February 2014

Phil Walsh makes return to City following Preece departure (28/2/14)

Following on from the departure of Mark Preece last Saturday, City have signed Phil Walsh on loan from Margate. Preece, who made 101 appearances for the Romans, left by mutual constent, and City would like to thank him for his service to the club and work with the Foundation and, as with all players that depart, wish him well for the future. 30-year old Walsh is returning to City, having spent three seasons at Twerton Park between 2005 and 2008. Playing mainly as a centre-forward he scored 25 goals in 106 games, but in recent years during spells with Dagenham & Redbridge, Barnet and Ebbsfleet United he has played largely in the centre of defence. Subject to FA and League clearances Phil will be available for the match at Bromley tomorrow.

In advance of the postponement of the Premier cup tie at Cheddar City registered goalkeeper, Lewis Pierre. Lewis is a product of the Bath City Academy and, as well as playing in City development squad matches since graduating from the Academy, has played for Paulton Rovers, Odd Down and Radstock Town in recent seasons.

New date for Cheddar Somerset Premier Cup quarter-final (27/2/14)

City’s Somerset Premier Cup quarter-final against Cheddar has been rearranged for Wednesday 12 March (ko 7.45pm) following it’s postponement earlier this week. The draw for the semi-finals have also been made and the winners of the tie will face a home game against Southern League Division 1 South & West Taunton Town in the last four of the competition, with Frome Town meeting either Paulton Rovers or Odd Down in the other semi-final.

PREVIEW: Bromley v CITY – Skrill South (27/2/14)

If City are to end their recent poor run of results they are going to have to do it the hard with games against two of the Skrill Conference South top sides in the space four days. Fourth placed Ebbsfleet United visit Mayday Trust Park next Tuesday but first City face a trip to South East London to meet league leaders Bromley. The Romans’ play-off ambitions have been dented by three successive defeats, all against clubs also in the hunt for a top five place, but a positive result against the Ravens would be a timely confidence boost as the 2013-14 season enters its penultimate month.

Bromley come into the game holding an eight point advantage over second placed Eastleigh, however they cannot afford a slip-up having played two games more than their Hampshire rivals. The clubs meet early in April in what could be a defining contest in the title race but before then they face ten vital games beginning with the visit of City. The campaign marks a major upturn of fortunes for Bromley, having never previously finished higher than 11th place during their six seasons at this level. Their home form has been particularly impressive, dropping just four points from a possible 39 so far, showing the size of the task facing City. The teams have already met at Mayday Trust Park, with Ravens edging City out by two goals to one back in mid-January. Since then Bromley have only played three further league games, beating Hayes & Yeading United and Boreham Wood at Hayes Lane by the same scoreline, 2-1. The latter game saw the hosts play for over an hour with ten men, after captain Swaine was dismissed for two bookings. They were already two goals ahead at this stage and, although the Wood pulled a goal back with 20 minutes left, Bromley stood firm to hold on for the important win. In-between Mark Goldberg’s side were on the wrong end of probably the biggest surprise result in the Skrill Conference South so far this season, when they lost 3-2 to then bottom club Dorchester Town. The Magpies came into the match having lost six of their previous seven league games but they adapted much better to the difficult playing conditions and two goals from debutants Nathan Craig and Ashley Yeoman either side of half-time put them in control of the game. The home side could have increased their advantage but with eight minutes left May netted to make it 2-1. And it looked as if Bromley had rescued a point on 87 minutes when Denis curled home an equalising goal. However, the Magpies had the last laugh thanks to Gleeson’s thumping finish. A couple of days later Eastleigh suffered a similar shock defeat at Tonbridge Angels but Bromley will know they cannot afford too many more results like the Dorchester reversal.

Complete record against Bromley

Hayes Lane has not been a particularly happy hunting ground for City, their sole win in four attempts (although this is one more than they’ve managed at home against the Ravens) coming on the penultimate Saturday of the 2009-10 promotion season. They dominated the first half of the game but found home keeper Foderingham in excellent form. City did go in front on 18 minutes, Kaid Mohamed executing a great overhead kick after Lewis Hogg’s shot had come back off the bar, but Bromley’s no.1 denied City several times after this and thanks to Chris Holland’s own goal the game was level at the break. The second half was a scrappier affair but with 22 minutes left ‘Dutch’ redeemed himself, stabbing home Hogg’s free-kick from close range and this time they comfortably maintained this advantage to ensure they remained in control of their play-off destiny.

