January 2010

PREVIEW: CITY v Weston Super Mare – Blue Square South (31/1/10)

City will hope to follow up their maiden win of 2010 at St Albans City yesterday with another vital three points as Weston Super Mare make the short journey to Twerton Park on Tuesday evening. A victory over the rock-bottom Seagulls could lift City to as high as 7th place just two points off the coveted play-off positions. The meeting between the clubs had originally been scheduled for New Years Day but it was postponed in controversial circumstances just an hour before kick-off. The exact circumstances that led to this late decision have, up until now, been unclear but I can now publish a transcript* of the chain of events that took place. (Note the swearing has been removed as befits the family nature of this website).

EXT: Twerton Park car park at about 1.30pm on Friday 1 January 2010. Weston Super Mare FC team coach pulls up and after a few moments Chris ‘Smithy’ Smith (CS) climbs slowly down the steps and limps toward the tunnel where patiently waiting is referee Mr Anthony Coggins (AC).

CS: Wotcha, Coggsy. Sorry it’s taken me a while to get from the coach, I broke me leg playing for this bunch back in the early 1990s. I ran it off and was fine for the next game but it still gives me the odd twinge on cold days.
AC: Okay.
CS: Right, I guess the game’s off then, Coggsy, so I’ll be back on the coach and see you again in the summer when it’ll be nice and warm.
AC: Err, hang on, the game’s on. Everything is fine.
CS: (looks puzzled) You are pulling my plonker, right? It’s rock hard, look. (He stamps his foot on the ground). This won’t take a stud.
AC: Ummm, no but we are in the car park.
CS: Even so if it’s this hard out here what’s the pitch going to be like?
AC: Well, actually, it’s fine. I’ve been on it and my bed is harder. The ground-staff have done a brilliant job.
CS: (looks worried) Seems a bit unlikely. I hope you’re not telling me porkies.

At that moment there is a shout from the team coach as Andy ‘Gurner’ Gurney (AG) pokes his head out of the door.

AG: Hey, Bruv, come on hurry up. Randy’s got one right – it’s game on.
CS: Give us a second, Bruv. The ref’s insisting I look at the pitch. Back in a mo.
AC: Come on then I’ll show you.

The pair of them head off up the tunnel.

EXT: Twerton Park pitch. City players are out warming up as Chris ‘Smithy’ Smith (CS) and Mr Anthony Coggins (AC) come up out of the tunnel and walk a few yards onto the pitch. AC pokes his car keys into the pitch then spends several minutes digging them back out the lush, soft turf.

AC: See, so soft I nearly lost the keys to the Mondeo there. Reckon it could be a classic game today. Especially with me in charge.
CS: (looks even more worried) Well, see the thing is we’re a bit light on players today and me and me Bruv was hoping the game would be off.
AC: Hang on, I thought you had a squad of about 50 players at Weston.
CS: Yes, well, obviously we do. Money grows on trees down Woodspring Park way, but a few of them aren’t available today. You see, when we left early today some of the lads started a game of Trivial Pursuit and so far only one of them has got a single wedge, but they’re keen on finishing so won’t get off the coach until they do.
AC: But that can’t be more than six of them, surely.
CS: It’s actually three in each team or games can take weeks.
AC: But you still must have enough players even without those?
CS: Well, we’re also missing a Mike ‘Greener’ Green. He was sent up to London to go to Australia House as we’re trying to re-sign a lad who spent a few months Down Under and need to sort out his international clearance. Greener was the best man for the job as he’s already got the bleached blond hair and can do a great Aussie accent – G’Day, Bonza, shrimps on the Barbie, all that guff. However, he just rung to say the place is all shut up. Some nonsense about it being New Years Day. Bloody Aussies, I bet they’re not answering the door just because we stuffed them in the cricket.
AC: Okay, but that still leaves about 20 players. Every team in the Blue Square South apart from maybe Newport would kill for a squad that size.
CS: (looks a bit shifty) Okay, I’ll level with you Coggsy. Me and the boss are in a bit of a bind. Obviously we trouser a fair wedge for managing Weston. Quality like us doesn’t come cheap. But we both also do a bit on the side as head doubles for Phil and Grant Mitchell in Eastenders. That’s also why we occasionally slip into poor Cock-er-nee accents. And there is a big knees up at Elstree this evening for Babs Windsor as she is leaving the show. Me and me Bruv are desperate to go but need to be heading up their straight away or by the time we arrive that bloody Minty and Heather will have scoffed all the buffet.
AC: Well, even so …
CS: Tell you what we’ll do. Call the game off and we’ll get you a signed photo of the Queen of Soaps herself. And not some rubbish Eastenders publicity shot but a Carry On era one. (winks conspiratorially) Maybe even the one with her baps out from Carry On Camping.

