City boss Adie Britton and his promotion winning team have been honoured in the Bath Chronicle 2010 People of the Year awards. Britton was named Sportsman of the Year for leading the team back to the top flight of non-league football after a 13-year absence. Club captain Jim Rollo a runner-up in this category for reaching the milestone of 400 games for City during last season. And Rollo along with his teammates lifted the Team of the Year title, having started the year mid-table in the Blue Square South but finished it as the highest ranked part-time football club in the country.
Winger Marley Watkins’ loan spell with City has ended after three successful (although injury disrupted) months at Twerton Park, returning to Cheltenham Town where he came on as a late substitute in their 4-0 win over Bradford City on Tuesday.
Having written a preview for the Boxing Day match with Newport County that never took place just a week ago there is very little new to say now. So, click here to read that preview, just ignoring (what turned out to be) the overly optimistic first line. The only addition is that whilst City were losing 4-2 at home to Forest Green Rovers the Welsh side were beating in-form Kidderminster Harriers to climb up to second place albeit having played more games than all the teams around them.
City’s long-awaited return to league action at Twerton Park ended in disappointment this afternoon as they handed Forest Green Rovers a late Christmas present in the shape of a 4-2 win. The defensive shortcomings that plagued the early months of the season were back with a vengance as they gifted the visitors all four goals. The first came after just two minutes when Quinn took advantage of non-existent marking to loop a header over Carl Pentney from a Gray free-kick. City were then presented with a 26th minute equaliser as Quinn was harshly adjudged to have pushed Lee Phillips in the box and Kaid Mohamed made no mistake from the spot. However, ten minutes later another Gray free-kick was allowed to find Jones six yards out and Rovers were in front again. Then in first half stoppage time it got even worse for City as Danny Webb let Styche get the wrong side of him and lift a shot over Pentney. The second period began scrappily which suited Forest Green perfectly as they time-wasted at every opportunity but on 68 minutes persistence by Mohamed ended with Phillips netting a deflected shot, making it 3-2. Memories of several stirring comebacks already this season lifted the 1222 strong crowd but hopes were dashed with 13 minutes left when City gave the ball away cheaply and a long ball forward sent Dyer racing clear to easily beat Pentney. The home side’s poor afternoon was capped in stoppage time when the previously impressive Luke Ruddick was sent-off for kicking out at Forbes.
In what is fast becoming a Twerton based remake of ‘The Never Ending Story’ (just with fewer puppets and no theme song by Limahl) tomorrow will see City make another attempt to stage a home game as Forest Green Rovers head down the M5. Since entertaining Fleetwood Town on November 20 the weather has put paid to games against Crawley Town, Southport and, most disappointingly given the efforts made to get the game played and the expected bumper Boxing Day crowd, Newport County. The financial implications of nearly six weeks without a home game will no doubt be felt in the New Year but in the meantime City players will just be desperate to get back into competitive action and City supporters out of the house to see some live football. And with temperatures in Bath at last rising (and staying) above freezing today, along with overnight rain forecast, it looks as if both groups will finally see their Christmas wish come true (albeit later than expected).
The next unknown is whether City can pick up where they left off back in November and continue the league form that has seen them climb into the top half of the Blue Square Bet Premier. A run of one league defeat in their last ten outings has started some fans looking more toward the play-off positions than the relegation zone but it is the cushion of seven points to 20th place that has been most comforting during this unwanted winter break. Although it is only goal difference keeping the visitors out of this drop zone they were also showing improved form before the weather intervened with a five-match unbeaten run. Like City their only game so far this month was a FA Trophy tie in Cambridgeshire. And as with City’s clash at Histon there was late drama in the match but in Forest Green’s case they ended up on the wrong end of it. Trailing to a 50th minute Cambridge United goal it looked as if former City midfielder Yan Klukowski’s penalty five minutes from time had earned Rovers a replay. However, there was still time for the home side to net an injury-time winner and dump the Gloucestershire side out of the competition.
Since the sides met at The New Lawn back in August, Forest Green have joined the majority of the Blue Square Bet Premier by switching to full-time. Unsurprisingly, this move has seen a number of changes to David Hockaday’s squad. Crawley Town defender Adam Quinn arrived on loan as did striker Steve Guinan, switching from Northampton Town, with whom he’d scored one of the goals in the Cobblers 3-0 FA Cup win over his new club earlier in the season, and winger Bradley Gray signed on non-contract terms from Salisbury City. Leaving the club were striker Liam Head who finished his loan period from Plymouth Argyle and midfielder Malvin Kamara who was not offered an extension to his contract. No doubt when the transfer window opens next month there will be further comings and goings at the club.
