December 2009

PREVIEW: CITY v Weston Super Mare – Blue Square South (30/12/09)

After the postponement of the Boxing Day clash with Havant & Waterlooville, City will hope the elements relent and allow them to face a quick return fixture against Weston Super Mare on New Year’s Day. Whilst City players were kicking their heels last Saturday the Seagulls suffered another defeat, this time 2-1 at the hands of Woking, which left them three points away from safety in the depths of the Blue Square South. They got off to worst possible start when Wright rose to head the Cards in front with just one minute on the clock. And they could have been buried before the half was midway through as Woking carved them open at will but failed to convert any of the chances and Weston took full advantage of this when Ben Cleverley’s 19th minute free-kick was flicked past his own keeper by Thomas. However, they failed to build on this gift although it took Woking until the 72nd minute to regain their lead, Wright heading his second of the game. Then eight minutes later it got even worse for Weston when former City full-back Mike Green was sent off for a second caution.

Weston’s away form has been the main reason for their struggles this season, with just three points picked up on their travels from Woodspring Park so far this campaign. These came courtesy of draws at Bromley, Maidenhead United and Chelmsford City, but nine times they have returned to North Somerset empty handed. With this record, and on the back of the one-sided Boxing Day clash, City should go into the game confident of securing another three points in their play-off hunt, however Weston will be strengthened by the return a number of players who missed that last match. One very familiar to the Twerton Park faithful is midfielder Adie Harris, who was absent on Boxing Day due to suspension, as was Falkirk bound Jack Compton. They are also likely to include a couple of newly signed players including defender Charlie Comyn-Platt who rejoined the club following a spell in Australia, although this is subject to obtaining international clearance. Also back at Woodspring Park after stints with Gloucester City, Newport County, Weymouth and, most recently, Wellington is Dean Grubb and he could be joined in the Seagull’s squad by brother Dayle if he overcomes injury. City by contrast will look to go into the game with an unchanged squad, the enforced break hopefully giving top scorer Darren Edwards sufficient time to overcome his slight hamstring strain.

Complete record against Weston Super Mare

However many Weston fans make the short trip to Bath on New Year’s Day there are unlikely to be any that were also at the one and only match in which their side avoided defeat at Twerton Park. The sides have met 23 times there and on 22 occasions City have finished victorious, the sole exception coming during a Bristol Charity League match in 1911 which finished 2-2. They did ‘earn’ a sort of success in a Somerset Premier Cup during the 1996-97 season. Although a Mike Wyatt hat-trick helped the Romans to a 4-2 win it was Weston who progressed to the next round as City were kicked out of the competition for fielding an ineligible player.

Havant match off due to frozen Twerton Park pitch (28/12/09)

City’s match with Havant & Waterlooville this afternoon has been postponed due to a frozen Twerton Park pitch. Although the club covered the popular side of the pitch ahead of last night’s expected sub-zero temperatures it remained frozen from the frost before Christmas. And an inspection at 10am by the match referee confirmed that the pitch was not playable. The new date will be confirmed in due course.

PREVIEW: CITY v Havant & waterlooville – Blue Square South (27/12/09)

City will look to make it three wins out of three over the Christmas period tomorrow as they entertain Havant & Waterlooville at Twerton Park. The Hawks travel up from Hampshire on the back of a 1-1 draw at home to Woking on Boxing Day which rather summed up their season so far. Nine draws from their nineteen matches this season has left them down in 15th place and facing another season of league underachievement. This position is slightly misleading though as they have played fewer games than all the sides above them and City will also have to beware as their away form is significantly better than at home.

After the Hawks failure to live up to their pre-season billing as Blue Square South favourites last year it appeared that manager Shaun Gale had finally got his team living up to their potential as they began the 2009-10 season unbeaten in their opening five matches to sit in second place as August began to head into September. The main architect of this fast start was striker Manny Williams, who joined the club from Woking during the close season. He netted seven goals in these matches and even after their form began to stutter he continued to be the bright spot, adding another four goals in the next five matches. However, it was clear that his efforts would not be enough alone to support a genuine title bid and the lack of goals from elsewhere in the side was beginning to become a clear weak point. Whilst Williams was on his hot streak just four other players found the net with only fellow front-man Mustafa Tiryaki managing it on more than one occasion. This problem became more acute when William’s goals dried up – he’s scored just once in his last seven league matches – and a run of eight games without a win saw them slip down the table. They finally ended this sequence with a single goal victory over Maidenhead United but with just struggling Lewes, Weston Super Mare and Weymouth having scored less than the Hawks it is clear where their problems lie. Given this and the fact that both Williams and Tiryaki (the former will return for the match with City) were suspended for their Boxing Day clash with Woking, no doubt boss Gale would have been pleased with the point even though the Cards ended the game with just nine men.

