The heavy rain that swept the country overnight has put paid to City’s clash with Crawley Town tonight, leaving the Sussex side’s Broadfield Stadium pitch waterlogged. The teams will make a third attempt to play the game on Tuesday 4 April.
Despite welcoming back almost all the walking wounded City could only manage a disappointing 1-1 draw with Havant & Waterlooville at Twerton Park this afternoon. In a woeful first half performance they handed Havant the lead after 9 minutes, when Jackson and Bodin left the ball for each other allowing MacDonald to nip in and fire home. Poor defending then allowed Taylor to run clear only for a last ditch James tackle preventing the visitors going further ahead. A Paul run and shot was about all City had to offer in the first 45 minutes but after the interval they finally began to pressurise Havant. Davis fired a Bodin cross over and Holloway missed an equally good chance. Further openings came and went before the equaliser finally arrived, in controversial circumstances, after 73 minutes. The finish was of the highest quality, Paul looping volley beating Bibbo from a Bodin cross, but during the build-up a linemans flag, possibly for hand-ball, was ignored by the referee. The Havant players surrounded the linesman for nearly five minutes but the goal stood. After this there would only be one winner but, as at Gloucester, City failed to convert a series of chances. Towler headed over from a Bodin corner and then White just failed to get on the end of a Fraser cross. Into stoppage time City went even closer as a Bodin free kick was half cleared to Harrington, his low shot beat Bibbo only for a defender to clear it off the line. With Boston’s 2-0 win at Merthyr Tydfil, City now lie 15 points behind the leaders as they head toward the first of their 6 games in hand at Crawley on Tuesday.
If City are to win the Dr Martens Premier Division title this season they will have to do it without one of their most influential players. Centre-back Kevin Lloyd will miss the remainder of the season as his back injury requires surgery. He has been struggling recently and following an initial scan and a visit to a surgeon the bad news was confirmed, that only an operation on a troublesome disc will cure the problem, leading to a 3 month lay-off. Lloyd heads a list of players as City’s luck with injuries fast disappears. Elliot Jackson, Mark Clode (both thigh), Rob Skidmore (toe), Stuart James, Martin Paul (both hamstring) and David Mehew (ankle) all missed City’s 1-0 defeat to Havant & Waterlooville on Tuesday, and both Jon Holloway (groin) and Jimmy Fraser (arm) finished that game in the treatment room.
The defeat ended City hopes of success in the Dr Martens Cup, as a goal 4 minutes from time gave the Hampshire side the semi-final place. City’s patched up side created sufficient chances to win the game but lacked that vital cutting edge. White, Fraser and Davis all went close before Cook, with extra time looming, grabbed the winner for the visitors, firing home after debutant keeper Watts could only parry a Taylor shot.
In the only cup competition City remain in they have been drawn away to Bristol Manor Farm. The Somerset Premier Cup semi-final will take place at the Screwfix League side’s The Creek ground on Tuesday 11 April.
City saw 2 points slip away as they failed to capitalise on the 25th minute dismissal of Gloucester’s Gary Thorne, missing a series of second half chances to finish the game with a 1-1 draw. They took the lead after 14 minutes when Mike Davis, playing up front in place of the injured Martin Paul, converted a David Mehew cross but a rare Colin Towler mistake allowed Jimmy Smith in for an equaliser, which also left Elliot Jackson injured and unable to kick for the rest of the game. In between the goals the home side were reduced to 10 men and were lucky not to be left with just nine. Before Thorne departed the action, following his second booking, Rose clearly elbowed Rob Skidmore but both the referee and linesman missed the incident. With Jackson’s movement limited City had to defend deep in the second half but only a series of poor final balls prevented the Tigers punishing them, and the clearer chances came at the Gloucester end. Davis should have done better in a one on one with the keeper, before Fraser blazed over when well placed. Mehew saw one effort come back off the bar and then headed inches over after a great run by Harrington. White came to replace MacLean, making his full debut, and he had the time and space to pick his spot but curled his shot wide of the far post. In the end a Cox header almost stole the points for Gloucester but their reaction at the final whistle showed how happy they were with a point.
