In a surprise move striker Lee Phillips has joined Blue Square Bet South side Eastleigh on loan for the remainder of the 2011-12 season. The 31-year old former Exeter City and Torquay United player was City’s top scorer last season with 16 goals and, although he has only netted three times in 26 starts and ten substitute appearances this campaign, his departure leaves the club with just one recognised striker Sean Canham (two if you include Jamie Cook) on their books.
A goal in each half saw City lose 2-1 to Kidderminster Harriers this afternoon at Twerton Park to suffer their eighth successive defeat and move a step nearer the Conference South. Although the scoreline was close, in truth it was only after Sean Canham scrambled home City’s goal two minutes from time that the play-off chasing visitors suffered any nervous moments as prior to that they rarely looked troubled by City’s efforts. Lewis Hogg did volley an early chance against the outside of the post but when the Harriers went ahead from their first meaningful attack on 18 minutes the game took on a painfully familiar pattern for City. Gethin Jones’ poor pass out of defence allowed Malbon to race clear and although Jason Matthews produced a superb save from his low shot the rebound fell perfectly to Byrne for a simple tap-in. City continued to enjoy their fair share of possession but Kidderminster always looked to have the greater attacking threat, Matt, Rowe and Gittings all going close, and 54 minutes they increased their lead when Byrne’s shot flew into the net via the post. Marley Watkins almost got City back in the game moments later only for keeper Breeden to deny him but it was the visitors who spurned several further chances to take the game out of City’s reach. And they where nearly made to pay for this when Canham stabbed home Chris Shephard’s cross-shot on 88 minutes. Suddenly City sensed they may be able to salvage a point from the game as Shephard saw his shot well gathered by Breeden and Joe Burnell had a goal bound effort blocked, but in the end it was too little too late.
City’s home match with York City scheduled for Saturday 10 March will have to be rearranged as the Minstermen will now be involved in the semi-finals of the FA Trophy on that date.
City are holding a Meet the Manager and Chairman evening on Friday 2 March in Charlie’s starting at 7.30pm.
City complete the run of three home games in eight days on Saturday with the visit of Kidderminster Harriers, looking to avoid a third defeat that would snap another strand of the increasingly thin thread by which their Conference Premier hopes are hanging. Although the losses against Ebbsfleet United and Hayes & Yeading United have not seen City slip any further adrift of 20th place – the gap remains an imposing ten points – this only serves to highlight what a missed opportunity the two results were, especially with a brace of tough trips to Luton Town and Barrow to follow the Harriers game. Given the run of disappointing scores since City opened 2012 with a win over Newport County the claim that this game is another ‘must win’ does start to ring a bit hollow but if they are to go down with at least a fight then it really has to begin on Saturday at Twerton Park.
And it won’t just be City who go into the game in desperate need of three points as Kidderminster arrive with their play-off hopes stuttering on the back of four league matches without a win. One defeat in their previous eleven Blue Square Bet Premier outings had lifted the Harriers from mid-table obscurity to right amongst the play-off chasing pack. After a 1-1 draw with one of those rivals York City they suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat to struggling Stockport County. They then almost suffered back to back defeats against teams at the opposite end of the table only for an injury-time equaliser to rescue a point against Lincoln City at Aggborough but in their last game they couldn’t prevent second place Wrexham heading back to North Wales with three points thanks to a single goal by player-manager Morrell on the stroke of half-time. This run has seen Harriers slip to seventh place, although they are still just a point behind Southport in fifth, and look certain to be involved in the mix during the final two months of the season. The Midlands side also exited the FA Trophy this month, losing 2-1 to Luton Town at the 3rd Round stage.
Despite the Harriers ranking as sixth highest scorers in the Blue Square Bet Premier this season manager Steve Burr swooped to sign highly-rated Stourbridge striker Ryan Rowe last week. Rowe sprang to prominence this season when he helped the Glassboys reach the FA Cup 2nd Round, beating League 2 Plymouth Argyle in the process. Although the five-figure fee for the 23-year old was undisclosed it shows the club has recovered from the financial problems they suffered last season when they came within a few hours of going into administration.