Complete record against Forest Green Rovers/Stroud
The goalless draw during the opening month of the 2010-11 season ended a run of three successive wins for Forest Green over City but they are still searching for their first league victory at Twerton Park with the one previous meeting ending in a 1-1 draw. This took place during the 1997-98 campaign which ended with Rovers lifting the Southern League title. The previous week had seen City embark on a campaign to re-launch the club, including a HTV screened documentary by Ken Loach (that was included as one of the extras on the DVD release of his recent film ‘Looking For Eric’) and when Ian Hedges fired them in front after 59 minutes it looked as if the off-field celebrations would be complimented by an excellent win. The visitors failed to read the script though, Hallam’s header from a hunt cross just creeping past Mark Hervin to level the scores shortly afterwards.
All City’s efforts over the last few days sadly were thwarted after the Twerton Park pitch failed an inspection at 9.45 this morning. After the sunshine on Christmas Day reduced the snow covering the overnight temperature of -9 finally got to the surface. Attention will now turn to the clash with Forest Green Rovers in two days time and with the forecast for a higher temperatures the club will hope to rescue something from what is already a very costly Christmas period.
Contrary to initial reports City’s Boxing day meeting with Newport County at Twerton Park is still on following a pitch inspection this afternoon. A local referee looked at the pitch, that is still under a two-inch blanket of snow, and found both the covered and uncovered areas playable. The snow will be left on until the morning of the match and once that, and the covers, have been removed a further inspection will be made by the match referee. This is due to happen around 11am on Sunday, at which point a final decision will be made on whether the game can go ahead. Please check the official website at www.bathcityfc.com for the result of this inspection (as I probably won’t be able to update this site on the day – good job we have an official site now).
Please note that due to the difficult weather conditions the return match at Spytty Park on 1 January is now no longer ticket only. Both City and Newport County fans will be sold tickets on the day at the turnstiles.
With their army of snow clearers standing ready to descend on Twerton Park, City are optimistic that they will make a long-awaited return to league action on Boxing Day with the visit of Newport County. The Welsh side took part in one of the only two Blue Square Bet Premier matches to have taken place so far this December when they made the long trip to Fleetwood last weekend. Unfortunately most of their supporters failed to reach the game as their coach was forced to turn around after the motorway was blocked by an accident but those that reached Highbury Stadium saw the Exiles earn a point in a 1-1 draw.
This result continued Newport’s excellent first-half of the 2010-11 season. After running away with the Blue Square South title last year they started the new campaign slowly, picking up just three points from their opening four games. However, the third of these came from an impressive 1-1 draw at Luton Town and four days later they recorded a first win of the season against Kidderminster Harriers. Five successive wins soon established them amongst the play-off contenders although they did suffer a blip with back to back defeats against Kettering Town and Barrow. The first of these was at home and brought to an end a remarkable 32 game unbeaten league record at Spytty Park. The last time a visiting side left South Wales with all three points before this was in March 2009 when Stuart Douglas’ finest moment in a City shirt left Newport on the wrong-end of a 4-0 scoreline. That result saw manager Dean Holdsworth under increasing pressure – a post-match dispute with a supporter summed up the feelings of a large proportion of their followers – but to the credit of the Newport board stuck they with him and he repaid this faith with the 2009-10 Blue Square South title. It now looked as if the only thing that will prevent the former Wimbledon and Bolton Wanderers striker from leading them back to the Football League is being snapped up by a higher level club. The latest to be linked to him is Bristol Rovers following the sacking of Paul Trollope last week.
Complete record against Newport County/Newport AFC
The last meeting between the sides finished 1-1 at Twerton Park just over a year ago – which was only the fourth draw in the 27 times the clubs have met – thanks to Sido Jombati’s goal that was cancelled out by Reid’s penalty seven minutes later. This result maintained City’s unbeaten home league record against Newport with just an FA Trophy tie in 2001 ending in defeat. The first of these took place in April 2000. Although City’s title hopes had disappeared thanks to just one win in their last eight outings – Boston United clinched the title on this day with a victory at Grantham Town – a win over mid-table Newport would have kept the runners-up spot within their grasp. The visitors went ahead on 24 minutes through Donovan’s close range efforts and they wasted a number of chances to increase this lead. It was against the run of play when Jimmy Fraser converted David Mehew’s low cross eleven minutes after the interval but despite this Newport still looked the likelier winners and City were the happier to hear the final whistle.
