February 2009

Penalty deja-vu for City as play-off hopes take a hit at Basingstoke (28/2/09)

For the second successive week City were on the wrong end of a shocking penalty decision as their play-off hopes suffered a setback with a 1-0 defeat against struggling Basingstoke Town. The decisive moment in the match came with 56 minutes gone when a harmless cross flew high across the City area and Chris Holland and Stephens collided. It looked a completely innocent clash but to the amazement of even the home supporters the referee pointed to the spot – Ruggles taking full advantage to send Paul Evans the wrong way. City’s sense of injustice was depended five minutes from time when Darren Edwards was felled in the Stoke box, only for this time the referee to wave play on. City had huffed and puffed during the first half without ever looking totally convincing, although Lewis Hogg, Mark Badman and Gethin Jones all tested home keeper Ketteridge with well struck shots. The home side offered little danger, and the game looked to be following a similar pattern to City’s 3-0 win over Weston Super Mare in the week where the first goal would open the floodgates. However, once again it was the official who achieved what their opponents couldn’t and this understandably drained City’s confidence. Hogg forced another smart block out of Ketteridge 12 minutes from time but by then the hosts were timewasting at every opportunity. And the final twist by Basingstoke’s 12th man (in black) came when he added on just 2 minutes stoppage time.

PREVIEW: Basingstoke Town v CITY – Blue Square South (26/2/09)

City face their first meeting with Basingstoke Town this season, as they look to build on returning to winning ways against Weston Super Mare on Tuesday. They travel to Hampshire to face a side deep in relegation trouble but in their best form of the season. Whilst City were comfortably culling the Seagulls by three goals to nil, Basingstoke were on the wrong end of the same scoreline against St Albans City but this was their first defeat in six games. This mini run included impressive wins over Bromley and Team Bath, plus holding play-off chasing Hayes & Yeading to a 1-1 draw at the Camrose, and it lifted them out of the relegation zone for the first time since early September.

Town began the 2008-09 season with three successive draws but when that became part of a winless streak of eleven league matches it meant they had gone an astonishing 26 Blue Square South matches since their last victory, a run stretching back to January 2008. They finally broke this run with a 2-0 win at Bromley in mid-October. This win relieved the pressure somewhat on new manager Frank Gray, who took over in May 2008. The 54-year old Scot had enjoyed a long and successful professional career, making over 600 appearances for Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Sunderland and Darlington, plus 32 caps for Scotland. His first taste of management came as assistant to Brian Little at his final club, helping them return to the league in the early 1990’s. After a period out of the game he returned to management with Farnborough Town in 2005 before short spells with Grays Athletic and Woking.

Off the pitch the Stoke chairman Rafi Razzak has been looking into the possibility of building the side a new multi-million pound stadium. A proposal for a new sports hub at Down Grange was announced in November, where the football club would play alongside Basingstoke Rugby Football Club, Basingstoke and Mid-Hants Athletic Club and the local hockey club. Last month Razzak confirmed that meetings between all interested parties and the local council had been very positive, with further news expected before the end of this season. He has also revealed that the club’s debts – that sparked wage cuts last season that ultimately led to the departure of then manager Francis Vines – are close to being wiped out, although a large part of that seems to be being funded by the chairman himself. In November the club also experimented with reducing admission prices from £11 to £9 for adults in an attempt to attract more fans to the Camrose. However, a couple of months later when this move failed to make any real difference to their crowds the prices were increased back to their original levels, so City fans won’t benefit from that experiment.

Complete record against Basingstoke Town

Last season City recorded a convincing 4-0 win at the Camrose, which was their first ever victory there having drawn all four of their previous visits. The star of that game was striker Dave Gilroy, as he netted his fourth hat-trick of the season, going past the 20 goal mark in the process. City’s other goal came from Lewis Hogg. City should welcome back Mark Badman into their squad on Saturday after he missed the last three game whilst in South Africa but Adam Connolly is doubtful following the ankle injury he picked up against Weston Super Mare.