Complete record against Kidderminster FC/Kidderminster Harriers
The game will see the Harriers visiting Twerton Park for the 30th time and is reminiscent of the 1987-88 meeting. Whilst Kidderminster were battling for a top five finish (although long before the days of play-offs), City were involved in a desperate relegation battle, coming into the game third from bottom of the GM Vauxhall Conference table with two month remaining in the season. It took City just three minutes to go in front though when Martyn Grimshaw was pulled down in the area by keeper Jones and Chris Lilygreen fired home the penalty. And on 31 minutes the same player headed a Dave Payne corner into the net to make it 2-0. However, City had thrown away a two-goal advantage at Cheltenham a fortnight earlier and when the Harriers made it 2-1 thanks to MacKenzie’s 25-yard strike three minutes before the interval alarm bells began to ring. And their worst nightmare came true as first Davies levelled the scores on 54 minutes before a marvellous solo goal from Jones put the visitors in front 20 minutes from time. City to their credit battled back and when Grimshaw was again felled in the area two minutes into stoppage time, Lilygreen stepped up to complete his hat-trick and earn a point that ultimately could not help City retain their Conference place.
City look to have one foot back in the Blue Square Bet South after their season hit a new low this evening with a 1-0 defeat to Hayes & Yeading United at Twerton Park. It was a performance that lacked a single redeeming feature and although the visitors were barely any better they will be unconcerned as the three points keeps their hopes alive of avoiding the same fate as City. The decisive goal came seven minutes before half-time and once again it was a mistake in the heart of City’s defence that allowed Thalassitis to head a long clearance over Jason Matthews. Sean Canham had seen a close range effort blocked by keeper Arnold on 17 minutes but the rest of the half was a dismal affair with City’s attacking efforts making their former striker Phil Walsh, playing in the heart of United’s backline, look like the greatest defender to ever play the game. The second half only changed in that Hayes had several chances to increase their lead, Owusu heading over from six yards out before Matthews produced two good saves to deny the same player then Ajala. City’s only response was a speculative effort from Chris Shephard that Arnold tipped over the bar, and it looks depressingly like their two year adventure in the top flight of non-league football is going to end with hardly a whimper.
If ever a game could be described as a ‘six-pointer’ it is the meeting at Twerton Park tomorrow night between City and Hayes & Yeading United, pitting as it does, the Blue Square Bet Premier’s bottom two sides. Unfortunately for City, following Saturday’s 3-2 defeat against Ebbsfleet United, it is a game that they could do with six points from, rather than just the three they will still go desperately in search of and, at least, begin to close the gap on the teams above them.
As pre-season favourites to be relegated back to the Conference South, United look set to justify those predictions having won just five games all season (a total which City can, of course, only dream about). The most recent of these came two weeks ago when they overcame troubled Darlington by three goals to two but they failed to build on this result with defeats to Southport and Wrexham in their last two outings. With five successive defeats prior to the Quakers result this run has seen them slip to 23rd place, four points off safety, although still six points ahead of City. Their cause was not helped by losing star player Louie Soares to Grimsby Town on transfer deadline day. The 27-year old, whose brother Tom plays for Premier League Stoke City (although he is currently on loan to Hibernian), joined United from Southend United during the 2011 close season and by the time he headed north had netted 15 goals from midfield. To fill the gap left by his departure manager Nas Bashir brought former player James Mulley back to the club on loan from AFC Wimbledon. Two further loan players at the club will be more familiar to City, keeper Carl Pentney and defender (striker?) Phil Walsh. Pentney spent three months on loan at Twerton Park from Colchester United, making 15 appearances. Walsh has already faced City this season whilst playing for Dagenham & Redbridge in the FA Cup 1st Round meeting, having played over 100 games, scoring 25 goals, whilst with the Romans between 2005 and 2009.
United’s hopes this season have clearly not been helped by having to play ‘home’ games at Woking’s Kingsfield Stadium whilst their new home is build on the site of Yeading’s old ground, The Warren. This move has seen their average crowds drop to below 350 with the obvious knock-on effort on the club’s financial position. The plan was to spend just one year 30 miles away at Woking but recently an apparent lack of progress on the new site has led some supporters to show concern that the new ground may not be ready for the 2012-13 season. Pictures of the site go some way to explaining the fear, with a nice looking pitch surrounded by … well, not a lot, although four floodlights have appeared in the last week. United General Manager Derrick Matthews attempted to allay this worries by confirming he was optimistic the ground would be completed in time but also revealing that contingency plans were in place if not, although he did not reveal whether this would mean staying at Woking or moving to another ground. He also called supporters ‘fickle’ for questioning the progress just to get them back onside.
