City influential captain Gary Thorne has joined Dr Martens Western Division leaders Merthyr Tydfil on a months loan in an effort to regain fitness. Thorne, who has been the subject of continued recent rumours concerning a switch to local rivals Chippenham Town, has been struggling to overcome a calf injury and despite playing a full 90 minutes for the reserves last Wednesday will continue his recovery at Penydarren Park.
The home match with Stafford Rangers, controversionally postponed two weeks ago due to a partly frozen Twerton Park pitch, has been rearranged for Tuesday 11 March (ko 7.45pm). Unless, of course, Stafford’s manager doesn’t fancy it again.
Despite a dismal performance City stretched their unbeaten run to nine games with a 1-1 draw at relegation strugglers Hastings United. The desperately poor game was summed up well by the fact that neither side could manage more than one on-target effort each. It could have been worse for City as the hard-working but limited home side took the lead six minutes into the second half. A weak clearance fell to Simmonds and, despite appearing handle the ball, his low shot past Mark Bryant was allowed to stand. City were clearly missing injured Frankie Bennett and it looked as if this goal would be enough to see Hastings home. However, with seven minutes remaining City won a free-kick wide left. Fittingly it was for a foul on Andy Williams who all afternoon had looked the only threatening player on the either side. Sub Drew Shore lifted the ball into the box where Trought’s header had just enough force to beat keeper King. Zahana-Oni spurned a good late chance for United but a point was the most both teams deserved.
City’s reserve clash with Keynsham Town, postponed last week due to a frozen Twerton Park pitch, has been rearranged for this coming Wednesday (26/2) with a 7.45pm kick off.
City officials were left furious following the postponement of todays clash with Stafford Rangers just an hour before kick-off. The referee initially confirmed he was happy with the pitch despite the overnight frost leaving an area near the popside touchline firm. However when Stafford manager Phil Robinson arrived he immediately said he wasn’t playing on the pitch and with no further discussion the referee changed his mind and the game was off. Despite the source of the cancellation City will still be fully responsible for Rangers expenses and will also suffer from the lower crowd the rearranged midweek game will certainly attract.
In contrast justice was done in Somerset this afternoon as City Reserves returned to winning ways with a 3-0 success at Frome Town. The original clash between the sides back in November was abandoned after 68 minutes due to floodlight failure with City leading by the same score. This time the game was completed as City overcame the early sending off of Sam Allison to run out easy winners through goals from James Billing (2) and Craig Hopkins.
City have taken the next step in securing a place in the newly proposed Nationwide Conference second tier by submitting a formal application to join along with the joining fee of just over £2000. Although the plans to have the new setup running by next season have yet to be sanctioned by the FA the 44 teams that will make up the Conference North and South divisions will be selected from the 61 that have applied. The selection process will be based on five criteria:
Some 18 months after initially looking to be heading to Twerton Park Matt Coupe has finally joined City on a free transfer from Forest Green Rovers. It was in June 2001 that the 24-year utility player agreed to become one of Alan Pridham’s first signings for City but after less than a month he switched to League of Wales side Aberystwyth Town. Matt spent a season in Wales before joining Conference strugglers Forest Green. A falling out with Rovers manager Colin Addison in January saw him spend a month on loan in purgatory at Chippenham Town. Despite being offered the chance of remaining at Hardenhuish he couldn’t get out quick enough and is set to sign a deal to keep him with City until the end of the 2003-04 season.
For those who didn’t make the trip to Cambridge last Saturday (or who did but everything was a bit hazy due to beer consumption) you can witness City’s winning goal due Chris Stillman and the magic of digital cameras. Just click here to see the Real Player clip.
A goal three minutes from time by substitute Josh Jefferies combined with a first clean sheet since October saw City continue their impressive recent run with a 1-0 victory over Cambridge City. With both sides boasting excellent recent form the game appeared to be headed for a goalless stalemate as either team struggled to gain a upper hand. Mark Bryant pulled off one fine first half stop and Jim Rollo and Frankie Bennett saw good opportunites go begging. The only other incident of real note came around the half hour mark when the game was held up for 10 minutes with the referee Mr Wade struggling with a calf injury. He initially swapped places with one of his lineman before being replaced at half time by a local official. This stoppage mean it was nearly five o clock when Drew Shore lifted a free-kick into the Lilywhites box. Mike Trought leap highest to head against the post and Jefferies was first to react to stab home his first goal in City colours. The win stretches City unbeaten run to eight games and lifts them into eighth position in the Dr Martens Premier Division.
In contrast City Reserves poor run continued as they lost their fourth successive match by three goals to one against Melksham Town. The Wiltshire side raced into a 3-0 lead shortly after half time before James Billing grabbed a consolation for City just before the hour.
Last seasons top scorer Adrian Foster looks set to have played his last game for City this season – and possibly beyond – after he came to an agreement with the club to cancel his contract. Foster, who hit the net 21 times last season including the winner at Worcester that ensured City’s Premier Division survival, has been out of action since October with an achilles injury. Despite an operation in November to try to cure the problem the 31-year old striker is still several months away from a return to action and has agreed to a deal which will remove him from City’s wage bill. However, City have retained his registration and when he regains fitness, either before the end of this season or for the 2003-04 campaign, he could make a return to Twerton Park.
Last night City went down 1-0 in a hastily arranged friendly against Cirencester Town. The only goal came from former City striker Gareth Hopkins.
With his three-game touchline ban now over City boss Alan Pridham is considering remaining away from the dugout. After watching his side comprehensively beat Hednesford on Saturday from the relatively high spot of Twerton Park’s Main Stand he may be content to continue in that position with his deputy Gary Smart organising proceedings from the bench. He said, “Now the ban is over I’ve got the option to go back to the dugout but I think I’m going to stay up in the stand. You can see things from a lofted position that you miss when you are sat on the bench.” However, with the Main Stand at City’s next opponent Cambridge City’s Milton Road ground on the opposite side to the dugouts it remains to be seen if he goes through with this decision.
An excellent week off the field was complimented with on field activites as City overcame gifting Hednesford Town a early lead to run out easy 4-1 winners. A dreadful mis-kick by Mark Bryant gave Aidrie a simple tap-in after five minutes but after Jim Rollo volleyed City level on 22 minutes it was one way traffic. Jamie Gosling converted a penalty after 26 minutes later to put City in front and a couple of minutes later Andy Williams completed a stunning passing move to make the score 3-1. Any chance of the Pitman staging an unlikely comeback disappeared just before the interval when Lake was dismissed for a second bookable offence. The second half failed to match up to the excitement of the first as City comfortably maintained their advantage with only Jason Eaton’s close range finish from Williams’s low cross adding to the scoring. New signing Dave Toomey (to you!) saw two clear chances go begging late on and Eaton headed against the post but the result had long since been in doubt by then.
Despite the match being in doubt yesterday overnight rain in Bath has allowed the Twerton Park pitch to thaw and todays Dr Martens Premier Division clash with Hednesford Town will definitely go ahead. New signing Dave Toomey may have to settle for a place on the bench with on fire striker Frankie Bennett likely to continue up front alongside top scorer Jason Eaton. Suspended defender Gary Kemp will miss out but fit-again captain Gary Thorne will start in his place.