City will hope the free week they just enjoyed will have allowed a number of their players to recover from the knocks they have been carrying (and, in several cases, playing through). One player who definitely will be unavailable is striker Jake Reid as he is understandably prevented from facing his parent club during his loan spell with the Romans. City will also look to have a new central-defender in the squad following the release of Mark Preece last weekend.

City and Cheddar left cheesed off as County Cup tie postponed (26/2/14)

Tonight’s Somerset Premier Cup quarter-final between City and Cheddar at Bowden’s Park has been postponed. A new date for the tie will be announced in due course. The cancellation means City are next in action on Saturday when they travel to league leaders Bromley before fourth placed Ebbsfleet United visit Mayday Trust Park next Tuesday, as the Romans look to end their three game losing run.

PREVIEW: Cheddar v CITY – Somerset Premier Cup Quarter Final (24/2/14)

City return to Somerset Premier Cup action on Wednesday evening when they travel to Western League side Cheddar AFC with a semi-final place the reward for the victors. The tie will see the clubs meet for the first ever time and, in common with their extra-time win over Larkhall Athletic in the previous round at Mayday Trust Park, City are likely to field a side consisting of fringe first-team, academy and under-18 players.

The Cheesemen are playing their second season in the Western League having won promotion from the Somerset Senior League in 2011-12. After forming in 1892 they spent the majority of their history playing in the Cheddar Valley League and Weston and District League before joining the Somerset County League for the first time in 1982. In 1988–89 they finished third in Division Two and were promoted to Division One. However, they were relegated back to Division Two at the end of the 1992–93 season They returned to Division One after another third-place finish in 1997–98, and after winning Division One in 2003–04, were promoted to the Premier Division. In 2011–12 they finished second in the Premier Division, and were promoted to the Western League.

Their first season at that level ended with a creditable 11th place, though they have struggled somewhat this season and come into the game with City in 18th position. After four weeks without a league game they did enjoy a winning return to Western League action on Saturday at Westbury United, though. The home side took an early lead through Lanfear, but Cheddar got a deserved equaliser just before the half time break, when a Sam Jones effort was brilliantly blocked by the keeper and it was Adam Jones who followed up well to score from the rebound. Cheddar defended well in the second half, but on the break they always looked the more likely side to score. The all-important winning goal came on 80 minutes with a super strike from Sam Jones to give Cheddar a well-deserved 2-1 victory.

In the early 1950s a historic £1,500 move allowed the club to relocate to their current ground Bowdens Park. Various Football League clubs have played at Cheddar including Sheffield Wednesday, Portsmouth, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, all of whom beat The Cheesemen on their visit. The ‘shack’ then opened in 1981 as a licensed facility on the premises. This provided the foundation for future Somerset County League success, and was converted into the current clubhouse in 1987. Plans are underway to relocate Cheddar Football Club to a new site providing brand new state of the art facility, proving that the club continues to move in the right direction.

Late Basingstoke stunner sends City to third successive league defeat (22/2/14)

A stunning strike seven minutes from time condemned City to a third successive Skrill Conference South defeat against Basingstoke Town at Mayday Trust Park this afternoon. Smart’s swerving 25-yard shot was completely out of keeping with the rest of the game, where it took City 80 minutes to register a first shot on target and neither side looked likely to extend their season into the play-offs come April. The visitors did, at least, create several openings during the 90 minutes, although more often than not it was after City had cheaply given possession away. Dunn fired over the bar after three minutes and Jason Mellor was relieved to grasp McAuley’s shot at the second attempt. Mellor then blocked a Soares header before a rare chance for City saw Andy Watkins clear the bar after being set up by David Pratt. Neither keeper was really tested for the rest of the half and this continued to the case after the interval. Dragon’s keeper Wells was finally called into action on 80 minutes, falling on Stearn’s low shot, then moments later Mellor blocked Soares shot with his legs. Just when the game looked to be petering out to the second goalles draw between the sides this season Smart tried his luck from distance and won the points for his team.