Complete record against Hayes/Yeading/Heayes & Yeading United
City’s trip to Kingsfield earlier this season was one of the few games that brought back memories of last year’s memorable campaign. Although they fell behind to a goal on the stroke of half-time, Scott Murray ensured a share of the points with a 94th minute equaliser. Last season City enjoyed a 3-1 win over United at Twerton Park in an entertaining encounter. The visitors dominated the early exchanges but couldn’t find a way past Pentney, then in goal for City, and fell behind on 20 minutes through a stunning strike from Kaid Mohamed. United continued to create openings but it wasn’t until a dreadful mistake by Gethin Jones gifted them an equaliser with ten minutes left. However, Jones redeemed himself three minutes later when he headed City back in front. In stoppage time Mohammed raced three-quarters the length of the pitch to tee up Lee Phillips with a simple tap-in and ensure the points were City’s (a goal that is a painful reminder for City the type of attacking threat they have been badly missing this season).
City should go into the game with almost a full strength squad from which to select with only Scott Murray (hamstring) and Jamie Cook (ankle) doubts.
Ten man Ebbsfleet United inflicted a sixth successive on City at Twerton Park this afternoon to leave the Romans still well adrift of safety at the foot of the Blue Square Bet Premier table. Once again it was individual mistakes in defence and wasted opportunities up front that has been the sorry saga of the 2011-12 campaign and looks increasingly certain to end with a return to the Conference South. Playing the 4-4-2 formation that a number of supporters had been crying out for for weeks City began brightly only to gift the visitors the lead on 11 minutes. Glyn Garner looked to have collected an overhit pass but the ball inexplicably squirmed from his grasp allowing Ugwu to set up Pinney for a simple tap-in. Sean Canham then had an effort ruled out for offside before Lewis Hogg and Lee Phillips both shot wide when clear through on goal. Phillips also had a penalty shout turned down after he was strongly challenged by keeper Edwards. As the half progressed City began to lose their momentum and the Fleet saw more possession but another chance fell to Phillips just before the break where he again failed to test Edwards. However, on 61 minutes City finally levelled when Gethin Jones powerfully headed home Hogg’s cross. And five minutes later they were handed a great opportunity to complete the turnaround when Ebbsfleet were reduced to ten men. Sean Canham was felled by an elbow that the officials missed but in the aftermarth Edwards raised his hands to Jones giving the referee no option but to show him a red card. Although the Kent side had a replacement keeper on the bench City were now clearly in the driving seat. However, their understandable desire to commit men forward cost them after 80 minutes when a quick break ended with Shakes restoring United’s lead. Ugwu then ensured it would be another bleak afternoon for City, sliding home his side’s third on 90 minutes, and although there was still time for Sean Canham to make it 3-2 when he fired home off the underside of the crossbar, it was too little too late.
City’s recently announced ‘Name the Stadium’ draw has already attracted widespread interest with national and international coverage plus a number of entries from individuals and business with no previous connections to the club. The venture has been covered by various UK newspapers, including the Guardian and Daily Mail, plus Norway’s biggest tabloid VG, along with both local and national TV and radio coverage. For full details on how you can get involved click here.
Following a meeting ealier this week Shane Morgan has been officially elected onto the City board of directors as the Supporters’ Society representative. He takes over from Pete Sellwood after 14 successful months on the board during which time he oversaw the club’s involvement in community events and projects. Shane will be well known to most City fans with his participation in many of the club’s supporters’ groups plus running the tea bar on matchdays and writing a regular column in the Bath Chronicle.
