|Murray goes out with goal but can’t prevent final day City loss (28/4/12)
Scott Murray scored in his final game for City but couldn’t prevent the side going down to a 2-1 defeat at Alfreton Town as they brought the curtain down on their two-year stint in the Blue Square Bet Premier. It was a low key finale on a bitterly cold afternoon at a ground that was more suited to the Southern League rather than non-league’s top flight but the game provided a microcosm of City’s whole season. The home side started brightly and on 17 minutes Meadows was given far too much space to fire past Glyn Garner. Then three minutes later another piece of sucidal defending saw Gethin Jones lose possession to Arnold near the touchline and he crossed for Wilson to make it 2-0. City were literally handed a lifeline five minutes later when Franklin was harshly adjudged to have deliberately blocked Murray’s cross with his arm and the soon-to-be Bristol City kit manager beat Lowson from the spot. Alfreton edged the remainder of the half but after the interval City looked the better side but, as has so often been the case this season, despite all their good build-up play, there was no final product and even when they got shots on target Lowson comfortably dealt with these efforts. With Kettering Town losing at Darlington, City did at least avoid the ignominy of finishing bottom of the table and with light rain sweeping across the Impact Arena at the final whistle they took their bow of the Conference Premier with the hope they would make a return sooner rather than later.
City’s two-year adventure in the Blue Square Bet Premier comes to an end on Saturday when they complete their 2011-12 campaign with a 1pm kick off at Alfreton Town. Having enjoyed days out at the likes of Luton Town, Wrexham, Grimsby Town and Stockport County it seems fitting that their return to the Conference South is heralded by a trip to the less grand surroundings of the Impact Stadium, although the fact that the ground will continue to host top-flight non-league football next season is unlikely to be lost on City followers.
For the first half of the 2011-12 season the Reds struggled to adapt to life in the Conference Premier having lifted the North title the previous year. With just three wins from their opening 23 league games, along with City, they were in danger of being cast adrift at the foot of the table. Like City they enjoyed a brief spell improved form around Christmas but it was at the beginning of March that a 6-1 home win over Stockport County began a remarkable run of results, with Nicky Law’s side winning eight of their next nine games. The final of these victories was a single goal success at title-chasing Wrexham and, although they have picked up just a single point in their last three games, the run has ensured a second season at this level.
No doubt the trip to the Impact Stadium – City’s first ever – will be a poignant affair for the Roman’s as they look back on two seasons of highs and lows as a member of non-league’s elite. It is no surprise that most of the highs came during the 2010-11 season as the team shocked a number of full-time, big budget former Football League clubs on their way to a remarkable 10th place finish. The two injury time goals to rescue a point at home to Darlington, the 2-1 win at Cambridge United thanks to Kaid Mohamed’s stunning solo strike, the second half comeback from two goals down to beat Southport, the 2-1 victory at a bitterly cold Histon in front of the Premier Sports TV cameras and the 4-0 thrashing of Cambridge United at Twerton Park, plus a number of other displays, will all live long in the memory of City fans. Of course, there were lows as well that year, the Boxing Day defeat to Forest Green Rovers at Twerton Park, the 5-1 loss at soon to be extinct Rushden & Diamonds and, probably the lowest point of the campaign, the embarrassing (and costly) FA Cup exit to Southern League Swindon Supermarine.
By contrast this season has seen many more lows than highs, largely the result of conceding numerous soft goals, a failure to turn promising performances into goals and, not least, being on the wrong end of a number of scandalous refereeing decisions. However, even in a campaign that has had a doomed look for the vast majority there have still been several memorable displays; the battling 1-1 draw with Luton Town despite finishing with nine men, the relief of recording their first league win at home to Darlington, the two FA Cup matches against Dagenham & Redbridge, the second live on ESPN, when only one of the aforementioned refereeing decisions cost them the tie and, most recently, racing into a four-goal lead against Gateshead, although as an indication of what could have been this was a slightly bittersweet result. There is probably no-one connected to the club who will say relegation is not deserved but, whilst some may even welcome a return to the more familiar realms of the Conference South, the majority will hope for a swift return back to the top of the non-league food chain and more memorable moments to add to those they’ve enjoyed during the last two years.