Ten man Weston offer little resistance as City return to winning ways (24/2/09)

City bounced back from back to back defeats this evening at Twerton Park to comfortably beat a limited Weston Super Mare side by three goals to nil. All three goals came in the second half during which time the visitors were also reduced to ten man when Comyn-Platt saw red for a professional foul. The first half had been a largely forgettable affair, with neither side capable of taking control of the game. The closest City came to scoring was from a 17th minute Chris Holland header that was cleared off the line by the impressive Rand. Weston only really threatened from set-pieces, and from one Paul Evans – back in the side after three months sidelined with a knee injury – almost spilled the ball into his own net, Lewis Hogg heading clear from under the bar. The game was not helped by the Seagulls physical approach – Adam Connolly was forced from the action by one of a series of late challenges – but City began to gain the upper hand after the interval and on 57 minutes Darren Edwards broke clear down the left and his low cross was fired home from close range by Dave Gilroy. Edwards then had a shot cleared off the line and Gilroy was denied a second by the linesmans’ flag as City took complete control. Comyn-Platt received his marching orders for clipping the heels of Gilroy as he was bearing down on goal after 66 minutes, and three minutes later Holland rose above Rand to make it 2-0. The win was secured with 14 minutes left thanks to a rare Matt Coupe strike, the defender shooting home from eight yards out.

PREVIEW: CITY v Weston Super Mare – Blue Square South (23/2/09)

After two successive defeats against sides chasing the Blue Square South title, AFC Wimbledon and Hampton & Richmond Borough, City will hope to get their play-off ambitions back on track tomorrow evening at Twerton Park against a side whose main aim is retaining a place at this level without having to rely on the misfortune of other clubs for once, Weston Super Mare. The Seagulls currently sit in 17th position, six points clear of third from bottom Thurrock. With Fisher Athletic and Bognor Regis Town looking certain to occupy the bottom two places, Weston appear to be one of about eight or nine teams – up to 12th place Newport County – battling to avoid joining them in the relegation zone. However, whichever of those sides end up there, demotion looks unlikely given the financial uncertainty surrounding so many other clubs, not least the Dorset duo of Weymouth and Dorchester Town. And if Weston are that side it could be the third successive season they have been spared relegation due to off the field matters rather than on the pitch quality.

This season there seems a real intent at Woodspring Stadium to retain their Blue Square South place on merit with a number of high-profile signings that suggest, in contrast to the majority of football clubs, Weston will be increasing their player budget. Chairman Paul Bliss was reported as saying he wants the club to stay in this division for this season and the next and then in time for the 2010/2011 season he hopes to have fundraising initiatives in place to make a push for the Blue Square Premier. The man trusted with this ambitious plan is former Bristol Rovers player Andy Gurney. The 34-year old was named caretaker manager on 1 December 2008 following the sacking of ex-City boss Tony Ricketts, and after impressing sufficiently in his first eight games in charge (2 wins, 2 draw and 4 defeats) he was handed the job on a permanent basis.

Even before this long-term appointment Gurney had been busy in the transfer market. The first real sign of Weston’s new found ambition (and wealth?) came just after Christmas with a £2000 offer for City midfielder Lewis Hogg. He turned down a return to his former club but a couple weeks later, before this money burnt a hole in their pocket, they captured ex-Twerton Park favourite Adie Harris for an undisclosed four-figure fee from Newport County, giving him a 2½ year contract. A few days later striker Manny Williams was brought in on loan from Blue Square Premier side Woking. The 27-year old has scored 30 times last season at this level for Maidenhead United to earn the move up the non-league pyramid. Another loan signing – Tomaso Parrinello from Bristol Rovers – signed an 18-month permanent contract last month, when he was released from his Pirates contract, and Havant & Waterlooville midfielder Jack Compton also put pen to paper. A number of the current squad also signed extensions to their contracts, although to make room for these new arrivals a number of players have been shipped out on loan to various Southern League clubs, including Ryan Paddock to Bishop’s Cleeve, James Palmer to Gloucester City and Ryan Harvard to Mangotsfield United.

