A stunning volley by Mike Perrott midway through the second half rescued a point for City in a disappointing performance against bottom of the table Worcester City at Twerton Park this afternoon. Missing a number of regulars and with several others playing despite injuries it was a disjointed display, although they twice came close to grabbing all three points after the 64th minute equaliser. The first half had been particularly forgettable with both sides struggling to produce anything close to good football. Neither were helped by the presence of one of the consistently poorest referees to ever pick up a whistle ‘controlling’ proceedings, Mr Knapp, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock on 40 minutes when Bridge stabbed the ball home at the far post. The second half saw a slight improvement and Perrott’s acrobatic volley from Sekani Simpson’s cross that levelled proceedings was a rare moment of class in the game. Gethin Jones flashed a header narrowly wide and Perrott forced a fine stop out of Worcester keeper Hinchcliff after this as City finally began to up their game. Inbetween Steve Perrin had to be at his best to deny Adaggio and in the end a draw was probably a fair result with neither side doing enough to warrant the win.
For the second time in the space of three days City come face to face with a club struggling both on and off the field. Having drawn 2-2 at Dorchester Town yesterday they will hope to complete an August Bank Holiday of four points out of six when Worcester City make the trip down the M5 to Twerton Park. They do so against a background languishing at the foot of the table after no wins from their opening six matches, a spiralling debt thought to be in the region of £2 million and plans for a new ground looking doomed after planning permission for new housing on their current St Georges Lane home was withdrawn at the 11th hour. The club agreed a deal to sell the Lane to Careys New Homes in April last year for a fee reported to be £7.36 million. In October 2007, they had announced plans to move from their home of more than 100 years to an £8 million stadium with 6,000 capacity on the outskirts of the city. The ground was planned to be built on 7.5 acres of St Modwens’ 20-acre site, with the rest being taken up by car showrooms, restaurants and a hotel. However, Worcester City Council’s chief planner recommended the scheme be refused, highlighting a raft of design problems relating to the number of homes involved, with led to the club withdrawing the application while Careys revises the scheme in the hope of satisfying planners’ concerns.
With the club’s future so dependent on the new ground development it is not surprising that there is already talk in the local press of budget cuts. Midway through last season manager Richard Dryden had his budget slashed as the club staved off the threat of administration. This move came shortly after the board of directors had successfully seen off a takeover bid by a shareholders group. At the time chairman Anthony Hampson promised a more transparent financial structure but apart from a letter to shareholders asking them to pump more money into the ailing club there has been little sign of this more open approach. In common with Dorchester this has led to considerable unhappiness with the board, although ironically only six of the twelve directors who were appointed back in December remain in their posts, suggesting they have little faith in the club’s future either.
Unsurprisingly the opening weeks of the season have been a struggle for Worcester. It had appeared for much of the summer that after just one season in the Blue Square South they could be moved back to the North section due to a southern bias in the clubs coming down from the Blue Square Premier. In the end they exercised their right to remain in the division, which saw the anomaly of Gloucester City – located 30 miles south of Worcester – playing in the Blue Square North. They may have regretted this decision when they suffered an opening day defeat at home to ten-man Bromley thanks to an injury-time goal. They then followed this with two away defeats at St Albans City and Woking before finally getting off the mark with a point at early season pacesetters Basingstoke Town. Any confidence gained from this result disappeared though when they lost 2-1 to a Weymouth side which had conceded eleven goals in their previous two home games. Last time out they held Staines Town to a goalless draw but this was not enough to get them off the bottom of the table where they had slid the previous night thanks to Weston Super Mare’s win over administration bound Weymouth.
This start to the season has seen manager Dryden actively trying to reshape his squad. Striker Aaron Moses-Garvey was released following the Weymouth defeat and a couple of unnamed trialists who trained with the club during the week may feature. One new face that will be familiar to City fans is Alfie Carter who only joined the club two weeks ago. The left-sided midfielder joined City on non-contract terms early in the 2003-04 season and immediately impressed. However, after 13 matches and a single goal he was released by recently appointed manager Gary Owers due to his unavailability for midweek training because of a college course he was on in Birmingham.