Complete record against Alfreton Town
If City do travel back from Derbyshire with the three points it will go a small way to righting one of the biggest disappointments (and injustices) they suffered this season, the 3-0 defeat against Alfreton Town back in January. Just four points separated the two sides in the bottom two league places and for City it was a game they knew they must win. Despite falling behind in unfortunate circumstances on 17 minutes, when Adam Connolly deflected a long throw into his own net, it was only a series of excellent saves from Reds keeper Lowson (plus some blatant time-wasting) that kept City at bay for the rest of the half. There was little sign of a change in the balance of the game after the interval although the visitors were increasingly guilty of a number of over the top challenges that went unpunished by referee Mr Bratt. And it from one such two-footed challenge by Wilson on Gethin Jones that led to City playing the final half an hour of the match with just nine men. Inexplicably, despite the linesman flagging for a foul against Jones, it was the City captain who received a red card much to his and the rest of the City player’s stunned disbelief. In the aftermath Sean Canham let his frustration boil over and he followed Jones down the tunnel for throwing the ball in the direction of the referee (although it actually only hit Alex Russell). Even with their numerical advantage Alfreton showed little inclination to do more than time-waste their way to a 1-0 win until two late goals gave them a flattering winning margin. With Alfreton soon embarking on their winning run, whilst City were losing their next six outings, both sides final positions this season can be directly related to this match.
City should travel with an almost full squad from which to select their starting XI, just Joe Burnell is likely to be missing due to an ankle injury. The match will no doubt see the final appearance in a City shirt of a number of players although the only definite departee is Scott Murray as he hangs up his boots to become kit manager with Bristol City.
City were sad to hear of the passing of former chairman Gilbert Walshaw, 87, on Friday afternoon. Gilbert was an important member of the Bath City community for over eighty years. His father Alfred Walshaw introduced him to the club at a very young age. In later life Gilbert famously carried a picture of himself aged four in a Bath City shirt and top hat acting as club mascot at the old Lambridge ground (home to Bath City before the club relocated to Twerton Park in 1932). Gilbert joined the Bath City board in December 1971 and was soon after joined by his brother Tony. After two years as a director he took on the role of chairman for five years, stepping down in March 1978. He continued to serve the club in one capacity or another, however, for nearly his entire life and was well known amongst current supporters for his rousing speeches at the club’s AGM each year. His funeral will be held at Wellow Church on Monday 30 April at 3.30pm.
City finally climbed off the foot of the Blue Square Bet Premier table this afternoon as they swept aside Gateshead by four goals to two. Despite the visitors two late goals it was a dominate performance from City that gave their supporters something to cheer after a long and difficult season, although it could also be viewed as frustrating that it came far too late to have any effect on relegation back to the Conference South. That aside though it was a showing that has been long overdue and the win was virtually secured within the opening 13 minutes as City raced into a three-goal lead. This was not before Gateshead’s Jon Shaw had seen a point blank header blocked by Andy Gallinagh but City raced up the other end of the pitch and when the ball broke to Adam Connolly he fired home via the inside of the post. Four minutes later Marley Watkins burst through the middle of the Heed’s defence only to be pulled to the ground by Clark. Remarkably the lumbering defender escaped even a yellow card but Marc Canham exacted the perfect punishment with his seventh successful spot kick of the season. And on 13 minutes another great move ended with Gallinagh curling home a shot from just inside the area to make it 3-0. Although the North East side came into the game with play-off ambitions they looked completely shell-shocked and Watkins, Scott Murray and Sean Canham all went close to adding to scoring before the break. This respite only lasted ten minutes into the second half as Murray, in his final Twerton Park appearance, crossed for Sean Canham to head past a flailing Deasy. With 18 minutes left City were denied a clean sheet when Cummins netted from close range and seven minutes later Hatch struck to make it 4-2 but there was no further scares for City. At the final whistle they received another welcome boost with the news that Kettering Town’s 1-1 draw with Barrow meant for the first time since August last year City were off the bottom of the table and now travel to Alfreton Town next Saturday with a possible 22nd place finish in their sights.
Scott Murray will make his final Twerton Park appearance for City against Gateshead tomorrow after he announced he is to hang up his boots at the end of this season. The 38-year old has spent two seasons with City, making 74 appearances and scoring 13 goals, after a long and successful career with Bristol City. And it is at Ashton Gate that he is set to enjoy his post-playing life as his commercial role looks set to move from part to full-time, alongside his coaching duties with the Championship side.
City finish their 2011-12 home campaign on Saturday, when Gateshead make the long trip down from the North East, looking to end on a high and given their long-suffering followers something to cheer in a campaign that has been desperately short of such moments. With just four league wins all season, compared to 14 defeats, and only 23 goals in the 22 matches, the Twerton Park terraces and seats have witnessed precious little excitement but a win over the Heed would at least usher in the new era of Mayday Trust Park on a high and, once again, could see City finally climb off the foot of the Blue Square Bet Premier table.
