Jim Rollo (pictured with Lewis Hogg) became only the sixth* City player to play 400 games for the club in last night’s Blue Square South play-off win over Chelmsford City. The 33-year old made his debut in January 1997 whilst on loan from Cardiff City, where he made 35 first team appearances. After a second loan spell with he switched to Twerton Park permanently in May 2002. Since then he has missed just a handful of games, becoming one of the most popular players with teammates and supporters alike, and was named player of the year in 2005.
City will travel to Chelmsford City on Saturday with a two-goal advantage after an incident packed night at Twerton Park. The first leg of the Blue Square South play-off semi-final saw them under the cosh for long periods before two goals in the finally half-hour left them in control of the tie. The turning point came on the hour mark when Darren Edwards was tugged back in the area (pictured) and Kaid Mohamed fired home the penalty. With ten minutes remaining both sides were reduced to ten men when Chelmsford’s Modeste head-butted Mark Badman after a foul by the midfielder. The Clarets no.8 could have little complaint but Badman’s challenge looked worthy of nothing more than a booking. The visitors frustrations were beginning to show now as Holmes was booked for diving and their long trip back to Essex was made even more taxing when, with three minutes left, Mohamed’s low cross was turned home by Hector Mackie from the edge of the box.
City enter the uncharted waters of the Blue Square South play-offs tomorrow evening when Chelmsford City make the long journey from Essex to contest the first leg of the semi-final. With the second leg taking place at the Chelmsford Athletic Stadium, City will hope their 2009-10 campaign doesn’t end at the same venue it began back in August. After 24 minutes of that game it looked as if City would be facing a relegation battle rather than chasing a place in the Blue Square Premier as on-loan goalkeeper Will Puddy suffered the debut from hell, picking the ball out of his net four times. He redeemed himself somewhat with a penalty save on the half-hour and City then showed the resilience that has characterised their season, scoring three times through Richard Evans, Darren Edwards and Mike Perrott to give the home side a nervous final 12 minutes. And this was despite being reduced to ten men after 73 minutes when Mark Badman received his second booking.
The Clarets followed up this winning start with a victory over Woking but just one point from their next five games saw them drop into the bottom half of the table. This was just a blip though as new manager Glenn Pennyfather saw his team steadily climb back up the table and they were soon firmly amongst the play-off contenders. A post-season place was secured in their penultimate match of the season despite a number of players missing through injury. They looked set to then claim the runners-up spot – and a guaranteed home play-off final if they got there – but a 5-2 hammering by Havant & Waterlooville on the final day of the league season saw them pipped by Dover Athletic. Pennyfather will be hoping his injury problems ease ahead of the games with City as defensive quintet Martin, Clark, Haines, Marlon and Ben Nunn all set to be handed fitness tests before the first game, while he also has his fingers crossed skipper Rainford will be declared available.
Neither club have great play-off records, in fact between them they have lost all five of their attempts to win promotion via this relatively new end of season phenomena. Few City fans will need reminding of their 4-2 defeat to Dorchester Town in May 2004 as they looked to secure a place in the new Conference South set-up. At the same time Chelmsford were also missing out, losing by a single goal to Tiverton Town. These defeats effectively relegated both sides but they would not meet again the following season as the Clarets were switched to the Ryman League. That season it was just City who suffered end of season heartbreak as Bedford Town beat them by a single goal after they had finished runners-up to Salisbury City. The 2006-07 season saw City finally win promotion to the Conference South without having to worry about play-offs but the Clarets missed out on joining them in the cruellest way, losing a semi-final penalty shoot-out to former landlords Billericay Town. Twelve months later they followed City’s lead by winning the league and a fifth place finish last year was enough to claim another play-off berth. It was not to be third time lucky though as they lost the first leg of the semi-final at home 3-1 to Hampton & Richmond Borough which a goalless draw in Middlesex did nothing to overturn. Therefore, whatever happens in the next five days one club will finally break their play-off duck.
Complete record against Chelmsford City
The four meetings between the sides since renewing acquaintances two seasons ago have had the common thread of City finishing with just ten men left on the field. Goalkeeper Paul Evans was the first to see red during the game in Essex before Lewis Hogg, Matt Coupe and Mark Badman failed to last the 90 minutes in subsequent clashes. Despite this City managed to win three of these games, with only the aforementioned 24 minutes of madness allowing the Clarets to claim the three points.