City begin a spell of three home games in eight days when Ebbsfleet United visit Twerton Park on Saturday facing the reality that any hopes of retaining their Blue Square Bet Premier place could be all but over by next weekend. Fellow relegation strugglers Hayes & Yeading United are next up on Tuesday night before play-off chasing Kidderminster Harriers head down the M5 and City’s position is so stark that anything less than seven points from the games will surely leave them facing Blue Square Bet South football next season. The defeat at Newport County left City still 10 points from safety, using up their game in hand on the four sides directly above them in the process, and with just 15 matches left the situation is looking increasingly grim. However, as long as there is hope manager Adie Britton and his players will no doubt give their all and if they could somehow win all three matches (doubling their total league victories for the season in the process) things would suddenly look a lot brighter as the 2011-12 campaign enters it penultimate month.
The Fleet make their first trip to Bath since 1989 knowing they are close to securing sufficient points to guarantee their Conference Premier place for another year but equally aware that a poor run of form could yet see them dragged back into the relegation dogfight. Liam Daish’s side took a while to settle to life back at this level, winning just once in their opening eleven games. However, a run of four wins and two draws in October/November saw them pull away from the lower reaches of the table. They did fall to a shock FA Cup to Ryman League Division 1 North side Redbridge during this spell and when they suffered back to back defeats against Darlington and Lincoln City there would have been nervous glances over their shoulder. Since then though they have won three, drawn three and lost three of their last nine league games to maintain a healthy gap of nine points to the drop zone. Ebbsfleet’s last outing saw a disappointing 1-0 FA Trophy 3rd Round defeat to York City ending hopes of repeating their 2008 success in the competition.
Complete record against Gravesend & Northfleet/Ebbsfleet United
City will hope there is no repeat of the scoreline when the Kent side last played at Twerton Park, although that was under their proper name of Gravesend & Northfleet, back in November 1989 when a single second half goal was enough to secure the points for the Fleet. In the complete contrast to their current struggles City came into that game top of the Southern League and unbeaten at home. The visitors clearly arrived with the intention of frustrating City and this tactic was effective as the home side were reduced to a handful of half chances. And on 66 minutes they stunned City when Penfold struck a 30-yard screamer that gave Jim Preston no chance. Even after this City failed to lift their performance, although Dave Singleton twice came close to finding an equaliser, and limply succumbed to defeat. Despite this City retained their place at the top of the table and didn’t suffer another league loss until April, 21 matches later, a run of which City’s present day team could only dream.
City will finally welcome back top scorer Sean Canham and captain Gethin Jones after they completed their three match bans and, with new signing Tommy Doherty available to make his debut having missed Tuesday’s game at his former club Newport County as part of the agreement that saw him released by the Welsh side, it will mean Adie Britton has greater options than have been available to him for several weeks. Two players unlikely to feature in the squad are Scott Murray (hamstring) and Jamie Cook (ankle), although both could return for the Hayes & Yeading game next week.
City suffered another blow in their increasingly forlorn battle against relegation last night when they suffered a 1-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Newport County. They will take little comfort that, based on the poor standard of the game, the Welsh side will be joining them back in the Blue Square Bet South next season as they at least climbed out of the drop zone temporarily on the back of the victory. The decisive goal came after just 12 minutes when City failed to deal with a cross from the left allowing Minshull to shoot past Glyn Garner. Lee Phillips was denied by home keeper Thompson and Chris Shephard slid the rebound narrowly wide of the far post shortly afterwards as City briefly responded well to falling behind. However, this was as close as they came and, although they enjoyed the majority of possession, rarely looked capable of finding an equaliser, a now painfully familiar story this season. When Paul Stonehouse blazed a volley high over the bar in stoppage time it confirmed that City would once again head home pointless and still searching for some sign they are capable of performing an end of season miracle. There was nothing in this game to suggest that will be the case.
City have rearranged their long trip to Gateshead for Tuesday 20 March (ko 7.45pm). And their away match at Tamworth has been brought forward to Friday 6 April (ko 7.45pm).
Following the eleventh hour cancellation of their longest journey of the season to Gateshead on Saturday, City will hope for more luck tomorrow night when they make one of their shortest trips as they and Newport try again to play their much delayed relegation battle. This will be the fourth attempt to play the game after the original Boxing Day date fell foul to the weather and since then both clubs’ FA Trophy commitments have seen planned dates come and go. However, with mild dry weather forecast between now and kick-off there should be no further delays to give both sides the chance for a win to ease their relegation fears.