The one new signing that raised most eyebrows though – not least at City – was that of striker Scott Partridge. The Twerton Park goalscoring legend had been playing for Unibond League Division 1 South side Sheffield FC since leaving City in March 2008 and when he decided to return to the West Country he teamed up again with Gurney, who he had played alongside at Torquay United. Partridge spent just over four years with City, after moving from Weymouth in January 2004. He took a few games to settle with City before scoring an incredible 18 goals in 20 league games that season. In the end he netted 78 times in just 170 games for the club, putting him 12th in City’s all-time scorers list. Prior to joining City he had a long and much-travelled league career, playing for ten different clubs, including Bristol City, Cardiff City and Rushden & Diamonds. He has yet to break his duck for the Seagulls and is likely to miss the clash with City due to a knee injury he picked up against St Albans City, which, from a City perspective, is either a shame if you wanted to see him back on the Twerton Park pitch, or a relief, knowing what a quality player he is (and one probably due a goal or three).

Complete record against Weston Super Mare

Since appointing Gurney on a permanent basis Weston have won one and lost one game, both at Woodspring Stadium. The defeat was against then bottom club Bognor Regis Town, meaning Weston were the first side to lose a league match against the Rocks apart from Fisher Athletic this season. However, they bounced back well from this embarrassment by beating Braintree Town 3-1, thanks to goals from Compton, Craig Rand and Dean Grubb. This sums up their inconsistent form this season, only twice have they managed back to back league wins. Tuesday’s game will be the 37th meeting between the clubs, with City having won 31 times including the previous meeting this season. Dave Gilroy’s tap in following a mix-up between Charlie Comyn-Platt and keeper Ryan Northmore was enough to give them a 1-0 win. Weston’s last victory over City came in January 2004 when Lewis Hogg grabbed the only goal of the game. That match was Scott Partridge’s second outing in City colours (he missed their best chance midway through the second half) and lining up for the Seagulls was City’s current top scorer Dave Gilroy.

Referee hands Hampton way past Perrin as City outclassed at Twerton Park (21/2/09)

A shocking refereeing decision managed to hand Hampton & Richmond Borough the single goal they needed to secure all three points at Twerton Park this afternoon, just when it was looking as if City would hang on for a draw despite being outclassed from the opening whistle. The visitors struck the bar four times and found Steve Perrin in excellent form but with just 13 minutes left the referee incredibly viewed that Jim Rollo deliberately blocked Harper’s driven cross with his arm and pointed to the spot. Justice was almost done when Perrin saved Quarm’s effort but the ball rebounded straight to the same player and he made no mistake second time. While it was no less than the Beavers deserved it was still a desperately frustrating way to lose the game. Perrin had looked unbeatable all afternoon, producing a string of stunning saves. Three times in the opening 15 minutes he denied Hampton, the pick tipping Quarm’s shot onto the bar, although twice Lake and Yaku should have buried rebounds only to miss when it looked easier to score. Twice after the interval the ball again struck City’s crossbar, the latter again via the slighest touch from Perrin, and just as Middlesex side were beginning to run out of ideas the referee acheived what they couldn’t and broke City’s resistance. Sekani Simpson and Lewis Hogg almost fashioned an unlikely equaliser for City after this but in the context of the whole game this would have been unjustified, even if the manner of the deciding goal was so controversial.

PREVIEW: CITY v Hampton & Richmond Borough – Blue Square South (19/2/09)

City face a second successive meeting with a Blue Square South form team when Hampton & Richmond Borough make the trip down the M4 to Twerton Park on Saturday. Having narrowly failed to end AFC Wimbledon’s eleven match unbeaten run last week, they now face a side who last tasted league defeat 13 matches ago. The 2-0 win over fellow play-off hopefuls Welling United on Tuesday was the Beavers sixth consecutive victory and they have conceded just one goal in those games to show the task facing City. This run has not only made them odds-on favourite to secure a play-off place but kept them in with a chance of the Blue Square South title, sitting just three points behind stuttering Chelmsford City with a game in hand and only nine points off leaders AFC Wimbledon.