Before he can reply City’s Captain Jim ‘Jimmer’ Rollo (JR) comes running over.

JR: Hello Tony, how’s the family? Bit of a problem in the City camp. The lads have been warming up and the pitch is so soft they need to all change their boots to ones with longer studs. But since the gaffer told Coupey he was on the bench again he’s gone and hidden them all. We’re going to get Brian York to interrogate him to find out where they are but it might take a little while.
AC: Don’t worry Jimmer, I’ve just had a rethink and realised my bed is rock hard. Certainly too hard to play football on so the game’s off.

At that point Anthony Coggins runs off down the tunnel. Chris ‘Smithy’ Smith pokes his tongue out at Jimmer and is about to follow him when a panicked looking Andy ‘Gurner’ Gurney comes rushing onto the pitch.

AG: C’mon Bruv, it’s all kicking off on the coach. We’ve had to take Randy’s segment back as it turns out it wasn’t Bristol City who played at Twerton Park in the 80s and 90s, it was Bristol Rovers. I think he was right as I’m sure it was the Robins who I played for there, ‘Come on Eileen’ and all that nonsense, but it’s threatening to go all Harris versus Compton on us again.

The pair of them disappear down the tunnel and Jim Rollo is left standing there looking puzzled as the sound of a coach screeching out the car park carries over the whole ground. Then Darren ‘Dazza’ Edwards (DE) appears out the tunnel.

DE: Hey Jimmer, Coupey cracked after just 30 seconds with Yorkie so we’ve got the boots back but he’s also hidden Dutch’s mirror and he won’t play until it’s been found.

Jim Rollo shakes his head wearily and walks back off the pitch.

EXT: Twerton Park pitch an hour or so later as the sun begins to dip down behind the Bristol End. City’s players are completing their training session and Jim Rollo beckons for Adie ‘Boss’ Britton (AB) to come over.

JR: The lads are about warmed up, boss, and ready to go.
AB: So, you think the pitch is hard enough?
JR: Oh, yes and the lads have all got their ice skates.
AB: Okay then. (shouting to all the players) Everybody into their usual pairs. Yes, Dazza you can be Sharron Davies this time. Don’t sulk, Stuey. So who wants to be Heather Mills? Nobody? Right that’s you then Robbo for the goal you let in at Woking. (Gethin ‘Geth’ Jones’ hand goes up) No, Geth you can’t be Gethin Jones. This is Dancing on Ice because of the frozen pitch. You can be him when we do Strictly Come Dancing on Thursday. Ah, well done Dutch, I see you had your ice skating outfit on under your kit.

*It is possible this transcript is completely made up.

For a proper preview of the game scroll down to the one I did for the New Years Day game, just add that Weston have lost both games since then 2-0 against fellow strugglers Lewes and Dorchester Town.

Saints answer City prayers to breath life back into play-off hopes (30/1/10)

City breathed life back into their play-off ambitions with a 2-0 win at St Albans City this afternoon. The scoreline did not accurately reflect their dominance of the game but City will be happy enough to have recorded their first win of 2010. They got off to the perfect start when after just five minutes a Lewis Hogg corner dropped to Chris Holland to shoot home from 15 yards. The rest of the half was all City as they tore into their hosts with Kaid Mohamed seeing a shot cleared off the line and Mark Badman striking the post. Having rode their luck to reach the interval only a goal down the Saints did briefly threaten to get back into the game at the start of the second half. However, this spell did not last long and soon City were back on top. It still took them until eleven minutes from time to find a second goal and make the points safe though. Mohamed was the provider as he sent in a perfect cross for Hogg to head past Bastock and ensure a happy journey back to the West Country.

City boss Britton looking at University of Bath student Mackie (28/1/10)

Former Tottenham Hotspur trialist Hector MacKie is training at Twerton Park as City manager Adie Britton considers making a move for the University of Bath student. The 21-year old spent last season at St Albans City before joining Weymouth in the summer. However, he suffered a serious knee injury in a pre-season friendly against Yeovil Town which sidelined him for six months. The attacking midfielder, who also had spells with Waltham Forest, Stevenage Borough, Welling United, Cambridge City, Diss Town and Potter Bar Town, had been targeting a return to playing action with the Terras next month ironically against City but was released by new owner and chairman George Rolls.