Unsurprisingly given they have played just one game in the last month City should go into the game with a full squad from which to select.
City are looking for supporters to help clear the snow from Twerton Park in an attempt to allow the Boxing Day clash with Newport County to go ahead. The hope is that the blanket of snow that has covered the pitch since last Saturday has protected it from the freezing temperatures and this will be left on until the morning of Boxing Day. Before that on Friday snow will be cleared from the terraces, carpark and walkways starting at 9am. If you can help on Friday and/or Sunday contact Phil Weaver on 07867 546088.
Tomorrow’s match with Southport has been postponed due to a frozen pitch following a midday inspection. The overnight return of sub-zero temperatures plus a light covering of snow in Bath has left the Twerton Park surface unplayable. City will now hope the conditions relent in time for their Christmas double-header against Newport County and Forest Green Rovers, both games which would be expected to attract large crowds.
City will face a 550 mile round trip in the FA Trophy following Darlington’s 3-2 win over Tamworth in the week. The 2nd Round match will take place on Saturday 15 January (ko 3pm).
Saturday sees City return to Twerton Park after a four week break with Southport making the long journey down from the North West looking to gain revenge for the remarkable 3-2 defeat they suffered in the first 2010-11 season meeting between the sides last month. In what is fast becoming their trademark City recovered from two goals down thanks to strikes from Kaid Mohamed and Danny Webb, then grabbed all three points through Lee Phillips’ goal three minutes from time.
Since that reversal the Sandgrounders have suffered two further league defeats, both by two goals to nil against York City and Newport County, which has seen them slide to second from bottom of the Blue Square Bet Premier table. Manager Liam Watson has moved to strengthen his struggling charges with the signing of left-sided midfielder Karl Ledsham from Evo Stick North club Skelmersdale United and former Everton trainee John Paul Kissock, who joined on a non-contract basis from Vodkat League side Formby. Although neither player featured Southport ended their run of four successive defeats with a 2-2 draw at Gateshead in the FA Trophy during the week. They took the lead on 56 minutes but two goals in three minutes for their league rivals turned the game before a penalty seven minutes from time ensured the sides would have to meet again at Haig Avenue next week.
Complete record against Southport
This will be Southport’s first trip to Bath for nearly 13 years when they ran out comfortable 2-0 winners. The most memorable Twerton Park clash took place a couple of seasons earlier, although for City it was for all the wrong reasons. They had begun the 1994-95 season in fine style with four wins and two draws in their opening six games, including a 2-1 win at local rivals Yeovil Town four days before the game, to sit a point off the top in third place. However, they got off to the worst possible start when Rob Cousins left his back-pass short allowing Haw to nip in and roll the ball past Dave Mogg after just seven minutes. City huffed and puffed after this but could barely muster an effort on goal. Even when the visitors were reduced to ten men five minutes after the interval – Thomas dismissed for elbowing Nicky Brooks – City couldn’t make their man advantage count. Then with 13 minutes left Southport found themselves with just nine men as Cunningham received a second caution and seven minutes later City finally equalised when Dean Birkby scored a spectacular overhead kick that was recently voted City greatest ever goal on film. The game should have been theirs for the taking now but instead City produced another dreadful defensive mistake to gift Southport a winning goal. The villain this time was Mogg as his attempted pass to Jerry Gill was intercepted by Comstive, leaving him with the simple task of walking the ball into the unguarded net.
City should once again have virtually a full squad to choose from with Adam Connolly recovered from the knock he picked up in the FA Trophy win at Histon last week and Joe Burnell available after missing that game with a chest infection. The only doubt is Sekani Simpson who missed training earlier this week due to illness.
City will once again face a trip to a Blue Square Bet Premier rival following today’s draw for the FA Trophy 2nd Round. They have been paired with either Tamworth or Darlington who will play tomorrow night after their first attempt was postponed on Saturday due to a frozen pitch in the North East. The league meetings with the two club have both finished 2-2 this season, with City surrendering a two-goal against the Lambs before turning the tables on the Quakers thanks to injury-time strikes from Lewis Hogg and Hector Mackie. The last 32 tie will take place on Saturday 15 January 2011.