After Saturday’s tired and nervous looking performance against St Albans City, City will be boosted by the return of vital midfielder Lewis Hogg, no doubt well-rested after sitting out the final two games of the league season due to suspension. They will also hope that Chris Holland has recovered from the knee infection that saw him miss the St Albans game. Missing from the first leg of the game will be Adie Harris as he completes his two-game suspension.
During the half-time interval of yesterday’s match with St Albans City, City’s Supporters’ Club made its annual supporter awards. The Dennis Hibberd Memorial supporter of the season award went to Eileen and Roger Wilsden, who saw every game home and away this campaign, young supporter of the year to Blake Finney and the Special Award to the Stillman family. Congratulations to all the winners.
City will face Chelmsford City in the Blue Square South play-offs semi-final after they drew 0-0 with St Albans City in a tense afternoon at Twerton Park. It was a nervous performance from City as they struggled to reproduce the form that had seen them win five successive matches to leave them on the verge of the play-offs. The visitors twice went close during the first half – a Fisher header forcing Ryan Robinson to save with his legs and Dedman shooting wide from just a couple of yards out – as City were reduced to a handful of long range efforts. With both Braintree Town and Havant & Waterlooville trailing at half-time everything looked good for City but when the latter came from two goals down to go ahead against Chlemsford it meant a goal for the Saints could end City’s play-off dream. The second half did see City produce a greater attacking threat – Darren Edwards failing to connect with a Sido Jombati cross, Gethin Jones seeing a header cleared off the line and St Albans keeper Bastock produing several smart saves. City also had a strong penalty claim turned down when Bastock appeared to wrestle Edwards to the ground after failing to claim a corner but the goal that would have lifted the tension just wouldn’t come. This meant every time the Saints got near City’s goal the anxiety was palpable but, in truth, they never came close to denying the home side and after three minutes stoppage time the players and 1000+ crowd could celebrate and begin to look forward to continuing their attempt to earn a Blue Square Premier place.
City will be at home in the first leg of the play-off semi-final against Chelmsford City on Tuesday 27 April (ko 7.45pm). The second leg will take place in Essex on Saturday 1 May (ko 3pm) and details of coach travel can be found here.
Football fans in Bath have one less reason now not to be able to find Twerton Park after the club installed a 3 foot high banner reading ‘BATH CITY FC’ on the back of the main stand paid for by the Supporter Society. The stand used to have Bath City Football Club painted along its full length but following the fire that badly damaged the structure in 1990 it was not replaced giving rise to the suggestion that from a distance it looked more like a warehouse than a football stand. That is no longer the case though and nobody can claim now not to know where Bath City FC play.
Four weeks ago on the back of three successive defeats even the most optimistic City fan would have struggled to believe his side’s play-off hopes weren’t lying – if not dead – mortally wounded in the mud at Basingstoke Town’s Camrose ground. The run could not have come at a worse time, leaving City six points adrift of fifth place with just the same number of games remaining and facing a third successive season where the Blue Square South play-offs were a step too far. However, since then five victories in a row has not only put them right back in the play-off hunt but knowing that a win over St Albans City will guarantee them an extension to the season and within three games of a place in the Blue Square Premier. The turnaround means even a draw should be sufficient – barring Woking beating Weymouth by at least twelve goals – and if the worse happened and they lost to the Saints results elsewhere could still see them finish in the top five. City, though, will not be entertaining any thoughts of relying on other teams and look to make it six wins out of six, which could see them finish as high as third and secure a home second leg semi-final berth.
St Albans travel to Bath at the end of a season which after a poor start, where a second successive relegation battle looked on the cards, picked up and, when they won four games on the trot in February/March, saw them climb to the fringes of the play-off chasing pack. Since then a failure to record a victory in their last seven outings has seen them slip back to mid-table against a background of budget cuts and player departures. James Quilter, James Lindie and Drew Roberts all headed out of Clarence Park which has forced manager Steve Castle into fielding a number of teenagers. This has led him to seek budget assurances about next season before committing his future to the club. There was also an unseemly row when stadium announcer Tony Watts resigned and called on chairman John Gibson to relinquish his position at the club.
