This Saturday Billericay Town will become the 395th club* to face City in a competitive fixture when they travel to Mayday Trust Park for the first ever meeting between the sides. City will be looking to return to winning ways after the disappointing defeat at Dorchester Town on Bank Holiday Monday, against a side playing their debut campaign at this level after winning the Ryman League Premier Division title last season.
Although the Blues have spent the largest part of their history playing in various Essex leagues they became one of the best known non-league teams during the 1970s when they won the FA Vase three times in four years. In 1976 they beat Stamford 1-0 after extra-time at Wembley Stadium then a year later returned to the capital to face Sheffield. After a 1-1 draw the sides met again at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground where Billericay triumphed by two goals to one. Then two years later they become the first (and until 2010 only) club to win the competition three times when Almondsbury Greenway were swept aside 4-1. During this time they also enjoyed league success, winning the Essex Senior League three times and finishing runners-up twice between 1971 and 1976 which saw them promoted to the Athenian League (an English amateur football league for clubs in and around London) in 1977. During their two seasons in the competition they lifted the Championship on both occasions and were elected to the Isthmian League in 1979. It took them just two seasons to win promotion to the Premier Division before this remarkable spell of success came to end during the mid-1908s with relegation back to Division 2 and it wasn’t until 1998 they returned to the Premier Division. They missed out on a place in the newly formed Conference South in 2004 and play-off defeats in 2005 and 2007 ensured they remained at that level until last season. Having led the table almost uninterrupted from October they secured the title thanks to a 2-2 draw with Margate in April 2012.
In common with City when they won promotion to the Conference South back in 2007 Billericay manager Craig Edwards has largely stuck with the squad that lifted the Ryman League title, bringing just three new players in, strikers Tunde Adewunmi and Alex Osborn plus midfielder Luke L’anson, who was an unused sub for Dover Athletic last year when City beat them 1-0 in the FA Cup. They got their Blue Square Bet South campaign off to a perfect start with a 2-1 win over Truro City despite a red card for May on the hour mark. However, this remains they only win of the season so far as, despite a brace of penalties from Glenn Poole – who spent a very short (he played 65 minutes) loan spell with City in 2001 – they lost 4-2 to Hayes & Yeading United in their next outing. Poole was again on target from the spot against Eastbourne Borough but this couldn’t prevent his side going down 2-1. On Bank Holiday a Lechmere strike earner the Blues a 1-1 draw against AFC Hornchurch and they currently lie in 16th place. This mixed start has seen Edwards looking to strengthen his attacking options, bringing in striker Marc Charles-Smith from Staines Town and he hopes to have a further new arrival ahead of the trip to Bath.
Off the pitch Billericay had a change of ownership during the summer after long term owner Steve Kent put the club up for sale in July. After a number of enquires he completed a deal with Grant Gordon to buy 60% of the shares. He is no stranger to New Lodge having had a spell as manager four years ago and returned to the club a couple of weeks prior to the deal to help manager Edwards. Gordon, who finished last season as manager of relegated Thurrock, has said he feels “like a boy living out his football dream” and admitted he will spend more time in the dugout than boardroom despite his new role.
The Football Conference will again be operating their unique campaign to improve respect, amongst member clubs this season. Entitled “3D Respect Campaign 2012-13” it will continue to concentrate on three key areas with an emphasis of encouraging managers and fans to make a meaningful contribution, let alone players during matches. Recognising football is emotive and stirs obvious passions, people in the game still need to often step back, take ownership of what one is about to do or say and so avoid the consequences of those actions. Often the outcome reflects badly, not only on their club and the reputation of football in general but importantly the way others view those actions, deeds or words.The member club earning the end of season accolade will need to demonstrate many attitudes from the boardroom to the terrace. The overall winning clubs from all three divisions will receive the “Respect Trophy” and two other clubs will be presented with certificates of commendation for their efforts towards the campaign. As a further incentive Blue Square Bet, sponsors of the Football Conference, will be making financial awards to the top three clubs.
Last season, overall winners Altrincham FC were set a fine example by Manager Lee Sinnott. Chairman Graham Rowley commented after receiving the trophy on behalf of all connected with his club, “With Altrincham Football club’s increased presence in the local community we were proud winners of this award in its inaugural year, as it epitomises what the club stands for – fair play, respect for all and good sportsmanship”.
Conference Chairman, Brian Lee summed up his feeling towards the campaign, “Last year was a success, so much indeed that the LMA and PGMO have adopted for the Premier League and Football League our initiative of match officials being allowed to exit the field of play at half time and full time with dignity, advocating and encouraging managers to make a respectful approach behind closed doors and out of sight of fans and cameras. Doing so on the field gives the wrong impression and managers should be role models to players and youngsters who attend our matches. All managers in our competition, like Lee Sinott did last season, have to set high standards”.