PREVIEW: CITY v Basingstoke Town – Skrill South (20/2/14)

Having suffered defeats to two of their Skrill Conference South play-off rivals in the last week, City will look to avoid an unwanted hat-trick on Saturday when Basingstoke Town visit Mayday Trust Park. Despite the defeat at Weston Super Mare, City clung on to fifth place on goal difference to their conquerors but every team down to 16th placed Hayes & Yeading United have sufficient games in hand to overhaul the Somerset pair. Of course, they cannot all get maximum points from these games but it means City’s fate is far from in their own hands and a return to winning ways sooner rather than later is needed.

Basingstoke are one of the group of sides looking to close the gap on City, currently nine points back in 11th spot but having played five games fewer. Since the sides drew 0-0 in Hampshire back in January the Dragons have picked up four points from a possible twelve, although all have come on their travels. Three days after the stalemate they suffered a disappointing 3-1 home defeat to struggling Whitehawk but bounced back with a win at Eastbourne Borough by the same scoreline. However, if they hoped this would kick-start a winning run they were to be disappointed a week later when an early goal by Sutton United was enough to secure the victory. In their last outing they battled back from conceding a first minute goal to Boreham Wood to earn a share of the points thanks to Partridge’s first half strike. Despite the slowly improving weather their game at Farnborough in the week was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Complete record against Basingstoke Town

City have enjoyed the better of recent meetings in Bath, winning three and drawing one of the last four clashes with Basingstoke have to go back to 2007 for their last successful trip to Twerton Park. City had won four and drawn one of their opening five home games of the 2007-08 campaign, conceding just a single goal, but produced a lacklustre performance, taking an hour to get going by which time they were a goal down and chasing the game. Having weathered a lively start by Basingstoke, City looked in control of the match, although they only really threatened from set-pieces – twice striking the crossbar. They were then caught cold within three minutes of the restart – Charles nipping in ahead of Paul Evans to turn the ball into the net. After the visitors nearly doubled the lead eight minutes later City finally woke up, with substitute Phil Walsh the main instigator. However, an equaliser would not arrive for all City’s dominance – with Scott Rogers, Mark McKeever and Lewis Hogg all going close. Gethin Jones and Walsh also saw efforts hit the frame of the goal as it began to look like it wasn’t City’s day. This was confirmed when they had to play the last ten minutes with ten men – having used all their substitutes – and Lewis Hogg in goal after keeper Paul Evans was stretchered off with an ankle injury.

City’s ongoing injury problems mean it is likely to be a case of several players featuring despite being less than 100% fit. Ben Adelsbury (knee) and Joe Burnell (hamstring) are the main doubts with Sekani Simpson and David Pratt also carrying knocks, although both were named as substitutes against Weston Super Mare in the week.

Play-off hopes suffer setback with third Dover defeat of the season (15/2/14)

City’s poor recent run of results against Dover Athletic continued this afternoon as two second half goals saw them return empty-handed from the long cross-country trip to Kent. Despite a strong wind blowing diagonally across the heavy, sloping pitch both sides created a number of openings during an evenly balanced first half. The first fell to the home side as Murphy latched on to a poor back header from Mark Preece but lifted the ball over the bar with Jason Mellor stranded. City responded with Josh Low picking out Noah Keats on the edge of the box only for the midfielder’s shot to flash the wrong side of the post. Mellor then got down well to save Cogan’s low effort before David Pratt’s fired in a shot that White’s keeper Walker pushed around the post. City were looking the more threatening side in attack now and Keats again went close to giving them the lead, after further good work from Low. The interval saw the injured Ben Adelsbury, who was having one of his best games in a City shirt, replaced by Chris Allen and the change appeared to disrupt City’s midfield control. And on 53 minutes the hosts went ahead through Cogan’s close range finish after Mellor had produced a great double save to deny Murphy. City were desperately unlucky not to level the scores moments later when Low’s cross was turned onto the foot of the post via Jake Reid and a defender but with 25 minutes left the impressive Modeste reached a through ball just ahead of Mellor to lift it into the net. City never looked like finding a way back into the game after this – in fact, the hosts spurned several chances to increase their tally – to leave them on the wrong end of a third result against the Whites this season.