Complete record against St Albans City
Since the clubs first met early in the 2007-08 season City have enjoyed a good record against the Saints. They won that maiden clash by three goals to nil, Dave Gilroy, Darren Edwards and Adie Harris all on the scoresheet, and since then have won three more times, with just the game at Clarence Park last year ending in a victory for the Hertfordshire side. The meeting there earlier this season finished with City winning 2-0 thanks to a 5th minute Chris Holland strike and Lewis Hogg’s diving header 11 minutes from time.
City go into the game without suspended midfield duo Lewis Hogg and Adie Harris. They may also be missing Chris Holland after he was withdrawn at half-time against Lewes on Tuesday due to a hamstring strain and he is unlikely to be risked with a possible play-off semi-final first leg just three days later. Marcus Browning should return to the squad having overcome a calf strain.
Goals from Darren Edwards and Gethin Jones, plus a penalty save by goalkeeper Ryan Robinson, saw City record a 2-1 victory tonight in their replayed clash with Lewes. The original game had been abandoned after 52 minutes due to a waterlogged pitch but City ensured justice was done this evening to move to within one win of a play-off place. They got off to a perfect start on 11 minutes when Edwards lifted Sekani Simpson’s cross into the net. Both sides went close after this but it was City who doubled their advantage just past the hour mark, Jones heading a corner past home keeper Banks. The Rooks refused to roll over though and won a penalty with 18 minutes remaining only for Robinson to produced a stunning save from Sutton’s effort. They did pull a goal back ten minutes later though, El-Abd blunding the ball home from close range. City then suffered several nervous moments after this but held on to record their fifth successive win.
City travel to East Sussex on Tuesday for the rearranged clash with Lewes after the sides’ first attempt was brought to a premature end when the game was abandoned on 52 minutes due to a waterlogged pitch. Despite only leading by a single Kaid Mohamed goal, City looked in control of the match and, although the referee’s decision was largely viewed as correct by both clubs, there will certainly be a feeling of injustice if they cannot repeat the performance and head back to Bath with the three points. However, this time they will face a Lewes side full of confidence having won four and drawn one of their six matches since the abandonment (compared to ten games without a win before the first match) to climb out of the bottom three for the first time this year. This turnaround in form has come about with the capture of two players on loan from Blue Square Premier side Hayes & Yeading United. Former Team Bath defender Sami El-Abd has helped shore up their defence while striker Rob Gradwell netted a vital goal against relegation rivals Worcester City and was also on target in the Rooks 5-0 win over Dorchester Town yesterday.
Complete record against Lewes
After recording their first ever win over Bromley to keep their play-offs hopes alive City will need to repeat the trick against Lewes, having drawn two and lost one of their previous three meetings. And it is only a win that will ensure they go into the final Saturday of the league season definitely in control of their own destiny. Three points would lift them up to fourth place above Woking and Braintree Town and give them a chance of overhauling third place Dover Athletic. However, a draw could see Staines Town steal a march over them if they beat Maidenhead United on the same evening. This would carry the Swans above City on goal difference and leave them with a narrow – but potentially vital – advantage as the Blue Square South season reaches its finale.
City will definitely be without influential midfielder Lewis Hogg as he begins a two-match suspension for ten bookings but hope that Mark Badman will have recovered from the hamstring problem that saw him miss the Bromley win. Fellow midfielder Adie Harris is also a doubt after he limped out of the 2-1 win but manager Adie Britton will hope that no other players suffered any serious knocks in that game.
On a day when all their play-off rivals won City ensured they still control their own destiny by beating mid-table Bromley by two goals to one at a warm and sunny Hayes Lane. The game should have been over by the break only for Lilywhite’s keeper Foderingham to produce a series of excellent stops. City shot-stopper Ryan Robinson also made a couple of vital saves in an open 45 minutes of football. After the interval the heat seemed to affect both sides and the game became increasingly scrappy but midway through it City grabbed what turned out to be the winning goal. Kaid Mohamed had already struck the frame of the goal with a powerful shot before putting City in front on 18 minutes. Lewis Hogg’s rising shot came back off the crossbar and Mohamed executed a perfect overhead kick to net the rebound. Foderingham then denied the striker a second goal with a great low save two minutes later. He produced further point blank saves from Mohamed again, Darren Edwards and Adam Connolly and it looked like it was going to be a frustrating afternoon for City especially when Chris Holland misjudged a low throw from Ferguson to flick the ball into his own net in the 30th minute. Even when Foderingham was beaten Daly was on hand to clear Holland’s header off the line. Robinson had twice denied Ferguson when he was clean through on goal but City would have still wondered at the break why they weren’t several goals in front. The second half failed to live up to the first, although City still looked the stronger side and with 22 minutes left a Hogg free-kick found its way to an unmarked Holland just a couple of yards out and he stabbed the ball home. The home side rarely looked like finding another equaliser, although there was a nervous moment for City fans when Gethin Jones tangled with Cassius just inside the City area only for the referee to penalise the Bromley player, and Edwards should have struck a third for City in stoppage time but he fired Hector Mackie’s low cross over the bar from close range.