In monitoring behaviour, all avenues of social networking and other media streams will be checked away from the field of play and if supporters feel that another club has shown that they can go that extra mile to make it a pleasant day out, then if they wish to share their experiences, they can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two goals in as many second half minutes ended City’s unbeaten start to the 2012-13 season at Dorchester Town this afternoon. Having largely controlled the game for an hour they only had Charlie Griffin’s maiden goal for the club to show and two set-pieces proved their undoing. City went in front after just 13 minutes when a low free-kick from Griffin beat ex-Roman keeper Matthews just inside the post. Kurtis Guthrie and Griffin just failed to get on the end of teasing crosses after this but a second goal did not look on the cards as City flattered to decieve. Guthrie shot narrowly wide shortly after the interval before just past the hour mark Walker headed home the equaliser via the crossbar and Glyn Garner’s desperate attempt to prevent the ball crossing the line. And before City had a chance to recover from this blow they were behind, another free-kick ending with Martin firing a low shot under Garner’s body. Noah Keates, Mark Canham and Kerry Morgan were all introduced in quick succession but City were unable to regain the control they had previously enjoyed and only a great tackle from Gethin Jones – making his 300th appearance for the club – prevented Reid adding a third for the home side late on.
Having made their best start to a league campaign since the 2007-08 season, City travel to face Dorchester Town tomorrow sitting proudly at the top of the Blue Square Bet South table. Of course, it is still very early days and the aforementioned season, City’s first in the Conference South, also saw them briefly head the pack during the opening month only to finish out of the play-offs in eighth place. However, the draw at Welling United and home wins over Maidenhead United and Havant & Waterlooville should, at least, have removed any worries of a hangover from last year’s hugely disappointing relegation from the Blue Square Bet Premier. Add the fact that their much changed squad will still need time to fully gel and is already missing several players through injury, it should mean Adie Britton’s men will head to Dorset full of confidence.
There they will face a Dorchester Town side looking to put a mixed 2011-12 season behind them that saw two managers and 25 players come and go, but ended with their second highest points total since becoming founder members of the Conference South in 2004. The one constant during the campaign was Phil Simkin. He began as assistant to Ashley Vickers but after the Magpies lost ten of their opening fifteen league games (albeit winning the other five) Vickers was sacked and Simkin took over on a caretaker basis. In this capacity he led the side to a five-game unbeaten run before the club turned to Portsmouth legend Alan Knight, with Simkin returning to the assistant role. This improved form continued under Knight and just one league defeat in his opening nine matches saw the Magpies on the fringes of the play-off places. Three successive defeats in March dented their hopes of reaching the play-offs and the following month Knight resigned due to work commitments. Simkin was then handed the role on a permanent basis and will be looking to build on the final placing of 11th last year.
Amongst the new arrivals to the Avenue Stadium during the close season are three former City players. Goalkeeper Jason Matthews, who made 13 appearances for the Romans last season, became Simkin’s first summer signing in May before Ben Watson, a seven game and one goal loanee during the 2010-11 season, joined from Eastbourne Borough. Then on the eve of the new campaign Charlie Clough signed for the Magpies. The former Bristol Rovers defender had spent two loan spells at Twerton Park, making 26 appearances and scoring three goals. And all three players were involved in a last gasp, but very encouraging, opening win over Eastbourne Borough at the Avenue Stadium. After an even opening hour the visitors went ahead on 64 minutes through Walker and with just three minutes left the score was still 1-0. However, Ward’s 20 yard free-kick levelled the scores and deep in stoppage it got even better for Dorchester when Watson set up Reid to complete a stunning comeback. There was no such drama in their next outing at Staines Town as first half goals from Garrod and Wheeler made Clough’s second half header a mere consolation. On Saturday Ward was again on target from a free-kick but Farnborough drew level in the same fashion and although the home side were reduced to ten men late on Dorchester couldn’t repeat their opening day heroics.
Complete record against Dorchester Town
City’s last visit to the Avenue Stadium came during the opening month of the 2009-10 season and ended 2-2 with all four goals coming during a 25 minute spell in the first half. The hosts opened the scoring on 20 minutes when Martin’s deflected shot looped over Steve Perrin but six minutes later City levelled, Mark Badman bundling the ball home from close range. Three minutes before the interval a great move involving Lewis Hogg and Darren Edwards ended with a composed finish from the latter. There was still time though for Forbes to cross for ex-City striker Phil Walsh to head past Perrin and send the teams into the break all square. Clear cut chances were harder to come by in the second half and it was the home side who came the closest to grabbing all three points when, in stoppage time, Perrin produced a stunning double save to deny Walsh and Gleeson in quick succession.
