Bristol Rovers forward Bobby Zamora has signed for City on a month’s loan as Paul Bodin looks to ease his striker crisis. With Graham Colbourne out for at least 2 months, and Martin Paul facing a one game suspension, Zamora will go straight into the City side for the trip to Newport County on Monday. The 19 year old has featured from the bench a couple of times this year for City’s former tenants, and has been watched by Bodin and Steve White this season.
The injury that forced Graham Colbourne off the pitch after just 15 minutes of the win over Clevedon appears to be as serious as it first appeared. A preliminary examination has found ligament and cartilage damage, and Colbourne will go into the RUH today for an operation on the knee. A worse case scenario could see the joint top scorer miss the remainder of the season and even if the damage is not as bad as feared he could miss 2 months. This blow has been the big fear of the season, as City lack cover in depth up front, and will force Paul Bodin into increasing his search for a new striker. With Martin Paul suspended for the trip to Newport next Monday City’s striking resources are at rock bottom, although assisstant manager Steve White should be fit to join emergency striker Jimmy Fraser.
With Clevedon making their first ever league visit to Twerton Park the Seasiders made City fight every inch of the way, but first half goals from Colin Towler and Jimmy Fraser were enough to give City the three points. Towler headed home the opener within the first minute after Colbourne flicked on a Bodin cross. The second came when substitute Fraser finished a Paul cross from close range that ex-City keeper Mark Hervin could only weakly parry. Inbetween City lost Graham Colbourne with what appeared to be a serious knee injury, after a challenge in the Town box. Further chances fell to Paul and Clode but the half ended with Clevedon midfielder Marco Micciche (another former City player) receiving his marching orders for a foul on Holloway. Against 10 men City should comfortably finished the visitors off but in a slightly lacklustre performance they failed to do this and on 70 minutes a Milsom header brought Clevedon back into the game. This shock finally seemed to wake City up and they controlled the final 20 minutes, never giving Clevedon the chance to steal an undeserved point.
The victory became even more vital with the news that City’s three closest rivals, Boston, Margate and Burton, had all lost, 2-1 at home to King’s Lynn, 2-0 at Salisbury and 2-1 at Halesowen, respectively.
City have received the sad news that former boss Steve Millard has died of a heart attack. Millard, who took over at the City helm prior to the 1996-97 season, was plagued by ill health toward the end of his tenure at Twerton Park but will always be remebered as the boss who almost produced a miracle to keep City in the Conference. After Tony Ricketts departure and the financial problems at the club he built a side that came within a point of retaining their Conference place, with the final day victory over Northwich a game that will remain in the minds of City fans for many years. The following season saw his side regroup to finish sixth in the Dr Martens League, although he was absent for long periods due to his illness. These problems finally lead to his departure from City in April 1998, to be replaced by current boss Paul Bodin. A large number of the current squad, including Mike Davis, Martin Paul, Colin Towler, Mark Harrington and Graham Colbourne, arrived during Millard’s time at the club. A minute’s silence will be observed prior to the Clevedon game tomorrow.
The draw for the 3rd round of the Dr Martens Cup has paired City with Gloucester City. The tie will take place at Twerton Park on Tuesday 25 January. Also, the booking that Martin Paul received in the Boston victory will see him suspended for one game. He will miss the trip to Newport County on the 3 January.
City may report Boston United boss Steve Evans to the FA after he was alleged to have spat in the face of City substitue Rob Skidmore during the second half of Saturday’s clash. Tempers had already been frayed between the opposing benches, with Evans’ touchline antics well know in the Dr Martens League, before the interval, and this culminated with the spitting incident. The United boss claims Skidmore, in fact, spat at him , although his assistant, Trevor Quow, apologised to his counterpart Steve White after the game. Evans also blamed the referee for his sides comprehensive defeat, claiming that both Martin Paul and Jon Holloway should have been sent off during the game. City boss Paul Bodin distanced him from the incidents, happy to concentrate on the football and praise his teams performance, saying, “It was throughly deserved and I am very proud of every one of my players.”