City travel to Kent looking to record their first ever win over Bromley and ensure they remain firmly in control of their play-off destiny. The Lilywhites would have hoped still to be in the play-off hunt themselves having overcome a poor start to the season to begin 2010 on the fringes of the top five. However, just two wins in their last 15 league outings has seen them slip down to 13th place and even if they beat City and Thurrock in their last two games they can only climb one place at best. This will be the third successive Blue Square South season where the club’s play-off ambitions have faded during the second half of the season and led to seen flamboyant manager Mark Goldberg apologising to the supporters for setting expectations higher than the infrastructure of the club can appear to maintain. Despite this City can expect a tough encounter against a side no doubt determined to finish their home campaign on a high.
One player that City will be pleased no longer appears on the Bromley team sheet is striker Warren McBean. The former Barnet front-man has enjoyed his outings against City, netting goals both for Bromley and his previous club Sutton United. However, he was surprisingly transfer-listed by the Lilywhites back in February following ‘some issues’ which had “caused concern” to both Goldberg and club owner, Jerry Dolke. He was dropped from the starting XI for the next two games but on his return to the side scored five goals in as many games. Then just when it looked as if McBean had patched up his differences with the club it was announced that he had joined Blue Square South rivals Chelmsford City on loan for the rest of the season. Of course, this means City could face him in the play-offs. March also saw several other departures as the club looked to reduce its wage bill with their play-off hopes beginning to fade – Mark Corneille and Adrian Stone joining Maidstone United while Luke I’Anson headed to Welling United.
The previous five meetings between the clubs have finished all-square on four occasions with just the game at Twerton Park last season ending in a positive result, Bromley winning 3-1 with the aforementioned McBean scoring two of the goals. The first 2009-10 clash between City and Bromley ended goalless at Twerton a week before both sides were in FA Cup 1st Round action against Grimsby Town and Colchester United respectively.
Complete record against Bromley
Whilst City supporters focus on the match with Bromleythey will no doubt also be interested in how their play-off rivals are faring as the 2009-10 season enters its final straight. Woking, who climbed above City in the week thanks to a win at Maidenhead United, travel to mid-table St Albans City, whilst the two sides directly below them, Havant & Waterlooville and Staines Town, face a trip to Maidenhead and home game with Thurruck respectively. Braintree Town, who have come within City’s reach following two successive draws, are playing Basingstoke Town. And for the more optimistic City fan, Dover Athletic have a tough looking encounter with champions Newport County and Chelmsford City are home to Worcester City.
City should have a full squad to choose from, with strike duo Kaid Mohamed and Darren Edwards both set to play through their minor injuries, although Mark Badman, available again after his two match ban, may not be risked as he is carrying a slight hamstring strain ahead of the suspensions due for fellow midfielders Lewis Hogg (Lewes and St Albans) and Adie Harris (St Albans).
City slipped out of the top 5 this evening on a good night for two of their play-off rivals. Woking came from a goal down at half-time to beat Maidenhead United thanks to a penalty eight minutes from time. This win lifts the Cards a point in front of City, albeit from one game more. Havant & Waterlooville had no such problems disposing of Weston Super Mare, netting six times without reply against the Seagulls, whose long overdue relegation from the Blue Square South is still not guaranteed despite once again being assured of a bottom three finish. The Hawks big victory moves them level on points with City, again from a game more, and closes the goal difference gap to just two.
