|Relish looks set to sign two-year deal after league success (30/4/07)
After fulfilling his promise to take City to the Conference South within two seasons, boss John Relish looks set to sign a two-year deal with the club. He has spent two seasons at Twerton Park without a formal deal, as he did with his previous clubs, since taking over from Gary Owers but to provide more stability as he starts plotting to take City back to the top level of non-league football he is set to put pen to paper on a two-year contract.
This planning has already begun with four of his squad signing new deals before Saturday’s final game of the season against Rugby Town. Paul Evans, Adie Harris, Matt Coupe and Mark McKeever joined Darren Edwards, Mike Green and Sekani Simpson in committing themselves to City for the 2007-08 season, with the majority of the squad expected to follow suit in the next week or so.
City were presented with the Southern League Premier Division Championship shield after yesterday’s final league match against Rugby Town. Signalling the end of a 29-year wait for league success this signalled the beginning of a great party for everyone connected with the club. The 6-0 victory over Rugby meant City ended the season on 91 points, 13 ahead of second place Team Bath and meant they were the top scorers as well as having the best defence.
The final Saturday of the season saw Maidenhead United and Hemel Hempstead Town join Team Bath and King’s Lynn in the play-offs to try to join City in the Blue Square Southern/Northern.
City’s last Southern League game before they head off to the Blue Square Southern was a perfect sign-off as they hit Rugby Town for six. On a perfect Twerton Park afternoon goals from Chris Holland (2), Sekani Simpson, Dean Clarke, Martin Paul and Craig Davidge gave City their biggest victory of the season to begin the celebrations in the best way possible. With neither side having anything to play for it would have been understandable if the match had been more like a pre-season friendly but they both contributed to an entertaining clash. There had been close calls at either end before Holland headed City ahead on 29 minutes. Two minutes later Simpson struck his first City goal with a stunning 25-yard curling shot. The second half began with another City player breaking his goalscoring duck, Clarke rifling home a shot, and it was soon 4-0 through Paul’s close range finish. Fifteen minutes from time Davidge struck to make it 5-0 before a remarkable season was fittingly capped by a Holland header from a Mark McKeever corner.
A new coach is City boss John Relish’s first target as he begins to plan for life in the Blue Square Southern. Since Andrew York left the club last December Relish and assistant boss Adie Britten have shared coaching duties but promotion to a higher league has prompted them to look to increase the backroom staff. Current Mangotsfield United manager Lee Howells, who played under Relish at Merthyr Tydfil, has been rumoured to be one possible candidate with former player Jon Holloway another. Ex-coach York could also make a return to the role.
A promotion party and end of season awards evening will take place in Charlie’s and Randall’s after City’s final game of the season at home To Rugby Town on Saturday. The celebrations begin at 5.45pm and will include highlights of the season, food and a disco, plus the opporunity to have your photo taken with your favourite player and the Southern League Championship shield for £5.
City secured the BGB Southern League title, and a place in next season’s Blue Square Southern, with a 2-1 win over Yate Town on Saturday. After going behind to a 6th minute penalty, second half goals from Craig Davidge and Steve Jones guaranteed City’s first league title for 29 years to spark joyous celebrations amongst players, officials and supporters. City had got off to the worst possible start when Chris Holland’s clumsy challenge on Reid allowed ex-City player Dave Elsey to send Paul Evans the wrong way from the penalty spot. Despite having nothing to play for the home side were now content to time-waste and spoil the match, and with the ball spending more time in the air than on the flat but rock-hard pitch, City rarely threatened in a forgettable first half. The half-time introduction of Davidge, on for injured captain Jim Rollo, gave City fresh impetuous and with twenty minutes left he latched onto a Steve Jones header to lift the ball past Pearce. Five minutes later a Lewis Hogg free-kick was met by Steve Jones to plant a header into the net and City were now on the verge of the title. Fifteen minutes later, after they had gone close on several occasions to extending their lead, the final whistle signalled the dream had finally come true.
City will go to Yate Town on Saturday still needing a victory to guarantee them the BGB Southern League title after Team Bath beat Tiverton Town 3-0 at Ladymead this evening. Anything but a win for the full-time University-based side would have ended their hopes of catching City but against a Tivvy side playing their 4th game in just six days they strolled to a comfortable victory with goals from Cooper, Canham and Abbot. A point for City at Lodge Road would all but secure the title as they hold a +21 better goal difference even if Team Bath beat Hemel Hempstead at Twerton Park on Saturday.
Bristol Rovers will not be making a return to Twerton Park after they confirmed that they will move to either Cheltenham Town’s Whadden Road or Swindon Town’s County Ground whilst their Memorial Stadium is redeveloped. Despite the ground, where they spent ten years between 1986 and 1996, being the favourite choice amongst their supporters the Pirates have decided that Twerton Park will be too costly to bring up to the necessary standard and also cast doubts on the standard of the pitch.