The Hawks league struggles of the past two campaigns have been somewhat masked by cup success. Even a couple of seasons later the memories of the FA Cup run that came to a glorious conclusion at Anfield against Liverpool will be strong with Hawks fans and last year they enjoyed triumphs in both that competition and the FA Trophy – reaching the 1st Round and Quarter Finals respectively. This season though there will be no such distractions from any Blue Square South failings as their FA Cup hopes ended with a 2-1 home defeat to Southern League Chippenham Town at the 3rd Qualifying Round stage and after a win over Thurrock they crashed out of the Trophy 3-2 to Dover Athletic.

Complete record against Waterlooville/Havant & Waterlooville

The sides have already met at Westleigh Park this season in an entertaining game back in August that finished 2-2. It took just seven minutes for Williams to breach City’s defences with a neat finish past Will Puddy. This was the only goal of the first half but the game turned in the space of two second half minutes as Mark Badman glanced home a Darren Edwards cross on 75 minutes then Mike Perrott was tripped in the box to allow Edwards to net from the spot. Williams, though, had the final laugh as he equalised for the home side in the final minute.

City go into the game hoping that they won’t be missing both scorers from that first meeting. Badman is definitely out as he continues his recovery from the knee injury he picked up at Braintree Town three weeks ago but it is hoped that Edwards will be fit to play despite his early withdrawal from yesterday’s 2-0 win at Weston Super Mare with a slight hamstring strain. Apart from that manager Adie Britton should have a full squad from which to pick.

City close in on play-off places with leisurely seaside stroll (26/12/09)

City moved within just a single point of the Blue Square South play-off positions with a straightforward 2-0 win over struggling Weston Super Mare this afternoon. Two first-half goals from Darren Edwards – the first to reach 50 goals for the club – was enough to see off the Seagulls who on today’s performance look destined to at last return to the Southern League in April. Without ever needing to get out of first gear City toyed with the home side for the opening half an hour before striking twice in quick succession to take control of the game. Edwards had spurned one good chance after a mistake by lumbering defender Fortune but made no mistake on 32 minutes. The Weston defence failed to pick up a late run by Gethin Jones to head a Lewis Hogg free-kick back across goal where Edwards blasted home his 50th goal in City colours. Seven minutes later a neat dummy by Kaid Mohamed allowed Edwards to race clear and fire past Sawyer into the corner of the net. City’s top scorer wasted a chance to complete his hat-trick before the interval, glancing a header wide, before being withdrawn on the hour mark with a slight hamstring pull. A number of chances came and went for City after this but with the home side never looking capable of finding a way back into the game it was a much as case of saving energy for Monday’s meeting with Havant & Waterlooville than looking to inflict a fairer reflection on the scorline showing the quality gap between the two sides.

FA Trophy result sees City face first trip of 2010 fixture switch (24/12/09)

Although City’s interest in this season’s FA Trophy disappeared at Maidenhead United back in November the competition has led to a switch of opponents for their first away trip of 2010. Lewes’ 3-1 1st Round replay win over Hampton & Richmond Borough on Tuesday means instead of facing City on Saturday 9 January they will play Kidderminster Harriers in the last 32 of the competition. So, City will now meet Hampton & Richmond on that day, as their scheduled opponent, Dover Athletic, as also still in the Trophy. A new date for the Lewes match will be announced in due course.

PREVIEW: Weston Super Mare v CITY – Blue Square South (23/12/09)

City continue their Christmas and New Year programme on Boxing Day with the short trip to the coast to face perennial Blue Square South strugglers Weston Super Mare. The Seagulls are deep in their annual battle against relegation, currently sitting in 20th position with just four league victories all season. Twice in the last three seasons they have finished in the relegation zone only to be saved from the drop (which, ironically, would be the first time in their history they’ve suffered such a fate) by other club’s misfortune. In 2006-07 it was the merger of Hayes and Yeading plus Farnborough Town going into liquidation that ‘earned’ them a reprieve. The following season a 20th place finish meant they only needed one club to prevent them returning to the Southern League, with Cambridge City duly obliging by failing to meet the necessary ground criteria. By contrast last season could be termed something of a success as, despite rarely climbing out of the bottom six, the bottom three clubs Fisher Athletic, Bognor Regis Town and Thurrock (who, themselves, did a ‘Weston’ in retaining their Blue Square South place thanks to Team Bath’s demise) were so far adrift of the rest for most of the campaign that Weston were never truly in relegation danger – finishing a comfortable seven points and three places above the drop zone.