Penalty clause condemns City to rare Weston Super Mare defeat (19/2/14)

City suffered a second 2-0 Skrill Conference South defeat in the space of three days last night against Weston Super Mare. As with the loss at Dover Athletic on Saturday both goals came in the second half but the result turned on two penalty decisions, which City came out on the wrong side of both times. The home side started well, Jason Mellor pushing Kington’s shot against the post and always looked the more threatening as the half progressed. Hemmings also struck the frame of the goal but City looked to have earned a great chance to open the scoring midway through the half when Jake Reid was clearly pushed over in the box but the referee astonishing waved away the penalty appeals. City did end the half strongly but after the interval the Seagulls regained control of the game. Chances continued to come and go, with City restricted to the occasional break, and with 14 minutes left Weston finally broke the deadlock when Andy Gallinagh was ajudged to have deliberately handled Ingram’s cross despite being no more than a few yards away with his back turned. Kington took full advantage of his side’s luck and although City battled hard for an equaliser after this they couldn’t find a way past keeper Irish and Grugg added a second goalin the final minute.

PREVIEW: Weston Super Mare v CITY – Skrill South (16/2/14)

After returning empty-handed from the further Skrill Conference South trip of the season to Dover on Saturday, City will hope for a more positive outcome when they head to their nearest league rival Weston Super Mare on Tuesday evening. The 2-0 defeat in Kent saw City slip to 5th place and they will be keen to avoid another of their play-off rivals gaining ground on them, with the Seagulls currently sitting two places and three points behind, both sides having played a division leading 28 games.

The fixture was originally scheduled for New Year’s Day but fell victim to the weather so the clubs will be hoping for better luck this time. Since the turn of the year Weston has kept pace with the play-off chasing pack, recording wins over Tonbridge Angels, Eastleigh and Maidenhead United, a draw at Ebbsfleet United, and defeats to Gosport Borough and Sutton United. The last of these was a disappointing 3-0 loss on Saturday at Gander Green Lane. The hosts had not played a home game since Boxing Day but their pitch was finally passed as playable. However, the understandably heavy surface, along with gale force winds, made the conditions challenging for both sides. With the wind at their back it was Sutton who settled first, opening the scoring on 19 minutes before doubling their lead six minutes before the break. Weston enjoyed greater possession in the second half but couldn’t turn this into goals and Sutton completed the victory on 78 minutes with a third goal.

Complete record against Weston Super Mare

City will hope for a similar outcome to their trip to the seaside town last season. Despite coming into the game on the back of three successive defeats City recorded an emphatic 4-1 win. It took them just eight minutes to go in front when a great run and cross from Josh Low was converted by Tom Nichols to open his account for the club. And four minutes later it got even better for City as Charlie Griffin headed home a Low corner to make it 2-0. The home side got back into the game after 26 minutes when Gethin Jones tripped Price in the box and Ross Stearn fired the penalty past Jason Mellor. The second half saw the Seasiders press in the early stages but it was City who grabbed the vital next goal, Low heading a 70th minute cross from Noah Keats into the net. And the convincing victory was sealed in stoppage time when substitute Mike Stephenson shot home following good work from Nichols and Kerry Morgan.

Play-off hopes suffer setback with third Dover defeat of the season (15/2/14)

City’s poor recent run of results against Dover Athletic continued this afternoon as two second half goals saw them return empty-handed from the long cross-country trip to Kent. Despite a strong wind blowing diagonally across the heavy, sloping pitch both sides created a number of openings during an evenly balanced first half. The first fell to the home side as Murphy latched on to a poor back header from Mark Preece but lifted the ball over the bar with Jason Mellor stranded. City responded with Josh Low picking out Noah Keats on the edge of the box only for the midfielder’s shot to flash the wrong side of the post. Mellor then got down well to save Cogan’s low effort before David Pratt’s fired in a shot that White’s keeper Walker pushed around the post. City were looking the more threatening side in attack now and Keats again went close to giving them the lead, after further good work from Low. The interval saw the injured Ben Adelsbury, who was having one of his best games in a City shirt, replaced by Chris Allen and the change appeared to disrupt City’s midfield control. And on 53 minutes the hosts went ahead through Cogan’s close range finish after Mellor had produced a great double save to deny Murphy. City were desperately unlucky not to level the scores moments later when Low’s cross was turned onto the foot of the post via Jake Reid and a defender but with 25 minutes left the impressive Modeste reached a through ball just ahead of Mellor to lift it into the net. City never looked like finding a way back into the game after this – in fact, the hosts spurned several chances to increase their tally – to leave them on the wrong end of a third result against the Whites this season.