City’s promising start to the 2012-13 season continued at Mayday Trust Park this afternoon as goals from Josh Low and Kurtis Guthrie saw them overcome Havant & Waterlooville by two goals to nil. A heavy thunderstorm fifteen minutes before kick-off made for a slick playing surface and neither side could take control of the game in the early stages, with the visitors content to reduce the tempo whenever possible. However, on ten minutes Low collected an Adie Harris pass midway in the Havant half and advanced toward goal. With the defence backing off he cut in on his right foot and curled a perfect shot into the corner of the net. He almost repeated the trick eight minutes later, keeper Masters pushing the effort away this time, but it was the Hawks who were enjoying the greater possession and looking the more threatening side. Joe Burnell produced an excellent goalbound block, Glyn Garner maintained his excellent early season form and Pearce headed a good chance over, leaving Havant somewhat aggrieved to go in at half-time behind. The second period though was largley controlled by City, Charlie Griffin seeing two early openings come and go to break his duck. With heavy showers now blowing across Mayday Trust Park, City were pressing for a vital second goal, no doubt aware the Hampshire side had rescued a point from both their opening two games with injury-time strikes. And on 72 minutes it duly arrived as debutant Bradley Norris’ well-struck shot was only parried by Masters, allowing Guthrie to fire the ball into the roof of the net. City were denied a great chance to make it 3-0 in the closing moments when a neat move on the edge of the box was halted by the referee bringing play back for a foul, Marc Canham forcing Masters into another fine stop from the free-kick, but the 2-0 win was enough to take the Romans to the top of the table, ahead of Boreham Wood on goals scored.
City’s hectic start to the 2012-13 season continues this Bank Holiday weekend with a trip to the south coast on Monday to face Dorchester Town but before that they welcome Havant & Waterlooville to Mayday Trust Park on Saturday. Having taken four points from them opening two games to begin to consign the disappointments of last season to history, City will be keen to overcome the Hawks and ensure they are firmly amongst the early season Blue Square Bet South front-runners.
They will meet a Havant side also unbeaten so far in this fledgling campaign but after two draws still searching for a maiden victory. It is almost traditional for the Hawks to be considered amongst the likely title challengers pre-season but on just a single occasion since they were one of the founder members of the Conference South in 2004 have they secured a top five finish, and this back in the 2006-07 season. Last year they finally came close to finding a way out of the division but rather than heading up to the Conference Premier they came within one game of returning to the Southern League. Despite an opening day win at Boreham Wood a run of five defeats in the next six games set the tone for the season and they went into the final weekend of the season knowing that only a win over Staines Town would guarantee their Conference South place. And when the game reached stoppage time with the score level at 2-2 it appeared their worst fears would be realised as Maidenhead United’s injury-time winner left them stranded in the bottom three. However, the drama was not over as Dolan struck to send Westerleigh Park into raptures and ensure it was the Magpies facing the drop. Of course, in the end Kettering Town’s demotion meant even without this last gasp winner the Hawks would have retained their Conference South place.
At the beginning of April long serving manager Shaun Gale had been sacked, assistant manager Steve Johnson and stadium manager/fitness coach Adrian Aymes overseeing the final weeks of the season, and in early May the Hawks named former player Stuart Ritchie as the man to turn their fortunes around. He certainly arrived with an impressive managerial CV, having taken AFC Totton from the Wessex League to the Southern League Premier, plus a FA Vase Final appearance at Wembley and a first ever FA Cup 2nd Round appearance, where they lost 6-1 to Bristol Rovers live on ITV, for good measure. After missing out on a Conference South place – losing the Southern League play-off final to Oxford City – Ritchie stepped down from the Stags hot-seat and two weeks later was named the new Hawks boss. Only three players were released – including former City favourite Chris Holland – and Ritchie brought in Sutton United duo Sam Page and Tony Taggart, Woking goalkeeper Matt Pegler and striker Sahr Kabba from Weston-Super-Mare. After an extensive pre-season campaign of ten and a half games (the opening match at Winchester City was abandoned at half-time) – including two matches in Ireland – Ritchie’s first competitive game was a difficult looking meeting with Chelmsford City. And when former Hawk Slabber put the Clarets ahead early in the second half it looked like it would end in disappointment. However, the Hawks showed that even when their league place is not on the line they play right to the final whistle, Palmer shooting home with virtually the last kick of the game. And three days later he repeated the trick against Truro City, as Havant twice came from two goals down to secure a second point through another injury-time strike.
Complete record against Havant & Waterlooville/Waterlooville
City have enjoyed the better of recent encounters between the two clubs, tasting defeat just once in the last nine meetings. The most recent game in February 2009 at Twerton Park, though, ended 1-1 and City had to be thankful for a man-of-the-match performance by keeper Ryan Robinson to deny the visitors. Havant came into the game in good form but were rocked back after just eight minutes when Darren Edwards headed City in front. This turned out to be a rare moment of excitement for the home fans as the Hawks dominated the game, however Robinson produced a string of superb saves with only Williams’ hooked shot on 33 minutes finding a way past him.