The man who led them to such dizzy heights was former Bristol Rovers and Swindon Town player Andy Gurney. He took over the hot-seat at Woodspring Park in December 2008 following the sacking of former City manager Tony Ricketts. Hopes that they would build on this improvement did not last long into the 2009-10 season as they took just a single point from their opening five games. They finally recorded a victory at the sixth attempt, comfortably disposing of crisis club Weymouth by three goals to nil but since then they have only added wins over fellow strugglers Worcester City and Lewes, plus a more impressive success against Dover Athletic. The latter two of these wins came thanks to goals from ex-City striker Dave Gilroy after he spent a month on loan in Somerset from champions-elect Newport County. He netted seven goals in just six games but since he returned over the Severn Bridge the Seagulls have picked up just a single point from three games. The cups have proved to be no respite either with first hurdle exits in the FA Cup, FA Trophy and Somerset Premier Cup, against Havant & Waterlooville, Carshalton Athletic and Frome Town (no disgrace there, though!) respectively.

Gurney has already used over 30 players in an attempt to find the right mix, including a number who have previously plied their trade at Twerton Park. Amongst these are full-backs Mike Green, who was part of City’s Southern League winning team in 2006-07, making 44 appearances in all, and Callum Hart, who had a short spell with the club earlier this season. Midfielder Ben Cleverley spent a couple of months on loan at City during the 2004-05 season from Forest Green Rovers and is the brother of another former Roman, Paulton Rovers’ Danny. A player who had a more successful time with City was Adie Harris. In two spells he played well over 100 games before joining Newport County in June 2008. And up-front for Weston – although he has mainly featured from the bench this season – is Josh Klein-Davies, a former Bristol Rovers striker who made six substitute outings for City toward the end of last season. Gurney has been busy in the last few weeks trying to strengthen his squad. He recalled Marvin Brown from a loan spell with Worcester City, captured Exeter City youngster Chris Shephard, Ben Osman, son of ex-Bristol City player and manager Russell, and, most recently, striker Jermaine Clarke from Evesham United. One player about to head out of Woodspring Park is Jack Compton after the midfielder signed a contract with Scottish Premier League club Falkirk ahead of moving north in January.

Complete record against Weston Super Mare

Since joining Weston in the Blue Square South, City have won all five matches between the sides, four in the league (without conceding a goal) and one in the Setanta Shield. Last season a single Gilroy strike was enough to secure the three points at Woodspring Park, before the same player was joined by Chris Holland and Matt Coupe on the scoresheet at Twerton Park. City’s biggest recent victory over Weston came in the FA Cup during the 2002-03 season. The 3rd Qualifying Round game took place on the coast with the home side then a league below City. An early goaline clearance by Gary Kemp suggested City were in for a tough afternoon and their 24 match unbeaten run (23 wins and a draw) against the Seagulls could be in danger. However, on 26 minutes the same player rose highest to meet Frankie Bennett’s corner and head home his first and only goal for the club. Ten minutes later another rare name in the scorer’s column appeared as Jim Rollo curled home a shot. The game was effectively over as a contest and the second half saw top scorer Jason Eaton net a ten minute hat-trick, the third from the penalty spot, to complete a comfortable 5-0 win and earn City a memorable 4th Qualifying Round match with rivals Yeovil Town.

City should go into the game with just one player missing from their squad. Influential midfielder Mark Badman is still at least a week away from returning to action after picking up a medial ligament knee injury in the game against Braintree Town two weeks ago. Weston will be missing the aforementioned Harris and Compton as they both complete the final match of three game suspensions for red cards at Carshalton and Chelmsford respectively.