Complete record against Worcester City
City and Worcester have been regular opponents through the years with over 100 meetings since they first faced each other in the final season before World War II. Recent meetings at Twerton Park have been very much in favour of the home side, with Worcester having to go back to 1991 to recall the last time they were victorious. The game was an FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round tie and when Tony Ricketts headed City in front it looked as if they would see off the lower league side. However, the Southern League club had other ideas and a brace from Kearns gave them a 4th Qualifying Round meeting with Marlow. And they then have to look back a further ten years for their last league win in Bath. That game took place on a Wednesday evening in November 1981 and despite goals from Mike England and Peter Hayes, Worcester headed back up the M5 with the two points thanks to strikes from Brown and J Williams (2).
The goals continued to flow at both ends of the pitch as City drew 2-2 at Dorchester Town this afternoon. All four goals came in a breathless first half with Mark Badman and Darren Edwards on target for City after Martin’s deflected shot had put them behind. Right on the stroke of half-time though former City striker Phil Walsh headed the home side level. Despite the windy conditions both sides created early openings but it was a huge slice of luck for the hosts that put them ahead on 19 minutes as Steve Perrin had Martin’s 25-yard effort well covered before a deflection left him helpless. Within six minutes City were deservedly level, Badman bundling the ball home from close range after Kaid Mohamed had flicked on Lewis Hogg’s long throw. And four minutes before the break Edwards found space in the Dorchester box and confidently picked his spot past former City keeper Northmore. It looked like this would be enough to give City the advantage at the break but it was another former Roman who had other ideas, Walsh heading past Perrin deep into stoppage time. The second half failed to live up to the first, although both sides did create openings. The best of these fell to the Magpies late in the game but a wonderful double save from Perrin, blocking Walsh’s close range header then recovering to tip Gleeson’s shot over the bar, ensured the points were shared.
City will be looking to cut out the defensive errors that have plagued the opening weeks of their 2009-10 season as they travel to the south coast on Saturday to face Dorchester Town. While most pre-season concern was understandably focused on where the goals would come from, City have managed to find the net in all five games and so far only three teams have scored more goals. However, the usual reliable defence has kept just one clean sheet and all three goals in the defeat to Hampton & Richmond Borough can be attributed to avoidable mistakes. To this end City will hope Chris Holland has recovered from his quad problem that forced his withdrawal at half-time in that match. Loan keeper Will Puddy missed the game as well due to a thigh injury and if he is still unavailable Steve Perrin will again stand in for him.
Standing in their way is a Dorchester side that had a summer of uncertainty off the pitch which culminated in the remarkable situation of one of the players becoming the owner of the club. The problems date back to the summer of 2007 when Poole based property developer Eddie Mitchell became the majority shareholder of the club. He turned the club full-time and installed Shaun Brookes as a Director of Football in place of previous manager Mick Jenkins. However, the Magpies finished that campaign in 21st position, only avoiding relegation due to Nuneaton Borough’s liquidation. Last season they fared little better as Mitchell was forced to slash the budget midway through the campaign which saw a number of players being released and Brooks quit the club. After a short caretaker spell in charge by former City player Brian O’Donnell, Dorchester ironically appointed Roy O’Brien, who was one of the players released that led to Brooks’ departure, as manager. Two draws and a win in the final three matches secured a 19th place finish and another season in the Blue Square South.
Understandably Mitchell had become the target of frustrated Dorchester fans as the club lurched from one crisis to the next. Confrontations in the car park at AFC Wimbledon between the owner and supporters and even death threats followed, and his position was not helped by constant rumours that he wished to merge the club with bitter local rivals Weymouth, who were in an even worse financial position. Despite this almost universal opposition Mitchell continually rejected any interest in the club and stated he had no intention of stepping down. This all changed in June 2009 when a consortium of which Mitchell was part took over AFC Bournemouth. With rules preventing owning a controlling interest in more than one club he was finally forced into relinquishing his position. Club director Dave Roberts was appointed chairman and his shareholding was passed on to sons Tom and Josh, under the name of Mitch Sports. In itself having a 21 and 18-year owning the club was extraordinary enough but the fact that the former was also a current player made it almost unbelievable. Tom Mitchell had joined the Magpies in July 2007, although he only occasionally played for the first team, making just 18 starts and 13 substitute appearances during the following two years. In fact, he was suspended by the club for two weeks in January 2009 for going on holiday just before their New Years Day game against City. However, this season the new owner has started all five of the Magpies games, although he will miss three games next month after being sent off against Newport County last week for headbutting ex-City midfielder Scott Rogers.