A Kurtis Guthrie hat-trick got City’s home season off to the perfect start this evening as Maidenhead United were beaten 3-1 at Mayday Trust Park. Two first half headers from the teenage striker and a composed one-on-one finish five minutes after the Magpies had pulled a goal back ensured the majority of the 587 crowd went home happy. The game was just six minutes old when Guthrie’s header from an Aaron Brown cross was too hot for visitor’s keeper Lumley. Despite this great start City were unable to really take control of the match, their cause not helped with Jim Rollo and Brown both having to be replaced before the 15 minute mark. However, on 36 minutes Brown’s replacement Kerry Morgan did well to keep the ball in on the left flank and advanced into the box where his chipped cross picked out Guthrie to power the ball home. Glyn Garner produced an excellent full stretch save on the stroke of half-time to ensure the Romans went into the break with their two-goal cushion intact. Maidenhead began the second half strongly but found City’s backline in resilient form. With seventeen minutes left though Brown headed home a corner to give his side a lifeline. City were spared a nervous final ten minutes when Guthrie raced onto a Noah Keates pass to lash the ball home and become the first City player to net a treble since Darren Edwards in September 2009. There was still time for Garner to produce an excellent double block as the Magpies kept pressing right to the end but it was the City fans who were signing in the rain as the final whistle was greeted by a heavy downpour.
City will look to build on the encouraging point they picked up in their opening match of the season at Welling United on Saturday when Maidenhead United head down the M4 tomorrow evening. The game marks the first competitive game at Mayday Trust Park following the renaming last season. Remarkably the clash could be the only evening game to take place at the ground this season, in complete contrast to the previous campaign, although with possible cup and rearranged games it is unlikely that the Mayday Trust floodlights will be that underused this year.
The Magpies began their 2012-13 season with an excellent 3-1 win over Tonbridge Angels and they will hope this will herald a much less stressful season that the one just gone. In a quirk of the fixture list it was the same encounter that opened the 2011-12 campaign but then the Kent side ran out 4-0 winners, a scoreline that was repeated three days later in Maidenhead’s first away game at Dorchester Town. Although a run of one further defeat in their next seven games steadied the ship, the Berkshire side picked up just two point in the following twelve outings to find themselves firmly entrenched in a relegation battle. A good spell over Christmas and New Year was followed by another poor run and they went into the final game requiring a win against Eastleigh to avoid relegation, while also needing Havant & Waterlooville to drop points against Staines. On what turned out to an afternoon of conflicting emotions, for less than a minute it looked as if the Magpies had secured a last gasp escape when a Semakula strike deep in injury-time game them a 4-3 victory. With Havant drawing 2-2 at Staines the celebrations were underway at York Road but these turned out to be premature when news filtered through that the Hawks had also netted in stoppage time to turn the joy to despair. However, in the background was always the chance that the side finishing third from bottom in the Conference South could enjoy a reprieve with the likelihood of Kettering Town being demoted to the Southern League and in early June this was confirmed to ensure Maidenhead would remain at this level.
With the majority of the squad already committing themselves to the club prior to the reprieve manager Johnson “Drax” Hippolyte began to turn his attention to strengthening the side to avoid any repeat of these events. He began by bringing in left-back Derek Duncan from Conference South champions Woking before midfielder Michael Pook returned to York Road after a season with Forest Green Rovers. Striker Dave Pratt then switched from division rivals Basingstoke Town, before keeper Alex Tokarczyk, forward Aryantaj Tajbakhsh and youngsters Jordan Chandler and James Regis were added to the squad. After picking up just one win in their opening five pre-season games the Magpies registered four successive victories, scoring 14 goals in the process, to send them into the Tonbridge game in good heart. And they continued this good form, Semakula firing them in front on 38 minutes. They suffered a setback when the visitors levelled within 45 seconds of the restart but on 64 minutes the lead was restored from the penalty spot, Behzadi netting after Lascaris, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds, was brought down in the box. They were forced to hang on to this narrow advantage as Tonbridge pressed forward in the closing 20 minutes but as the game reached injury-time a superb lob by Pratt ensured a perfect start to the season.
Complete record against Maidehead United
Maidenhead may welcome the renaming of Twerton Park having suffered defeat in their previous five visits to the ground. The most recent encounter took place in February 2010 with City looking to keep their play-off hopes alive whilst the visitors were encamped in a no-man’s land, clear of the relegation zone but well adrift of the play-off chasing teams. On a difficult playing surface neither side had impressed during the opening 43 minutes befor City struck twice on the cusp of half-time to take control of the game. An Adam Connolly free-kick was only half-cleared by keeper Tardif allowing Kaid Mohamed to lift a perfectly executed lob into the top corner. And two minutes later Connolly’s corner was headed home by Darren Edwards to send City into the break on a high. Edwards spurned a chance to add a third on 55 minutes and after this the visitors began to look a greater threat. Just past the hour mark Knight flicked home a cross to make it 2-1 but despite a few nervous moments City held on to secure an important three points.