Since the turn of the year the Welsh side have begun to show a few signs that they are capable of pulling away from the drop zone, coming into the game on the back of a three match unbeaten run. After a goalless draw with Forest Green Rovers they made the long journey to the north east to face Gateshead and with less than an hour gone it looked as if it was be as fruitless as City’s efforts with the home side leading 2-0. Although Buchanan pulled a goal back, as the game reached the final minute the Exiles still trailed 2-1. However, former City striker Sam Foley was then tripped in the box and although his spot-kick was saved he blasted home the rebound to level the scores. And there was still time for Harris to fire home a 20-yard shot to claim a remarkable 3-2 win. On Saturday their meeting with Stockport County was the only Conference National game to beat the weather and once again it was a late show from the Exiles to twice come from a goal down to earn another important point, with Harris once again the hero netting an 87th minute equaliser, despite playing the last half-hour with ten men after ex-City midfielder Andy Sandell was sent off for elbowing an opponent. Newport also progressed to the FA Trophy quarter finals during this spell, thanks to comfortable wins over Worksop Town and Carshalton Athletic, where they will face either Northwich Victoria or Hampton & Richmond Borough.
The January transfer window finally gave manager Justin Edinburgh, who took over from sacked Alan Hudson in October, to reshape his squad and he took full advantage with seven new arrivals to Spytty Park. These included two familiar faces to City fans with the aforementioned Sandell joining, following a short spell with Southern League Chippenham Town, and striker Jake Reid who following his release by Blue Square Bet South side Salisbury City. They teamed up with Ryan Charles, Adam Chapman, Lee Minshull and Ramone Rose, the latter from Thai club Muangthong United. Not surprisingly there were also a number of departures from the club led by highly-rated Danny Rose’s move to league rivals Fleetwood Town. Misfiring striker Craig McAllister was shipped on loan to Luton Town whilst Tommy Doherty and Tom Miller were released, the former heading across the Severn Bridge to join City.
Although the game will take place at Spytty Park, Newport’s base since the 1994-95 season, the next time the clubs meet (in whichever league) could be at Rodney Parade, the current home of Newport RFC and the Newport Gwent Dragons. County have had problems with their pitch – described by chairman Chris Blight as a “disaster” and a “pudding” – all season and sought assurances from Newport City Council, which owns and runs Newport Stadium, that they will look into rectifying the situation. However, with estimates ranging from £100K to £500K to correct the problems the club has begun discussions to play at the City’s rugby home. Located in the centre of Newport, Rodney Parade has a capacity over twice the size of Spytty Park, including a newly built £4million stand. Currently the first game at the stadium looks set to be the Welsh derby against Wrexham next month although this has yet to be confirmed due to Newport’s continued involvement in the FA Trophy, with the semi-final first leg scheduled that weekend. If this is successful County have indicated they would consider a permanent move to the stadium.
Complete record against Newport AFC/Newport County
With City’s wait for an away league win now closing in on eleven months they will know that this run must end sooner rather than later if they are to begin closing the ten point gap between themselves and safety. However, as Newport are one of only three sides to suffer defeat to City in the Blue Square Bet Premier this season they should travel to South Wales with some confidence. The meeting at Twerton Park at the start of January saw the Exiles get off to a great start when Hughes’ 14th minute cross dipped over Jason Matthews into the City goal. Ten minutes later though Adam Connolly levelled for City before Sean Canham converted Lewis Hogg’s cross to make it 2-1 at half-time. Then within two minutes of the restart Scott Murray’s neat finish made it 3-1. On 54 minutes Warren headed home and with the wind behind them County piled on the pressure but City stood firm to secure a much needed victory.
The Gateshead postponement means City will still be without Gethin Jones and Sean Canham as they complete their three-match bans and new arrival Tommy Doherty will also be unavailable having an agreement not to face his former club.
City endured a wasted 600 mile round trip when their game at Gateshead was postponed due to a frozen pitch just one hour before kick-off. An initial pitch inspection yesterday afternoon passed the surface as playable, allowing the City squad to travel to their overnight base at Weatherby. However, with the temperature dropping below zero as forecast overnight match referee Tony Harrington eventually decided the surface was not going to thaw and finally called the game off at 2.05pm. Although Gateshead will have to cover City’s travelling expenses, Adie Britton’s men will now face a midweek trip to the North East and the supporters who made the long journey will get no such reimbursement.
