City recorded a welcome victory at Twerton Park this afternoon but it was another far from convincing performance that set up their 2-1 success. It was somewhat against the run of play on 21 minutes when Martin Paul converted from close range after keeper Taylor could only parry Scott Partridge’s shot. The visitors then looked to have a certain penalty turned down just before the interval but also had an escape of their own when Taylor appeared to elbow Paul in the face. The clueless referee completely bottled the decision by blowing for half-time and taking no action against the goalie. Three minutes into the second half City doubled their lead when a neat turn in the box by Paul ended up with the ball dropping to Sykes who fired it home from ten yards. Dunstable pulled a goal back four minutes later from the penalty spot after Matt Coupe was ludicrously adjudged to have fouled an opponent whilst shepherding the ball back to Paul Evans. Hayes converted the kick and City had a number of nervous moments. The worst coming in stoppage time when Evans was at full stretch to save a low shot.
Teenage City midfielder Yan Klukowski is set to make his debut for England Schoolboys tonight and could captain the side. The 18-year old is in the squad due to face Scotland in the Centenary Shield clash at Dunfermline this evening. He has just returned from Spain where the side met Valencia Under 18s, a match in which he lead the team, after their planned trip to Jamacia was cancelled at the last moment.
Sam Bailey looks almost certain to have played his last game for City after he failed to turn up for Tuesday’s derby clash with Chippenham Town. The 19-year old was already in trouble for a head-butting incident at the end of Saturday’s defeat against Gloucester City but was set for a substitute place against Chippenham and this no-show looks to be the final straw. It caps a catalogue of problems with the former Bristol City trainee and Gary Owers has promised to deal with him in “the most severe way possible.” It is the third time Bailey has failed to show up for a game. He missed a pre-season friendly at Clevedon ahead of going to the USA for a scholarship before returning a couple of months later. Then he missed the team coach for Aylesbury United in September after oversleeping. He was also substitued at half-time in the recent meeting with Chesham United after a dressing room incident and following his post-match flare-up at Gloucester was reported to have said he hadn’t been bothered about playing for City for weeks.
City maintained their record of having never lost to local rivals Chippenham Town but were thankful to former keeper Mark Hervin for the error that gifted them an equaliser in the 1-1 draw last night. In front of a disappointing 847 crowd the league leaders went ahead through Gilroy’s 19th minute strike but then were content to sit back and absorb what pressure City could bring to bear. It had all the signs of being another frustrating game for City as the Bluebirds time-wasted at every opportunity. Gary Owers then had a header cleared off the line in City’s best opening before the interval. Gilroy and Sam Allison then wasted chances to put Chippenham further ahead before City levelled in controversial cirmcumstances. Matt Coupe’s looping header seemed to be of little danger but in catching it Hervin appeared to lean backwards and carry the ball over the line. The linesman agreed and despite long (the rest of the game and beyond, basically) protests from the visitors the goal stood. The game was evenly balanced now but swung toward City when Allison was sent off for a second bookable offence with 14 minutes left. However, City couldn’t make this advantage count and had to be content with a point.
Sam Bailey was left out of the squad that faced Chippenham last night and his Twerton Park future now looks in doubt. The defender was at the centre of a head-butting incident after the final whistle against Gloucester City on Saturday and City manager Gary Owers has confirmed that he is considering his options regarding the former Bristol City trainee’s future. It is the second time this season Bailey has been at the centre of controversy after he missed the team coach to Alyesbury the night after his 19th birthday. He apologised for this incident, denying any partying had lead to the problem, and after a period on the sidelines had appeared to be rediscovering the form his talent clearly demands. However, this latest setback could one mistake too many by the 19-year old.
One player to have definitely played his last game for City is loan signing Luke Corbett. He has returned to Cheltenham Town after two disappointing months at Twerton Park where he scored just a single goal in eight outings. No decision has been made regarding Ben Cleverley whose loan period also expired after last night’s match.
Teenage centre-back Sam Bailey looks set to receive a double punishment for his moment of madness after the final whistle in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Gloucester City. The 19-year old reacted to unpleasant goading from Tigers Lee Smith and aimed a head-butt at the wing-back as the players left the Meadow Park pitch. Although the referee took no action at the time he confirmed that he would include it in his match report which is likely to land Bailey with a three match ban. The former Bristol City trainee had gifted the home side their second goal which lead to Smith and several other Gloucester players spending the rest of the game trying to incite a reaction from the youngster. And his restraint finally broke in violent fashion which will also see him receive an internal club punishment.
City were beaten 2-1 this afternoon by Gloucester City at a sunny Meadow Park in yet another game where they dominated possession but failed to turn this into three points. The thoroughly unpleasant home team went ahead against the run of play after fifteen minutes through ex-City striker Jimmy Cox’s close range finish but there was little else to worry City from the Tigers for the rest of the half. However, City were restricted to a handful of half chances in reply and were still trailing to this goal around the hour-mark when an horrendous mistake by Sam Bailey allowed Cox to roll home a second goal. Three minutes later City finally scored when Jimmy Benefield’s low shot found the corner of the net. They battled desperately after this to rescue something from the game but were denied by several excellent saves from keeper Bath. After the final whistle the nasty attitude that runs right through the home side spilled over into violence with Bailey reacting to comments made by Gloucester’s no.2 Smith, he had been goading the 18-year old since the second goal, and receive a red card for aiming a punch at the player.
