Not surprisingly given the weather of the last week today’s clash with Nuneaton Borough at Manor Park has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. A inspection of the pitch at 9.15am by a local referee deemed it unplayable and the game with be rearranged in due course. The cancellation means City are next in action on Tuesday 3 February when they have the opportunity to gain revenge over their early season seven goal conquerors Worcester City at Twerton Park.
Over 50 supporters braved the wintery conditions last night to quiz City boss Gary Owers during a two-hour meeting held at Twerton Park. A large number of the questions concerned the search for a striker to end the teams goalscoring struggles and the extent of the problems Owers has faced were made clear. He said, “I’m making hundreds of phone calls each week and it’s something we’re working on day in, day out. I’ve spoken to all the League and Conference clubs around the area and further afield. It’s a bad time of year to try to get players and those players being pushed our way are the ones that nobody else wants. If there was someone we could get who I felt could do a job for us up front then I would take a chance on him. The board have told me that if I could sign a player who is going to get us out of trouble they will pay it.” He also confirmed that despite matching Merthyr Tydfil’s accepted bid of £2000 for former City striker Martin Paul and the player, who scored 96 goals in 209 appearances between 1996 and 2001, prepared to join City, Chippenham Town are refusing to agree to a deal.
The snow that swept across Bath at around 5pm last night also put pay to the Severnside match against Newport County at Twerton Park.
In a move reminisant of Martin Paul’s departure from City back in May 2001, where he cited work commitments as the reason for leaving only to sign for Newport County the next week, defender Adam Howarth has joined Western Division Gloucester City a few days after his Twerton Park exit to concentrate on his studies.
With over 450 minutes having passed since City’s last goal, the reason the side lie rock bottom of the Dr Martens Premier Division is clear. However, manager Gary Owers’ search for a striker to bring an end to this drought has been as frustrating and fruitless as his team’s goalscoring efforts. Two possible targets eluded the former Sunderland midfielder within the last week. Mangotsfield United’s Darren Edwards, sent off for an altercation with Matt Coupe when the two sides met in the FA Trophy earlier this season, choose fellow Dr Martens Premier Division outfit Tiverton Town over City and local rivals Chippenham Town have refused to allow former City top scorer Martin Paul to make a return to Twerton Park. A third unnamed target from another Western Division club turned down the chance to join City due to their league position.
Owers will face City fans in a Meet the Manager event on Wednesday 28 January. The meeting will begin at 8.15pm rather than 7.30pm as originally planned due to a Severnside League game taking place at Twerton Park that evening. Newport County are the opposition in a match kicking off at 7.30pm.
Centre-back Mike Trought is facing six weeks on the sidelines after his knee injury was diagnosed as ruptured ligaments.
City failed to score for the fifth game in succession today which meant a single 2nd half strike by Sanders was enough to send Moor Green back to Birmingham with a 1-0 victory under their belt. The goal was against the run of play but, once again, a limited side easily contained City’s attacking efforts and once they’d benefitted from a lucky break in the box the outcome never looked in doubt. Jason Eaton and Frankie Bennett had produced decent first half shots and Gary Owers sent an effort crashing against the post in the second, but City could have little complaint about the end result.
Two absentees from this afternoon’s defeat were new signing keeper Paul Evans and defender Adam Howarth. Evans was sidelined with a cracked rib sustained during his debut at Weymouth on Tuesday. And Howarth has left the club to concentrate on his studies.
The one bright spot from City’s Dr Martens Cup exit at Weymouth on Tuesday night, trialist keeper Paul Evan’s performance, has earned the former Sheffield Wednesday shot-stopper a contract with City until the end of the season. The South African born 30-year old began the season with Rushden & Diamonds before being released in December. He has also played for Leeds United, Huddersfield Town and Bradford City, plus Witts University and Jomo Cosmos in his native country.
If a penalty kick is awarded to Weymouth FC, either through a one of the ten offences that consitute a direct free-kick or, more commonly, as the result of a ‘Claridge’ (see appendix 2 – Diving in the Box), the referee shall ensure that a goal is scored. Should the keeper save the penalty kick the referee will immediately order it to be retaken until the taker is capable of actually scoring from 12 yards. This rule is in accordance with the FA policy of ensuring Weymouth FC are allowed to “Live the Dream”.
The above geniune* clause helped condemn City to a 4th Round Dr Martens Cup exit at Weymouth last night. Having got the league leaders out of jail back in September to ‘earn’ them a 3-3 draw they once again benefitted from a twice taken penalty kick to move into the quarter finals of the competition. The Terras led through a 31st minute looping header from Laws, before the goalscorer threw himself to the ground just after the hour mark. Trialist keeper Paul Evans pushed away Buckle’s first kick but was beaten by the second effort. Prior to this the 6’5 South African keeper had kept City in the game with a number of excellent stops. City had shown little in reply, although with just a single goal deficit were still in the game. That was until “The Weymouth Clause” was called into action.
In addition to ex-Sheffield Wednesday and Rushden keeper Evans, City also fielded a second trialist in the shape of Laurie Biggs, a left-back formally at Tranmere and Scarborough, who came on as a 77th minute substitute.
*For genuine read not genuine
Weston had one shot on target. It was by Lewis Hogg in the 32nd minute. It went in. City dominated the second half. They played some neat football at times. They didn’t score. Oh, and Weston had a player sent off in stoppage time. Possibly Matthew Rose. But I’m not sure and don’t really care. Goodnight.