Although City go into the game with little more than pride to play for, Gateshead still have an outside chance of making the play-offs. They come into the game in 8th place, six points behind fifth placed Kidderminster Harriers but from one game fewer. However, since beating City by a single goal last month at the International Stadium they have struggled for form, particularly away from the North East picking up just a single point from trips to Tamworth, Newport County and Grimsby Town, and defeat to City would definitely end any hope of extending their season. Gateshead’s cause has not been helped by a series of injuries and suspensions depleting their squad. Manager Ian Bogie did receive a boost this week with midfielder Phil Turnbull coming through a reserve game alongside striker Liam Hatch and defender Carl Magnay who also played the full game after completing three match bans. With Yemi Odubade also back from a broken foot it looks like the Heed will head south with a much stronger squad than in recent weeks.
Even if, as looks likely, Gateshead miss out on a play-off place it will have still been an excellent season with their highest placed finish since the mid-1990s. The undoubted star of the campaign has been striker Jon Shaw. When he netted the only goal in last Saturday’s win over Forest Green Rovers he broke the 18-year record of 34 goals set by Paul Dobson in the 1993-94 season, the previous best season’s return for a striker in the history of the club. The Sheffield-born 28-year old has now scored 56 goals in 95 games for the Heed and no doubt will have clubs interested in his services over the summer months.
Complete record against Gateshead
One of these 34 goals was enough to defeat City when they travelled to Gateshead a month ago, the same scoreline that saw City earn the three points at Twerton Park last season. That meeting saw the visitors look the livelier side during the opening half hour which culminated with Shaw steering a header onto the bar. City responded almost immediately with Marley Watkins suffering the same misfortune, his rising shot crashing against the post, and the remainder of the half belonged to the Romans. Although they failed to convert this pressure into a goal it took just a couple of minutes after the break for Lee Phillips to latch onto Watkins’ pass and fire past Deasy. Both sides created several good openings after this but the strike from City’s top scorer turned out to be the only goal and send the Heed on their long journey home empty handed.
Only Joe Burnell is likely to be unavailable as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury and the game could see a first start for top scorer Sean Canham for a month after he came through 45 minutes at Darlington last weekend. He won’t line up alongside Lee Phillips though despite his return from the loan spell at Eastleigh as the Hampshire club are still paying his wages.
City have annouced the cost to watch City back in the Blue Square Bet South next season. Matchday prices have been reduced by £2 to £12 terrace and £13 grandstand. Season ticket prices have been similarly lowered with extra reductions for tickets purchased before May 31 and existing season ticket holders. In addition all adult season tickets will include three free drink vouchers to use in Charlie’s. See below for the full prices (figures in brackets for existing season ticket holders):
City’s End of Season Presentation Evening will take place on Friday 4 May 2012 from 8pm until midnight, in Charlie’s, where the Right Worshipful Mayor of Bath, Councillor Bryan Chalker, will be on hand to present the awards. The team, management and staff will be in attendance for the event, which will be free of charge. Louie, the resident DJ at the Royal Oak, will be providing the music, playing a wide variety of music. Bar snacks will be available and the first hour will be Happy Hour with Carling, Palmers Copper Ale, Thatchers Gold and Worthington’s Creamflow on sale for just £1.50 a pint! There is also another promotion with a 2 for 1 offer on Corona Extra all night. Everyone entering Charlie’s on the night will be entered in to a draw with a chance of winning a season ticket for next season. In addition, there will also be an auction of shirts from this seasons playing squad.
Alex Russell’s first goal of the season and a Scott Murray strike, both in the final seven minutes, earned City an unlikely draw at Darlington this afternoon which confirmed the home side’s relegation. In a game that reflected the struggles both clubs have endured this season it was the Quakers who took the lead on 34 minutes. City failed to clear a free-kick which allowed defender Hollis to turn and fire a low shot past Glyn Garner. City were forced to rely on the scraps of an occasional breakaway and when a rare quality move ended with Rundle making it 2-0 with just nine minutes remaining it looked as if it would be another disappointing afternoon for the Romans. However, two minutes later a defensive mix-up allowed Russell to lift the ball into an unguarded net from fully 40 yards. Against a side who had not won during 2012 City suddenly sensed they might be able to get something out of the game and when Darlington’s defence backed off Murray a minute from time he took full advantage, burying a great shot from the edge of the box.