Against this soap opera-esq background the Magpies got their season off to a perfect start with a 3-0 opening day win against St Albans City to top the table. However, three days later they were on the wrong end of the same scoreline at Blue Square South newcomers Staines Town. Another heavy defeat followed at Dover Athletic and, although they then held Newport to a goalless draw despite their owner’s dismissal, a 3-1 reversal at Bromley last Saturday has left them down in 19th place. The Magpies are likely to feature two familiar names to City fans, striker Phil Walsh and goalkeeper Ryan Northmore. The latter made three appearances for City whilst on loan from Woking back in 2003 and, more recently, featured in a couple of pre-season matches this summer before being snapped up by the Dorset side on the eve of the new season. Walsh, by contrast, played over 100 times for the club, scoring 25 goals, having joined the club from Almondsbury in the summer of 2005. Increasingly he found his first team opportunities limited and joined Newport County in June 2008. When this move did not work out he moved to Tiverton Town before returning to the Blue Square South in March 2009 with the Magpies.
Complete record against Dorchester Town
Last season City completed the double over Dorchester, with 2-0 wins at both Twerton Park and the Avenue Stadium in the space of five days over the Christmas and New Year period. Dave Gilroy grabbed a first half brace to settle the first meeting – even missing a second half penalty to spurn the chance of a hat-trick – before ten man City repeated the win in Dorset with Chris Holland and Darren Edwards, from the penalty spot, netting either side of Mark Badman’s red card during the second period. City have now won the last three meetings which represents their best ever run between the clubs, although they did enjoy a sequence of five games where they did not concede a goal between October 1988 and August 1997. Two of these games ended goalless but in-between City did record their biggest victory over Dorchester as a Paul Randall hat-trick plus strikes from Rob Cousins, Chris Smith and Gary Smart fired them to a 6-0 win in February 1990. This victory was part of a 14 match winning run (including ten clean sheets) that season that was still not quite enough to beat Dover Athletic to the 1989-90 Southern League title – although, of course, City had the final laugh as they were promoted due to the Whites ground failing to meet the Conference criteria.
City suffered their first home defeat of the season this afternoon as they gifted Hampton & Richmond Borough a 3-1 victory. The game turned on Darren Edwards 17th minute penalty miss, as within three minutes Chris Holland deflected Yaku’s cross past Steve Perrin. It got worse three minutes before the interval when Holland allowed a long ball forward to bounce and Jim Rollo tugged Yaku shirt to concede a penalty, which Matthews converted. At half-time City brought on Kaid Mohamed but before he could have an impact they gifted the visitors a third goal on 47 minutes when a misplaced pass by Marcus Browning sent Yaku racing clear to slide the ball past Perrin. However, just past the hour mark City gave themselves hope when Lewis Hogg ran three-quarters the length of the pitch to cross for Mohamed to flick the ball home. The rest of the match was all City but they couldn’t find another goal to put the increasingly twitchy Hampton defence under more pressure, Mohamed twice going close with spectacular overhead kicks and the Beavers keeper Lovett saving well from the same player and Hogg. The game ended on a sour note when Browning and Hampton sub Hodges were sent off after getting involved in a off-the-ball scuffle.
City face an early season test of their Blue Square South promotion credentials as they take on Hampton & Richmond Borough at Twerton Park on Saturday. The Beavers will be hoping the 2009-10 season is third time lucky having suffered play-off final heartbreak in the previous two campaigns. They lost 2-0 to Eastbourne Borough in 2008 before repeating this unwanted achievement a year later as Hayes & Yeading United edged them out by the odd goal in five. Their participation in last season’s play-offs was in doubt right up to the last moment, although not due to playing matters – in fact, they still had a mathematical chance of piping AFC Wimbledon to the title on the final Saturday of the regular season. Instead all the attention was on the eligibility of their basic Beveree Stadium home. For the 2007-08 play-offs they had installed temporary seating to reach the necessary grading, but this loophole had been closed and nearly a month after the deadline had passed neither the club nor the Football Conference had confirmed whether they would be allowed promotion to the Blue Square Premier. However, 48 hours before the final league programme of the season, and with City and Welling United poised to battle for the Beavers play-off place, a short league statement confirmed they had met the criteria for promotion. A month later the club announced former Chief Executive of the Football Association Brian Barwick had joined their board of directors.