City opened their 2012-13 Blue Square Bet South campaign with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Welling United at a stiflingly hot Park View Road this afternoon. Although the home side enjoyed the greater possession City’s new look line-up, with five debutants in the starting XI, stood firm to keep one of the title favourites at bay. The Wings showed their quality as early as the first minute when Lafayette’s volley was superbly saved by Glyn Garner, who then blocked Cumbers follow up, but after this scare City contributed well to an even first quarter. Their opening goal on 20 minutes though had some fortune about it, as Aaron Brown won the ball in the middle of the park and was allowed to advance toward goal unchallenged. His 25-yard effort was well-struck but seemed to catch keeper Mott in two minds whether to push the ball over or catch it and he only succeeded in tamely palming into the net. He was almost beaten again shortly afterwards as Charlie Griffin’s header flashed across goal but it was Welling who finished the half on top. Within 12 minutes of the restart the game was level again when a deep cross was headed back across goal by Cumbers for Lafayette to apply the final touch. Playing down the considerable slope the Wings looked the stronger side, with City restricted to the occasional break, but the closest they came to grabbing the three points wasn’t until the final minute when Kinch’s header brought another stunning save from Garner.
Mayday Trust Park is the venue tomorrow (17 August) evening for a match between two of the Bath City Supporters Society sponsors, Touchstone Athletic versus Curo United. Bath-based Property Management company Touchstone, sponsor the Attacking Skills Project, and Curo (formally Somer Housing) sponsor the Society’s 5-a-side league. The match (ko 6.00pm) will be refereed by former City striker, and Trustee of the Foundation, Martin Paul and all proceeds raised go to supporting the Bath City FC Community Sports Foundation.
City have secured the services of experienced left-sided defender/midfielder Aaron Brown on a short term deal. The 32-year old has featured regularly for City during pre-season and adds futher versatility to their small squad. Having a been firm fans favourite at Bristol City he spent the last two season at Darlington, although he came very close to joining City at the height of the North East club’s financial crisis in January 2012. Aaron said, “I am very pleased to be joining Bath City, I look forward to the challenge, and I hope I can make enough of an impact to extend my deal.” Manager Adie Britton said, “We have been after Aaron for a long time, he is a player of real quality, I am very pleased we can give him this opportunity at Bath City.”
Chairman Manda Rigby said, “We were speaking with Aaron last year when Darlington cancelled their players contracts, and I admire hugely his loyalty and integrity to his team mates and club at Darlington when their situation changed and he stuck with them through a very difficult time.” She added, “We have worked very hard this summer to get the best squad together for the start of the season. I am delighted so many players from last year have re committed to the club, and are fired up to put right the wrongs of 2011-12. The new players who have joined us have fitted in well to the team, provide some different options, and I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Saturday sees City begin life back in the Blue Square Bet South in the familiar surroundings of Park View Road where they will face Welling United. The Wings have been regular opponents in the both levels of the Conference and the Southern League, plus a number of memorable cup ties, since the two clubs first crossed paths during the mid-1980s. And the 39th meeting could be one of the toughest for City as they face a Welling side firmly amongst the favourites for the 2012-13 Conference South title.
Having been founder members of the division in 2004 it is only during the last two seasons have they been in with a genuine shout of returning to non-league’s top flight – a level they graced for 14 successive seasons between 1986 and 2000. And this despite the club coming close to bankruptcy during the 2010-11 campaign. Just before the start of that season the Wings were served with a winding-up petition by HMRC and when they were given 14 weeks to clear the debt their future was in real doubt. However, their supporters came to the rescue, raising £60,000 to clear the debt. Unfortunately they couldn’t prevent the imposition of a five-point deduction by the Football Conference and suspended fine. Despite this, and a transfer embargo while the debt was cleared, on the pitch Jamie Day’s side was firmly in the play-off hunt. Going into the final two weeks of the season they were still in fourth place but defeats at St Albans City and champions Braintree Town saw them slip out of the top five and a final day 4-0 win over Basingstoke Town was not enough to reclaim a play-off place, with the points deduction ultimately proving very costly. No doubt fired by this disappointment they began the 2011-12 season strongly, leading the table after ten games. Although they couldn’t keep this pace up they only once dropped out the top three for the remainder of the campaign to deservedly secure a play-off place. After seeing off Sutton United 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-final they faced Kent rivals Dartford for a place in the Blue Square Bet Premier. This dream was dashed though as the Darts struck after just four minutes which turned out to be the decisive goal.