City dealt another winning hand by the Christmas Cards (19/12/09)

City completed the double over title-chasing Woking with a 3-1 win at a cold and wintery Kingfield Stadium this afternoon. First half strikes from Kaid Mohamed and Darren Edwards put City in control of the game before a howler by Ryan Robinson gifted the Cards a goal. However, a Lewis Hogg free-kick restored City’s advantage and spared them a nervous finish. On a pitch showing signs of the recent first blast of winter the home side started well but, unlike the game at Twerton Park at the start of the month in which City took full advantage of a strong start, scoring twice in the opening ten minutes, Woking failed to turn this into goals. Slowly City began to adapt to the tricky conditions and on 28 minutes they went ahead. Edwards latching onto a through ball by Hogg only for Ricketts to trip him just inside the box. Mohamed stepped up to confidently place the penalty high past the desparing dive of Worner. Then in first half stoppage time City made it 2-0 as Edwards headed a Sekani Simpson cross against the bar before srambling home the rebound. The second period saw City comfortably deal with Woking’s effort to get back into the game but midway through the half Robinson allowed an overhit Rickett’s free-kick to slip through his hands into the net. This could have set up a difficult closing spell but seven minutes later a superbly struck Hogg free-kick beat Worner at his near post and this time there were no more Christmas gifts from City as they saw out the game with little worry.

PREVIEW: Woking v CITY – Blue Square South (17/12/09)

City return to action on Saturday after a much needed ten day break to begin their Christmas and New Year programme with a tough looking trip to third-place Woking. The match would be hard enough at any time but coming less than three weeks after the Cards were humiliated by five goals to nil at Twerton Park, City will no doubt face a side intent on restoring their reputation. Woking have responded well to the defeat, recording a resounding 3-0 Blue Square South win at Bishop’s Stortford then progressing to the FA Trophy 2nd Round with a single goal victory over City’s FA Cup conquerors Forest Green Rovers. Manager Graham Baker moved quickly after the City defeat in releasing striker Trevor Benjamin – who could be plodding around the Twerton Park pitch still without looking like scoring – and will now look to loan front pairing of Matthew Wright and Moses Ademola to find the goals to overcome City.

Lack of goals at home has been Woking’s main problem so far this season. In their nine league games at Kingfield Stadium they have scored just seven goals, with three of these coming in their last outing against Dorchester Town. However, they have shown that when everything clicks they are a force to be reckoned with as in the 6-0 win over fellow Blue Square South side St Albans City in the FA Trophy. Even in the heavy defeat to City they showed in spells at the start and end of the second half the quality they possess, forcing keeper Ryan Robinson into a number of excellent saves.

Complete record against Woking

This will be City’s eighth trip to face Woking in Surrey and they have only recorded one previous victory, during the Cards first ever Conference season in 1992-93. They had already beaten them at Twerton Park in September; goals from Rob Cousins and Dave Singleton giving City their first league win of the season at their seventh attempt. The return match in Surrey took place in March with City in mid-table and the home side chasing a top six finish. City came into the game on the back of a 3-0 home defeat to Bromsgrove Rovers – a match they dominated for long spells despite the scoreline – but they got off to the perfect start when a typically forceful burst into the box by Adie Mings was halted illegally by Nugent and Gary Smart fired home from the penalty spot. Smart saw a chip shot come back off the bar moments later as City continued to control the game in its opening stages. Alexander went close for the hosts twice midway through the half but Dave Mogg was rarely troubled in the City goal. In a move reminiscent of the last meeting between the clubs Woking introduced both their substitutes at the interval but this made little difference to proceedings. Smart wasted a chance to double City’s lead three minutes into the second half and Woking did get the ball into the net on the hour mark only for the effort to be ruled out for a foul on Mogg. The closing stages saw City tire and the Cards press forward but some great defending by Richard Crowley, Grantley Dicks and Ian Hedges kept their goal intact to record a hard-fought win.

Despite the break since their last game City could go into the match without centre midfield pairing of Mark Badman and Adam Connolly. Neither have trained since City’s last game at Braintree Town after the former picked up a knee ligament injury in the game. Connolly – who is City’s only league ever-present this season – is also nursing a knee problem, with swelling in the area that underwent an operation during the summer. Apart from that though City have no further injury concerns, with top scorer Darren Edwards – who netted twice in the 5-0 win over Woking – recovered from his hamstring trouble.

