City ended their up and down 2015-16 season on a positive note at a storm battered Twerton Park this afternoon with a 2-0 win over Margate. The visitors came into the game knowing only a win would guarantee their Vanarama National League South survival and, not surprisingly, had City on the back foot for much of the first half. An early Green shot flew narrowly over the bar and a number of long throws forced City into several last ditch blocks – including Dan Ball stabbing the ball just wide of his own goal. Margate couldn’t maintain this pressure though and as the half progressed City began to enjoy greater possession. And on the stroke of half-time they broke the deadlock. Typically tenacious work from Dave Pratt saw him ride a couple of tackles before teeing up Nick McCootie to sweep the ball in from eight yards. With St Albans City and Havant & Waterlooville both winning at the interval Margate had slipped into the relegation zone but they made little inroads into City’s defence after the break, despite the great vocal support of their large and fancy-dress clad followers. A hailstorm had make the pitch increasingly slippery and the ground was regularly rocked by crashes of thunder and flashes of lightning. However, as this storm finally began to clear City doubled their lead on 81 minutes, Andy Watkins heading home Liam Kelly’s cross. News that Havant had conceded an equaliser meant the Gate had edged above the Hampshire side but the relegation battle was so tight that another City goal would have condemned them to the drop. Therefore the final ten minutes were largely uneventful, with Margate looking to play out time and City content with their advantage. A few minutes after the final whistle news came through from Havant that their game had ended 1-1 meaning Margate had stayed up by the narrowest margin and they could begin their celebrations. City, meanwhile, could reflect on their own escape from the drop, secured last week at Hayes & Yeading, and a final finishing place of 14th.
After the game City held their end of season awards presentation with Dan Ball picking up the supporters’ and players’ player of the season. Full details of all the winners to follow tomorrow.
Two penalties from Liam Kelly and a great finish from Nick McCootie, all in the second half, fired City to a 3-0 win over Hayes & Yeading United this afternoon to guarantee their Vanarama National League South status. The first half had largely been devoid of quality with the spectre of relegation no doubt playing a part in both sides’ struggles. Despite playing up the considerable slope City had looked the slightly more threatening, Andy Watkins drawing a fine block from United keeper Hamon and a Dan Ball cross hitting the top of the crossbar. The closest Hayes came during the opening 45 minutes was a Williams shot straight at Steve Phillips. The early exchanges of the second half saw little change in the pattern of play but on 55 minutes City broke the deadlock. Purse’s poor backpass put Hamon under pressure and, after his first touch got away from him, he felled Dave Pratt inside the box. He was lucky to escape without even a booking but Kelly exacted the perfect punishment, confidently netting the resultant penalty. And six minutes he repeated the feat, once again after Prat had been fouled, this time by Osifuwa, to give City breathing space. Then in the 70th minute substitute Nick McCootie, who had been on the pitch less than a minute, raced clear, held off Purse and slotted the ball past Hamon to make it 3-0. Phillips produced a great point-blank save to deny Benyon as Hayes finally created a clear chance but it was City who could have increased their winning margin through Watkins, Louis Parry and Chas Hemmings before the final whistle. And a few moments after this news that St Albans City had drawn at Wealdstone filtered through to ensure City National League South place for another season.
City missed the chance to all but guarantee their Vanarama National League South status this evening as they were beaten 3-0 at Twerton Park by Whitehawk. Although the final scoreline flattered the visitors they were the more clinical side in front of goal and deserved to maintain their late run for a play-off place. There were just seven minutes on the clock when they took the lead, Mills flicking the ball on for Osbourn to lift it over Steve Phillips. In contrast to their attacking threat, Whitehawk looked very vunerable at the back and time and again City got behind them. It wasn’t until the 37th minute though that City appeared to take advantage of this when Nick McCootie looked to have timed his run perfectly onto Liam Kelly’s pass. However, as he rounded keeper Ross and slotted the ball home the linesman raised his flag to save the Hawks. On the stroke of half-time his intervention again denied City, although this time they were partly to blame. Again McCootie was the unfortunate player as his cross-shot looped toward goal only for Dave Pratt to touch the ball before it crossed the line which, once again, saw the linesman flag for offside. This turned out to be the pivotal moment in the game as Whitehawk struck twice in the opening 14 minutes of the second half. On 53 minutes Rose headed in Arnold’s corner then six minutes later West made it 3-0 with a neat lob over Phillips. City continued to look for an unlikely way back into the game but it was the Brighton-based side who should have scored again in stoppage time when Gargan somehow fired against the post with the goal at his mercy after Phillips had parried a shot into his path.
Jack Batten’s first goal for the club was enough to secure City a vital three points against Eastbourne Borough at Twerton Park this afternoon. He fired home with just eight minutes remaining to ensure another penatly miss would not prove costly. With both sides first concern appearing to be not losing the game chances were few and far between in a cagey first half. Dave Pratt stabbed narrowly wide after a typically forceful run and cross by Nick McCootie before Andy Watkins’ close range head was superbly kept out by Borough keeper Carey. At the other end Steve Phillips was only called into real action once, blocking Collier’s shot as the interval approached. Six minutes after the break City was handed the perfect chance to go ahead when Pratt was felled in the box by Simpemba for their 15th penalty of the season. But for the seventh time the spot kick was missed, Liam Kelly firing against the underside of the bar. Watkins then turned a far post effort toward goal only for it to roll agonisingly the wrong side of the post and Chas Hemmings’ 20-yard drive was straight at Carey. However, they finally broke the deadlock on 81 minutes with a composed finish from eight yards by Batten after Billy Murphy’s cross picked him out. Kelly nearly made it two with a dipping free-kick and there were one or two nervous moments before the final whistle signalled the end of the game. The win moves City four points clear of the drop zone and victory over Whitehawk on Tuesday evening at Twerton Park (ko 7.45pm) will virtually guarantee their Vanarama National League South status.