Manager Jamie Day – now in his fourth season with the Wings – has made a number of changes to his squad in an attempt to make that final step. Thamesmead goalkeeper Sam Mott was an early capture before they brought in prolific striker Jon Main after he was released by Tonbridge Angels. Day further strengthened his front-line with the arrival of former Millwall, Kettering Town and Grimsby Town forward Kiernan Hughes-Mason then turned his attention to the defence, signing AFC Wimbledon centre half Fraser Franks. Although player of the year Loick Pires and captain Jack Parkinson both headed to Woking, the majority of last season’s squad remained at Park View Road, including top scorer Luis Cumbers, and on paper they look to have a side capable of a sustained challenge at the top of the table. A promising pre-season campaign will also have boosted optimism amongst the Wings faithful with big wins over Cray Valley, VCD Athletic, Faversham and Thamesmead, alongside victories over youthful Millwall, West Ham United and Crystal Palace sides. The only two blemishes were a 4-0 opening friendly defeat to Charlton Athletic and a 3-0 loss to Cambridge United, although in both games Welling gave a good account of themselves.
Complete record against Welling United
As already stated the game will be the 39th meeting between the clubs and City will certainly want to avoid a similar outcome to the last time the sides met on the opening day of a season. It was the 2008-09 campaign – City’s second in the Blue Square Bet South – at Twerton Park and two goals in each half helped the visitors to a crushing 4-0 win. Welling completed the double over City that season with a 2-1 win at Park View Road in December but the following campaign it was the Romans who enjoyed a brace of victories on their way to promotion. It was another early season meeting in Bath that saw a late Chris Holland header secure a 2-1 win before they enjoyed a fruitful trip to Kent in February as Kaid Mohamed’s well-struck 41st minute effort and Dave Gilroy’s injury-time breakaway goal secured the three points.
City have signed striker Kurtis Guthrie on a short term deal. The 19-year old spent last season with Accrington Stanley after impressing the League 2 side during pre-season trials last summer. He made 16 appearances for the Reds and also spent two loans spells with Blue Square Bet Premier side Southport. Kurtis said, “I am very much looking forward to playing for Bath City and hope that I can impress in my short term deal to make it permanent. It will be a real challenge.” Manager Adie Britton added, “We have been scouring the length of the country for a striker. Kurtis has impressed in training both in terms of talent and physicality.”
(*to paraphrase an old milk advert for the youngsters amongst you!)
Since the academy was set up three years ago, and the development squad started in conjunction with the university during last season, Billy Clark and Lee Smith have been working very closely with Adie Britton to prepare players for City’s first team. There are now four players registered to play for Bath City for the season 2012/13 who have come through the academy or development squad. They are Brad Norris, Noah Keats, Martin Lenihan and Will Hailston. Some of these players, whilst registered with City, will also play for other local clubs to build their strength, knowledge and footballing experience during the first part of the season at least. Britton said, “The youth coming through provide a backstop for small squad, we are investing in local talent, and there is a possible windfall for the club if we unearth a gem. It is the first time since I have been here that we have had youth players I feel could make it in the first team.”
City’s youth team match this evening (14/8) at Mayday Trust Park will now be against Bitton following the withdraw of original opponents Cheltenham Town. The game kick off at 7pm and admission is free.
City ended the 2012 close season on a winning note at Yate Town this afternoon thanks to a first half Josh Low strike and a late stroke of good fortune when Noah Keates charged down a keepers clearance. In a largely evenly contested game City went in front in 12 minutes when a neat one-two on the edge of the box saw Low lift the ball past the Bluebells keeper. The home side enjoyed their fair share of possession after this but rarely tested Glyn Garner in the City goal and City always looked to have a greating cutting edge up front. However, within five minutes of the restart a neat run and finish levelled the scores. The second half saw City introduce Bristol Rovers striker Kayne McLaggon, in their continuing search for additional firepower, as both sides created openings and kept up a good pace despite the warm conditions. With the game looking to be heading for a draw City grabbed a fortunate winner six minutes from time when an attempted clearance by the keeper was blocked by Keates and the ball rebounded into the empty net.
City supporters can collect their season tickets now from the club during office hours.
City will head to the scene of one of the greatest moments in recent years on Saturday to complete their preparations for the 2012-13 season. Yate Town’s Lodge Road saw City secure the 2006-07 Southern League Premier Division title, coming back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Craig Davidge and Steve Jones, and though this game will not come close to the drama and excitement of that afternoon, City will be keen to record a morale-boosting win ahead of the trip to Welling United next Saturday to begin their Blue Square Bet South campaign.