City have added cover during their current injury problems by re-signing midfielder Lee Collier on Blue Square South forms. The 30-year old has been playing for Mangotsfield United this season.

City have arranged their recently postponed trip to Hampton & Richmond Borough for Tuesday 16 March (ko 7.45pm).

PREVIEW: St Albans City v CITY – Blue Square South (28/1/10)

Having picked up just a single point from their two outings of 2010 so far City make the trip to St Albans City on Saturday knowing a win is needed to avoid slipping further behind in the increasingly crowded Blue Square South play-off race. Having moved to within a single point of the top five following their Boxing Day win at Weston Super Mare two successive postponements prior to the defeat at Thurrock and two-goal lead surrender against Bishop’s Stortford has seen the gap grow to mildly worrying eight points. They will face a Saints side coming off the back of a 5-0 defeat at runaway league leaders Newport County and struggling financially to support their own play-off ambitions. Their troubles have come to light following an open letter posted on their website from the Board of Directors to the Saints Trust members. A request for £6000 – that would have been matched by an unnamed shareholder – was made to give manager Steve Castle extra funds to improve the squad but the money was not forthcoming and threatens to lead to a war of words between the two factions.

The clubs financial woes date back to the start of the season when unpopular chairman John Gibson’s building firm, William Verry, went into administration. Gibson was quick to reassure supporters that the club was safe and that a buyer was actively being sought, however despite various rumours of interested parties so far they have not been able to attract any serious investment hence the cap in hand approach to the Saints Trust. This lack of funds saw them lose two of their most promising youngsters, Godfrey Poku and Jonathan O’Donnell, to Blue Square Premier side Luton Town earlier this month as they couldn’t afford to put them on contracts. Manager Castle had hoped that one or both of the teenagers would return to Clarence Park on loan but no such arrangement has yet been forthcoming.

Unsurprisingly after this summer of uncertainty the Saints got their campaign off to the worst possible start going down 3-0 at Dorchester Town. They bounced back well with back to back home wins over Worcester City and Eastleigh but since then their season has had mid-table obscurity written all over it never climbing above 10th or dropping lower than 18th. The cups have failed to brighten their season as they fell at the first stage in the FA Cup, FA Trophy and Herts Senior Cup. The FA Cup was particularly disappointing as they suffered an embarrassing 1-0 loss to Ryman League Division One North side Heybridge Swifts. This defeat may not have come as a huge surprise to long-suffering Saints fans as it was the fourth successive season they have failed to progress over the first hurdle. At least their FA Trophy exit was against another Blue Square South side, although that will have been little comfort as Woking put six past them without reply. And the cup nightmare was completed as they went out the Herts Senior Cup to South Midlands League Premier Division side Royston Town in a 2-0 reversal at Clarence Park.

Complete record against St Albans City

Last season honours were even between the clubs as City won by a single goal at Twerton Park in January having gone down 2-1 in Hertfordshire three months earlier. That game saw City create sufficient chances to have comfortably secured the three points but pay for failing to convert them. Dave Gilroy and Stuart Douglas both wasted great openings during the first half, although in-between a cross by Sekani Simpson deceived former City goalkeeper Paul Bastock to give them the lead. The second half continued with City in control but a goal by Martin against the run of play levelled proceedings on the hour mark. And City were left pointless seven minutes from time when the home side broke quickly from deep in their own half and Hakim headed past Paul Evans.

City will go into the game sweating on the fitness of their 27-goal strike force Darren Edwards and Kaid Mohamed after both players were forced off in last Saturday’s draw with Bishop’s Stortford. Particularly concerning is Edwards who underwent a brain scan and blood tests during a two-night stay in Frenchay Hospital after he suffered vision problems following a blow on the neck five minutes into the game. Mohamed picked up a dead leg in the match, which his strike partner’s early departure meant he had to play through for about an hour. Also out are midfielder Mark Badman and Marcus Browning with knee problems.