This sequence has continued despite losing their top scorer Ben Wright in a bizarre transfer at the end of January. The 20-year only joined the Beavers during the 2008 close season after impressing in a pre-season friendly against Swindon Town, having played for Basingstoke Town (where he was a non-playing substitute in their 1-0 win at Twerton Park in October 2008) and Fleet Town last season. He scored on his third appearance from the bench against Hayes & Yeading United in August and soon secured a first team place, netting regularly including in six successive league matches in October and November. This form began to attract scouts from a number of league clubs, including Reading, Watford, Millwall, Peterborough United, Brentford and Charlton Athletic. He impressed in a trial game for Reading Reserves but it was Premier League side Fulham who made the first move for the striker, agreeing an undisclosed fee with Hampton. However, the Cottagers are well-known for their strict medical policy and when they began to backtrack on the deal over a couple of points in this regard, League 1 side Peterborough United stepped in immediately to secure Wright’s service in a 3½ year deal. The Beavers did not wait long to replace Wright, snapping up Hayes & Yeading United forward Kieran Knight. The former Southall, Hillingdon Borough, Edgware Town and Northwood player had scored nine times for United this season, including all four in their FA Cup win over Chelmsford City.

Complete record against Hampton & Richmond Borough

In addition to being the Blue Square South’s second highest scorers – behind leaders AFC Wimbledon – they also boost the meanest defence, with just 22 goals ending up in their next so far this season, some seven less than the next best sides (City and AFC Wimbledon). One of these goals was scored by City, when Paul Cochlin’s header was adjudged to have crossed the line in the 52nd minute of their early meeting this season. This got City back into the game having trailed 2-0 at the interval but an own goal by Chris Holland in the closing minutes guaranteed that the points went to the Middlesex side. This was their first victory over City having failed to score in either of the meetings in the 2007-08 season. The match at Twerton Park early on in that campaign – the first ever between the clubs – finished 2-0 to City thanks to goals from Mark McKeever and Matt Coupe. The return match at Hampton finished goalless, although the home side should have won the game in stoppage time when Harper headed over from close range. Despite this Hampton finished the season in 3rd place, only missing out on promotion to the Blue Square Premier after two late goals by Eastbourne Borough defeated them in the play-off final.

Rogers heads back from Newport loan spell to strengthen squad (16/2/09)

City have recalled midfielder Scott Rogers from his loan spell at Blue Square South rivals Newport County. The 29-year old spent just over a month in Wales, making six appearances and only tasting defeat once in his final game against Maidenhead United on Saturday. With Ali Gibb on loan at Southern League Yate Town – he made his debut in the Bluebells 2-2 draw at Rugby Town – and Mark Badman unavailable for two weeks, Rogers’ return will boost City’s squad, where teenager Ashley Caldwell was called into action again to ensure they could fill the substitutes bench at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

City give league leaders a fright but head home empty-handed (15/2/09)

City gave league leaders AFC Wimbledon a real fright yesterday but the Dons held on to record a 3-2 victory in front of over 3000 supporters at their Cherry Red Records Fans’ Stadium home. From the kick-off City showed no fear against a side that had won ten and drawn one of their last eleven league games, and this approach saw them on top for the first 25 minutes. They couldn’t turn this dominance into a lead though and the home side began to come into the game as the half progressed. However, there was still little to trouble Steve Perrin in City’s goal with 27-goal hitman Jon Main restricted to one effort that was deflected wide. In first-half stoppage time, though, the Dons were gifted the lead from the penalty spot. Instead of clearing the ball Jim Rollo knocked it back to Steve Jones, but Main nicked it away from him and went over the challenge. The perfectly placed linesman flagged for a penalty and Main sent Perrin the wrong way. Rollo and Jones were both booked in the aftermarth but the second half began with City again looking the better side. Luck continued to be with the hosts though, as on 57 minutes Chris Holland deflected a Godfrey cross past Perrin to make it 2-0. Weaker sides would have folded at that stage but with Dave Gilroy, Sekani Simpson and Richard Evans all introduced they pulled a goal back when the former raced clear to head home after his first effort had been saved by Pullen. 60 seconds later Godfrey restored the Dons’ two-goal lead, confidently lobbing Perrin from the edge of the box. Still City would not lie down and Darren Edwards netted to make it 3-2 after Pullen’s mis-hit clearance fell straight to him. Perrin denied Kedwell with a great save giving City a chance to grab a remarkable equaliser but Gilroy shot over and then from a stoppage time corner the ball wouldn’t drop to a City player. The relieved roar at the final whistle showed just how close City had pushed their high-flying opponents.