Pelecaci brief but memorable City stay looks set to be at an end (16/12/09)

Midfielder Florin Pelecaci looks to have played his last game for City after moving from the West Country to London. The 29-year old Romanian – who became something of a cult hero in his short stay at Twerton Park – initially announced that he was set to leave the club in a post on Facebook and this has now been confirmed by manager Adie Britton. He joined City in September on the recommendation of teammate Sido Jombati and signalled his arrival with a stunning goal at Willand Rovers in the FA Cup. This earned him a nomination for the Player of the Round and he also wowed City fans with his back-flip goal celebrations. However, as City’s early season injury problems began to ease he found himself confined to cameo appearances from the bench, his last outing coming in the FA Cup defeat at home to Forest Green Rovers.

City left running on empty as Purcell powers Braintree victory (8/12/09)

City’s seven match unbeaten league run came to an end this evening as Braintree Town eased to a 2-0 victory thanks to two first-half goals from Purcell. City’s sense of injustice at being made to undertake an unnecessary 350 mile midweek trip was deepened as several players were laid low with illness, including top scorers Darren Edwards and Kaid Mohamed. This meant Stuart Douglas and Andrejs Stolcers started up front and despite City enjoying the majority of possession in the first half they failed to convert this into clear cut chances. And the home side took full advantage as Purcell fired in a free-kick on 22 minutes then doubled the lead from 25-yards three minutes before the break. Even the introduction of Edwards and Mohamed after the break failed to lift the visitors, the game descending into forgettable ariel battle which City never looked like turning around. The result sees City slip to 10th place, whilst the Essex side climb to fourth spot.

The bucket collection held at the end of Saturday’s match with Newport County to raise money for the Royal United Hospital’s Forever Friends Appeal in memory of Melanie Hall raised £331, which Bath City Supporters Club has pledged to increase to £400. Thank you to everybody who donated.

PREVIEW: Braintree Town v CITY – Blue Square South (7/12/09)

City can move within a single point of the Blue Square South play-off places on Tuesday but are being forced to do it the hard way after opponents Braintree Town went back on an agreement to move the game back to Saturday when both sides have a blank weekend due to 1st hurdle FA Trophy exits. After initially agreeing to the move the Iron claimed that their match sponsors could not switch dates and when City’s appeal to the league fell on deaf ears it meant on the back of three tough games in a week against Forest Green Rovers, Woking and Newport County, they are now being forced into a 350 mile midweek round trip. However, despite this they will hope they can maintain the form that has carried them to a seven match unbeaten league run against a similarly in-form side. This is the second time in the last week that Braintree have been involved in a fixture dispute after the club claimed they were threatened with a ‘four-figure fine’ by the Essex FA if they played two first-team games on the same evening. The club had looked to field their first team for the league clash with Maidenhead United and a reserve/youth line-up for the Essex Senior Cup tie against Hullbridge Sports. However, they had to cancel the former match after intervention by the Essex FA, although they deny forcing Braintree to do so. This has led to a war of words between Braintree chairman Lee Harding and the County FA, although with the Iron losing the match against Hullbridge at least there won’t be a repeat of the problem this season.

Braintree currently sit two places and three points above City and are firmly in play-off picture after a solid start to the season. On the back of a busy summer for manager Robbie Garvey, including losing top scorer Danny Hockton to Blue Square South rivals Chelmsford City, his team got the 2009-10 season off to a flying start with wins over Eastleigh, Lewes and Maidenhead United to top the table and since then they have not dropped lower than 8th place. They have lost just three league matches – only league leaders Newport County have fewer defeats – although one of these was an embarrassing 5-0 loss at relegation battling Dorchester Town. In the last league outing they laboured to a 3-2 win over bottom side Weymouth after leading 3-0 at the interval. They also exited both the FA Cup and FA Trophy at the first attempt to Blue Square South opponents. Hampton & Richmond Borough ended their interest in the FA Cup, comfortably winning a replay 4-1 after a goalless draw at Braintree. And Newport knocked them out the Trophy in a wind-ruined game in Wales two weeks ago.

Complete record against Braintree Town

City will hope for a repeat of last year’s trip to Cressing Road that saw them record their first win over the Iron by four goals to nil. The scoreline did not truly reflect the game though as the home side dominated a one-sided first half but couldn’t find a way past Steve Perrin in the City goal. They were made to pay for a successive of misses when within seven minutes of the restart Chris Holland headed home a corner. Ten minutes later Gethin Jones looped another header into the net and then the floodgates opened as Darren Edwards struck twice, once from the penalty spot, and Braintree’s frustration was summed up by Shinn’s actions as he was red carded for elbowing Sekani Simpson. The return match at Twerton Park was equally goal-laden but with a much closer final outcome. A first half hat-trick in just 18 minutes from Dave Gilroy gave City a 3-1 half-time lead – Hockton netting for the Iron. The second half failed to live up to the first and O’Sullivan’s late header turned out to be nothing more than a consolation for the visitors. These high scoring encounters came after City failed to score against Braintree in the first ever meetings between the sides the previous season, with a 2-0 defeat in Essex preceeding a goalless encounter at Twerton.