City squander two-goal lead in play-off hopes setback (23/1/10)

City endured a disappointing return to Twerton Park this afternoon as they threw away a two-goal league to draw with Bishop’s Stortford. A first-half goal from Adam Connolly and Lewis Hogg header within 35 seconds of the restart looked to have secured their first win of 2010. However, a brace from Blues star striker Charlie Sheringham pegged them back and saw two vital points in their play-off ambitions disappear into the cold Twerton air. City had begun the game strongly with Adam Connolly, Chris Holland and Kaid Mohamed all going close but it wasn’t until after the bright start had faded they they went ahead. A stunning 34th minute move involving Hogg and substitute Stuart Douglas – on for migraine victim Darren Edwards – ended with Connolly firing home from 25 yards. City looked to have secured the points with the second half less than a minute old as Mohamed crossed for Hogg to dive and head past Eyre. The visitors then abandoned their neat but ineffective passing game and a more direct approach soon began to pay dividends as City struggled to retain possession. And on 61 minutes Stortford pulled a goal back when Sheringham turned neatly on the edge of the box and shot low into the corner of the net. Ten minutes later Connolly’s deflected shot almost restored City’s two-goal advantage but with 12 minutes remaining Sheringham slid home Southam’s cross to level the scores. Memories of last season where the Blues came from two goals down to win 3-2 would have been haunting all City supporters but in the end it was Connolly who came closest to grabbing a winner when a mazy run finished with Eyre blocking his close range shot. After this the game petered out into a draw that was probably about the right result.

City supporters set to fly the flag for their club (21/1/10)

Saturday’s Blue Square South meeting with Bishop’s Stortford will mark the first appearance of a massive new flag at Twerton Park. The 18’x 9′ flag was organised by City supporter Paul Hill and paid for by donations from fellow fans. It is the culmination of a number of flags appearing at City home and away games, including ones of South Africa, Romania and Portugal in honour of City stars Paul Evans, Florin Pelecaci and Sido Jombati respectively. The first two were signed by supporters and given to the players when they left the club. The only issue now over the new flag is where to hang it, with a lively discussion taking place on City’s message board.

City have offered attacking midfielder Andrejs Stolcer’s a contract are hoping the former Latvian international will commit himself to the club in the next few days. However, the 35-year old, who joined City on non-contract terms last month, has also attracted interest from several other clubs, including big-spending Southern League Truro City.

PREVIEW: CITY v Bishop’s Stortford – Blue Square South (21/1/10)

City will hope to finally end their seven week home exile on Saturday when Bishop’s Stortford head down from Hertfordshire. December was only five days old the last time competitive football was played at Twerton Park when champions-elect Newport County were held to a 1-1 draw thanks to Sido Jombati’s first goal for the club. Since then back-to-back postponements of games against Havant & Waterlooville and – controversially – Weston Super Mare denied City two bumper festive crowds and they will hope the long gap will bring Bath football fans back out in force. Facing them will be fellow mid-table side Stortford who ended a seven match league run without a win last weekend when they narrowly beat struggling Worcester City by two goals to one. The win lifted them up to 12th place and eased fears that they would be dragged into a relegation battle.

Pre-season optimism was high that the Blues could be genuine title challengers after a summer of solid signings, however these hopes began to fade after an indifferent start to the campaign and then the squad impressively built by manager Mark Simpson began to fall apart as the club struggled financially to back up their ambitions. In total they have lost an incredible 15 players since the start of the campaign as early exits from both the FA Cup and FA Trophy plus crowds under the 500 mark have led to chairman Luigi Del Basso increasingly tightening the purse-strings at Woodside Park. One summer arrival who is still with the club is star striker Charlie Sheringham. The son of former England international Teddy Sheringham joined from Welling United and was soon topping the Blue Square South goalscoring charts, finding the net 14 times in as many league games. The clubs failed to agree a fee for the 21-year old and the matter was finally decided last week when an FA tribunal ordered Stortford to pay £6000 plus 25% of any future transfer fee. Although still a significant amount – especially to a club in their financial position – it was considerably less than the £25,000 the Wings rather optimistically wanted for the player. With a nice sense of timing Sheringham ended a ten-match streak without a goal by netting the Blue’s first against Worcester a few days later.

