Having spent the morning clearing snow off the pitch to ensure this afternoon’s vital clash with Chelmsford City could go ahead City will have wished they hadn’t bothered as they slid to a dispiriting 1-0 defeat. The decisive goal arrived midway through the first half when Faulkner bundled home from close range after Paul Evans had blocked a shot only to see the ball loop toward goal. If this was an unfortunate way to fall behind City only had themselves to blame after this as they failed to find a way back against by far the worst side they’ve faced this season. Just prior to the goal Scott Partridge wasted a great chance, firing wide when clean through, and for all their possession and the visitors hit and hope defending they failed to create a better opening. The referee clearly took the view that however long City tried they weren’t going to score so played virtually no stoppage time despite understandable time-wasting and several injury hold-ups to leave them facing an even greater uphill struggle to reach the play-offs.
The final obstacle to the restructuring of non-league football has been removed after an FA Arbitration Tribunal unanimously threw out the Ryman League’s selfish challenge against the changes. This means the changes (which are very well explained here) will definitely go ahead from the 2004-05 season and the only uncertainly left is at which level City will find themselves, the newly formed Conference Division 2 or remaining in the Southern League, albeit at one level lower.
City have signed former Oxford United and Boston United left winger Jamie Cook from Stevenage Borough on a months loan with a view to a permanent deal. The 24-year old was one of a number of players released by the Conference side earlier this month and has made over 100 league appearances for Oxford and Boston. The deal went through too late to allow Cook to play against Nuneaton Borough last night but he will go into the squad for Saturday’s vital clash with bottom side Chelmsford City.
City’s recent mini-revival was brought to an end last night by a Nuneaton goal seven minutes from time although they were unfortunate to finish on the wrong end of the 2-1 scoreline. Having been caught cold by Murphy’s sixth minute opener they battled back and deservedly levelled when Scott Partridge made the most of a mistake by keeper Acton to fire into an empty net after 61 minutes. It looked as if this would be the cue for City to go on to win the game but with seven minutes remaining a break by Nuneaton sealed the points. A long ball forward saw Paul Evans come racing from his goal only for Murphy to reach it first and poke it toward goal. Despite Steve Jenkins’ (or possibly Steve Jones’) desperate efforts the ball just crossed the line. Partridge almost capitalised on another howler from Acton after this but he could only hook a hurried shot wide of the goal.
Tonight’s Severnside League match with Gloucester City at Twerton Park has been cancelled as the Tigers cannot raise a team.
A second half hat-trick by Scott Partridge fired City to their first away victory for over a year at the expense of Moor Green at The Moorlands this afternoon. After a largely uneventful first period the game came to life eight minutes after the break as Partridge ran clear to curl a perfect finish past Rachel in the Moors goal. This was the cue for City to take control and the home side had several close escapes before another exquisite finish by Partridge when faced with just the keeper to beat doubled the lead with 17 minutes remaining. The former Weymouth striker completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot in the closing minutes after he was felled by Faulds when bearing down on goal again. The offending defender received a red card for the offence.
Keeper Mark Bryant has completed a move away from Twerton Park following manager Gary Owers recent decision to hand the shot-stopper a free transfer. Bristol born Mark has signed non-contract terms until the end of the season for Western Division Mangotsfield United. He joined City in July 2002 and made 75 appearances.
The sporting memorabilia auction held as part of last nights “Evening with Bob ‘The Cat’ Bevan” raised £2600 for Bath City Football Club. The two highest items were a signed photo of 1966 World Cup winners Roger Hunt and George Cohen and an egg chasers ball signed by Bath’s 2003 World Cup winners, both which raised £500. Other items included a Newcastle United football signed by Alan Shearer and Sir Bobby Robson which raised over £200 and a signed Yeovil Town shirt which made £1.30 (sorry, £130). The night, organised by City supporter Pete McCormack, was attended by over 120 guests.
City have arranged a Severnside League game with Gloucester City for Wednesday 25 February. The game will take place at Twerton Park with a 7.45pm kick off.