City produced their best performance of the season to comfortably beat league leaders Boston United by two goals to nil at a cold and wet Twerton Park this afternoon. The goalscoring hero was Graham Colbourne, as he struck in each half, but it was the team performance that allowed City to inflict only the second league defeat on the Lincolnshire side this season. The first goal came after 14 minutes when a Davis pass sent Colbourne clear and he kept his composure to knock the ball home. Davis had spurned an earlier chance as City started strongly but after the goal the visitors had, what turned out, their best period. Clode came to City’s rescue following a poor punch by Jackson, clearing a Power effort off the line, and a couple of goalmouth scrambles were cleared with difficulty. However, the second period saw City lift their game and the second goal deservedly arrived. Another strong run and cross by Davis was headed goalwards by Paul, where Bastock could only parry it into the path of Colbourne, and the big striker made no mistake. Boston were now reduced to speculative long-range efforts and it was City who could have increased the scoring through Paul, Colbourne and Holloway. The win leaves City 10 points behind Boston with five games in hand and, with Burton and Margate both winning, still in fourth place.
City chairman Steve Hall has appealed to supporters to raise £25,000, to enable the club to continue there move to a new ground. A request has, at first, been sent out to the 300 members of the supporters clubs asking for donations of £25, £50 or £100. All contributors will receive a certificate and have their name added to a ‘roll of honour’. The money is required as the plans for a move from Twerton Park begin to take shape, with the associated legal and planning costs that move involves, although a part will also be alloacted to the wage bill, allowing Paul Bodin to keep together the squad he has built. With the huge success of the various money raising ventures, such as the City Sweep, City’s finances have improved massively in the last two years, but with the previous debts, despite the club running at a small profit, interest charges mean Hall has had to allow for a loss of around £20,000 this season. The new year will see various fund raising ventures, similar to March 1998’s relaunch week, designed to further raise money.
Tomorrows vital clash with league leaders Boston United looks set to attract over 2000 fans to Twerton Park. City have given out over 12,000 free tickets to local school children to boost the crowd, as City look to close the 13 point gap to the Lincolnshire side. On the pitch City will give a late fitness test to Kevin Lloyd, as the influential defender struggles to overcome the foot injury he sustained against King’s Lynn.
Today’s match with Rothwell Town has fallen victim to the heavy rain in Northamptonshire. A 9.30 pitch inspection ruled the Cecil Street pitch unfit (although, even at its best it’s hardly Wembley). With Kevin Lloyd definitely out, and Mark Harrington and Mark Clode both doubtful, the postponement may be a blessing in diguise, although, assuming all other games go ahead, it will see City drop another game behind their title rivals.
City have allowed Fidell Richards to go to Screwfix League side Paulton Rovers on loan. The young winger has struggled to recapture last years form and has only featured occasionly in City’s starting line-up this season.
Paul Bodin’s policy of resting the majority of his first team for the Dr Martens Cup once again paid dividends as the young replacements produced a great performance to overcome a strong Tiverton Town side by two goals to one. Featuring just Graham Colbourne and Elliot Jackson from Saturday clash with King’s Lynn, it was the former who opened the scoring after Jimmy Fraser’s shot had rattled the crossbar. Fraser grabbed the second, his first of the season, with a neat shot from Walker’s corner. In between City had an escape when Pears fired a penalty wide after a handball by Skidmore, before Nancekivell pulled a goal back from a left wing corner. The second half saw fewer chances as the rain and heavy pitch made passing difficult but City’s youngsters dealt well with the home side and could have nicked a third goal on the break.
Another 2 points slipped away as City were held to 1-1 draw by King’s Lynn despite dominating the second half, as a corner count of ten to zero showed. The visitors grabbed the lead after 13 minutes when Wilson was given the time and space to beat Jackson from 16 yards. Having taken a time to settle City began to control the game and, with Linnets keeper Martini looking shakey under any cross, Colbourne should have scored from a Davis centre. Three minutes before the break City levelled. Harrington sent Davis free down the right and his cross was headed home at the far post by Paul. The second half was one-way traffic as King’s Lynn were penned in their half for long periods. Towler and Colbourne headed narrowly over and shots from Paul and Davis flashed wide. On 78 minutes the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Spearway received his second booking for a foul on Fraser. From the free kick Bodin curled the ball onto the crossbar with Martini rooted to his spot. The keeper redeemed himself with two fine saves from Fraser and Colbourne as City continued to press but the vital second goal just wouldn’t come. The final whistle saw King’s Lynn celebrating as if they’d won promotion, the cup and the national lottery in one, which is a compliment I guess.
After the recent progress toward a new ground City have received another longer term boost, with the news that manager Paul Bodin is set to sign a new contract, keeping him at the club until the end of 2001-02 season. Bodin has provisionally accepted the two year deal and is expected to sign before Christmas. His current deal does not expire until the end of this season but chairman Steve Hall has put the new contract before the ex-Welsh international so he can concentrate on persuading his players to commit themselves to City. The player manager has already been linked with various clubs this season, including Swindon Town, Reading and Yeovil.