Complete record against Bishop’s Stortford

The meeting will pitch two of the top Blue Square South strikers together as 15 league goal Sheringham lines up opposite City’s top scorer Darren Edwards, who has netted 13 times so far in the league this season. It was Edwards and his teammates who came out on top when the clubs met at Woodside Park back in September as he scored twice in City’s convincing 5-1 victory. Sheringham was on target in the game as well but also dragged a tame penalty wide and missed an open goal from a couple of yards out in an afternoon he will not remember fondly. However, Stortford only have to look back to the last time they faced City at Twerton Park for a more positive experience. The game took place during the closing month of the 2008-09 campaign with City still harbouring hopes of clinching a play-off place. And when goals from Gethin Jones and Lewis Hogg gave them a 2-0 half-time lead it looked as if they would keep that optimism alive. This all began to unravel within six minutes of the restart when a mistake by Chris Holland allowed Lindie to halve their lead. The same player then took advantage of further slack defending by City to head the visitor’s level on the hour mark. The comeback was completed fifteen minutes from time when Green fired home after a mazy run.

City should go into the game with nearly a fully fit squad to choose from. Only experienced player Marcus Browning is definitely out after a minor knee operation that will sideline him for three weeks. Influential midfielder Mark Badman is likely to return to the starting XI after recovering from his knee injury during City’s weather enforced break from action.

City’s cash-flow problems eased by supporters club donation (19/1/10)

Without a home match since December 5 when they held Blue Square South runaway leaders Newport County to a 1-1 draw – following the double Christmas and New Year postponement – City’s understandable cash-flow problems have been eased somewhat by a £2000 donation by the supporters club. This comes in addition to the funds already paid to the club, including around £10,000 each season for the team travel to away league matches.

Rusty City undone by nightmare ten minute spell at Thurrock (16/1/10)

City ended their three-week break from action in the worst possible way this afternoon with a 3-1 defeat at Thurrock. All three goals came in the space of ten minutes midway through the first half with only a stoppage time penalty from Kaid Mohamed as scant consolation. Clark rose above Sido Jombati to head home a 21st minute corner then three minutes later Jim Rollo tripped Bryant in the box and McKenzie made no mistake from 12 yards. The game was effectively over on the half hour mark when Pope was allowed to race unchallenged into the box before slotting past Ryan Robinson. City threw on Andrejs Stolcers at half-time and created enough chances to get back in the game but the Fleet managed to withstand this pressure. With almost the final kick of the game Mohamed netted from the spot after Stolcers was tripped by Pope but the defeat sees City slip back in the play-off hunt.

Thurrock go-ahead looks set to start 2010 for City (15/1/10)

City look set to make their belated start to 2010 after a pitch inspection at Ship Lane today gave the green-light for tomorrow’s trip to Thurrock. The Essex side had been pessimistic about the chance of the game going ahead earlier in the week, trying to rearrange it for next Tuesday at one stage, but the sudden thaw in the last 36 hours has arrived just in time to save City their third successive blank weekend. For City fans wishing to travel on the supporters coach click here for booking details.

Young’s Roofing named as new football academy sponsor (14/1/10)

Young’s Roofing have been announced as the new sponsor of City’s football academy based at Writhlington School. The Bath-based roofing company’s name will adorn the youth side’s shirt and managing director Rob Young (pictured with City vice-chairman John Reynolds) said, “Bath’s a large city and needs a successful football club. There are a lot of people working hard to make this happen and over the last few years you can see it’s really starting to pay off. The football academy is obviously going to be important to the club’s future and will give youngsters the chance to develop their footballing skills, so we wanted to show our support for both the club and the academy.”

City chairman Geoff Todd added, “This is the first year of the academy and it’s an important part of our plans for the future of the club. Over the next few years we hope to develop our youth set-up and possibly appoint a community football officer who will work not only with youth football but also with disabled and disadvantaged groups, and this is an important first step to achieving those aims. So to have a well-respected Bath company like Young’s Roofing as title sponsor is fantastic news and I’m enormously grateful for their support.”

The sponsorship deal features Young’s Roofing as title sponsor but also includes John Reynolds’ company, J Reynolds (Western) Ltd, as associate sponsors. “My company has worked closely with Young’s Roofing over many years and I’m very pleased we have been able to get together and give our support to the new academy,” said Reynolds. “The club is really starting to move forward now and I’m very proud to be involved.”

City have brought their Easter weekend meeting with Dorchester Town forward 24 hours in the hope of attracting a bigger crowd to Twerton Park. The match will now take place on Friday 2 April (ko 3pm).

PREVIEW: Thurrock v CITY – Blue Square South (14/1/10)

City will be hoping the weather finally relents – the forecast would suggest that is a possibility – and allows them to end their three week enforced break from action with a trip to this season’s surprise package, Thurrock. The Fleet were only saved from relegation by the demise of Team Bath at the end of the 2008-09 campaign, having finished in 20th position, but they have taken full advantage of this good luck to currently sit one place outside the play-off places and five points ahead of City.