Manager Alan Devonshire kept the majority of his squad together during the 2009 close season – only losing defender Ryan Lake to Kingstonian and Shaun McAuley to Eastleigh – and brought in a number of new faces in an attempt to finally end their play-off hoodoo. The main new arrival was Jamie Collins from Havant & Waterlooville for an undisclosed fee, along with Maidenhead United winger Ashley Smith and Basingstoke Town striker Dave Tarpey. Despite this continuity the Beavers season got off to a very poor start – although their cause was not helped by a number of injuries affecting their squad – as they crashed to a single goal home defeat against a Basingstoke Town side who played for over half the game with ten men. Four days later they made their way up the M4 to South Wales but had no more success, going down 3-1 to Newport County. This double defeat left them in 21st place but they finally got their season up and running against Bromley with goals from Yaku and Dundas turning around a 1-0 deficit. Their last game ended 2-2 at home to early pacesetters Braintree Town, although it took an equaliser deep in stoppage time to rescue a point.
Complete record against Hampton & Richmond Borough
City’s only victory against Hampton came in the first ever match between the sides back in August 2007. Goals from the recently retired Mark McKeever and Matt Coupe saw them record a 2-0 Twerton Park win. The return match at the Beveree ended goalless but last season City had little answer to Hampton’s direct and physical style, which has served them so well but rarely endeared them to opponents. A Paul Cochlin goal was nothing more than a consolation in the 3-1 defeat in Middlesex and although the Twerton meeting was only decided by a single goal – and that a rebound from a disgraceful penalty award – it was the least the Beavers deserved having outclassed City from the opening whistle. Only a stunning performance from goalkeeper Steve Perrin and the frame of City’s goal preventing them suffering a heavy defeat.
The latest fundraising initiative took place at Twerton Park on Sunday as thirty-two teams entered a five-a-side tournament on the hallowed turf. Organised by supporters club commitee member and away travel organiser Martin Powell and sponsored by Berkeleys Coach Travel the event was a great success raising well over £1000 for the club. After around seven hours of fiercely contested action the final was between Chew Valley B and The Livingstone, with the latter victorious in a penalty shoot-out following a goalless draw. The winners were presented with their medals and trophy by City manager Adie Britton.
City were denied a third successive victory at Havant & Waterlooville this evening by a last minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw. They had battled back from a one goal half-time deficit through goals from Mark Badman and a Darren Edwards penalty but summer target Manny Williams netted his second goal of the game to ensure a share of the points. The former Maidenhead striker had put the Hawks ahead on seven minutes as they started brightly but as the half wore on City came more into the game, with Lewis Hogg twice and Adam Connolly going close before the break. Both sides created openings in the second half and it was City who struck on 75 minutes when Badman headed home Edwards’ cross. And two minutes later it got even better for City when Edwards netted his third goal of the season from the penalty spot after Perrott was pulled back in the area. Chris Holland then shot against the post but Williams rescued a point for the hosts with another neat finish.
City head to the south coast tomorrow night for their second away match of the 2009-10 season where they will face a Havant & Waterlooville side who have made an unbeaten start to the campaign. They opened their season with a 1-1 home draw against Thurrock before recording two successive away victories, 2-0 at Bromley and 2-1 against Blue Square South newcomers Staines Town. These results have left them in fourth spot, a point and four places ahead of City at this very early stage of the season.