The return to action of top scorer Steve Tweddle after three months on the sidelines was the only positive aspect in last nights 3-0 Somerset Premier Cup defeat at the hands of Western League Brislington. He made a 15 minute substitute appearance but by the time he arrived the game was already well and truly up for City. The start of the game was delayed for 35 minutes to repair a floodlight but City will have wished they hadn’t bothered as Claridge headed the home side ahead after just two minutes. Second choice keeper Justin Shuttlewood then spilled a high ball to give Cook a simple tap-in before Miller was given acres of space to make it 3-0 after 38 minutes. In between these goals City did create several chances but when a linesmans flag ruled out Frankie Bennett’s ‘goal’ just before the break any hopes of a repeat of the recent Dover comeback seemed to evaporate. The second half saw City put in a lot of effort, in particular Scott Partridge who never stopped running, but the quality to break down Brislington’s packed defence was never there.
City produced one of their best performances of the season this afternoon at Twerton Park to overcome Havant & Waterlooville by two goals to nil. Their cause was helped by the 44th minute sending off of a Hawks defender for a pull on Scott Partridge but this should not hide the quality of City’s second half performance in particular. They had led as early as the 12th minute when Gary Owers charged down an attempted clearance sending the ball looping over Howells. Owers and Partridge also sent shots narrowly wide before the visitors were reduced 10 men. After the break City made full advantage of their extra man by stretching Havant with an impressive passing game. The second goal arrived on 66 minutes when Partridge latched on to a defensive mistake to run clear and fire home via the post. Havant were lucky not to be reduced to nine men after a dreadful lunge on sub Jason Eaton by keeper Howells that the officials missed completely but this had no effect on the final score.
Even the fact that City have now gone a whole year without an away league victory was forgotten yesterday as the team staged an incredible 2nd half comeback to overturn a 3-0 deficit and come away from Dover Athletic’s Hoverspeed Stadium was a 3-3 draw. Goals from Josh Jeffries, Scott Partridge and a stunning 30 yard strike from player manager Gary Owers earned City a point that at the interval has looked impossible. The first half had seen the home side race into a three goal lead within the opening half hour. Millar began the scoring with a mis-hit shot in 16 minutes before Wilkins and Day took advantage of non-existent defending to score on 26 and 29 minutes respectively. When Iain Harvey was harshly adjudged to have fouled Spillar in the area minutes later it looked as if a repeat of the seven goal Worcester humiliation was on the cards. In what is becoming a sadly familiar scene for City followers (3rd time this season!) keeper Paul Evans turned aside Day’s spot kick only for the referee to order the kick to be retaken. However, the same player blasted the retake wide and City were handed a lifeline. They should have pulled a goal back before the break, Matt Coupe’s header clearly crossing the line only for the officials to live up to Dr Martens standards, but this was forgotten when Jeffries stabbed home from close range within a minute of the restart. Ten minutes later Partridge fired home at the second attempt following a great cross by Drew Shore. For all City’s efforts for a third goal they appeared to be losing their momentum and time began to run out. This was until Owers collected an intelligent square pass from Steve Jones and unleashed a cracking 30 yard shot into the corner of the net to spark delirious scenes amongst the City fans and players.
Yesterday’s game saw Iain Harvey and Sam Bailey become the 40th and 41st player respectively to pull on a City shirt this season. Harvey has returned from his month loan spell with Yate Town after recovering from a broken ankle suffered in pre-season. Bailey, who replaced Harvey at half time, is a second year trainee with Bristol City and has joined on work experience.
The trip to Nuneaton Borough, postponed last Saturday due to a waterlogged pitch, has been rearranged for Tuesday 24 February with a 7.45pm kick off.
Goalkeeper Mark Bryant is facing a move away from Twerton Park after he was dropped from Tuesday night’s draw against Worcester City and informed by manager Gary Owers that he was no longer part of his plans. Recent signing Paul Evans, recovered from a rib injury, took his place between the posts with Justin Shuttlewood on the bench. The former Weston Super Mare shot-stopper, who joined City in July 2002 and made 75 appearances, has been given a free transfer.
One player who will remain with City is Darren Hawkins. His loan spell from Bristol City has been extended to a third and final month.
After 542 minutes without a goal City finally struck in stoppage time last night to earn a vital point in a 1-1 draw against high flying Worcester City. The scorer was Scott Partridge as he broke his City duck with an assured close range finish. It had looked to be yet another game where a single goal would be enough to defeat City, Kelly having given the visitors the lead after 67 minutes when he ran clear of the City defence to easily beat new keeper Paul Evans. However, City kept going and for that alone got just reward with their injury time equaliser.