City have signed former Northern Ireland international Tom Doherty (pictured) on non-contract terms. The experienced midfielder has been a free agent since being release by league rivals Newport County last month. He began his career with Bristol City, where he made over 200 appearances, before spells with Queens Park Rangers, Wycombe Wanderers and Bradford City. He will go straight into the squad for the long trip to Gateshead tomorrow.
City have rearranged their much postponed trip to Newport County for Tuesday 14 February (ko 7.45pm).
Weather permitting City will embark on the long trek to the North East to face Gateshead on Saturday as their plight at the foot of the Blue Square Bet Premier table begins to look more and more desperate. Three successive league defeats have left them ten points adrift of safety and a group of four teams on 28 points. In the most recent of these, at title chasing Wrexham, and the FA Trophy defeat against Grimsby Town on Tuesday, City have produced solid performances but with nothing to show from the games. In their perilous position they can no longer afford this lack of an end result and all connected with the club would no doubt take a dreadful performance at the Heed culminating with a fortunate 1-0 win, maybe thanks to a shocking referee decision in their favour to go a little way to evening the balance in this area.
For much of this season Gateshead have been punching well above their weight at the opposite end of the table from where City are languishing. They began the campaign in spectacular style taking 19 points from the first 21 available to sit joint top with Wrexham. Even though they couldn’t maintain this flying start until back to back defeats against Luton Town and Stockport County in October they remained in the play-off places. A run of three wins at the start of the year briefly lifted them back into the top 5 but they then became the first side to suffer defeat against Kettering Town since October before surrendering a two-goal lead versus Newport County to lose 3-2 in their last league outing two weeks ago, the Welsh strugglers scoring twice in the final six minutes to clinch the win. The Heed are still chasing FA Trophy glory after their last-16 tie with Alfreton Town was twice postponed in the last week.
Undoubtedly the star of their season so far has been striker Jon Shaw. The Yorkshire born front-man has netted 29 goals in 35 appearances which attracted the attention of fellow Conference Premier club Luton Town but he remained at the International Stadium and manager Ian Bogie will look to him to keep any play-off dreams alive. Bogie was one of the busier Conference managers during the transfer window bringing in midfielder Jamie Chandler and striker Liam Hatch league rivals Darlington for a nominal fee, striker Philip Airey from Newcastle United on a one-month loan and ex-Chelsea defender Carl Magnay following a successful trial. Even the closing of the window did not prevent one further addition ahead of the game against City, signing Republic of Ireland international Alan O’Brien after he returned to the North East following his release from Yeovil Town.
Complete record against Gateshead
Last year saw the clubs meet for the first time since the 1996-97 season with both games taking place within two days of each other in early April. The first encounter took place at Twerton Park where a Lee Phillips goal early in the second half separated the sides. Gateshead could feel slightly aggrieved at this result having dominated the game for long periods and looked set to gain their revenge just over 48 hours later when they went ahead on 14 minutes thanks to Fisher’s low shot. They spurned a number of chances to increase this lead and with just two minutes left were made to pay when Charlie Clough glanced home Scott Murray’s cross to make their long journey back to Somerset a little more enjoyable.
The City squad heading north will be bolstered by the return of Lewis Hogg and Mark Preece after their missed the FA Trophy defeat to Grimsby through suspension and being cup-tied respectively. New signing Tom Doherty should also be available if his international clearance has come through but Gethin Jones and Sean Canham will both still be missing as they complete their three match bans.