This start will have come as a relief to all connected with the Hawks after their desperately disappointing 2008-09 season. With the financial muscle from their unforgettable FA Cup adventure the previous year and with a series of impressive summer signings they were understandably installed as pre-season favourites but, instead of a campaign spent battling for a place in the Blue Square Premier, it became one which they spent the majority of nervously looking over their shoulders at the relegation places. They never really recovered from failing to win any of their opening four matches and it wasn’t until April that could really relax, settling in the end for a 15th place finish. Despite this underachievement manager Shaun Gale clung onto his job, no doubt, once again helped by the Hawks cup successes. Although there was no repeat of the 4th Round FA Cup trip to Anfield, they did reach the 1st Round, bowing out to Coca-Cola League 2 side Brentford in front of the ITV cameras. They also enjoyed an FA Trophy run that saw two Blue Square Premier sides – Lewes and Crawley Town – disposed of before a quarter-final exit against York City.
Once the dust had settled on this mixed campaign it was all quiet at Westleigh Park, with just a few notable departures – Gary Elphick heading to Eastbourne Borough, Newport County snapping up winger Charlie Henry and the surprise exit of assistant manager Charlie Oatway. Eventually Gale began to build his squad for the 2009-10 season, beginning with bringing left-back Gary MacDonald back to the club he had left in 2002. He also captured a second left-back in the shape of Salisbury City’s Sam Pearce (another ex-Hawk), Maidenhead United striker Mustafa Tiryaki and Jake Newton from Staines Town. Two summer trialists also signed deals, goalkeeper Aaron Howe and defender Ryan Woodford, and on the eve of the new season, AFC Bournemouth midfielder Steve Hutchings. There were two further departures as club captain Jamie Collings headed to Hampton & Richmond Borough for an undisclosed fee and Gary Holloway switched to Southern League Farnborough Town. However, their biggest summer signing was undoubtedly Manny Williams from Woking. The striker, who had been a target for City having spent a loan spell at Weston Super Mare last season, made his name playing for Maidenhead United, netting 30 goals in 47 games for the Magpies and could be the player who finally fires the Hawks to league success. He has already shown his pedigree, netting three times in Havant last two games.
Complete record against Havant & Waterlooville/Waterlooville
The two meetings between the clubs last season were typically lively encounters with a number of controversial incidents. The Westleigh Park clash saw a player sent off on both sides. Lewis Hogg was the City player to see red – his second successive dismissal against the Hawks – for a late lunge at keeper Scriven that earned him a second yellow card. The numbers were evened up within ten minutes though when Collins head-butted Darren Edwards and the game itself also finished level with neither side able to find a goal. Both sides managed to finish the return game at Twerton Park with eleven players on the pitch even though they earned a penalty each. Stuart Douglas had put City in front early in the game before a mistake by Matt Coupe saw him haul down Watkins in the box, allowing Nightingale to score from the spot. However, twenty minutes after the break a handball by Hinshelwood gave Douglas the chance to restore City’s lead from 12 yards, which he confidently accomplished to ensure their first win over the Hawks since a 2004 FA Cup success.
City made it two wins out of two at Twerton Park but left it late to beat Welling United by two goals to one, with Chris Holland heading the deciding goal five minutes from time. City had deservedly led at the break thanks to Gethin Jones’ 17th minute header but the second half saw the visitors come more into the game. When the equaliser arrived though it was of City’s own making as keeper Will Puddy allowed Hobbs to charge down his attempted clearance then roll the ball into the net from a narrow angle. However, City came back strongly from this blow, substitute Kaid Mohamed bringing a good stop out of Wings keeper Mitton after a strong run and Holland and Sido Jombati both sending efforts narrowly wide. But these misses were forgotton when Holland’s looping header from a Lewis Hogg free-kick dropped into the far corner of the net to send the majority of the 479 crowd home happy.
Saturday will see City looking to build on their maiden win of the season as they take on Welling United at Twerton Park. Darren Edwards’ second-half strike and the clean sheet against Maidenhead United on Tuesday should have exorcised the opening day demons from the 4-3 defeat at Chelmsford City and they face a Wings side that have lost their first two 2009-10 Blue Square South games. They began their campaign with a 2-1 home defeat against Woking, despite taking the lead through an early penalty, then followed this up with a 3-2 reversal at Thurrock.