Last seasons player of the year Andy Williams is hoping to be back in training by mid to late February following an operation to cure his long-standing hernia problem last week. The former Welsh International had the procedure carried out by one of the countries top surgeons in Manchester after the City Supporters Club paid half the £2700 cost, the rest was funded by the PFA. The same problem had forced the 26-year old to retire from the professional game in 2000 after spells with Southampton and Swindon Town and despite surgery back then he suffered a recurrance of the problem at the start of this season. Williams played in all but two of City’s opening 12 games of the season but it was clear that the injury was preventing him recapturing last seasons form and the decision was made to go under the knife.
Whilst one current player battles his way back to fitness, a former one is also looking to a return to action after an even greater injury fight. Defender Chris Honor suffered a cruciate ligament injury during City’s 5-0 defeat at Stafford Rangers back in April. Following sugery on his right knee and nine months on the sidelines the ex-Bristol City player is back in training and is now looking for a club with which to resurrect his career.
Last nights draw at Cambridge saw former Oxford United and Sheffield United midfielder Bobby Ford make his debut for City. The The 29-year old has signed on non-contract terms after joining in the with the last few training sessions at Twerton Park. He featured in City’s opening pre-season friendly back in the summer after being released by the U’s where he made well over 300 appearances but he choose take a break from the game. However, when he indicated he was ready to play again Bristol-based Ford was quickly snapped up by Gary Owers.
City’s elusive search for an away league win continued last night as they battled out a goalless encounter with Cambridge City. Returning to Milton Road, the scene of their last on the road Dr Martens League success back on February 8 last year, City were the stronger side in the first half, Josh Jeffries twice going close and debutant Scott Partridge missing a great chance just before the interval. The second period saw the home side on top for long periods although Darren Hawkins almost grabbed a goal against the run of play late one. The game also saw Jeffries and Mike Trought limp off and both are now doubtful for Saturday’s vital trip to Weston Super Mare.
City completed an unwanted double this afternoon with their second cup exit at the hands of a Ryman League Division 1 opponent this season. Having gone out of the FA Cup back in October to North Division Thame United they crashed to a single goal defeat against South Division Staines Town to end interest in the FA Trophy for another year. It was yet another poor away day performance by City as they rarely looked capable of finding a way back into the game after Staines had gone ahead in the 11th minute – Mark Bryant’s weak punch being lashed home by Pye. The keeper did redeem himself with two excellent stops before the interval as the home side threatened to run away with the game. The second half saw City dominate possession but only two efforts from Darren Hawkins – the second another stunning shot from near the halfway line – ever tested Town keeper Lovett. The game ended with a further blow for City as in stoppage time Mike Trought received his second red card of the season for pulling down Ibe just as he was about to fire into an empty net. Bryant saved Maskell’s penalty kick but this made no difference as seconds later the final whistle blew.
Midfielder Mitch Counsell has had his contract cancelled by mutual consent. The former Worcester City player – who has been sidelined with injury in recent weeks – signed for City back in August and made 16 appearances, scoring a single goal against Stafford Rangers. The reason for his departure has not been hade public.
Bristol City have agreed to extend the loan period of teenage midfielder Darren Hawkins for a second month. The 19-year old has made a tremendous impact at Twerton Park with four goals in five outings following his arrival from Ashton Gate in December. He will line-up against Staines Town tomorrow as City attempt to reach the last 32 of the FA Trophy for the first time since the 1991-92 season but will miss Tuesday’s league trip to Cambridge suspended after his red card at Newport on New Years Day.
City have signed striker Scott Partridge from Dr Martens Premier Division league leaders Weymouth on a free transfer. The experienced 29-year old joined the Terras in the summer from Rushden & Diamonds but struggled to earn a regular starting place ahead of player manager Steve Claridge. He has made around 300 league appearance in a widely-travelled professional career, scoring 54 goals in that time, for clubs including Bristol City, Cardiff City and Brentford. He will be unavailable for tomorrows FA Trophy tie at Staines Town (cup-tied and not signed in time!) but should make his debut in the league match at Cambridge City next Tuesday.
Second half goals from Jim Rollo and Darren Hawkins, his fourth in five games since arriving from Bristol City on loan, saw City deservedly beat Hednesford 2-0 this afternoon at Twerton Park. The result sees City climb above Chippenham Town and off the bottom of the Dr Martens League. After an early scare when keeper Mark Bryant failed to claim a through ball, City always held the upper hand, although it looked like their failings in front of goal would again cost them. However, Rollo’s volley from the edge of the box finally gave the a breakthrough after 62 minutes. Frankie Bennett appeared to have doubled the lead on 78 minutes when he slid the ball home after collecting a back pass when coming back onto the pitch after leaving it to stay onside. This was disallowed and Bennett bizarrely received a yellow card for his efforts. This was forgetten though with five minutes remaining as Hawkins took advantage of some woeful defending to coolly slot the ball home. The news that Chippenham had maintained their winless home record meant City climb one place up to 21st and can look forward to their 10 day break from league action as no longer the worst team in the DML.
The hope that a new year would bring a change in City’s fortunes was dashed at the first outing as they contrived to outplay Newport County for the majority of this afternoons clash but end up on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline. The first half was especially one sided as City’s neat passing on a dreadful pitch tore the home side apart time and again. However, it was the familiar story as City failed to turn this advantage into goals and they were punished for this when Phillip’s shot put County ahead 10 minutes after the interval. City continued to dominate even after this and their persistence was finally rewarded on 73 minutes when Frankie Bennett was pulled to the ground in the area and Darren Hawkins fired home the penalty. The joy of thislasted only three minutes as first goalscorer Hawkins was sent off for a second booking and from the free-kick Moralee, despite looking several yards offside, beat Mark Bryant from close range. City threw caution to the wind after this but couldn’t find a way through and had several close escapes as the Exiles looked to catch them on the break.
Keeper Mark Bryant was restored to the starting line-up today after Woking recalled Ryan Northmore. He warmed the bench during their Conference clash with Barnet this afternoon.