City produced another incredible late comeback to dump Histon out of the FA Trophy this afternoon. Trailing 2-0 with just twenty minutes remaining Alex Russell and Scott Murray drew City level before the former netted an injury-time winner. Although the first-half was an improvement on when the two sides met a couple of weeks ago, with the returning Marley Watkins a constant threat down the right flank, the home side’s one-dimensional long-ball game made for a poor spectacle. It was from one such punt forward that they took the lead on 31 minutes, Danny Webb and Sido Jombati failing to deal with the danger allowing Sparkes to stab the ball past Carl Pentney. Within seven minutes of the restart City’s FA Trophy hopes looked over for another season when a rare piece of quality football by the Stutes saw Sparkes’ low cross converted by Attwood. However, a 70th minute free kick by Russell gave City a foothold back in the game and three minutes later they were level thanks to Murray’s first goal for the club. There now only looked like one winner as City tore into the home side almost non-stop. Murray saw a cross-shot hit the underside of the bar, Lee Phillips had an effort ruled out for offside after a great run and shot by new arrival Leon Jeanne and Lewis Hogg spurned two excellent chances on his return to the side. Just as it looked as if the sides would have to replay at Twerton Park Histon failed to clear a City corner and Watkins crossed for Murray to net the winning goal.
City’s FA Trophy 1st Round tie looks set to go ahead tomorrow after Histon reported that their Glassword Stadium pitch is currently playable and only a dramatic drop in temperature tonight could put the game in doubt. With temperatures in Cambridgeshire not forecast to drop below six degrees overnight City’s 16 day break looks set to come to an end tomorrow. Any City fans wishing to make the trip to Histon can still book a seat on the supporters coach by contacting Martin Powell on 01373 301143.
City will hope the mild weather forecast for the south of the country over the coming few days will allow them to return to action on Saturday with an FA Trophy 1st Round trip to Histon. The extended cold snap has cost them games against Crawley Town and Kettering Town meaning they will face back to back games in Cambridgeshire against the Stutes after their 2-1 Blue Square Bet Premier win two weeks ago in front of the Premier Sport TV cameras.
City will go into the game looking to avoid an unwanted record of going out at the first stage of all three cup competitions this season. A largely youth side exited the Somerset Premier Cup at Radstock Town after extra-time before a much stronger line-up suffered a shock FA Cup replay defeat against Southern League Swindon Supermarine. Should Histon gain revenge for the league loss it will see City fail to win a single cup match in a season for the first time in their history when they have entered more then one competition. The closest they have come to this feat was during the 1971-72 campaign. Defeats to Barnstaple Town in the FA Trophy, Stevenage Athletic in the League Cup and Yeovil Town in the Somerset Premier Cup all occurred at the first hurdle stage but by then they had managed a single FA Cup victory over Chippenham Town before crashing out of the competition to Salisbury.
Complete record against Histon
They will also have to overcome a fairly dismal FA Trophy record. Only once in the 40 year history of the competition have they got beyond the last 16 of the competition, reaching the quarter-finals during the 1989-90 season. That run began in the 3rd Qualifying Round with a comfortable 2-0 home win over Witney Town, then a league below City in the Southern League Southern Division. John Freegard netted both City goals and he was on target twice more in the next round as Ashford Town were swept aside by four goals to nil, Gary Smart also helping himself to a brace. George Rooney’s side were just hitting form – they would win 14 successive league matches during the first three and a bit months of 1990 – and a home draw to Northern League Tow Law Town in the 2nd Round looked a straightforward tie. However, City rode their luck in the game with the visitors denied what looked a clear penalty after just 11 minutes and keeper Jim Preston pulling off several excellent saves. In first half stoppage time City went ahead, Paul Randall scoring his 34th goal of the season, and then four minutes after the break Gary Smart made it 2-0. When Preston again denied the North East side just past the hour mark their threat faded and City were in the last 16 of the competition for just the 2nd time in their history.