Although City were spared a relegation ‘party’ of their own when their fate was finally decided by events elsewhere they could be present as another side’s demotion is confirmed on Saturday. If they avoid defeat against Darlington it will open the trap door on the Quakers although whether the troubled North East side only drop to Conference North or even further is unlikely to be confirmed until after the end of the season when any move to come out of administration is completed.
Whilst it would be hard to describe City’s season other than a major disappointment compared to the troubles Darlington have endured it shows things could have been much worse. Having ended the 2011-12 season on a high with a 1-0 FA Trophy Final win over Mansfield Town at Wembley Stadium just six months later the club came within minutes of ceasing to exist. They had been placed in administration by owner Raj Singh for the third time in less than ten years at the beginning of January 2012 and a couple of weeks later the club had legally ceased to exist as the noon deadline to save it passed. However, literally at the 13th hour an injection of £50,000 was enough to give the club a further two-week window to find a buyer. During this time over 12,000 supporters came through the turnstiles for matches against York City and Fleetwood Town and the administrator came to agreement with the newly formed Darlington FC Rescue Group to allow the club to complete the season. The group then announced a plan to raise £750,000 with three share issues to bring it out of administration and make it a community-based club. The most recent figures show that approaching half of this sum has been raised and the administrators have set a provision date of May 2 to put the company voluntary arrangement offer before creditors. If this proposal is accepted there would then be a 28-day cooling off period after which the club can exit administration, just in time for the Conference’s AGM on June 9. Failure to complete the move by this date would see the Quakers drop a further division to the Northern League.
Not surprisingly against this background Darlington have struggled on the pitch despite the efforts of caretaker manager – a role he has performed on three previous occasions – Craig Liddle. He took over after Mark Cooper was sacked in October 2011 but with a ten-point deduction and the regular departure of players to help keep the club afloat he was always facing a thankless task to avoid a second relegation in three years. A run of just one defeat in eight games during November and December did give the club some breathing space which meant even when the points loss was imposed they were still five points above the relegation zone. Since then though they have failed to win a match, a run that has now reached 17 games, and hit a low point on Easter Monday when they lost 5-0 to another struggling side, Lincoln City, which Liddle labelled as ‘nothing short of disgraceful’. That defeat left the Quakers eleven points off safety with just four more games to play. From City’s perspective it also kept them within reach and a win at the Northern Echo Darlington Arena would close the gap to just a single point and give a real boost to their one remaining target for the campaign of avoiding finishing bottom of the Blue Square Bet Premier.
Complete record against Darlington
It will need to be third time lucky for City if they are to enjoy a successful 550 mile round journey after they suffered two comprehensive defeats in the north last season. The first came in an FA Trophy 2nd Round tie that saw the Quakers run out 4-1 winners with Adam Connolly grabbing City’s consolation goal. Any hopes City had of success when they returned for the league encounter three months later they were dashed in the opening 36 minutes by which time they found themselves 3-0 down. The home side could have added to this tally after the break but the only further goal came from City when Lee Phillips netted his 15th of the season from close range. City have fonder memories of the first meeting this season when goals from Sean Canham and Phillips earned them a maiden victory and Saturday’s match will give them an opportunity to record a single double of the campaign.
Manager Adie Britton will face a decision whether to play top scorer Sean Canham after he missed the last four games with an Achilles injury. Defender Andy Gallinagh could also be in line for a recall after sitting out the 2-0 defeat to Forest Green Rovers due to a facial injury and midfielder Marley Watkins should be available despite suffering a head injury that required stitches in the Bank Holiday game.
Although City’s 2011-12 campaign is well beyond emergency rescue they will play at Mayday Trust Park next season following the Name the Stadium draw at half-time of today’s match against Forest Green Rovers. The Midlands based charity, who support people struggling to live independently, was picked out by Bath Mayor Bryan Chalker (pictured), and is run by long-time City supporter, and former season ticket holder, Jim Arnold. For information on the Mayday Trust click here.