Striker Reid returns on loan from league leaders Bromley (14/2/14)

City have boosted their injury hit squad with the loan signing of striker Jake Reid from Skrill Conference South leaders Bromley. The 26-year old had a short spell with the Romans at the start of the 2010-11 season before joining Salisbury City. More recently he switched from Hayes & Yeading United, where he was the club’s top scorer, to Bromley. He will go straight into the squad for tomorrow’s long trip to Dover Athletic.

PREVIEW: Dover Athletic v CITY – Skrill South (13/2/14)

City will brave the elements to cross the southern half of the country on Saturday looking for a fourth successive Skrill Conference South victory. However, if they are to make it twelve points out of twelve in February they will have to overcome a Dover Athletic side who have already beaten them twice this season. No doubt both sides will hope that the continued dreadful weather sweeping across the UK will not intervene, but the Kent side have expressed complete confidence that the game will go ahead after investing in a blotter to assist with removing any standing water from their Crabble home.

When the sides met at Mayday Trust Park back in September the Whites were languishing in 15th place, having lost their previous four league games. The win over City ended this run and was followed by victories over Dorchester Town and Eastbourne Borough plus a draw against Havant & Waterlooville, all without a goal conceded. They also progressed to the 1st Round proper of the FA Cup during this spell where they met Southern League side Corby Town. Goals from Elder and Kinnear helped them to a 2-1 victory and a 2nd Round trip to League 1 MK Dons. The Whites missed out on a 3rd Round place though as a single goal was enough to end their FA Cup dreams. With the FA Trophy also providing a series of positive results (including the second win over City) and a number of postponements they played just two league games – a loss at Basingstoke Town and win over Chelmsford City – in six weeks, which not surprisingly saw them slip back down the table. Their return to league action saw back to back home defeats against the top two Skrill Conference South sides, Bromley and Eastleigh, but since then they have lost just one further league game and they now sit in eighth place, but with games in hand on most of the teams above them. Their last outing saw a straightforward 2-0 win over struggling Maidenhead United, the goals coming from Goulding, his seventh in just four games since joining Dover from Chelmsford City last month, and Wynter, remarkably his first strike in three and half years with the club.

Complete record against Dover/Dover Athletic

The two defeats this season mean City have now lost four games in a row to the Kent club. They have to go back to the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round tie in October 2011 for their last victory against Dover. With City rooted to the foot of the Conference Premier and Dover riding high in the Skrill Conference South it looked a very tricky tie for the Romans. However, City produced a battling performance that was not pretty but always effective in keeping the in-form home side at bay. With Sean Canham unavailable due to personal reasons and Lewis Hogg missing after picking up a foot injury in the pre-match warm-up it was the Kent side who started the game on top. However, in a sign of things to come they struggled to turn this dominance into goalscoring chances. Increasingly the Whites tactic of looking to retain possession rather than getting the ball forward played into City’s hands as their five man midfield pressured them into mistakes. From two of these Alex Russell and Marley Watkins should have done better and when Galllinagh headed narrowly over the bar it was City who had created the better openings. An optimistic flick by Purcell just before the break forced Glyn Garner into a finger-tip save although the ball looked to be curling wide. The decisive strike came within two minutes of the restart when Gethin Jones headed a Marc Canham corner onto the bar and Gallinagh nodded in the rebound. Lee Phillips’ volley almost gave City some breathing space six minutes later before Purcell went equally close for Dover. Not surprisingly the hosts had to go more direct now they were chasing the game but this approach proved no more effective as they failed to put City under any real pressure even during the five minutes of stoppage time.