This major turnaround in the fortunes has come with no major changes to their squad. Ryan Andrews was brought in from Sittingbourne during the summer alongside Dagenham & Redbridge’s Paul Olima. Their main signing was experienced midfielder Matt Bodkin after he was surprisingly released by Dover Athletic. On the back of these minor changes Thurrock began the season with an eight match unbeaten run. They then suffered their first league defeat at Dover Athletic but bounced back with four successive wins to confound anyone who doubted they could maintain a genuine play-off challenge. During this time they also progressed to the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup and a trip to then Blue Square Premier leaders Oxford United. This run earned manager Hakan Hayrettin a new 2½ year contract in October. He had already been strengthening his squad by bringing back striker Leon McKenzie back to the club form Bishop’s Stortford in September then former Irish U-19 International Matthew Judge arrived from Ebbsfleet United and, last month, Histon full-back Craig Pope.

The Fleet’s FA Cup adventure ended with a 2-0 defeat at the U’s and since then their league form has become somewhat more inconsistent – just two wins in their last seven games seeing them slip out of the play-off places. However, in their last outing they held in-form Chelmsford City to a 1-1 draw showing that the play-offs are still a realistic target. Despite this vastly improved form the football supporting public in their corner of Essex has not been attracted to the Fleet with crowds rarely exceeding 300.

Complete record against Thurrock

If the game does get the go-ahead – and even if the pitch is frozen it will hardly be in a worse condition than the patchy rock-hard surface that greeted City when most recently faced Thurrock on the final day of last season – City will not only be looking for their first point at Ship Lane but also a first goal. The aforementioned game at the conclusion of the 2008-09 campaign saw City travel to Essex with nothing to play for after it was confirmed that Hampton & Richmond Borough would be allowed a play-off spot despite their ground. By contrast the home side knew that a win could take them out of the bottom three and guarantee they would retain their Blue Square South place on merit rather than Team Bath’s downfall. That hope was dashed by Dorchester Town’s win over Bromley but two second half goals gave Thurrock a deserved victory. In the end the most memorable incident – though for the wrong reasons – of the match was the last minute dismissal of keeper Paul Evans in his 217th and final game for City before emigrating to Australia. The harsh nature of the red card along with the dismal location was hardly a fitting send-off (pun intended) for one of the greatest goalkeepers to ever play for the club.

No surprise as Hampton clash latest victim to weather (8/1/10)

As expected tomorrow’s meeting with Hampton & Richmond Borough has been postponed due to the continuing freezing conditions that are affecting the whole of the country. City will be joined in having a free Saturday by the rest of their division rivals as the other six scheduled league matches have also fallen victim to the weather alongside the seven FA Trophy ties involving Blue Square South sides. A new date for the trip to Hampton had yet to be arranged.

City announce new dates for Havant and Weston Super Mare matches (7/1/10)

City have announced new dates for the two home games they lost to the weather over the Christmas and New Year period. Weston Super Mare will once again make the short journey to Bath from North Somerset on Tuesday 2 February. And then two weeks later Havant & Waterlooville will head up from Hampshire. Both matches will kick off at 7.45pm. City chairman Geoff Todd has revealed that the double postponement will cost the club around £6000 due to the lower crowds likely to attend the rearranged midweek dates.

The club has also confirmed that midfielder Adie Harris has returned for a third spell at Twerton Park, signing until the end of this season.

PREVIEW: Hampton & Richmond Borough v CITY – Blue Square South (7/1/10)

In the unlikely event that there is a major thaw in the next 24 hours City will travel to Hampton & Richmond Borough on Saturday to resume their Blue Square South campaign that has been stalled somewhat by successive postponements of home games. In truth the snow that has swept the country in the last few days is more than likely to see the game go the same way as the Havant & Waterlooville and Weston Super Mare matches. This will be doubly frustrating for City as they would face a Beavers side bottom of the current form table and facing a battle to retain their Blue Square South status between now and April. This is a real turnaround in their fortunes having reached the play-off final in the last two seasons.

