The heavy overnight frost in Bath left all City and Chippenham Town fans disappointed today as this afternoon’s eagerly-awaited meeting between the sides was postponed. An 11.30am inspection found large areas of the pitch still frozen, leaving the referee with little option but to cancel the match. Contrary to rumours the game is not being rearranged for tomorrow and a new date with announced in due course.
City’s captain Bobby Ford looks set for six weeks on the sidelines after he was diagnosed with two broken ribs picked up in last Saturday’s defeat against Rugby United. It was initially hoped that the injury was only bruised, the 30-year played on through the pain barrier in the game, but an x-ray revealed the more serious nature of the injury. Although City are well-covered in the centre of midfield, assistant-manager Russell Milton, loanee Ben Cleverley or teenager Yan Klukowski could all step into his place, it is still a blow for City ahead of the usual busy Christmas period.
After Alex Sykes and Russell Milton represented their country with Futsal call-ups, Yan Klukowski could become the third City player to gain England recognition this season after he was named in the England Under-18 Schoolboys squad. The 17-year old midfielder, who has made one start and three substitute appearances for City this season, will join a 32-strong squad at Lilleshall in January aiming to earn a spot in the team’s trip to Jamica the following month.
City’s recent improved league form came to a halt this afternoon at Twerton Park as they lost 1-0 to Rugby United in a game that would have made the 546 crowd wish they’d gone Christmas shopping instead. The one moment of quality in the whole match came arrived 10 minutes after the break when Rugby’s Pearson cut inside Jim Rollo and sent a dipping shot over Justin Shuttlewood into the net. From then on the desperately limited visitors shut up shop, time-wasting at every opportunity, and City could not find a way through the wall of pale blue. They had two clear penalties turned down before the goal and forced several smart saves out of keeper Payne but it was not enough to prevent Rugby receiving an early Christmas present.
With Saturday being the last City shopping day before Christmas the club has a number of items and offers to tempt those looking for the perfect gift for a City supporting relative. The match against Rugby United will see the launch of a bottled version of the popular City Ale. And as well as selling it over the bar there will be a 12 bottle case (£21) and a presentation pack containing 3 bottles and a City scarf (£15). Also available will be new stock of home and away replica shirts, polo shirts (black or white) and fleeces. Finally, the City history book Stars in Stripes will be on sale for the special price of £15.
Striker Scott Partridge may have fired home his fifth hat-trick in City’s colours on Saturday against Hemel Hempstead Town but he failed to add to his collection of four match balls after the Hertfordshire side refused to allow him take the ball as a memento of his latest treble. Having been allowed to take a ball from Moor Green, Havant and Brokenhurst, plus one of City’s after the Grantham hat-trick, he took Saturday’s into the changing room after the 3-1 victory. However, a Hemel official followed him to demand the ball back and despite Partridge, who has scored 28 goals in just 38 appearances for City, trying to change his mind the jobsworth refused.
Having never previously scored a hat-trick before his arrival at City, Scott Partridge struck his fifth treble in just 38 games this afternoon to help the side to their second 3-1 victory in a week, this time over Hemel Hempstead Town. City fell behind in the 22nd minute to a Petrou header but levelled within two minutes through a neat finish from Partridge. Playing down the slope after the interval City were frustrated for long periods by the home side’s offside trap but on 65 minutes they finally broke it allowing Partridge to round the keeper and roll the ball home. And six minutes later the win was sealed as a quick free-kick by Bobby Ford gave Partridge the opening to fire home from eight yards.
City are in dicussions with the Football Association to allow Alex Sykes and Russell Milton to make the trip to Hemel Hempstead tomorrow. The pair have been selected for the England Futsal squad to play a tournament against Romania and Moldova in Manchester over the weekend. However, England’s first match does not take place until Sunday evening so City have requested that the midfield duo are released to play in the Southern League match before travelling north to join the team.
City have been fined £250 for fielding an under-strength in the Somerset Premier Cup match with Brislington last month. The 2nd Round clash, that came just three days after the side’s FA Cup victory at Barnet, ended 5-0 to the Western League side after City fielded a side comprisingly almost entirely of youth team players. The club has appealed against the decision.
One of the stars of City’s recent FA Cup adventure at Peterborough United looks to have played his last game for City. Goalkeeper Steve Perrin has been recalled from his loan spell by Forest Green Rovers after their first-choice shot-stopper Dean Williams suffered a suspected broken leg in their 2-1 defeat at Hereford United on Tuesday. With City no.1 Paul Evans still a week away from fitness after breaking his foot six weeks ago, it looks like Justin Shuttlewood will be back between the sticks at Hemel Hempstead Town on Saturday.
After taking around 15 minutes to shake off the excesses of Saturday’s FA Cup exit, in which they could have found themselves two or three goals down, City eventually ran out comfortable 3-1 winners over Banbury United at the Spencer Stadium last night. Alex Sykes twice went close to scoring before the break but John Williams netted his 11th goal of the season on 59 minutes to give City a deserved lead. Ten minutes later Jimmy Benefield’s shot decieved keeper Tricker to make it 2-0. Almost immediately hesitation between Sam Bailey and Steve Perrin allowed Forinton to lob home. However, Alex Sykes’ 18-yard shot with four minutes remaining ensured City recorded their first league win since 8 October and completed a double over the Puritans.
City have once again turned to Conference strugglers Forest Green Rovers to boost their squad by taking midfielder Ben Cleverley on a month loan. The 23-year old is the elder brother of former City striker Danny Cleverley and has previously played for Bristol City and Cheltenham Town. He went straight into the squad for last night’s win at Banbury, coming on as a 55th minute substitute, and may be in line for a start at Hemel Hempstead Town on Saturday as City will be missing both Alex Sykes and Russell Milton due to their involvement with the England Futsal squad.
City midfielder Russell Milton has been elevated to the position of player-coach by manager Gary Owers. The 35-year old will fill the gap left following the departure of assistant manager Vaughan Jones at the beginning of November, in circumstances yet to be explained. He has been carrying out touchline duties alongside goalkeeping coach Ian Harris in recent weeks, including at yesterday’s FA Cup defeat against Peterborough although he was also named amonst the substitutes having overcome his leg injury.
In the end four divisions and 88 places was too big a divide for City to bridge and their FA Cup run came to an end with a 2-0 defeat against Peterborough United at London Road yesterday. Both goals arrived in a five minute spell toward the end of the first period and despite a second half that saw City more than match their League 1 opponent they could not find a goal that may have set up Barnet-esq comeback. After a bright start where Scott Partridge forced a smart block out of keeper Tyler and John Williams shot into the side netting the home side slowly came into the game. After several scares City fell behind on 36 minutes when Boucaud crossed for Willock to fire home. Five minutes later the same player headed past Steve Perrin with City appealing for an offside flag that never came. Peterborough appeared to settle for this lead which saw City gain much more possession after the break but efforts by Partridge, Alex Sykes and Graeme Power where straight at Tyler and when Williams blazed over from 12 yards out with 15 minutes left City’s hopes began to fade. Understandably tiring in the closing moments they still comfortably prevented the full-time side adding to their lead and deservedly received a great ovation at the final whistle by the 500 travelling fans plus a fair number of home supporters.
City’s players will get a rare taste of the higher echelons of the game when they enjoy an overnight stay ahead of Saturday’s big FA Cup 2nd Round clash with Peterborough United. Using some of the £40,000 prize money that have already banked from their FA Cup and FA Trophy successes this season they will stay in a Huntingdon hotel Friday night before making the 20 mile trip to the Posh on Saturday morning.