The latest postponement of the Hendon against Cambridge City FA Trophy tie means City’s match against Stafford Rangers will take place this coming Saturday 2 February. The relegation clash which was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch last weekend replaces Stafford’s previously arranged game with Cambridge, who instead will make a fourth attempt to place their second round match. Any City fans wishing to travel on the supporters coach to Stafford, including those booked on for last Saturday, are asked to contact the club (01225 423087) during office hours or Martin Powell (01373 301143) between 7pm & 10pm.
At last night’s well-attended Fans Forum held at Twerton Park boss Alan Pridham issued an appeal to all City fans to play their part in the clubs battle against relegation. Commenting on the contrasting vocal support at home and away games, Pridham asked for the sort of backing the team received recently at Chelmsford to be repeated at home games. The meeting that lasted over an hour and a half saw Pridham, plus his assistant Andy Eisentrager, reserve team boss Dave Hobbs and goalkeeping coach Dave Burns, field a series of questions on City’s current plight in an honest and open manner that appeared to be well-received by the assembled fans.
The games involving the first team, reserve and youth side have all been postponed due to waterlogged pitches at Marston Road, Twerton Park and Stotherts respectively. A 10am pitch inspection at Stafford confirmed that City would not need to travel up the M5 for thier relegation clash with Rangers. And an hour later the table top match between City’s second string side and Frome Town went the same way. The Stafford Rangers match may be rearranged as early as next Saturday, when City have no game and Stafford are due to play Cambridge City. However, if Cambridge beat Hendon on Tuesday in a rearranged FA Trophy tie they will play in the 3rd Round of that competition on that day. I will confirm this as soon as I know.
Mike Davis’ loan spell at City, that ends after tomorrows clash with Stafford Rangers, may become a permanent move after his current club Basingstoke Town agreed to release the former Bristol Rovers player on a free transfer. The Ryman League side initially wanted a transfer fee for Davo but after manager Alan Pridham made it clear City could not afford the 27-year old at any price they agreed to release him from his contract. The two will now sit down and try to agree personal terms.
With their dreadful home record and traditional lack of success in the Southern League Cup it was no surprise that City made their exit from the competition in a 2-0 defeat against Dorchester Town at Twerton Park tonight. However, the bigger blow of the evening came when Paul Milsom was carried off with an ankle injury. The big striker, who only returned to the side on Saturday after a four-match suspension, was injured in the first half and now looks extremely doubtful for City’s vital clash at Stafford Rangers on Saturday. The match itself saw a goal in each half seal victory for the Magpies, with City again creating chance after chance but failing to find the net. The closest they came was with 15 minutes remaining when Adrian Foster saw his shot come back off the bar.
For the second successive home game City were left empty-handed despite outplaying the opposition for long periods, but with another penalty shocker they only really have themselves to blame for the defeat. Second place (er, how?) Tamworth raced into a two goal lead with their first two attacks, Turner beating Hervin from close range and Colley scoring a spectacular 25-yard effort. From then it was all City and as half-time approached they spurned two great opportunities to get back into the game. First, Milsom saw his shot blocked on the goalline after Davis had turned a Drysdale cross into his path, and moments later they were awarded a penalty after a Lambs defender handled. However, in an almost carbon copy of the miss against Hinckly two weeks ago, Williams saw his kick saved by the keeper and, with the goal gaping, Davis blasted the rebound wide. The loan striker made up for this miss ten minutes after the break, heading home Williams’ cross, but despite chances for Milsom, Davis, Foster, Gosling and Harvey, City couldn’t find the vital second goal. With both Cambridge and Stafford winning the defeat again leaves City nervously looking over their shoulder at the relegation zone.
A Fans Forum will be held in Charlies at Twerton Park on Monday 28 January, where all City supporters will be given the chance to put questions to manager Alan Pridham, assistant manager Andy Eisentrager and reserve team boss Dave Hobbs. This follows the successful forum that was held shortly after Pridham’s arrival at City back in June and will give the City boss a chance to reply in person to the criticism he has faced on the web page forum.
The loophole that saw City lose a possible five-figure transfer fee when Scott Walker moved to Newport County is set to be closed by the Dr Martens League. When Walker made the switch to the Welsh side just before the start of the season City were expecting to receive over £10,000 for the talented left-back but despite Newport playing in the same league they were classed as a foreign side. This meant that under the Bosman Rule Walker could move without a fee being paid. At the time City vowed to fight to remove this anomaly and at the recent Dr Martens League meeting it was agreed to close the loophole.