City finish all square with league leaders in Twerton Park damp squib (5/12/09)

City were held to a 1-1 draw by league leaders Newport County at a wet Twerton Park this afternoon. In a disappointing game, where the two form sides of the Blue Square South looked anything but for long periods, a share of the points was the right result. The visitors appeared content to slow the game down from the first whistle, regularly taking an age over goals kicks and throw-ins but City stunned them after 14 minutes by taking the lead. Lewis Hogg’s long range effort had brought a good save from Thompson but from the resultant corner Sido Jombati rose above his marker to head home his first goal for the club. This silenced the large away following, however within seven minutes they were back in full song as Chris Holland’s lunge at Foley in the box conceded a penalty. Ryan Robinson got a good hand to Reid’s effort but it had just enough power to find the net. Both sides came close to adding to the scoring after this with the best chance falling to the Exiles when Robinson had to be at his best to deny Holgate. The second half failed to live up to the first and as it progressed it appeared both teams were increasingly content with the draw. Once again it was Newport who spurned the clearest opening, substitute Morgan firing wildly wide when well-placed six minutes from the end. A spell of late pressure from the Welsh side gave City a few nervous moments but at the final whistle both teams were content with the game’s outcome.

City midfielder Mike Perrott had joined Southern League Division 1 side Frome Town on a month’s loan.

PREVIEW: CITY v Newport County – Blue Square South (3/12/09)

City are bracing themselves for an amber invasion on Saturday as Newport County make the short journey over the Severn Bridge to Bath. With estimates on the number of Exile supporters set to travel varying wildly from 350 to 2000 City can expect another bumper attendance following last weeks 3000+ crowd that witnessed their narrow FA Cup exit at the hands of Forest Green Rovers. This revived interest in County’s fortunes comes on the back of a brilliant start to the season as they currently sit seven points clear at the top of the Blue Square South table, with games in hand on their closest challengers and just a single league defeat all season. This record has largely been built on an excellent defensive record, just eight goals conceded in 18 games so far this campaign paying testament to this. Only three of these have come on their travels but City are unlikely to be intimidated by this fact having taken apart a side with a similarly impressive travelling defence in Tuesday’s 5-0 dismantling of Woking.

With the sides chasing them struggling for consistency it certainly looks like the title is Newport’s to lose even with the season less than halfway through. Promotion to the Blue Square Premier would represent the penultimate step to regaining a place in the Football League that they lost in 1988, albeit in a previous incarnation. The club has always played in the English system having joined the Football League in 1920 from the Southern League, spending the vast majority of their existence in the bottom two divisions. Their most successful period was during the early 1980’s when in addition to promotion to the Third Division they enjoyed a run to the quarter finals of the 1980-81 Cup Winners Cup. They had earned a place in the competition by winning the Welsh Cup the previous season and after wins over Irish side Crusaders and Hauger FC of Norway they faced East German club Carl Zeiss Jena. Following a 2-2 draw in Germany they dominated the second leg at Somerton Park in front of over 18,000 fans only to lose by a single goal. The 1982-83 season saw them narrowly miss out on elevation to the 2nd Division – the disappointment no doubt magnified as arch-rivals Cardiff City occupied one of the promotion places above them – and from then on it was a steady decline that culminated with back to back relegations and the loss of their Football League status. They then failed to even see out their first season back in non-league, folding in February 1989 with debts of £330,000 (including around £15,000 owed to City for the signature of Paul Bodin).

The game witnesses the two inform Blue Square South sides meet with five wins and a defeat seeing Newport top the last six games table just ahead of City who are unbeaten in their last half dozen league games, winning four of them. Newport’s single goal defeat against Staines Town at the end of October brought to a halt their unbeaten league start to the season, although they did suffer an embarrassing FA Cup exit at the hands of Southern League Division 1 South side Paulton Rovers early that month. Boss Dean Holdsworth has just been named manager of the month for November, the second time he has lifted the award this campaign.