All routes lead to Twerton Park (or, at least, the No.5 does) (13/2/09)

There will be no excuse to get on the wrong bus when heading to Twerton Park to watch City from now on after FirstBus added Bath City FC to the destination display of the No.5 service that runs to and from Twerton. The change came about following an approach to the bus company from the Supporters Society and Supporters Club in an attempt to increase the clubs profile in and around the City. The no.5 service run every 12 minutes on a Saturday and for a full timetable click here.

City are offering ‘double header’ prices for their next two home games against Hampton & Richmond Borough and Weston Super Mare, on February 21 (3pm) and February 24 (7.45pm) respectively. Supporters can watch both games for just £15, a saving of £5 on the usual entry price. Concessions are £10 and childern can get in to see both games for £5. Contact the club for further details.

Gibb aims for fitness with spell amongst the Bluebells (12/2/09)

City midfielder Ali Gibb has joined Southern League side Yate Town to regain match fitness following his seven-month injury lay-off. The 33-year joined City in the summer after a long league career but suffered a broken ankle in a pre-season match at Melksham Town. He finally made his debut for the club at Hayes & Yeading United last month, providing the cross that lead to City’s late equaliser in the 2-2 draw, but has since only made one more even shorter substitute appearance and will spend a month at Lodge Road to get further much-needed match practice.

Fellow midfielder Scott Rogers will spend a second month on loan at Blue Square South mid-table side Newport County, although City can now recall him with seven days notice.

City’s trip to Fisher Athletic has been rearranged for Monday 9 March (ko 7.45pm).

Keeper Evans suffers setback in knee operation recovery (12/2/09)

Paul Evans has suffered a setback in his recovery from knee surgery. City’s no.1 keeper had hoped to return to action at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday after being sidelined since mid-December but he has felt pain in the knee and faces another couple of weeks out of action. Able deputy Steve Perrin will continue to provide cover for the South African, and Evans is the only injury problem City have ahead of the trip to the league leaders.

PREVIEW: AFC Wimbledon v CITY – Blue Square South (11/2/09)

City face their toughest examination of the season so far on Saturday when they travel to league leaders AFC Wimbledon. The Dons moved six points clear at the top of the Blue Square South table on Tuesday with a routine 2-0 win over Hayes & Yeading United (a result that saw City move above the losers to 7th place on goal difference) that stretched their unbeaten league run to eleven games, ten of which have been victories. Surprisingly the only opponent to have taken points off them since early December was struggling Dorchester Town. Although the victory over Hayes & Yeading came via two defensive errors it was no surprise that the recipient of these gifts was striker Jon Main, netting his 26th and 27th league goals of the season. The 27-year old became the club’s record signing in November 2007 when he moved from Tonbridge Angels for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of £25,000. He scored ten goals in just 13 starts and three substitute appearances last season and has continued this scoring record this campaign. Main’s strike partner Danny Kedwell is almost as prolific with 13 goals this season in just 20 league outings, having joined from Welling United in September 2008.

Whilst the vast majority of Blue Square South clubs can only look on enviously at the money it took to construct this potent strike force, it is clear that the size of their support sustains such expenditure. The match with Hayes & Yeading attracted a crowd of 2621*, which is higher than any other Blue Square South clash this season, but still over 400 below the Dons’ average this year. This currently sits at 3094* that only ex-league clubs Oxford United, Wrexham and Cambridge United exceed in non-league football. Their recent meeting with current closest title rivals Chelmsford City was watched by a sell-out crowd of 4690, with several 100 more fans locked out of the ground. This average represents their highest since the club was formed in 2002 and the first time it has topped 3000 since their first season.