City have contacted the FA again to push for an answer to their complaint that Boston United manager Steve Evans spat in the face of Rob Skidmore during their 2-0 victory over the league leaders in December. An offical report was sent to the FA after the incident, which took place on the touchline shortly before half-time in the game, but City have yet to receive a response, although the FA have said, “This matter is still be investigated and we have nothing else to add at the moment.” The move comes as Evans and his team face another FA investigation following a brawl in Saturday’s clash with Havant & Waterlooville, that the manager was involved in.
With the vital month of March fast approaching, where City will play most of their games in hand, the club has received a timely fillip, with a £30,000 boost from the board of directors. The money will go towards the running of the club for the remainder of the season, but will also be used to bring further players into the squad should injuries or suspensions require it.
On the injury front Martin Paul and Stuart James, who both limped out of Saturday’s victory at Worcester City with hamstring strains, look set to make this weeks trip to Gloucester City. However, Kevin Lloyd’s appearance in the game will depend on the result of the delayed scan on his back.
City recorded their fifth away league victory of the season with a single goal win over in-form Worcester City, putting the defensive problems of the last two games behind them in the process. The vital goal came from David Mehew after 29 minutes. A Mark Harrington cross was headed back across goal by Mike Davis and Boris applied the finishing touch from three yards. With the elements in their favour City were good value for the lead and other chances for Martin Paul and Davis could have seen them go in at half time further ahead. The second period saw the home side dominate but, with Kevin Lloyd back at the heart of the defence, fail to turn their possession into goals. Following three excellent saves from Jackson and a series of poor finishes City should have doubled their lead, MacLean running clear before squaring the ball to Mehew, but his weak shot was blocked on the line with the net gaping. The win keeps City eleven points behind leaders Boston United, who recorded a 4-2 home victory over Havant & Waterlooville.
Despite, for the first time this season, fielding a strong side in the Somerset Premier Cup, City came within seconds of an embarrassing defeat to Mangotsfield United, before finally overcoming the Screwfix League side in extra-time. First half goals from Edwards and Boyle had given the visitors a deserved 2-0 lead as they out fought City in every department. City got back into the game on 53 minutes when Mike Davis’ corner curled straight into the net but it took until deep into stoppage time for them to draw level, Paul lobbing home from eight yards. Just two minutes into extra time Paul added his second, and when Mehew ran clear to put City 4-2 up in the second period it looked as if City were home and dry. However, when Edwards grabbed his second with seven minutes remaining the game was in the balance again, but City held on to take their place in the last four.
For the second season running City and Salisbury shared eight goals at Twerton Park, but despite improving on last years 5-3 defeat, City were once again left disappointed as three times they lost the lead in a 4-4 draw. A deflected Mark Harrington shot had given them the lead in the 15th minute but within six minutes they found themselves behind. Chalk converting a Bowers cross before the supplier himself fired home from 20 yards. Colin Towler then headed City level from a Bodin corner. The goals kept coming in the second period as Bodin headed his first goal of the season from a James centre. Back came the visitors and Emms made the score 3-3, capitalising on a Jackson mistake. When City went ahead again, Paul’s low shot finding the bottom bottom corner, it looked as if they had finally claimed the points, but the best goal of the afternoon completed the scoring. A left wing corner was headed out to Sales and his dipping volley flew into Jackson’s net. Boston’s defeat at third placed Margate meant the point closed the gap to (just) eleven with six games in hand.
Due to the involvement of several Mangotsfield players in a Gloucester FA side the Somerset Premier Cup quarter-final between City and the Screwfix League side has been brought forward a week. The game will now take place at Twerton Park on Tuesday 8 February.
City captain Colin Towler has signed a new contract which will keep him at Twerton Park until the end of the 2001-02 season. The 29-year old centre-back, who has been one of City’s outstanding performers this season, said following the signing of the one year deal, “The club is going places and I want to be part of it. This will be my fourth season with City and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.” Leaving the club, though, is Fidell Richards, who has been released. Despite a goal in the win over Gloucester last week the teenager has struggled to find form this season and had spent several months out on loan at Paulton.