City were once again left frustrated after a Twerton Park outing but this time it was not their own performance but the sort of refereeing shocker that has thankfully been fairly rare this season. Before Ms Wendy Toms took centre stage City had gifted Histon the lead on 25 minutes when Paul Evans inexplicably opted to punch a harmless punt forward by Haniver but to the stunned disbelief of everyone in the ground he only succeeded in slicing the ball into his own net. With Martin Paul adding much needed pace and movement to City’s forward line they did not let their heads drop and deservedly levelled right on half time when Birdy volleyed home Alex Sykes’ corner. The second half saw City continue to look the likelier to score but with 15 minutes left Matt Coupe became the first player to see red this season for an innocuous tug on Andrews. However, the Histon player reacted disgracefully, waving his hand about like he was playing in Italy or Spain, to get Coupe booked, and Ms Toms fell for it showing the defender his second yellow of the game. Once again City responded magnificently and the visitors looked to have got exactly what they deserved when Hipperson blasted a Scott Partridge cross into his own net with just eight minutes left. However, with three minutes left Graeme Power’s perfectly timed tackle on Nightingale showed that he could match Andrews for cheating by throwing himself to the ground and, once again, Ms Toms was fooled. Cambridge converted the penalty kick and City were left to wonder what they have to do to overcome their home struggles.
Martin Paul has made a shock return to City after he signed from local rivals Chippenham Town for a undisclosed nominal fee that will keep him at Twerton Park until the end of the 2005-06 season. The striker left City at the end of the 2000-01 season having scored 96 goals in just 207 games but the circumstances of his departure took the gloss of this excellent record and made him a target for terrace abuse when facing City with the Bluebirds and Newport County. However, he had previously been a target for City boss Gary Owers and, with the former Bristol Rovers player finding himself out of favour at Hardenhuish Park, agreed to return to Twerton Park and goes straight into the squad to face Histon this evening.
City’s appeal against the £250 fine handed out by the Somerset FA for fielding an understrength side against Brislington in the Somerset Premier Cup has been successful and they have escaped punishment.
City have extended the loan arrangement for striker Reinier Moor and he will remain with Clevedon Town for at least another month.
City’s already dreadful home record took another turn for the worse this afternoon as they succumbed to a dire 3-0 defeat at the hands of King’s Lynn, a side they had beaten just two weeks earlier. But that victory was away from Twerton Park and as City have shown time and time again this season it is their home form that looks increasingly likely to leave them stuck in the Southern League for at least another year. The meeting in Norfolk saw City start slowly but get stronger as the game progressed – today they began in the same fashion but never improved. They were thankful to keeper Paul Evans for denying the Linnett’s on several occasions but he was powerless to prevent Defty giving them a deserved lead on 36 minutes. With the strong wind in City’s favour after the break this should had signalled a change in fourtunes but when Defty was left completely unmarked just before the hour he doubled Lynn’s advantage. And six minutes later the game was over when Hay – who took a brief break from diving and moaning at the referee – scuffed a shot but it was turned over the line by Graeme Power’s desperate attempt to clear.
City overcame going a goal behind after just five minutes against free-scoring Chesham United this afternoon to come back and earn a point in a 1-1 draw but, once again, it could have been even better had they taken one of a number of second half openings. When League top scorer Lawford took advantage of poor City defending to fire home his 25th goal of the season it looked like it would be a long afternoon for City. However, despite a few nervous moments they held firm after this and six minutes before the interval Jimmy Benefield was allowed to turn in the box and shoot City level. The second half saw City begin to take the game to the home side and John Williams and Benefield spurned great chances to put them ahead, leaving the 70 or so fans who made the trip unsure whether it was a point gained or another two dropped.
Steve Hall, City’s chairman, has revealed that he intends to step down from the post at the end of this season. He has been at City’s helm since 1997 when he was part of supporters take-over of the club and whilst on the pitch the side has slide lower down the football pyramid he has played a major part in stablising the off the pitch position, including masterminding the buy back from majority shareholder Corporate Equity which secured City’s ongoing existence. The board of directors has already begun the search for Hall’s successor.
City recorded their third successive clean sheet last night but their failure to score at the other end cost them the chance to move within four points of the play-offs as they were held to a goalless draw by Rugby United. A win would have lifted them to 9th place with games still in hand but after they looked the better side in the first half, loan striker Luke Corbett twice went close, the second period saw little created and United comfortably kept them at bay. Apart from one scare when Paul Evans went walkabout City were rarely troubled by the home side and in the end a draw was a fair result.
City have extended the loan deals of Ben Cleverley and Luke Corbett into a second month from Forest Green Rovers and Cheltenham Town respectively.