The latest proposal to reorganise non-league football may see City take a place in a new National League South for the 2003/04 season. The changes, that were unveiled recently by the FA, will see the Conference remain unchanged but two new feeder leagues, National League North and South, replace the current set-up of Unibond, Dr Martens and Ryman Leagues. The two new leagues would each still have one promotion place to the Conference but with an additional play-off system to allow for a further promotion spot. Membership to National League south would be based on a number of criteria, including finance, ground facilities, community links and league position in the proceeding seasons.
City’s second string returned to the top of the Screwfix Western League Division One last night with a 3-0 victory over Calne Town at Twerton Park. In a game that was every bit as comfortable as the scoreline suggests goals from Bradley Thomas, Mark Rowlands and Owen Bryan secured the win.
City have rearranged two of their forthcoming fictures. The clash with Newport IOW that was postponed on New Years Day will now take place at Twerton Park on Tuesday 5 February. And the home match against Welling United that was originally scheduled for Saturday 2 February will now take place on Tuesday 12 February due to the Kent sides continued involvement in the FA Trophy. Both games will kick off at 7.45pm.
In contrast to recent games City were the beneficiaries of late goals as two strikes in the final five minutes from Lee Collier, his first for the club, and Andy Williams saw them record a 3-1 win over Chelmsford City. The match appeared to be heading for a draw before this as a 75th minute header from Hockton for the home side had cancelled out Jamie Gosling’s stunning first half strike. The midfielder – who appears to be finding his form again after sorting out his differences with manager Alan Pridham – collected the ball twenty yards before unleashing a left-foot drive that flew into the top corner after 26 minutes. Jason Drysdale – back in the side after injury – had also gone close with a 25-yard free kick and City deservedly went into the interval ahead. However, the second half saw the Clarets come back into the game and it was no surprise when they levelled from a right wing corner. Despite having conceded late goals in their last three games City looked to regain their lead – the home side appearing more content with the level scoreline – and on 87 minutes this approach paid dividends. Gosling carried the ball toward the area before laying it off to Collier and his low drive sent City’s travelling fans in rapture. Chelmsford now had to come forward and, as the game entered it’s eighth minute of stoppage time a hurried clearance by Hurst fell to Williams and his run on goal ended with him slotting the ball under the offending keeper.
In a welcome break from their league troubles City recorded a 2-0 victory over Swansea City in their hastly arranged friendly at Twerton Park this evening. They also received another boost with the goalscoring return of striker Graham MacLean as a second half substitute. In his first appearance since October MacLean put City ahead in the 62nd minute before top scorer Adrian Foster added a second after 83 minutes. The match also saw new City goalkeeper Ray Johnston put in an impressive performance.
Despite dominating the match for long periods City stumbled to another home defeat as two late Hinckley United goals saw the visitors leave Twerton Park with all the points. An injury penalty from loan striker Gareth Hopkins was no more than a consolation for City as they paid for failing to turn possession into goals. Apart from a brief spell right at the start of the game Hinckley had looked by far the poorest side to face City this season and when Andy Williams was felled in the box midway through the first half they should have taken advantage of this. However, Gary Thorne’s penalty was saved by Taylor and he could only tamely fire the rebound straight at the prone keeper. The second period followed a similar pattern with Iain Harvey and Jamie Gosling impressing particularly but as they began to tire the Leicestershire side finally came into the game, and it was almost predictable when a close range shot gave them the lead with eight minutes remaining. A free header four minutes later doubled their advantage. Even when Hopkins proved more successful from the penalty spot, following a pull on Mike Davis, and nearly five minutes more stoppage time for Hinckley’s continual time-wasting City could not find another strike to gains something from the game.
City have arranged a friendly against Swansea City at Twerton Park on Tuesday 8 January with a 7.45 kick off. Entrance will be £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.
I must apologise for the lack of website over the Christmas and New Year period. This was because of a problem with my ISP not renewing the domain registration despite receiving payment well in time, so please direct any complaints toward them rather than me (Martin!).
This afternoon’s Dr Martens Premier Division match against Newport Isle of Wight has unsurprisingly fallen victim to the freezing weather. After several nights hard frost a 10.30 pitch inspection this morning confirmed the inevitable that the Twerton Park pitch was unplayable. The postponement means City are next due to be in action on Saturday against Hinckley United.
As expected teenage keeper Liam Bull has left City to join Western League Premier Division side Team Bath. The former England schoolboy international, who criticised manager Alan Pridham last week over his lack of first team opportunities and the clubs training methods, moved to the University based side in time to make his debut against Keynsham on Saturday. Another reserve player leaving Twerton Park is Simeon Allison, who joins cousin Sam at Clevedon Town.