Should City reach the Blue Square South play-off final they could face a long midweek trip on the day of the General Election but typically for the organisation the Football Conference cannot confirm the exact date with less than four weeks until the climax of the 2009-10 season. The Blue Square North play-off final will take place on Sunday 9 May and it was believed the South match would be played a day earlier on the Saturday. However, it appears one of the clubs currently in the top 5 (understood to be Chelmsford City) are unable to use their ground on that date meaning should they qualify to host the final it will be played on Thursday 6 May. This could mean City facing a 330 mile round trip but not know for certain until just five days before.
City gave themselves a great chance to claim a Blue Square South play-off place with a 2-0 win over Staines Town at Twerton Park this afternoon. Goals from Chris Holland and Darren Edwards saw them leapfrog their opponents into fifth place and they know that two wins and a draw from their remaining three games will almost certainly secure a play-off spot. City began the game strongly, Kaid Mohamed having a shot charged down and Sekani Simpson heading Edwards cross narrowly over. The visitors had looked second best in every department but as the half progressed they began to impose themselves on the game and enjoyed considerable possession, although they only looked truly threatening from set-pieces. City withstood this pressure though and finished the half on top once again. Both sides continued to produce attacking play that defied the vital nature of the game and it was City who got the vital breakthrough on 58 minutes when Holland controlled Mohamed’s centre before firing low past Wells. Staines understandably threw men forward after this in search of an equaliser and on several occasions came desperately close to breaching City’s rearguard. Once again though City stood firm and two minutes into stoppage time they secured the win as Edwards was played onside by Risbridger lying prone midway in his half and lobbed Wells from 25 yards out. Staines’ afternoon got worse a moment later when Scarlett was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Staines Town make their first appearance at Twerton Park on Saturday to face City in a match that could go a long way to deciding the play-off fate of either club. With just four 2009-10 Blue Square South regular season matches left for both teams the Swans currently occupy the final play-off position just one point ahead of City, so a win for either side would give them a vital advantage in the final weeks of the campaign.
Staines have been the surprise package of the 2009-10 season after earning promotion from the Ryman League via the play-offs last year. After winning their opening two games against Weston Super Mare and Dorchester Town they drew seven of their next ten outings which showed they were difficult to beat but maybe lacked the quality to trouble the higher echelons of the division. They reached the turn of the year in mid-table before a brace of four-goal wins over local rivals Hampton & Richmond Borough on Boxing Day and New Years Day kick started an impressive run of form. They have lost just three games since which has seen them steadily climb the table to their current fifth position. They missed a chance to open a gap in the chasing pack on Good Friday suffering a surprise home defeat to struggling Worcester City at Wheatsheaf Park. Their Blue Square South campaign was then interrupted by the Middlesex Senior Cup as the final against Uxbridge took priority over the scheduled league match with Maidenhead United. However, the Swans confidence will have been restored somewhat after the Worcester loss as they won the game by two goals to nil to lift the cup.
The game was goalless at the half-time interval but within five minutes of the restart a stunning 25-yard strike by Staines star of the season Ali Chaaban broke the deadlock and then midway through the half Newton’s corner curled straight into the net to end the resistance of the lower league side. They suffered a blow late on though when Chabaan limped off with a recurrence of a knee injury. He now faces a race to be fit to face City and it would be a big loss for the Middlesex side if he were to miss the match. He has netted 12 league goals this season but it was his FA Cup exploits that lifted him and the club to national attention. Staines had enjoyed FA Cup success in 2007 when they beat League Two Stockport County on penalties in a replay in front of the Sky Sports cameras. This season wins over Sittingbourne, Walton Casuals and Blue Square Premier side Hayes & Yeading United earned them a 1st Round tie with Shrewsbury Town. Whilst City were enjoying giant killing of their own at Grimsby Town, a goal from Chabaan was enough to send Staines through to the 2nd Round, where they were handed a great draw at home to 2004 finalists Millwall. Once again Chabaan was the Swans hero netting from the penalty spot to earn his side a 1-1 draw and a replay at the New Den. They couldn’t repeat the giant-killing act though as the Lions ran out 4-0 winners.