This start is in direct contrast to how they began the last campaign, winning four and drawing one of their opening five matches, including a 4-0 first day win over City. Although they could not maintain this record throughout the season they were never lower than 9th position and their final placing of 7th (above City on goal difference) represented ther best finish since they were founder members of the Conference South in 2004-05. However, financial realities that so many non-league clubs face saw manager Andy Ford forced to reduce the size of his squad from 18 to 16 during the close season and he immediately acted by releasing five players, including a name familiar to City fans, ex-Chippenham Town defender Matthew McEntegart. One player who was offered a new deal was star striker Charlie Sheringham – son of former England international Teddy. However, the 19-goal hitman choose to switch to Blue Square South rivals Bishop’s Stortford leaving a big hole in the Wings squad. Ford moved quickly to fill this gap with the capture of St Albans City striker Lee Clarke. He also targeted Braintree Town forward Danny Hockton but eventually lost out to Chelmsford City in that chase. There was success in bringing in right-back Andy Sambrook and Anthony Finn, both who were part of AFC Wimbledon’s title winning team last season, Spencer Knight and James Lawson from Chelmsford, then a trio on the eve of the new season in striker Jake Hobbs, midfielder Jeff Minton and defender Steve King.
The Wings’ pre-season campaign began with their annual meeting against Charlton Athletic – obtaining an impressive 1-1 draw. They followed this up with wins over VCD Athletic, Gillingham and Tonbridge Angels, defeats to Dartford, Dulwich Hamlet and Millwall plus a draw with Erith & Belvedere, with who they share their Park View Road home. The Dartford match saw new signing Lawson suffer a knee injury that looks set to sideline him for the entire 2009-10 season.
Complete record against Welling United
In addition to the 4-0 Twerton Park victory, Welling ensured a double over City last season with a 2-1 win at Park View Road. City’s goal was initially awarded to Matt Coupe – the defender heading home after Richard Evans’ free-kick had come back off the bar. However, on closer inspection of the video of the game it showed that the vital final touch came from Dave Gilroy. This was the 50th goal City had scored against the Wings, against the 46 netted by Welling, although the Kent club do edge the overall record by 15 wins to City’s 13.
A second-half goal from Darren Edwards was enough to give City a 1-0 win over Maidenhead at Twerton Park this evening and open their account for the 2009-10 season. His smart finish on 65 minutes from man of the match Sido Jombati’s pass capped a solid performance from City and gave them the three points they fully deserved. In particular the first half was a one-sided affair but City couldn’t turn this dominance into goals, the closest they came was when Jombati was denied by a superb save from United keeper Tardif. And what little threat the visitors produced was comfortably dealt with by keeper Will Puddy, showing he had got over Saturday’s horror show. The second half was more scrappy before Jomabti won the ball in midfield and sent Edwards racing clear to confidently shoot past Tardif. With just a narrow advantage City did suffer a few late nervous moments, in particular a stoppage time Stanislaus shot that was defelcted niches wide, but they were good value for their victory.
City have finally strenghtened their bare-bones strikeforce with the non-contract signing of former Swindon Town forward Kaid Mohamed. The 25-year old made his name in the Welsh Premier League with a number of clubs before joining the Robins in August 2007. He made 11 appearances for the club then, after a loan spell with Torquay United, joined Forest Green Rovers in July 2008. He scored at Twerton Park against now defunct tenant’s Team Bath in an FA Cup tie for Rovers and also faced City there whilst on loan to Newport County last season. He was released by the Blue Square Premier clun in July and goes straight into City’s squad for tomorrow’s opening home match of the season against Maidenhead United.
After the breathless excitement of their opening Blue Square South 2009-10 fixture at Chelmsford City yesterday, City will hope to serve up similar entertainment for the Twerton Park faithful as they begin their home campaign, but this time with a more positive outcome. The Magpies began their season in complete contrast to City with a goalless encounter with Dover Athletic. However, with a young and inexperienced side manager Johnson Hippolyte will have been more than satisfied with a point against the pre-season title favourites.