Last Saturday’s 3-1 win over Whitehawk saw another addition to City’s lengthening injury list, Adam Connolly limping off after just 12 minutes with a calf injury. He joins Joe Burnell (hamstring), Sekani Simpson (groin) and Aaron Brown (Achilles) in the treatment room. With striker Andy Watkins and midfielder Ben Adelsbury also struggling for fitness, it is likely to be very stretched squad that makes the long trip to Kent.

Second half Whitehawk turnaround keeps City on the winning path (8/2/14)

City recovered from probably their poorest half of football this season to score three times after the interval and run out 3-1 winners against Whitehawk at Mayday Trust Park this afternoon. The tone of the first half was set in the opening ten minutes when City barely got a touch of the ball as the visitors belied their lowly position in the Skrill Conference South. Their dominance paid off in the 17th minute when Carew’s cross was turned home from close range by Mills. Even after the goal it was still the Brighton-based side who looked the more threatening although a surging run and shot from Dan Bowman did finally give Hawks keeper Winterton something to do. Ross Stearn replaced Adny Watkins at the break but there was little sign of a change in the balance of play as the second half progressed. However, on 64 minutes a moment of class drew City level and completely changed the course of the game. Whitehawk cleared a free-kick but only as far as Noah Keats whose first time shot from 25-yards flew into the roof of the net past the despairing dive of Winterton. And seven minutes later Josh Low flicked the ball into the path of Stearn to lift it past Winterton into the corner of the net. Low then netted City’s third goal in the 74th minutes, latching onto David Pratt’s header and beating Winterton with a scuffed shot. Scott Wilson almost added a fourth in the closing minutes but the win had been secured with the three-goal nine-minute burst and, with the weather once again decimating the Skrill Conference South fixture list, City climbed up to fourth place in the table.

Chelmsford City game to be inaugural “Bath City Community Day” (6/2/14)

Following on from Bath City’s successful “Pack the Park” day last season, which produced the season’s highest crowd, this year the club are planning a repeat event, but this time with more of a community emphasis. On Saturday 22nd March, when the Romans entertain Chelmsford City, kick off 3 pm, we plan to hold the inaugural “Bath City Community Day”, where all fans will be able to gain entry to the ground on a “Pay what you Want” basis. This concept has been trialled by other clubs with great success, and we are hoping for a bumper crowd for this game. To enable the club to do this Bath City FC are looking for businesses to act as match sponsors, for which not only will they receive an attractive package of benefits on the day, but also will see their names used on all pre-match publicity, as well as in the programme and over the tannoy on the day.

As part of the community aspect of the day, the club will be supporting the Cancer Care Centre at the RUH in Bath, by donating 10% of all the money taken at the gate to the Forever Friends Appeal.

Any businesses who would like to see their names associated with this event through sponsorship please call Bob Chester on 07786 092836 or the club on 01225 313247.

PREVIEW: CITY v Whitehawk – Skrill South (6/2/14)

City go in search of a third successive Skrill Conference South victory on Saturday when Whitehawk make their first ever trip to Mayday Trust Park. After failing to pick up a single win during the opening month of 2014 the Romans have secured maximum points from their two games in February to get their play-off hopes firmly back on track. Although they have now played more games than almost all their closest rivals the spate of postponements suffered by these clubs means they are likely to face a busy run-in to the season which could work to City’s advantage. Of course, to make sure they are in a strong position when the campaign reaches its business end they will need to keep winning, beginning with the visit of the struggling Brighton-based side.

The Hawks have endured a tough season both on and off the pitch as they look to consolidate at the highest level they have ever played following promotion as Ryman League champions last year. The ambitious club started life slowly in the Skrill Conference South, losing four of their opening five games. Back to back wins over Basingstoke Town and Chelmsford City in September looked to have stopped the rot but then a run of eleven games without a win left them down near the foot of the table. The club was then rocked when two of their players were charged with conspiracy to defraud as part of an investigation into match fixing in the UK. Michael Boateng and Hakeem Adelakun, who had both been regulars in the Whitehawk side, were immediately sacked by the club.