City can now focus all their attention on the fight for Blue Square Bet Premier survival after they surrended a 1-0 half-time lead to lose 2-1 to Grimsby Town in the FA Trophy 3rd Round. In complete contrast to the recent league meeting between the sides City matched the in-form visitors for the full 90 minutes and can consider themselves unfortunate not to have earned at least a draw from the game. Unsurprisingly the visitors started the game strongly but it was their keeper McKeown who was forced into making the first save of the evening, blocking Lee Phillips’ shot with his feet. On 33 minutes though he was powerless to deny debutant Chris Shephard a goal when his shot took a slight deflection after a neat turn. City were keeping a much tighter reign on Hearn, who netted a hat-trick in the previous meeting, although he did break these shackles shortly after the goal only for Glyn Garner to superbly push away his well-struck shot. The Mariners levelled eight minutes after the interval when Elding beat Garner to a free-kick to flick the ball home. It was clear the thought of a replay did not appeal to either side and Jim Rollo almost ended his long goal drought, heading a Shephard corner goalwards only for a defender on the line to clear the danger. And it was Grimsby who grabbed the winning goal ten minutes from time as Duffy was given too much space to bring down Artus’ cross and fire the ball into the roof of the net from eight yards out. Shephard almost sent the game back to Lincolnshire in stoppage time but McKeown got down well to turn his low shot away for a corner and ensure his side would face either York City or Ebbsfleet United in the quarter finals.
With all eight FA Trophy 3rd Round matches falling victim to the freezing weather at the weekend, sixteen teams entered the quarter-final draw today and the winner of tomorrow night’s rescheduled meeting between City and Grimsby Town will face either York City or Ebbsfleet United at home. With temperatures forcast to stay above zero between now and the game City are optimistic that there will be no further problems with the Twerton Park pitch but supporters are advised to check the club’s official website for updates.
After a pitch inspection today at 1pm, tomorrow’s FA Trophy 3rd Round match between City and Grimsby Town has been postponed due to a frozen pitch. The match has now been rescheduled for Tuesday 7 February (ki 7.45pm) at Twerton Park. The away match against Newport County previously scheduled for Tuesday night will now be rescheduled. Tomorrow’s Grand Re-opening celebration for the club bar, Charlie’s, will now not take place as scheduled. The visit of the Carling Cup and other festivities will now take place on another day to be announced soon. The Under 21 match between Bath City and Redditch United originally scheduled for 7 February at Twerton Park will also be rescheduled.
City will once again hope that the FA Trophy can provide a welcome relief from their increasingly desperate battle against relegation from the Blue Square Bet Premier when they face Grimsby Town at Twerton Park on Saturday with the tantalising prospect of a quarter-final spot on offer. The tie will also give City a chance to exact a measure of revenge for the 6-0 drubbing they suffered at the hands of the Mariners two weeks ago, although that does put the size of the task they face into context.
Grimsby saw two points to slip from their grasp in their next outing following the win over City – conceding a stoppage-time equaliser to ten-man Barrow – but they soon returned to winning ways with two goals in the final ten minutes to overcome AFC Telford United’s stubborn resistance at Blundell Park. This took their unbeaten league run to 13 games and moved them to within two points of the play-off places, a remarkable turnaround from the end of October when this spell began, when they were 13 points adrift and just four above the relegation zone. Unsurprisingly this form saw the Lincolnshire side secure both the Blue Square Bet Premier January manager and player of the month awards. Joint-managers Rob Scott and Paul Hurst picked up the former whilst striker Liam Hearn’s seven goals – including a hat-trick against City – during the month earned him the latter title.
There was considerable speculation during the transfer window that Hearn’s goalscoring exploits would lead to a move away from Blundell Park, with reported interest from the likes of Peterborough, West Brom, Leeds, Ipswich Town, Scunthorpe and even Premier League giants Chelsea. With rumours that the club was facing a financial shortfall of around £500,000 for the season, cashing in their prize asset seemed a possibility (one all City fans were praying for, no doubt) but this pressure was relieved on deadline day when former defender Ryan Bennett moved to Norwich City from Peterborough for a fee thought to be in the region of £2.5 million. With Grimsby entitled to 25% of any amount over the £500,000 they received for his services in January 2010 this should comfortably fund they promotion ambitions for the rest of the campaign. This means Hearn will be available to face City on Saturday, although somewhat ironically one half of the award-winning managerial duo, Rob Scott, will have to watch the game from the stands after picking up a two-game touchline ban for his behaviour during the previous meeting between the sides. He was sent to the stand by referee Amy Fearn during the second half which led to him saying, “I’m disappointed that a women’s got one over on me”, then trying to claim that his comment wasn’t sexist. His absence from the touchline will certainly not be missed by the City bench after captain Jim Rollo tweeted after the game that, “I’ve never met such a disrespectful person in the game. To his own players, the fans, the officials and to us.”