On the back of the runners-up spot in the last campaign and with manager Alan Devonshire having resisted overtures from Blue Square Premier side Cambridge United during the summer everything had looked positive at the Beveree Stadium. Even when they began the season with two defeats they followed this up with a five game unbeaten run – including a 3-1 win over City at Twerton Park – and looked to have recaptured the form of the previous two years. Since then though they have only won another two league games and currently sit in 18th place, just four points above the BSS drop zone. During this time they also exited to the FA Cup to lower league opposition – Ryman League Sutton United beating them 3-1 – and the FA Trophy against fellow Blue Square South strugglers Lewes. If they had hoped the Christmas and New Year period would signal a change in form they were to be sorely disappointed. Although they picked up a creditable point at play-off chasing Braintree Town, either side of this they suffered four-goal reversals against mid-table Staines Town. Despite these struggles Devonshire signed a two-year extension to his contract in September. The former West Ham United and England international joined the club during the summer of 2003 and until this season has enjoyed almost uninterrupted success in Middlesex, although with a style of football as far removed from his playing days as possible. He will hope that this form returns sooner rather than later.

Complete record against Hampton & Richmond Borough

Given the recent results between City and Hampton he would have good reason to be optimistic that this fixture is one that could finally see an improvement in his side’s fortunes. Since City won the first ever meeting between the clubs during the opening week of the 2007-08 season the Beavers are unbeaten in four, including three successive victories. The game at Twerton Park earlier this season finished 3-1 to the Beavers, although City only had themselves to blame the defeat. Having seen Darren Edwards miss a 17th minute penalty they fell behind three minutes later when Matt Coupe’s poor back header ended with Chris Holland turning Yaku’s cross-shot into his own net. Three minutes before the interval a long ball forward was misjudged by Holland and, after Rollo had tugged back Yaku, Matthews showed Edwards how to finish from the penalty spot. Within four minutes of the restart it got even worse for City as Marcus Browning gave the ball away in midfield allowing Yaku to fire home. City did pull a goal back from Kaid Mohamed on the hour mark but despite applying considerable pressure after this couldn’t find further goals. The game then ended on a sour note with Browning and Hampton’s Hodges seeing red for an off the ball clash.

City linked with possible Western Riverside Rugby relocation (6/1/10)

City’s name has been linked with Bath Rugby’s latest tentative plans to relocate should the long running saga of the Recreation Ground redevelopement end in failure – naming the Western Riverside as ‘the most obvious’ location should they be forced to leave their current home. The site was due for a £450million regeneration housing and office scheme but this has been put on hold due to the current recession. This has led to renewed interest in using the land for a sports stadium but this change would almost certainly require a new site for housing which is where City come into the equation. Twerton Park would be a possible location and City have always been cautiously interested in sharing a stadium with the rugby club. Bath RFC are believed to have already held talks with the Council but there is no information on when any definite announcement may be made.

As expected winger Richard Evans has been shipped out on a loan deal, joining fellow Blue Square South side Weston Super Mare.

Departed Seagull Harris looks set for surprise Twerton Park return (2/1/10)

Midfielder Adie Harris could be set for a third spell with City after quitting Blue Square South strugglers Weston Super Mare. The 28-year old initially joined City during the 2005 close season before personal reasons saw him return to his native Wales a year later with Haverfordwest County. However, he was back at Twerton Park six months later to play a vital part in City’s 2006-07 Southern League title success. He was then a first team regular during City’s first Blue Square South season but left again in June 2008 to join Newport County. Weston paid an undisclosed four-figure fee for his services in January 2009 but, despite being handed the captaincy, this move never really worked out – he was suspended for the Boxing Day meeting between the sides for clashing with a teammate – and he quit the club before yesterday’s scheduled return clash. He is set for further talks with manager Adie Britton this week and could be in the squad for next Saturday’s trip to Hampton & Richmond Borough.

One player who is set to make room in City’s squad is winger Richard Evans. The former Newport County player has found himself limited to occasional substitute outings in recent months and Britton confirmed that several clubs are interested in taking him on loan for a spell.

Mike Perrott has signed for a second month on loan with Southern League Frome Town.

City left frustrated by late postponement of Weston clash (1/1/10)

City’s 2010 began in frustrating style as this afternoon’s match with Weston Super Mare was postponed just one hour before kick-off. The pitch was passed fit at 1pm by the referee after considerable work by City’s groundstaff to ensure the game went ahead. However, Mr Coggins reversed his decision an hour later following the arrival of the Weston players and management much to the disappointment, and in some case anger, of the City contingent. As well as the frustration of losing another game to the weather it also means City could go seven weeks without a home match as their next scheduled Twerton Park outing is not until January 23, with the financial implications of such a long gap.