City were made to wait a little longer before they can finally celebrate the BGB Southern League title after they were held to a goalless draw by Mangotsfield United at Cossham Street this evening. City had the ball in the net twice, once in each half, but efforts from Martin Paul and Matt Prosser were ruled out by a linesman’s flag for offside and a foul respectively. The home side never let City settle, although this was largely done illegally as their six bookings showed, and were always a threat on the break. Even so City came near to getting the vital goal on a number of occasions, Edwards and Mike Green going close in the first half and the former shooting inches over in the second. Several times the ball wouldn’t drop kindly in the box for City and in stoppage time Prosser headed over to drag the title hunt out for a little bit longer.
City moved to within a single victory of securing the BGB Southern League title by beating Maidenhead United 2-1 at a sunny Twerton Park this afternoon. A goal in each half from Darren Edwards and Martin Paul, before a Behzadi penalty made for a nervous final 15 minutes, secured City’s 25th win of the season but news of Team Bath’s 2-0 victory at Banbury meant the champagne must stay on ice for at least another three days, until City face Mangotsfield United on Tuesday. The game saw City look the more confident side and thay had gone close on several occasions before Edwards headed them ahead four minutes before half-time. On the hour mark City gave themselves breathing space when a great run from Lewis Hogg saw him centre for Paul to sweep the ball home. With fifteen minutes left Matt Coupe was adjudged to have handled a cross and Behzadi fired home but despite the referee playing six minutes of stoppage time City held out for the vital win.
Lewis Hogg struck a 78th minute penalty to rescue a point against bottom of the table Northwood last night and move them a point nearer the BGB Southern League title. With first five choice players missing and playing their third tough game in six days it was an understandably below par performance from City. They had the better of an uneventful first half but the home side won a series of corners at the start of the second and from the last of these Carter’s deflected shot found the net. This finally woke City up and they began to show flashes of why they leading the league. Mike Green was desperately unlucky when his shot struck the post before rolling along the line. Northwood also went close to incresing their lead on several occasions but with 12 minutes left a defender handled Adie Harris’ shot and Hogg made no mistake. Both sides had a chance to grab the win they both craved in the final minutes, Murphy stabbing wide for the home side and Darren Edwards heading Matt Prosser’s cross over the bar.
City can seal the title on Saturday if they beat Maidenhead United at Twerton Park and Team Bath lose at Banbury United. However, this will not earn them a place in the Conference South as had been expected all season. The level two league will be known as the Blue Square Southern division next season after the betting firm took over the sponsorship of the Conference leagues from Nationwide.
City returned to winning ways, and maintained their nine point lead at the top of the BGB Southern Premier Division, with a 1-0 victory over local rivals Chippenham Town this afternoon at Twerton Park. The decisive goal came from Martin Paul on 66 minutes when his low shot somehow trickled into the corner of the net. An injury-ravaged City just about deserved this lead in a typically competitive meeting with the Bluebirds, having always looked the more likely side to score – a goalline clearance and a fine save from Snoddy denying City in the first half. Gilroy should have given Chippenham the lead early in the second half, heading wide from a great position, before City got what turned out to the winning goal. The final 20 minutes saw Chippenham try desperately to salvage something from the game to keep their play-offs hopes alive but only a long-range Halliday – who was sent off in the closing minutes for a second bookable offence – shot forced a save from Paul Evans, although in stoppage time Griffin somehow contrived to hook a shot over the bar from just six-yards out.
The narrow victory became even more vital when news came through that two late goals had given Team Bath a 2-0 win over Maidenhead United.
On a pitch with more sand than grass City fell to their first league defeat of 2007, ending an 18 match unbeaten run in the process, at the hands of Merthyr Tydfil. City went behind on 17 minutes when Kift’s near-post corner seemed to be deflected into his own net by Paul Evans. Five minutes later they suffered a further setback when Darren Edwards was forced off with a back injury. However, in the 33rd minute the familiar combination of a Mark McKeever corner and Chris Holland header drew City level. Both sides had strong penalty claims before the break but the second half started poorly with the ball spending most of the time in the air. City finally got it down in the 62nd minute when Martin Paul raced clear only to blaze the ball over the bar. The home side regained the lead after 70 minutes when Kift’s looping header beat Evans. As in the FA Cup tie between the sides earlier in the season the Martyrs showed their strongest ability and began to timewaste at every opportunity. McKeever nearly bundled home an equaliser a minute from time, only receiving a painful collision with the post for his efforts, and Craig Davidge should have done better in stoppage time when he latched onto a ball over the top, but the final whistle saw City suffer their first league defeat since 23 December.
While City were coming to terms with the strange sensation of losing a league game they were also seeing their lead at the top of the BGB Southern League Premier Division cut to nine points as Team Bath took full advantage of City’s slip by beating Halesown Town 2-1 with goals from up-and-coming student prospect Brian Tinnion and Cooper.
The second legends evening at Twerton Park took place last Friday and saw a meeting of era’s as two players from the last time City won the Southern League joined two who have played a part in taking the current side to the brink of repeating that feat. Over 100 fans saw George Gibbs and Kenny Allen from the 1977-78 title winning team answer questions alongside Jon Holloway and Martin Paul, who have both played in this season’s side. In addition to the question and answer session there was film showing all four players in action, including Birdy’s wonder goal against Merthyr Tydfil last the previous week.
The next event to be held at Twerton Park is a Meet the Manager night that will take place this Thursday starting at 7.30pm.