The Dons have only suffered one home league defeat this season, against Eastleigh at the beginning of December, and they are currently on a run of five successive wins at Kingsmeadow. The most impressive of these was in the aforementioned clash with Chelmsford. They had gone top of the table for the first time since October with a narrow 1-0 win over Bishop’s Stortford in their previous outing and, boosted by this, raced into a two-goal lead with just 28 minutes gone, Main grabbing both goals. The Clarets pulled a goal back on 64 minutes but that was as good as it got for the Essex side, who had lead the league by nine points as recently as Christmas, and a Davis strike a minute from time secured the victory. This good form earned manager Terry Brown the January Manager of the Month award. They did suffer one set-back in the Hayes & Yeading game when defender Sambrook – who was only signed two weeks ago from Thurrock to replace long-term injury victim Garrard – picked up a hamstring injury that will see him miss the meeting with City.

Complete record against AFC Wimbledon/Wimbledon

This will be City’s first visit to AFC Wimbledon’s Kingsmeadow home. The ground was built in 1989 by Kingstonian after the club moved from Richmond Road, where they had played for well over 100 years. The K’s then hit financial problems following three seasons in the Conference (during which time they also twice won the FA Trophy) and in 2001 both club and ground were purchased by Rajesh Khosla and his son Anup. A year later the Dons became tenants at the ground, although their rent was paid to the Khosla family rather than Kingstonian due to the arrangement that the stadium was owned in Rajesh’s name and the club in Anup’s. In March 2003 the Dons Trust voted to purchase the leasehold of the ground from Mr Khosla senior and a figure of £3million was agreed. Through various fundraising efforts £1.2million was raised before the balance was obtained via a commercial bank loan. The ground effectively became AFC Wimbledon’s in November 2006, although over £1/2million is still owed to various sources. During this time Kingstonian went from landlords (in name only) to tenants but at a nominal rent, paid for in part by the proceeds of an annual pre-season friendly between the two clubs, called the Trevor Jones Memorial Trophy. When the Dons took control of the ground they changed its name to The Fans’ Stadium (hmmm…) and then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, The Cherry Red Records Fans’ Stadium.

*One point about their crowds is they are artificially inflated by including season tickets holders regardless of whether they actually attend the game or now. They are still quite impressive though.

City Youth awarded prestigious FA Charter Standard award (7/2/09)

Don Foster, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, presented Bath City Youth with the Football Association’s prestigious FA Charter Standard at Twerton Park last Saturday, January 31st. The ceremony took place at half time during the Blue Square South match between City and Newport County. Foster was joined by City’s Managing Director, Paul Williams, Marcus Holmes, Football Development Officer for the Somerset FA & BANES together with the Mayor of Bath, Tim Ball, in presenting the award to Mike Charlton, Chairman of Bath City Youth FC. Having been in existence for a number of years as Avon Arsenal, Bath City Youth FC was recently reformed and renamed. The decision to change its name to that of the city’s senior football club was welcomed by Williams and fellow City director Philip Weaver. “We felt it was important for the local community that we lent our name to the development of youth football,” said Williams. “Bath City FC has been in existence for 120 years and the fact that this youth initiative within the region has attracted over 300 players – boys and girls aged 7 upwards to 16 – can only be good for the club’s future.” Mike Charlton said that he was delighted that all the hard work by his fellow committee members in recent weeks had culminated with the Club receiving this Award from the FA’s nationwide grassroots initiative. “This will give us the impetus to push the club forward, to find commercial partners and attract even more boys and girls to the great game of football.” Marcus Holmes also commented that he felt Bath City Youth had an important role to play with the development of youth football in the region and would endorse the club’s efforts to achieve their objectives.