Complete record against Staines Town
The meeting at Wheatsheaf Park earlier this season came three days after the sides had enjoyed their FA Cup successes and, not surprisingly, was a low key encounter. Kaid Mohamed put City ahead on 65 minutes from close range after home keeper Wells could only parry Chris Holland’s header but ten minutes later Scarlett’s low free-kick crept inside the post to ensure the points were shared. This was a considerable improvement for City on their only previous meeting with Staines when an 11th minute goal was sufficient to send the then Ryman League Division 1 North side through to the 4th Round of the 2004-05 FA Trophy.
City should go into the game with a full squad to choose from apart from Mark Badman, who is serving the final game of this two match ban for his sending off against Braintree Town. City strike duo Darren Edwards and Kaid Mohamed are both carrying slight knocks but ought to be fit for the massive game (damn, nearly made it to the end of the preview without using the ‘massive’ reference).
Lewis Hogg showed the two sides of his character this afternoon as he netted both of City’s goals in the win over Worcester City but also picked up an unneccessary booking that will rule him out of the final two league games this season. On a poor pitch both sides struggled to produce any quality football but seven minutes left in the first half a Sekani Simpson cross picked out Hogg and he fired an unstoppable volley past ex-Team Bath keeper Meredith. The hosts saw more possession after the interval but found City’s defence in resiliant form, the closest they came to levelling was on 78 minutes when Dinsmore beat Ryan Robinson only for Sido Jombati to cap an excellent performance with a vital goalline clearance. Five minutes later City secured the points when Daniels’ attempted clearance was charged down by Hogg and the ball flew past Meredith. A couple of minutes after this Hogg spoilt his day slightly, picking up a booking for a foul, and moments later he was withdrawn by Adie Britton as he continued to agrue with referee Ms Garratt.
With Welling United losing by a single goal against Dover Athletic and Thurrock drawing nil-nil at Bishop’s Stortford, the win lifts City back up to 6th place, one point behind Saturday’s opponent Staines Town (whose league game at Maidenhead United was cancelled due to their invovlement in the Middlesex Senior Cup this evening).
City travel up the M5 to face the Blue Square South anomaly side Worcester City (driving past Blue Square North Gloucester City on the way) tomorrow knowing a win will move them back to within a point of the play-offs ahead of their crunch meeting with Staines Town, who currently occupy fifth place, next Saturday at Twerton Park. Following the results from the first half of the Easter programme City are one of six sides realistically chasing that final play-off place and they know they cannot afford any further slip-ups in their five remaining matches.
Worcester by contrast have spent the entire season, bar a single week in September, in the bottom four. They look secure from relegation though with Weymouth already unable to catch them and Weston Super Mare needing to win all five of their remaining games (doubling their total league wins if they managed it). They also have an eight point cushion over 20th place Lewes, although with just two teams likely to be relegated from the Blue Square South this is academic. However, it is doubtful that the Royals will provide such meek opposition as Dorchester Town did on Good Friday, knowing that in non-league football you should never make assumptions and to guarantee their place in the Blue Square South (or North) they will want to ensure Lewes are not given a chance to overhaul them.
The 2009-10 season has been one of off-the-field struggles for Worcester and they announced last week that they had come within 24 hours of going into administration. The Royal Bank of Scotland would have pulled the plug had a deal not finally been struck to sell the club’s St George’s Lane home and pay off a £1.5 million debt. An agreement with Careys New Homes was struck back in October 2007 to redevelop the 100-year old site whilst the football club moved to a new site at the Nunnery Way area of the City. However, numerous problems have plagued the arrangement and only now do things appear to be moving again. The Wembley-based company will pay £3.5 million for the ground, leaving Worcester around £2 million to finance a new home. The deal will see Worcester continue to play at St Georges Lane for at least another two seasons while the development process for Nunnery Way is carried forward.
On the pitch although it has been a difficult season for the club they have continually picked up enough points to avoid getting dragged into the bottom three since manager Richard Dryden was sacked in January. He was replaced by assistant Carl Heeley, who has played over 500 games for the club, in a caretaker capacity. A vital win over bottom club Weymouth in his first game in charge was the perfect start and even though he has enjoyed only four more victories since three have come against play-off chasing sides, showing that on their day they are a match for most sides in the division. The last of these was on Good Friday when a goal from ex-City player Alfie Carter was enough to beat Staines Town, a result that would have been welcomed as much in Bath as Worcester.