Last season Maidenhead finished in a very creditable 6th position, although due to the failure of their York Road home to meet the Blue Square Premier grading they would not have been allowed to compete in the play-offs had they achieved a higher finish. This final placing was all the more impressive given the club had cut their budget in February, one of the many non-league clubs struggling in the current financial climate. They continued to manage their budget prudently with their summer transfer dealings. Top scorer Richard Pacquette headed to Blue Square Premier side York City and fellow striker Mustafa Tiryaki joined Havant & Waterlooville. First choice goalkeeper and club captain Ashley Nicholls moved to Bishop’s Stortford, Dominic Sterling to Staines Town and Ben Surey was released. Joining the club were keeper Chris Tardif for his second spell at York Road, Bradley Quamina & Reis Stanislaus from Woking, Staforde Palmer on a 3-month loan deal from Hayes & Yeading United, Thatcham Town’s Alex Wall and Kieron St Aimie from Hitchin Town. One target Hippolyte missed out on was Windsor & Eton playmaker Paul Coyne, who opted to join his home town club Burham rather than step up to the Blue Square South. These changes have seen Hippolyte admit that his main aim for the 2009-10 season is avoiding relegation but the result against Dover shows that that may be underestimating his side’s hopes.
Complete record against Maidenhead United
City have faced Maidenhead on seven previous occasions and they are yet to taste defeat against the Berkshire side. The first meeting took place in an FA Cup 1st Round tie in 1963 but it wasn’t until the 2006-07 season that they became league rivals when relegation from the Conference South saw them back in the Southern League after a 102 year absence. The meeting at York Road in February went ahead despite torrential rain before and during the game leaving the pitch barely playable. However, goals from Scott Partridge and Lewis Hogg late in the first half put City in control. And they were then left grateful to the referee for allowing the game to be completed. The return match at Twerton finished 2-1 to City with Darren Edwards and Martin Paul on target as City closed in on the Southern League title. Despite this defeat the Magpies made the play-offs and joined City in the Blue Square South with a win over Team Bath at Twerton Park. City repeated the double over Maidenhead in the 2007-08 season before their run over victories was finally ended in a 0-0 draw at York Road last year, ironically also in the second match of the season. Normal service was resumed in November when Chris Holland headed the only goal of the game.
City’s 2009-10 Blue Square South season began in remarkable style this afternoon with a 4-3 defeat against Chelmsford City, but that does not tell half the story of the game. After a promising start from City two mistakes by debutant keeper Will Puddy – although he was not helped by the dreadful condition of the goalmouth – gifted Hockton and Hallett goals and when the latter struck his second and the Clarets third on 19 minutes a thrashing looked on the cards. Cook made it 4-0 five minutes later then a handball by Sido Jombati saw the hosts awarded a penalty. However, Puddy redeemed himself by saving Hockton’s spot-kick and almost immediately Richard Evans took advantage of a mix-up in the home defence to make it 4-1. A minute before the interval Darren Edwards showed Hockton how to score from 12 yards after Marcus Browning was tripped in the box. Both sides had chances to increase the scoring after the break but City’s hopes took a blow when Mark Badman was sent off for two bookings with 12 minutes left. Despite this setback City ensured a tense finish as Mike Perrott headed home Jim Rollo’s cross on 81 minutes but they couldn’t quite complete a stunning comeback.
Aaron Cornwall and Raiff Gwinnett have both signed on non-contract deals to complete City’s squad that will open their 2009-10 season at Chelmsford City tomorrow. Former Chippenham Town and Halesowen Town midfiedler Cornwall has featured in all City’s pre-season matches, netting twice and gives them another option up front while the search for a new striker continues. Gwinnett made his first appearance in a City shirt at Yate Town on Monday having been recommended by summer signing Marcus Browning, who he played alongside at Weymouth last season. Previously the 18-year old defender had been with Torquay United.
City begin their 2009-10 Blue Square South season on Saturday with a long trip to Essex to face Chelmsford City. The Clarets are in their second season at this level having won the 2007-08 Ryman League title and for the first half of last season a second successive championship looked a strong possibility. At one stage they enjoyed a nine point lead at the top of the table but this slowly evaporated and they were overtaken by eventual winners AFC Wimbledon in January. They then went on a run of just two wins in the next nine games, which not only ended any title hopes but left them nervously looking over their shoulders at the sides chasing the play-off places. However, a vital 3-2 win over Hampton & Richmond Borough in early April put them back on course and they finished the season in 5th place. The Beavers provided their semi-final opposition but Chelmsford could not repeat the victory, going down 3-1 at home in the first leg that a 0-0 draw at Hampton did nothing to repair.