City’s 50th game of the season was depressingly reminiscent of many of the previous 49 as City tamely succumbed 2-0 to Forest Green Rovers at Twerton Park this afternoon. With the weather as dismal as City’s performance the visitors rarely looked like a side with an outside chance of making the play-offs but still had more than enough to send City to another defeat. In a scrappy first half Rovers enjoyed the majority of possession but lacked any real quality in the final third of the pitch but as so many sides have found this season if you are patient City will gift you a goal sooner or later. This time it arrived one minute before the interval when Lewis Hogg’s attempted back pass to Glyn Garner was intercepted by ex-City midfielder Klukowski to round the stranded keeper and roll the ball home. There was little change after the break before a rare moment of quality in an otherwise poor advert for Conference football arrived on 77 minutes when Klukowski and Styche combined brilliantly for the latter to make it 2-0. City should have had a penalty in the closing moments when Jamie Cook broke clear on goal. Although he managed to get a shot away he was clearly being pulled back by Oshodi but the referee capped an erratic performance by only awarding a corner.
When City were brushed aside by Forest Green Rovers in a one-sided 3-0 defeat at the New Lawn back in August they slipped to the foot of the Blue Square Bet Premier table, a position they have occupied ever since. It would seem fitting then that a win over the same opposition at Twerton Park on Monday (combined with Kettering Town losing at Cambridge United) would see them finally climb off the bottom of the table. Of course, they have been in this tantalising position on several previous occasions only to have the small achievement snatched from their grasp (and it is unlikely to have any real effect on their Blue Square Bet South destiny) but the sense of symmetry is nothing if not attractive.*
Rovers will make the short journey down the A46 on the back of four wins in their last five games that has lifted them to within just six points of the play-off positions. This run has included impressive victories over Luton Town and Wrexham, although with just four more games left to play it may have come too late to grab a last gasp play-off position. If Rovers do end up missing a top five place by fewer than three points they will no doubt reflect on the fact the one defeat in this spell came against lowly AFC Telford United. However, they are still well-placed for their best ever finish (beating the 8th place they secured in 2007-08) which would represent a major step forward after only avoiding relegation to the Conference South on the final day of last season. This would suggest the considerable fortune of owner Dale Vince is finally being directed into the playing side of the club rather than self-publicising acts such as banning red meat for the players and from stadium food outlets, changing the club’s badge and creating the countries first fully organic football pitch.
Rovers’ success has come despite losing their highest profile summer signing Al Bangura and top scorer Reece Styche to injury for the majority of the campaign. Ex-Watford star Bangura picked up a knee injury during pre-season which delayed his debut until September but after just a dozen games he was sidelined again before going under the surgeon’s knife in January. Styche had netted 16 goals for Rovers last season, earning him a call-up for the England C team plus interest from Luton Town, and with six more goals in the opening nine games this season, including a brace against City in the aforementioned match, looked on course to better that record this year. However, he picked up a knee injury against Tamworth in September which, after the initial diagnosis has suggested was not serious, kept him out of action until last month. He finally returned to the pitch in the defeat against Telford before getting back on the scoresheet on Friday with a stoppage time goal against Ebbsfleet United.
Complete record against Forest Green Rovers/Stroud
If City are to climb to the almost unimaginable heights of 23rd position they will have to end a dismal run against Rovers that has seen them lose five and draw one of the last six meetings between the sides. In fact, City have to go back to the 1988-89 season for their one and only win over the Gloucestershire side under their Forest Green name. Rather incongruously this victory took place in the Welsh Cup as both clubs took advantage of English sides being allowed to enter the competition. Following a 1-1 draw at the Lawn, the replay at Twerton Park saw City take the lead on 18 minutes when Micky Tanner’s pass put Dave Singleton clear on goal to slot the ball past Roberts. This turned out to be a rare bright moment for City as they were second best to Rovers, despite playing a division higher, for long periods of the game. With keeper Kenny Allen making a series of unforced errors the visitors should have comfortably won the tie but Rovers somehow failed to take advantage of these mistakes, with Bayliss the main culprit. Just when it look like City would sneak the win, Ackland, on for the misfiring Bayliss, netted an equaliser to send the game to extra-time. And it was City who grabbed a winning goal when John Freegard headed home Dave Palmer’s cross to earn his side a glamour trip to Skewen Athletic in the 2nd Round.
During the half-time interval on Monday the draw for City’s ‘Name the Stadium’ promotion will take place. The winner will be awarded the stadium naming rights for the 2012/13 season. In total 167 entries were made, meaning that the promotion has raised £8,350 for the club.
*Yes, I am clutching at straws a bit here.