A 2-0 win at Eastbourne Borough on Boxing Day ended their winless run and they followed this up with a narrow defeat to league leaders Bromley. They then picked up four points from games against play-off chasing sides, Staines Town and Basingstoke Town, to climb out of the relegation zone. Their next outing ended in a 4-0 defeat to Chelmsford City though, which saw the club part company with manager Darren Freeman. He had been in charge for nearly five years, leading the club from the Sussex County League, and was clearly unhappy, telling the NLP, ““I am really, really disappointed. It’s not mutual consent, I have been fired. I categorically deny that I’m a quitter, I’ve not got it in me. We have had four years and eight months of great success. Three promotions and one play-off defeat in that time isn’t bad going. I take a lot of pride in my record here so this has devastated me. I think because of my record I deserved more time. There’s no question that I would have kept the team up. It was a new division to me, I needed bedding-in time but I’ve not been given that. We were getting players back from injury and we were starting to turn a corner.” He was initially replaced by director, and former Lewes boss, Kevin Keehan before Coiln Reed took over as caretaker manager. He couldn’t lead the side to victory in his first game in charge despite the Hawks opening the scoring after just two minutes at home to Eastbourne Borough. This lead only lasted ten minutes and a goal with 19 minutes left for the visitors secured the points.

Complete record against Whitehawk

The first ever meeting between the sides, back in October, saw City battle back from 2-0 to earn a point in a 2-2 draw. Injuries and suspension forced City into naming three youth team players on the bench and they got off to the worst possible start as Boetang was given far too much room to cross for an equally unmarked Robinson to fire home after just three minutes. City enjoyed the majority of possession after this setback but failed to turn this into clear cut openings and on 35 minutes Ross Stearn’s wayward pass allowed Gargan the chance to shoot across Jason Mellor and make it 2-0. The second half saw City play down the considerable slope at the Hawks basic Enclosed Ground home and eight minutes after the break a 20-yard shot from Noah Keats flicked off Josh Low to reduce the deficit. The home side twice went close to restoring their two-goal advantage before City levelled in the 65th minute. Moments after Whitehawk had a strong penalty appeal turned down Sekani Simpson burst into their box where he was felled by Robinson’s lunging challenge and this time the referee did point to the spot. Chris Allen blasted the penalty into the roof of the net for his second successful spot-kick in as many games. Both sides went in search of a winning goal after this, Mellor producing a stunning save from El-Ahb’s point blank header, before City fashioned several excellent positions only for the final pass or cross to go astray.

City could go into the game with their defensive resources depleted by injury. Sekani Simpson (groin) and Aaron Brown (Achilles) both missed Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Hayes & Yeading United and they were joined in the treatment room by Joe Burnell when he picked a hamstring problem during the first half. However, the match may see the return of Dan Ball after he was given the okay to play following six weeks sidelined with a fractured collar bone.

City overcome conditions and Hayes & Yeading to secure back to back victory (4/2/14)

At a wet and windy Kingsfield Stadium this evening City secured another vital victory in their Skrill Conference South play-off chase, with strikes from David Pratt and Andy Watkins seeing them past Hayes & Yeading United by two goals to nil. With landlords Woking having played the previous night the heavily sanded pitch also made passing football difficult but City adapted well to the conditions to record back to back wins for the first time since November. The early exchanges were largely even, although keeper Jason Mellor had to be alert on several occasions to keep the home side out. City suffered a setback on 35 minutes when Joe Burnell limped off with a hamstring injury and United put their reshuffled backline under considerable pressure after this. However, it was City who opened the scoring two minutes into first half stoppage time. A quickly taken corner gave Josh Low room to fire in a shot that came back off the inside of the post where Pratt was perfectly placed to turn the ball home. No doubt stung by this goal the hosts continued to enjoy the majority of possession after the interval but City stood firm and with 19 minutes left a ball forward was missed by Hayes’ centre-back pairing allowing Watkins to race clear and confidently slot home City’s second goal. The win keeps City in 5th place ahead of Saturday’s home match against Whitehawk.