The Southern League Division 1 South & West side are managed by former City midfielder Rob Cousins. The ex-Bristol City trainee spent seven seasons at Twerton Park, making over 300 appearances, between 1989 and 1996. After leaving City he enjoyed four successful seasons with Yeovil Town, during which he earned selection for the England non-league side, and in January 2010 reached the remarkable milestone of playing 1000 senior games whilst with Paulton Rovers. After initially joining Yate as player coach he took over from another long-serving ex-City player, record appearance holder Dave Mogg, as manager in February 2011. After a poor start to last season the Bluebells improved mid-season but couldn’t fight back into play-off contention. They will hope to improve this season and have signed sought-after target-man Mitchell Page from Mangotsfield United, whilst Danny Wring and Ollie Price have been lured away from Bridgwater Town. They did suffer a blow when highly rated keeper Josh Dempsey moved to Premier Division Chippenham Town last week, a decision which ‘shocked’ assistant manager Michael Meaker.
The Bluebells have enjoyed a promising pre-season, beginning with a 2-0 win over Brislington thanks to second half goals from Jake Cox and Tom Knighton. This was followed up with a 5-1 victory over Bitton, new signings Page (2) and Wring on target along with Harley Purnell and Matt Groves. Following a 1-1 draw with Bitton, Page and Knighton added to their pre-season tally against Weston Super Mare but couldn’t prevent a 3-2 reversal. And in their last outing they recorded an impressive 3-2 win over Blue Square Bet North side Gloucester City. Knighton lobbed Yate in front just before the interval before the Tigers levelled through Hunt. Adnan Hiroli quickly restored the home side’s lead then Knighton added his second and Yate’s third, making Lidiard’s strike nothing more than a consolation goal.
Complete record against Yate Town
Since that glorious day in April 2007 City have twice visited Lodge Road for a pre-season friendly. Three months later City returned to the ground, running out 3-0 winners through goals from Lewis Hogg, Dave Gilroy and a last minute Adie Harris penalty, although the game was marred by a neck injury picked up by goalkeeper Paul Evans that sidelined him for the opening three games of the season. Two years later City completed their 2009 close season campaign with a comfortable 5-0 win over the Bluebells. Aaron Cornwall, Chris Holland, Hogg, Mark Badman and triallist Tomas Piotrowski all on target for the Romans.
Summer signing Josh Low should be available for the game after a minor injury saw him miss the 1-1 draw at Clevedon Town and siblings Aaron and Cameron Brown will get another opportunity to stake their claim for a deal, although any final decision on the pair rests on the on-going search for another front player.
In preparation for their 2012-13 South West Counties Youth League campaign City’s youth team will meet Cheltenham Town at Mayday Trust Park on Tuesday 14 August (ko 7.00pm). Billy Clark’s side will be looking to go one better than last season when they finished runners-up to Salisbury City and begin their league season on Saturday 15 September with a trip to the WISE Sports Ground in Stoke Gifford where they will face Bristol Academy.
Danny Ball’s late goal saw City avoid defeat in their latest pre-season outing at Clevedon Town this evening. The home side had lead through Murray’s close range finish after 36 minutes but with eight minutes remaining Ball scrambled home an Aaron Brown corner to level the scores. City had looked the stronger side during the first half, with Luke Cummings particularly impressive down the right flank, and it took a fine double stop by Seasiders keeper Matthews from Kerry Morgan to prevent them taking the lead on the half hour. Six minutes later Murray pounced after an initial shot had come back off the post to give the Southern League Division 1 South & West side a half-time advantage. The second period was more disjointed as both sides made a series of substitutions, and as the game reached its closing stages it looked as if Clevedon would hold on for the win before Ball struck. Both sides came close to grabbing a winning goal after this, Cameron Brown having a strong penalty appeal turned down when he appeared to be tripped in the box and Clevedon winning a couple of free-kicks in dangerous positions. The game saw two former City players on the pitch, with Alex Russell turning out for the Seasiders and Sam Allison running the line.
City’s penultimate pre-season outing of the 2012 close season takes place tomorrow evening when Adie Britton’s side travel to North Somerset to face Clevedon Town of the Evostick Southern League Division 1 South & West. With the opening day trip to Welling United now less than two weeks away City will be aiming at adding the final few pieces to their squad, which reached 15 players with the signing of Kerry Morgan last week.
The Seasiders will be looking to regain the Southern League Premier Division place they lost in 2010. Following their 21st place finish that season they appointed former Bristol City defender Micky Bell as manager. The qualified plumber made well over 600 appearances in a long and successful professional playing career for five Football League sides, and was also part of the coaching staff at City’s former tenants Team Bath during the 2007-08 season. They have struggled in the last two seasons though, finishing in 20th position on both occasions, though with only one side relegated each year avoiding returning to the Western League. They did enjoy cup success last season reaching the final of both the Southern League Cup and Somerset Premier Cup. The later ended in disappointment as local rivals Weston Super Mare ran out 2-1 winners at the Hand Stadium but the club lifted the former for the first time in their history. Wins over Cinderford Town, Paulton Rovers, Bideford, Thatcham Town and AFC Totten earned the Seasiders a final meeting with Premier Division Banbury United. After a tense goalless draw at the Hand Stadium, Muggeridge gave Clevedon an 11th minute lead in the second leg in Oxfordshire. The hosts levelled on 23 minutes through Cole’s header but Bell’s team were not to be denied a famous victory, Hemmings racing clear with 15 minutes left to net the winning goal.