Whilst the Mariners were ensuring there were no departures during the closing stages of the transfer window they did strengthen their squad with the capture of Hayes & Yeading United winger Louie Soares – who has scored 16 goals in 34 games for the homeless Football Conference strugglers this season. City will at least be spared facing the new arrival as he is cup-tied along with teammates Ian Miller, Kiernan Hughes-Mason and Kenny Arthur. Injured skipper Craig Disley and Bradley Wood are also set to join the ineligible quartet and Scott in watching the game from the stand.
Complete record against Grimsby Town
The tie marks City’s first appearance in the last 16 of the competition since the 1995-96 season when they lost 2-1 to Bromsgrove Rovers in a replay following a 1-1 draw at Twerton Park. And they have to go back another six seasons for their one and only success at this stage when they took on Woking for a quarter-final place. Both clubs were flying high in their respective leagues – Woking in the Vauxhall League Division 1 and City a level higher in the Beazer Home League. The first match at Kingsfield finished 1-1 so the sides met again at Twerton Park three days later. A gale force wind blowing toward the Bath End favoured City in the first half and they took full advantage as a deflected free-kick from Gary Smart put them ahead on ten minutes before the same player’s wind assisted cross deceived Woking keeper Gray to make it 2-0 ten minutes later. City failed to increase their lead and when Tony Ricketts bundled over Pratt in the area just past the hour mark Wye pulled a goal back from the spot. Woking pushed forward in search of an equaliser but City stood firm, the closest escape coming when Wye’s free-kick struck the outside of the post, to secure a place in the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-0 at home to Stafford Rangers.
Even with the arrival of midfielder Chris Shephard on loan from Exeter City in the week, City’s playing resources will be stretched to the limit for the game. Gethin Jones, Sean Canham and Lewis Hogg are still unavailable due to suspension and they have been joined on the sidelines by in-form wideman Scott Murray after he picked up a hamstring injury against Wrexham last weekend that will see him missing for three weeks. His absence is likely to see Marley Watkins return to the starting XI assuming he suffered no reaction to his earlier than expected return to action in place of Murray during the 2-0 defeat in North Wales, but once again City are unlikely to be able to provide a full complement of substitutes for the game.
Charlie’s, the City club bar at Twerton Park, will be celebrating its grand re-opening this Saturday at 12.30pm. The bar has been extensively refurbished and the club will be celebrating the news in style with a series of fantastic events and special offers, including a visit from the world-famous Carling Cup. At 12.30pm, the Right Worshipful the Mayor of Bath, Councillor Bryan Chalker, will be on hand to cut the ribbon officially re-opening the bar. Immediately afterwards, fans can come inside and have their picture taken with the Carling Cup for free and enjoy the new look of the bar and the completely new pumping system designed to deliver crisper, colder pints of their favourite beers and lagers. At 3pm City vs Grimsby Town kick-off inside the ground for their important Third Round Proper tie in the FA Carlsberg Trophy, but as soon as the match is over the festivities resume in Charlie’s. The first hour after the match will be Happy Hour, with Carling, Thatchers Gold and Worthington’s Creamflow on sale for just £1.50 each. While fans are enjoying their discounted drinks there will be live entertainment, and the party will continue on into the night with a video-disco that will keep the place jumping until midnight. Admission is free to all events at Charlie’s this Saturday. The Carling Cup will be on site from 12.30pm until 3pm, and the video-disco is expected to commence at 7.30pm.
City have boosted their squad ahead of Saturday’s FA Trophy 3rd Round meeting with Grimsby Town by bringing in Exeter City midfielder Chris Shephard on a one month loan deal. With Gethin Jones, Sean Canham and Lewis Hogg all suspended for the game, and Scott Murray and Joe Burnell picking up knocks in City defeat at Wrexham last week, the 20-year old is a much needed new arrival. He came up through Exeter’s youth ranks and made his debut as a last-minute substitute in a 0-0 draw with Grimsby in October 2008. He spent two months on loan at Salisbury City from March 2010, making nine appearances and scoring two goals. He has broken into the Exeter first team this season, making 15 appearances including 11 starts.