City put the disappointment of relegation behind them this evening to beat Tamworth at the Lamb Ground thanks to a second half strike from Jamie Cook. He headed home Marc Canham’s 78th minute corner to claim his first league goal of the season and keep alive City’s hopes of avoiding finishing bottom of the Blue Square Bet Premier. The hosts, who aren’t completely safe from the drop yet, did create a number of good chances, particularly when they were playing down the slope during the first half, but found City’s keeper Glyn Garner in excellent form. Cook almost grabbed a goal during the first period when his lob from just inside the centre circle dropped narrowly wide with Lambs kepper Hegde beaten. As play began to open up during the second half City came into the game more, Scott Murray firing wide after a swift break, and following a spell of pressure Cook struck what turned out to be the decisive goal.
Having been dead men walking for several months City were finally put out of their relegation misery on Tuesday night thanks to Newport County’s win over York City, leaving them with little more than pride to play for in their remaining five games, although avoiding the ignominy of finishing the bottom of the Blue Square Bet Premier is still an attainable target. The first of these is an evening Good Friday trip to the Midlands to face Tamworth.
The Lambs season has very much been one of two contrasting halves, divided by the point they secured a FA Cup 3rd Round tie at Premier League Everton. They began with just two defeats in their opening nine games and remained on the fringes of the play-off positions going into November. This solid league form was backed up by FA Cup wins over King’s Lynn Town, Hinckley United and Gateshead to earn a trip to Goodison Park. Almost immediately their form nose-dived as they lost six out of their next seven league games – including a 5-2 hammering against then 2nd bottom Alfreton Town – and crashed out of the FA Trophy to mid-table Evo-Stik Northern League side Worksop Town. Even once the Everton match was out of the way there was little improvement in their performances and they come into the game with just three wins in their last 25 league games (though unsurprisingly that is still a better record than City’s). Despite this run their pre-Toffees form should have given them just enough breathing space to avoid a nervous end to the season and a win over City would virtually end any lingering relegation worries.
The clash with City will be sponsored by Tamworth Chairman Bob Andrews as he celebrates his 20th year in the role and he will be donating £1 for every person that attends the game to Jo’s appeal, a Tamworth Herald Campaign to raise £20,000 to fund a year’s care provided by Tamworth nurse Jo Pickering, at St Giles Hospice’s Compassus Centre. The Compassus Centre provides in-patient care for local people with cancer and other serious illnesses, and 1 in 5 of all patients receiving care within the Centre are from Tamworth. Without nurses like Jo, hospice care simply wouldn’t exist – and at the Compassus Centre in St Giles Hospice, not only do the nurses perform an essential role in providing specialist care for local people living with cancer and other serious illnesses, they also offer vital comfort and support for their families and carers. By supporting Jo’s Appeal, you are paying for this invaluable care to be provided – and making a huge difference to people’s lives when they need it most. It costs £80 to fund a hospice nurse for one day, or £10 for each hour, and every minute makes a massive difference to patients and their families. There will also be a bucket collection at the game.
Complete record against Tamworth
Given one of City’s greatest failings this season has been in the goalscoring department, and with top scorer Sean Canham sidelined with an Achilles injury, they could do worse than turn to former front-man Martin Paul who enjoyed great success against the Lambs during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The ex-Bristol Rovers forward, who is second on City’s all-time scoring list, scored nine goals in six successive games between the sides, including a hat-trick in the 4-1 Twerton Park win early in the 1999-00 season. He was also on target in the return match a couple of months later at the Lamb Ground which saw City’s 13-match unbeaten start to the season come to an end. They fell behind during the first half after a poor punch by keeper Elliot Jackson was knocked toward goal by Smith and despite Mark’s Clode’s effort the linesman adjudged the ball had crossed the line. This goal was against the run of play and around the hour Mark Harrington’s close range finish deservedly levelled the scores. However, within a minute the home side were back in front, Hallam converting a Smith cross that Jackson could only half parry. City came back almost immediately and Birdy restored parity from the penalty spot. His celebration led to a melee in the Tamworth goalmouth but the referee took no action and it was the Lambs who grabbed the winning goal thanks to Haughton’s low shot, which sparked post-match celebrations in the Tamworth dressing room that appeared to be more suited to a World Cup win.
Barring any unlikely AGM Cup intervention City’s two-year Blue Square Bet Premier adventure is over after tonight’s results ensured a bottom four finish. Newport County’s 2-1 win over York City leaves City 17 points adrift of safety with just five games left and means they will be back in the Conference South for the 2012-13 season. With all but the most optimistic supporters having accepted this fate for several months the confirmation is almost a relief and, no doubt, there will be calls to use the remaining matches to begin to plan for next season, giving youngsters like Josh Egan and Dan Smith a chance to stake a claim for a place in the squad.