath had already amassed 20 goals in all competitions.

Dorchester had long needed a marquee goalscorer and electrician Bath certainly provided the Magpies with a spark up front – proving a change of position can work wonders.

“As a young lad I was put out on the wing,” Bath recalled.

“But I scored a few goals from out wide and I think in my first season I got about 20-odd goals.

“From the wing, people would look at it and go ‘cor, yeah, not too bad’.

“Then I went to Willand as a striker and it was just scoring goals. At the end of the day, if you score goals you’re going to get noticed and thankfully that’s what happened.

“You play well, work hard and if you can get a few goals, get a few goals. That’s my main aim.”

In the lower leagues, Bath had already done the hard part; now it was time for the hard work.

“The higher you go the more time you get, but you’ve got to work harder,” he said.

“In the game you’ve got to be physically strong. The higher you go, the more physically demanding it is on your body. You’ve got to be stronger in yourself to fight off these players.

“Especially for myself, with a big centre-half, you’ve got to try and fight them – it’s hard.

“That’s the difficult thing going up the levels.”

At Tiverton, Bath was trusted up front as the Yellows were pushing for promotion in the 2016/17 season.

While just missing out on automatic promotion, Tivvy earned a Southern League South & West play-off final at Salisbury.

Michael Landricombe headed Tivvy into a 40th-minute lead before Bath sealed a 2-0 win with a clinical strike from six yards in the 54th minute.

It is perhaps no surprise the triumph is the most memorable moment in Bath’s career to date.

“That was an unbelievable day,” he said. “I managed to get myself on the scoresheet as well, which topped it off.

“We went up into the division we’re in now, so that was my highlight personally.”

Having risen through the leagues, Bath has proven his aptitude at making good first impressions – as happened in his stint at Dorchester.

“Personally, I’ve had a good season but it doesn’t mean anything if the team isn’t doing very well,” he conceded.

“Obviously being the first season, you want to impress the fans and impress the new manager.

“I feel I’ve done that, but my performances could be better – like everyone else’s.

“It was a bit of a shame that this (voiding) happened because I felt with the new manager (Leigh Robinson) coming in, we were just starting to see signs of gradually trying to pick up some points.

“The new manager has started to get his philosophy into the players.

“He works a lot on fitness, on the players running a lot. I feel like it’s starting to get there.”

Scoring 20 goals in his maiden Magpies campaign is an eye-catching return – the kind of form that will continue to get Bath noticed.


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