PREVIEW: Hayes & Yeading United v CITY – Skrill South (2/2/14)

City will look to quickly build on their first win of 2014 when they travel to Surrey on Tuesday evening for the rearranged fixture against Hayes & Yeading United. With the weather once again accounting for well over half of Saturday’s Skrill Conference South fixtures – a fate City have yet to suffer at Mayday Trust Park this season – the Noah Keats inspired victory over Bishop’s Stortford lifted them five places up the table into the final play-off spot. They head a group of nine teams separated by just five points and the battle for a play-off place looks set to go the distance this campaign.

City were due to face United on the last Saturday before Christmas before a late cancellation meant a wasted journey for players, officials and supporters. At the time the home side were sitting in sixth place and looking to boost their play-off hopes with a win over City. However, since then Phil Babb’s side have lost four successive league games to slip down to 14th position, closer to the relegation zone than the promotion places. The former Liverpool defender has been busy in the transfer market as he looks to halt this alarming side. Striker Dan Thompson from Hampton & Richmond Borough and left sided player Steven Smith from league leaders Bromley were drafted in on Christmas Eve then strikers Derek Tieku (on loan from Crystal Palace) and Myles Hippolyte (formerly with Brentford) plus former United player Jack Pattison further strengthened his squad. The turn of the year did little to slow the influx of players into the club, 18 year-old winger Aiden Hawtin arrived via a youth loan deal from Oxford United, central defenders Ben Brown (a year older then Hawtin) joined after leaving Championship side Queens Park Rangers and Ben Gerring switched from Calor Premier side Bideford. A short term loan deal from another Calor Premier side Chesham United saw former Boreham Wood and St Albans striker Inih Effiong head to Kingsfield Stadium, then former fans favourite Daniel Wishart joined on a short term loan deal from Conference Premier side Alfreton Town before the final new face, striker Ryan Blake joined from Burnham. Remarkably this means United could field an entire team who weren’t with the club when the sides were due to meet in December, although as this would mean they were playing five strikers and no goalkeeper this probably won’t be the case.

Complete record against Hayes/Yeading/Hayes & Yeading United

If the on the pitch action has been disappointing for the club at least they finally appeared to receive some good news in the long running saga of their new ground last week. Work on the stadium stopped months ago and the club was involved in mediation with the building firm M.C. Contracting but Chairman Tony O’Driscoll announced that he had been given the go-ahead by his team of legal experts to find a new builder to restart the construction. Although the dispute with M.C. Contracting has not been sorted the news will be welcomed by United supporters as they continue their exile at Woking’s Kingsfield home. O’Driscoll also confirmed he had lined up a new naming rights deal for the ground after previous sponsor Sharda Glass, who signed a deal with United in December 2012, went into administration two months ago.

Keats on the double to fire City to first win of 2014 (1/2/14)

City’s wait for a first victory in 2014 ended this afternoon at Mayday Trust Park as a Noah Keats brace saw them edge past Bishop’s Stortford by two goals to one. In truth, the visitors can feel somewhat unfortunate to have not taken at least a point from the game and their woes were deepened when keeper Cowler was stretchered off with a serious leg injury late in the game. Jason Mellor had already been called into action and Andy Gallinagh cleared a header off the line before City went ahead in the ninth minute. Andy Watkins, who Stortford struggled to contain all afternoon, left Allen trailing in his wake before crossing for Keats to slide the ball home from six yards. The lead only lasted eleven minutes though as a free-kick on the right was turned past Mellor by Richens. Both sides fashioned further openings but the game reached the interval level. The second half continued in the same vein, with neither team able to get the upper hand, although the Blues did have the ball in the net on 70 minutes only for a linesman flag to halt the celebrations. Enver-Marum then saw a shot blocked on the line and Johnson blasted the ball over when well placed as Stortford began to look the more threatening side. So it was slightly against the run of play when Ross Stearn broke free on the right and, although Cowler parried his shot, Keats was perfectly placed to fire home the rebound. The keeper did deny Keats a hat-trick moments later before his game came to a premature end following a challenge by debutant Scott Wilson. Fortunately for the visitors they had a keeper on the bench in Wright and he blocked Wilson’s shot shortly after his arrival. This turned out to be the closest either side came to adding to the scoring, leaving City to celebrate ending their six game winless run and a five-place jump into the play-off positions.