This cup success saw the Seasiders face Southern League Premier Division champions Brackley Town in the Championship Shield match on Saturday. Solkhon gave the Blue Square North newcomers an early lead but on 20 minutes this was cancelled out by Flurry’s strike before Mulligan ensured Clevedon would miss out on another trophy twelve minutes after the interval. This ended the Seasider’s unbeaten pre-season campaign that had taken in wins over Portville Warriors, Winterbourne United, Nailsea Town and Portishead Town, plus a draw with Slimbridge. They will face Northwood United in their final pre-season friendly on Saturday before beginning their Evostick Southern League Division 1 South & West Division campaign with a trip to the south coast to face Poole Town on 18 August.
Complete record against Clevedon Town/Clevedon
City’s last visit to the Hand Stadium came during the closing months of the 2006-07 season as they closed in on the Southern League title. An early own goal by Billy Clark, now head of City’s Academy, was quickly followed up by a Darren Edwards’ header which was how the game finished to stretch City’s lead at the top of the table to ten points. City have twice faced Clevedon in pre-season, coming out on top on both occasions. In August 2005 City had endured a poor summer, losing five successive matches without scoring a goal, but a sixth minute strike by Jon Holloway was enough to complete their campaign on a winning note. A year earlier it was also the Hand Stadium that provided a rare glimpse of pre-season triumph as goals from Gary Owers, John Williams and Dean Stevens saw them home 3-0, which turned out to be City’s only win and goals in their eight game summer fixture list.
The game will see keeper Jason Mellor make a quick return to the Hand Stadium having signed for City from the Seasiders back in May. Two of City’s trillialists will also be familiar with the ground, Josh Klein-Davies and Gianni Kapika having both been on the Seasiders books last season.
City have signed former Newport County winger Kerry Morgan to boost their attacking options for the 2012-13 season. The Merthyr Tydfil born 23-year old featured in all of City’s first-team friendlies this summer having played for Neath last season. He came through the youth ranks with Swansea City and in several spells on loan with Newport, made well over 50 appearances for the Exiles, and will bring quick feet and pace to City’s front line. Kerry said, “I am looking forward to a new and exciting challenge. Bath City is a fantastic club with a good manager and set of players. The last few months for me have been very stressful, I am so happy to be signed and playing football again.” City manager Adie Britton added, “I have admired Kerry for some time now, and have tried to sign him on previous occasions. He has great ability on the ball and I am sure he will excite the fans.”
It’s the summer draw that everyone looks forward to and at Blue Square Bet HQ this morning the top 68 horses in the weights for the 2012 renewal of the Blue Square Bet Stewards’ Cup were paired with the 68 clubs that make up the Blue Square Bet Premier, North and South.
The bookmaker which sponsors the three Football Conference divisions, allocate a horse from their prestigious Glorious Goodwood race to every club. The horse which wins the valuable six furlong sprint – which takes place at the Sussex track at 3.55 on Saturday (live on Channel 4) – will earn one club a cash windfall on the eve of the new season. Blue Square Bet will give the club that ‘owns’ the winner £2000 plus the equivalent of a £100 bet at the Blue Square Bet SP on their runner. Last year Workington from the Blue Square Bet North scooped a huge £2700 when favourite Hoof It scored under Kieren Fallon at a Blue Square Bet SP of 7/1!
It’s a wide open race this year and Blue Square Bet’s current market has eight horses competing for favouritism at 14/1. Hoof It’s connections have swerved a repeat bid for the prize but last year’s second placed horse Tax Free stands his ground quoted at 16/1 for Blue Square Bet South team Welling United. Last season’s third placed horse Mac’s Power is one of those vying for the position of market leader and he has been paired with Gainsborough Trinity of the Blue Square Bet North.
A random draw was made at Blue Square’s offices on Tuesday morning and the top 68 entries in the race were allocated between the clubs. A maximum of 28 runners will go to post on Saturday, but there will be an extra chance to win for any clubs who miss out on the main event. A special consolation race will be run on the same day. The Get Your Bet On At Bluesq.com Stewards’ Sprint Stakes will go off at 2.05 (also live on Channel 4) and will contain 28 horses which didn’t make the cut for the original race. Any club with a horse in the consolation race will win £1000 if their runner is successful, with the extra boost of the equivalent winnings from a £100 bet on that horse at the exclusive Blue Square Bet SP. City have given Starwatch.