Thaw comes too late to save Fisher v City clash (6/2/09)

As expected tomorrow’s Blue Square South match at Fisher Athletic has been postponed. Their Champion Hill Stadium pitch has been under a blanket of snow all week and despite finally beginning to thaw today this has just left large parts of the playing surface waterlogged. A new date has yet to be arranged. This fourth cancellation already in 2009 means City are next due in action at league leaders AFC Wimbledon on Saturday 14 February (ko 3pm). To book a seat on the supporters coach to this mouthwatering clash click here.

PREVIEW: Fisher Atletic v CITY – Blue Square South (5/2/09)

Saturday’s Blue Square South meeting with crisis club Fisher Athletic is subject to a pitch inspection at 3pm on Friday afternoon. Although the snow that brought London to a standstill earlier this week has largely gone the worry now is that the Champion Hill Stadium pitch will be waterlogged. Should the match go ahead City face a club in real trouble both on and off the pitch. They currently sit in 21st place, kept off bottom spot only due to Bognor Regis Town’s points deduction, on the back of a nine match losing run. However, relegation is the least of their worries as it is a real possibility they may not see the season out. Back in November their financial problems lead to them stopping paying players, which understandably saw a player exodus, and this situation was complicated a month later when they were banned from signing new players due to unpaid wages. The FA imposed the transfer embargo when Stevland Angus claimed he was owed wages from a short spell with the club in 2007. He did not make a single appearance for the Fish due to injury, which they argued he had not made them aware of. At the same time they were hit by a similar ban by the Football Conference after being found to have broken new financial protection regulations requiring clubs to demonstrate they have the means to get themselves out of debt.

The embargo was lifted in December when they paid Angus and manager Dave Mehmet moved quickly to strengthen his squad, capturing ex-Weston Super duo Ludovic Quistin and Cedric Abraham, plus midfielder Michael Stewart from Thurrock, former Northwood striker Otis Williams and Emmanuel Sackey, a right-sided midfielder from Lewes. The problems were not over at the club though as they were ordered to appear at the High Court in January to hear a winding up order, issued by the Revenue and Customs office. Fisher chairman Martin Eede argued that the amount demanded was far in excess of the figure they believed is owed and the case was adjourned until March 4. Since then Mehmet has said his team is operating like a pub side, with no training facilities, but there were signs in the last couple of matches that they have not completely given up hope. A controversial penalty against Braintree Town playing a major part in their 2-0 defeat then another spot-kick decision that went against the Fish sending them to a 2-1 reversal at Thurrock.

Complete record against Fisher Athletic

Mehmet took over from outgoing manager Wayne Burnett in October 2008 and his first game in charge of the club was against City at Twerton Park (coincidentally the match was also Adie Britton’s first as City manager). City’s record against the Fish was a poor one, with just two wins in the previous eight games between the clubs, but a single goal from Martin Paul was enough to secure the points. Last season City travelled to the Champion Hill Stadium in March to face play-off rivals Fisher and found themselves 2-0 down at the interval. Shortly into the second half Sekani Simpson headed City back into the game but that was as good as it got for the visitors, and Fisher went on to reach the play-offs only to lose to Hampton & Richmond Borough at the semi-final stage.

Thurrock match off as return of winter grounds both clubs (2/2/09)

Tomorrow evening’s Blue Square South meeting with Thurrock at Twerton Park has been postponed following the heavy snowfall that has affected much of the country. With Essex particularly badly hit the Fleet are unable to find a coach company who could guarantee transport tomorrow, along with the Twerton Park pitch frozen under a covering of snow, the clubs have agreed to an early cancellation. The game has been rearranged for Tuesday 31 March (ko 7.45pm).

Birkby overhead kick win best ever City goal on film award (1/2/09)

Dean Birkby’s overhead kick against Southport in September 1994 has been voted the best ever City goal captured on film. He was presented with the John Skinner Award by Ruth Skinner at the 100 Greatest Goal Evening held at Charlies last Friday. Over 100 City fans attended the event, voting Paul Bodin’s 1986 FA Cup goal against Bristol City at Ashton Gate into second place and Paul Batty’s stunning 25-yard shot in front of the Sky Sports cameras in the Hereford United FA Cup meeting in December 1993 third.