In the summer of that year the club was reborn as Newport AFC (they were unable to initially use the name Newport County, although they did purchase the rights to use it in the future) and they secured a place in the Hellenic League. A dispute with the Welsh FA meant they had to play their first season in the north Gloucestershire town of Moreton-in-Marsh. They won the Hellenic League at the first attempt earning promotion to the Southern League Midland Division and returned to Somerton Park for the next two seasons. However, the FAW still refused to allow them to play in Wales and participate in the English pyramid, so it was back to Gloucestershire for another two years. Eventually the club was forced to take legal action against the FAW and a landmark High Court verdict enabled them to have a permanent home in Newport. By then Somerton Park has fallen into disrepair so they moved into the recently built athletics venue Newport Stadium. In 1999 they readopted the name Newport County although it remains a disputable point whether they are the same club as dropped out the league in 1989 or a new club formed later that year.

Complete record against Newport County/Newport AFC

The sides’ meeting at Newport Stadium early this season ended in a narrow 1-0 win for the home side, although an injury-ravaged City side could feel aggrieved to have not got at least a point from the game, particularly after dominating a one-sided second half. This ended a run of three victories for City and was their first league defeat against the Exiles since the 2003-04 season. Overall City have the slightly better record having won half of the 26 meetings against Newport’s ten victories. City could come face to face with their top scorer of the past two seasons Dave Gilroy. The former Bristol Rovers striker has suffered a frustrating time since switching allegiances in the summer and spent the first few months of the season making brief cameo appearances from the bench. In the end he was loaned out to Weston Super Mare where he netted seven goals in just six games, including a hat-trick against Lewes and two in the Seasiders 3-1 win over Newport’s current nearest league rivals Dover Athletic. Since returning to Newport he has started the last two matches, scoring his third goal for the club against Braintree Town in the FA Trophy.

Collection to be held for RUH Appeal in memory of Melanie Hall (2/12/09)

City will hold a bucket collection at this Saturday’s match with Newport County to raise money for the Royal United Hospital’s Forever Friends Appeal in memory of Melanie Hall. The funeral of the daughter of ex-City chairman Steve Hall is to be held at Bath Abbey on Friday December 11 at 2.30pm and her family have requested all donations are made to the appeal who are raising money for a new neo-natal intensive care unit at the hospital. For anyone who cannot make the match but wishes to make a donation you can visit their wesbite at Melanie’s remains were discovered in October alongside the M5 near Thornbury, 13 years after she was last seen in a Bath nightclub. Detectives have reopened the investigation into her murder and are painstakingly going over old evidence as well as new leads. Anyone with information about the murder case is asked to contact the incident room on 01179 455811 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Woeful Woking on the receiving end as City exorcise their FA Cup demons (1/12/09)

City put the disappointment of Saturday’s FA Cup loss behind them in emphatic style this evening at Twerton Park with a five goal hammering of Woking. Two goals in the opening ten minutes from Kaid Mohamed and Darren Edwards set the tone for the evening as the visitors produced one of the most clueless 45 minutes of football seen at Twerton for a long time. Mohamed had already been denied by a finger tip save from Cards keeper Worner but he had no answer on eight minutes when the ball was lashed past him by the City striker. Then two minutes later Sekani Simpson picked out Edwards and he headed home his 15th goal of the season. Woking were playing a suicidally high defensive line which City continually threatened to breach but when the third goal arrived on 37 minutes it was down to the Cards failure to clear a corner, Chris Holland netting from close range. A triple substitution at the interval showed what Woking manager Baker thought of his team’s performance and for the first 20 minutes of the second half they finally showed why they had begun the match third in the Blue Square South. However, their finishing was no more effective than their defending and having weathered this storm City made it 4-0 on 74 minutes, albeit in freak circumstances when new signing Andrejs Stolcers charged down Worner’s clearance and the ball just had enough momentum to roll over the line. It was soon 5-0 as a free-kick dropped to Edwards at the back post and he confidently slotted it home. The visitors were twice denied a late consolation by fine saves from Ryan Robinson on a night when everything went right for City.

City swoop to capture former Latvian international midfielder Stolcers (1/12/09)

City have signed attacking midfielder Andrejs Stolcers on non-contract terms ahead of tonight’s meeting with Woking. The 35-year old Latvian joined Fulham from Spartak Moscow in 2000 for £2million and made 81 appearances for his country. More recently he has been training with Coca-Cola League 1 side Yeovil Town – who he spent a season with in 2004-05 – with an aim to playing and coaching again in this country.