As there is an event in Randall’s on the evening of the Whitehawk game, the car park will only be available for those who have numbered reserved spaces. There will be no additional £2 car park spaces available.
The National League are delighted that Stephanie Moore, the widow of the legendary Bobby Moore and founder of the Bobby Moore Fund is to be the Chief Guest at the 2016 Vanarama National Promotion Final. The match is to be played at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 15th May and will be screened LIVE by BTSport. It is the League’s major showpiece, as two of their top clubs vie for the prize of earning a place in the Football League. Last season the match drew a record crowd in excess of 47,000. 2016 is a special year because it is the 50th anniversary of England winning the World Cup. Those iconic images of England captain Bobby Moore lifting the World Cup have lived long in the memory.
Stephanie founded the Bobby Moore Fund to raise money to help fund Cancer Research UK’s life-saving research into bowel cancer, the disease from which Bobby Moore died. The 68 member clubs of The National League have been requested to select a home match in April to make a collection for the Bobby Moore Fund and these, together with monies donated at the League’s Annual Gala at Celtic Manor in June, will be put towards assisting the Fund with its charitable and research objectives.
Brian Barwick, Chairman of The National League, said “The work Stephanie has tirelessly undertaken in aid of the Bobby Moore Fund has been nothing short of phenomenal. As part of Cancer Research UK, the fund does immense work to raise money for bowel cancer research and the support it receives demonstrates the affection this nation still holds for the sporting hero that was Bobby Moore.”
Stephanie Moore added: “2016 is a poignant year as it marks 50 years since Bobby and his teammates lifted the World Cup. We’re determined to raise as much money as possible this year in the hope that we can bring forward the day we beat bowel cancer. I’m honoured to be invited to this year’s final as Chief Guest and extremely grateful to The National League for their incredible support of the Bobby Moore Fund”.
City are please to announce that they have extended the loan deals for Billy Murphy and Liam Kelly until the end of the 2015-16 season. However, despite initially agreeing to extend Tyler Harvey’s loan deal, Plymouth Arygle have recalled the striker due to an injury picked up in training on Friday by another Pilgrims player. The club would like to thank Tyler for his time at Twerton Park, in particular his stunning goal against Weston Super Mare that will live long in the memory of all connected with the Romans.
City produced a great performance this afternoon to beat play-off chasing Concord Rangers by two goals to one at the Aspect Arena. The victory – City’s first away from home in 2016 – moved them two points and four places above the Vanarama National League South bottom three ahead of the final four games of the season. City dominated the first half – as both sides struggled to come to terms with the difficult playing surface – but only had Andy Watkins’ ninth minute strike to show for this control. He took full advantage of Rangers keeper McNamara’s mis-hit clearance to lift the ball into the net from 25 yards. With Chas Hemmings outstanding in an unusual centre-back role the hosts failed to test Steve Phillips in the Romans goal – this frustration seeing them arguing amongst themselves time and again – but City couldn’t take advantage of the further openings they created. Watkins headed straight at McNamara before Tyler Harvey directed another header wide from a Dave Pratt cross. The half ended with Pratt forcing McNamara into an excellent close-range block then heading a chance past the far post. Concord proceeded to punish City for these misses within five minutes of the restart. A quickly taken free-kick midway in the home side’s half caught City napping allowing Carlos space to cross the ball to Taaffe for a simple far-post tap-in. He spurned a great chance to put Concord in front soon after, blazing over from a similar position, but slowly City began to reassert their dominance – with Concord now directing their ire in the referee’s direction rather than each other. Pratt and Jack Batten tested McNamara before Watkins was denied a certain goal by Dowie’s last ditch tackle. However, with eight minutes left the pressure finally told when substitute Josh Hutchinson was brought down in the box by Lampe and Liam Kelly confidently dispatched the resultant penalty kick. Kelly came close to adding a third for City – McNamara blocking his shot with a foot – and after five minutes of stoppage time they could celebrate a win that could be vital in three weeks time.
For any City fan who isn’t making the trip to Canvey Island on Saturday to see the first team face Concord Rangers they can get their fix of Romans footballing action when the U18 side take on their counterparts from Dorchester Town at Twerton Park. The game kicks off at 10.30am and admission is free.
In conjunction with The Football Association City are asking fans to complete a short survey about The FA Trophy. You can find the survey here. Surveys must be completed by April 15th. Entrants will be entered into a draw to win 1 of 4 £50 Amazon vouchers. Thank you in advance!
City remain firmly in the dogfight near the foot of the Vanarama National League South after losing 3-1 at fellow strugglers Chelmsford City in Essex this afternoon. Any hope the remarkable victory over Weston Super Mare on Easter Monday would herald a turnaround in their fortunes was dispelled as the Clarets struck twice in the first half. They then added a third early in the second period making Tyler Harvey’s fine strike with 18 minutes left nothing more than a consolation. It took just 14 minutes for the hosts to go ahead, Bricknell looping a header over Steve Phillips, before Graham was given all the time and space he needed to fire home 12 minutes later. City were desperately unlucky not to pull a goal back on 35 minutes when Harvey’s shot hit the underside of the bar then the post before bouncing to safety. However, hopes of a comeback after the interval were dashed just three minutes in when Bricknell teed up Hughes to drive home a third goal. City finally got on the scoresheet on 72 minutes when Harvey’s 20-yard effort found the net via the underside of the crossbar but that was as good as it got for the Romans leaving them, once again, just a point outside the bottom three.