There they avoided any of the Conference big guns and instead were handed a trip to Vauxhall League side Woking. A 66th minute own goal gave City the league before the Cards levelled ten minutes from time following a mistake by Paul Stevens. The replay at Twerton Park saw City race into a wind-assisted two goal lead, thanks to a Gary Smart double within the opening 20 minutes. A Woking penalty on 61 minutes made for a nervous final half-hour but City held on to secure a quarter-final tie at home to Conference side Stafford Rangers. Dreams of Wembley were now firmly in the minds of all City followers but they were to be dashed thanks to two late goals by the higher division club. The preceding 82 minutes had been largely forgettable with Stafford looking content to play for a draw and City lacking the quality to break them down. The closest City came to breaking the deadlock was when Randall raced clear onto a Glyn Riley flick only for keeper Ryan Price to deny him with a superb block on 73 minutes. And nine minutes later the visitors grabbed the lead completely out of the blue, Wood crashing a stunning volley against the bar and Camden bundling home the rebound. Two minutes later City’s hopes were completely ended when Camden struck again, this time from the penalty spot after he’d been fouled by Paul Stevens.
One plus side of the unexpected break from action is that it has provided time for City’s injured players to recover from their problems, with Lewis Hogg, Sekani Simpson and Marley Watkins all coming through full training sessions this week. This means manager Adie Britton should have the rare luxury of a full squad from which to select.
City will begin 2011 with an all-ticket match following an annoucment by Newport County. Although a couple of recent meetings between the clubs have seen some minor intimidation toward City supporters from the home fans the decision is still something of a surprise. City will receive 500 terrace tickets priced at Adult £13, Concessions/Student (with card) £9, Under 16 £5 and Under 12 £3. They can be purchased from the club office during normal office hours.
City have received a boost after agreeing a deal with Bath University to use its training facilities. The club had previously used the Claverton Down campus as their training base under the deal that allowed Team Bath to play at Twerton Park. However, when they folded in 2009 City were forced to look elsewhere to hold their twice-weekly training sesssions. They will use the world-class facilities on Thursday evenings.
As expected tomorrow’s match with Kettering Town has been postponed due to a frozen pitch following this afternoon’s inspection. The cancellation means every Blue Square Bet Premier match scheduled for Saturday has fallen foul of the snow and freezing temperatures that the whole country has suffered under for the past week. A new date will be announced next week for the match and City will hope conditions improve sufficiently to allow their FA Trophy trip to Histon next weekend to go ahead.
City and Colchester United have agreed to extend goalkeeper Carl Pentney’s loan deal for a second month. The 21-year old has impressed in his five games during which time he has yet to suffer a defeat. Whether he will still be at Twerton Park when title-hopefuls Crawley Town visit remains to be seen after the clash, which was postponed due to a frozen pitch on Tuesday, was rearranged for Tuesday 18 January (ko 7.45pm).
A pitch inspection tomorrow afternoon will determine whether City renew their rivalry with Kettering Town on Saturday. If the game gets the go-ahead it will be the 80th meeting between the clubs although the first since almost exactly nine years ago. Both sides will be keen to get back into action after the Poppies lost their last two matches to the weather whilst City were denied a visit from Crawley Town due to a frozen Twerton Park pitch.
Kettering have already endured a difficult season largely over-shadowed by uncertainly concerning their Rockingham Road home. On the pitch they won just one of their opening ten matches which cost manager Lee Harper his job. After picking up four points from two games under caretaker boss Morell Maison the post was given to Barwell’s Marcus Law. He arrived boasting a 60 league game unbeaten record with the Northern Premier League First Division South side and increased this to 65 matches before a defeat against Mansfield Town ended this remarkable run. Since then they have picked up a point against Cambridge United before suffering a narrow 3-2 reversal against league leaders AFC Wimbledon. However, this has been played out to the background of genuine uncertainty over the future of the club. The stems from the fact the club only has another few years to go on the lease to Rockingham Road. For a number of years controversial chairman Imraan Ladak has been attempting to secure a site and funding for a new ground but without success and there appears to increasingly be a sense of resignation amongst Poppies supporters about whether this move will ever happen. This outlook will not have been improved with the recent departure of captain Andre Boucaud to Blue Square Bet Premier rivals York City amid rumours of budget cuts and a possible exodus of players come the January transfer window.
Complete record against Kettering Town
Should the game get the go-ahead City manager Adie Britton could enjoy the luxury of a full squad from which to choose. Sekani Simpson, Lewis Hogg and Marley Watkins are all in contention for a place in the squad having overcome their respective injuries and new arrival Leon Jeanne is also likely to feature on the substitute bench.