Manager Jeff King immediately reacted to this disappointment by axing seven of his squad, including regular goalkeeper Danny Gay and captain Andy Duncan. Before King could begin rebuilding his side he relinquished the post of manager to join the board and become the club’s director of football, with head coach Glen Pennyfather taking over all first team matters. His first new signing was vetran striker Danny Hockton after he was released by Braintree Town. Further new arrivals included St Albans City defender Ben Martin and ex-Team Bath right-back Matt Lock. They also captured an experienced new keeper in the shape of former Arsenal trainee Craig Holloway. The Clarets pre-season campaign saw them lose their first three matches against Bury Town, Stevenage Borough and Southend United but follow this up with four wins and a draw in their next five outings to set themselves up solidly for the meeting with City.
Off the pitch the club have announced plans to build a new 1280-seater stand that would take the capacity of their Melbourne Stadium home from its current 3000 mark to the amount required by the Blue Square Premier. They hope to submit plans very shortly and have the necessary finance in place to complete the work in time for the start of the 2010/11 season. They also announced a new main sponsor in the shape of playface.com. Apparently they are sports networking site although a lot of corporate twaddle in the announcement of the link-up did little to make it clear exactly what the point of the company is (though they have a very flashy looking website).
Complete record against Chelmsford City
This will be the 68th meeting between the clubs having been long time Southern League rivals between the 1940’s and 1970’s. Last season was the first time they had faced in other in five years and City recorded an impressive double over the Clarets. The first encounter took place in Essex in November and was a unforgettable match with City producing one of their best performances of the season to edge a five-goal thriller. The then league leaders dominated the early stages of the game and deservedly went ahead thanks to a Rainford header. Rather than pressing home this advantage the hosts seemed to sit back after this and six minutes before the interval City levelled when Miller blocked Chris Holland’s header with his hand in the box. Stuart Douglas’ tame penalty was saved but Richard Evans fired home the rebound. Within just nine seconds of the restart Douglas redeemed himself to put City in front and on the hour mark Gethin Jones made it 3-1. The drama was far from over as keeper Paul Evans saw red for his reaction following a Rainford penalty that made it 3-2. Steve Jones took over the gloves but repelled everything the Clarets could manage to give City a remarkable win. The return match at Twerton Park in April also saw City reduced to 10-men – this time midway through the first half when Lewis Hogg received two quick bookings – and trail to a first-half Rainford header. Dave Gilroy headed City level on 51 minutes then put them ahead from the penalty spot 18 minutes later. With a play-off place already assured Chelmsford showed little appetite for getting back into the game and City completed their home campaign on a winning note.
Both clubs go into the match missing players through injury and suspension. City will be missing Lewis Hogg for the aforementioned red card against Chelmsford and new goalkeeper Ryan Robinson (back) and Stuart Douglas (neck), while the Clarets will be without vital playmaker and last season’s top scorer Rainford, following his dismissal in the play-offs semi-final, plus fellow midfielder Berquez (foot).
City ended their pre-season campaign with a crushing win over Yate Town at Lodge Road this evening. The Zamaretto Division One West side got off to the worst possible start with Darren Edwards intercepted a poor backpass, rounded keeper Woods and rolled it back to Aaron Cornwall to tap in from six yards. City dominated throughout, Jim Rollo nearly made it two soon after with a dipping shot which clipped the top of the bar. Marcus Browning and Edwards saw chances come and go, before a second goal arrived on the stroke of half-time – Lewis Hogg’s free-kick met by a trademark Chris Holland header. Five half time changes didn’t affect City’s rhythm and they made the game safe soon after the interval. Mark Badman reacted quickest to a loose ball to tee up Hogg, who stroked the ball into the empty net from 10 yards. Mike Perrott flashed a shot wide in a one-sided affair, City keeper Will Puddy making only one serious save in the whole 90 minutes. The fourth goal arrived when Sido Jombati capitalised on good work by Perrott by