Complete record against Worcester City
City and Worcester have met on 106 previous occasions with the Royals edging the overall record with 42 wins to City’s 40. Almost 20 years to the day City travelled up to Worcestershire as they battled with Dover Athletic for the Beazer Homes League Premier Division title. City went into the game on the back of 14 successive league victories and without conceding a goal in their last six outings. Led by former Worcester boss George Rooney (who is now back at St Georges Lane as a football consultant) City knew a win as vital to keeping in touch with the Kent side who were two points ahead of them, albeit having played one game more, as the campaign fast approached its climax. Early openings for Gary Smart and John Freegard suggested City would comfortably overcome the mid-table side yet on 24 minutes they fell behind when Fergusson fired home after a free-kick had been deflected into his path. This ended 565 minutes since the last time keeper Jim Preston had had to pick the ball out of his net but it was only another 16 minutes before he was beaten again when a dreadful back-pass by Paul Stevens allowed Hackett to nip in and roll the ball home. Clearly stunned by this City could have found themselves further behind in the second half and it was only the introduction of Dave Payne and Dave Singleton that saw them look capable of getting back into the game. However, despite applying considerable pressure in the last 15 minutes they couldn’t find a way through the determined home defence and the defeat handed Dover an initiative they would not surrender. In the end though City claimed a place in the GM Vauxhall Conference due to the Kent side’s inadequate ground facilities meaning it would be eight seasons before they faced Worcester City again in the league.
City breathed a little life back into their play-off hopes with a straightforward 2-0 win over Dorchester Town at Twerton Park this afternoon. The visitors put up little resistance as a first half strike from Lewis Hogg and Kaid Mohamed’s second half goal was enough to secure the important three points. From the moment Sido Jombati headed a corner over on two minutes City were always a class apart from the Magpies and they went close on several occasions before Hogg lifted the ball past keeper Coward from a narrow angle on 27 minutes. Dorchester’s best spell of the game followed this but they failed to trouble Ryan Robinson and ten minutes into the second half Mohamed ran onto a Darren Edwards flick to shoot across Coward into the corner of the net. The game petered out after this although City spurned a number of chances to boost their goal difference, not least when they had a three on one break only for Sekani Simpson to slice his cross into the hands of Coward, but by then the important aim of ending their three-game losing streak had been achieved.
The Football Conference are pleased to announce that Blue Square, part of the Rank Group, has signed a new three year – seven figure deal, to continue as Title Sponsor for all three divisions for the next three seasons. To bring more emphasis to their sponsorship, the respective divisions will now be known as BLUE SQUARE BET PREMIER, BLUE SQUARE BET NORTH and BLUE SQUARE BET SOUTH. The agreement, signed by Mark Jones the MD of Blue Square and Brian Lee, the Chairman of the Football Conference took place in the presence of Sir Geoff Hurst, who will be Blue Square’s guest of honour at this season’s Promotion Final at Wembley on Sunday 16th May. Blue Square are excited to have such a legend, not only in this World Cup year but with him returning to the ‘Venue of Dreams’ to present the trophy to the club who will gain promotion to the Football League via the Conference play-off system.
Mark Jones stated “We are delighted to be continuing our sponsorship of the Conference competition. Football is a vital part of our company strategy and we are delighted to support that with our investment into the grassroots game.” Brian Lee in response commented “The partnership with Blue Square has seen The Football Conference grow in stature in the last three years within the professional game. As the present season draws to an end we are absolutely delighted that we are renewing our sponsorship with Blue Square and look forward to continuing our successful working relationship with them in the future’.
Member clubs will starting next season, see a closer link with other partners of Blue Square via the Rank Group, namely Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos. Spearheading the sponsorship on a day to day basis will be Richard Jaques, Sponsorship Manager for Blue Square. In his new role he said “It’s fantastic to be able to continue our association with the league. The new deal runs for another three years and we look forward to supporting all of the member clubs during that time.” As this current season and the current deal draws to a close, Alan Alger, PR Manager for Blue Square underlined his and Blue Square’s passion for the competition “This season is shaping up to be as exciting as the first two. I’m extremely happy that the deal will run for three more years as attendances continue to rise and the quality on the field reaches even higher standards. The Blue Square Promotion Final in May will be eagerly awaited by all in football generally, let alone the fans of the two clubs who will be treading the hallowed turf to secure their dream end to this fabulous season”.