January 2014

PREVIEW: CITY v Bishop’s Stortford – Skrill South (30/1/14)

City will be relieved to put the month of January behind them on Saturday and hope February brings them better luck, as they look to get their play-off ambitions back on track beginning with the visit of Bishop’s Stortford. Remarkably, though, despite picking up just two points from a possible fifteen during the first month of 2014, City remain within a couple of points of fifth place. And having begun February 2013 one point above the Skrill Conference South relegation zone it is clear that a year later they are heading in the right direction, with a play-off place still a very attainable target.

This no doubt is a sentiment shared by the visitor’s to Mayday Trust Park as Stortford come into the game a point nearer the top five, having played four games fewer than City. However, they have also suffered a dip in form recently having marked their return from two seasons in the Conference North with a strong start to the campaign. Although they were beaten by City on the opening day of the season they only lost once more in their next eleven league games to reach November looking as if they would be part of a three-way battle for the title with Eastleigh and Bromley. The Blues also enjoyed an excellent FA Cup run during this spell, beating Hendon and Chipstead comfortably to set up a 4th Qualifying Round trip to Conference Premier big spenders Forest Green Rovers. There a Prestedge strike seven minutes into the second half was enough to take them through to the 1st Round proper and a home tie with League 2 Northampton Town. With over 2500 fans packed into their ProKit UK Stadium and ITV cameras beaming the game live around the world the Blues produced a battling display only to concede twice within seven minutes midway through the second half. Prestedge was again on target to give them a lifeline with nine minutes left but they couldn’t find another goal to deny the Cobblers a 2nd Round place.

As can so often be the case for a non-league side after a memorable cup run following this exit their form began to falter. A week later they crashed out of the FA Trophy to Whitehawk before seeing two league points slip away against the same opposition despite leading 1-0 at the interval. Their cause was not helped by a number of postponements over the following weeks but defeats to Staines Town, Boreham Wood, Chelmsford City and Ebbsfleet United has more or less ended any title dreams, leaving them firmly amongst the bloated battle for a play-off place. Understandably this stop-start spell has left manager Rod Stringer frustrated and he looked to lift his team during the week, bringing in 19-year-old Michael Richens on loan from Peterborough United, as part of the deal which took striker Kyle Vassell to Sky Bet League One side back in November.

Complete record against Bishop’s Stortford

Stortford are making their first trip to Bath since January 2010 when they fought back from a two-goal deficit to secure a point in a 2-2 draw. 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 that 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 the previous 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 will once again be without Dan Ball – the defender is still a couple of weeks away from returning to action following his collar bone fracture suffered at Eastleigh in December – and he could be joined on the sidelines by Sekani Simpson after he limped out of last Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at Eastbourne Borough.

City hopes blown off course by last gasp Eastbourne winner (25/1/14)

City returned empty-handed from the East Sussex coast this afternoon following a 3-2 defeat to Eastbourne Borough in a game dominated by a gale force win blowing across the hosts open Priory Lane ground. With the wind behind them in the first half Eastbourne began strongly with Mark Preece and Sekani Simpson, twice, providing timely blocks or interceptions. They were powerless to intervene though on 22 minutes when the wind carried a Gorman ball beyond them where Long lifted a perfect lob over the exposed Jason Mellor. City had created openings of their own prior to this, keeper Ross making a fine double save from Josh Low and Chris Allen, and seven minutes later Adam Connolly’s well-struck shot from 20 yards made it 1-1, his first goal since April 2012. This was the scoreline as the game reached half-time and City would have fancied their chances with the elements in their favour after the break. However, ten minutes into the second half former City player Shephard picked out Hammond who easily beat Mellor. City’s keeper denied Shephard a third on 65 minutes and within three minutes a surging run by Andy Watkins ended with Chris Allen crashing the ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-2. With the conditions worsening home keeper Ross was struggling to get his clearances out of the 18-yard box but City couldn’t take advantage and, as the game entered stoppage time, a quick break caught them light at the back allowing Lok to curl home the decisive goal from the edge of the box.

City boost attacking options with signing of Scott Wilson from Tigers (24/1/14)

City are pleased to announce the signing of striker Scott Wilson from Skrill North side Gloucester City. The 21-year old former Bristol City trainee, who spent two spells with the Tigers either side of time spent playing for Cinderford Town and Yate Town, is Gloucester’s top scorer this season with eight goals. His signing was made possible thanks to the pledge fund and the club would once again like to thank all those who contribute to the pledge, it is an invaluable help.

PREVIEW: Eastbourne Borough v CITY – Skrill South (23/1/14)

City will be looking for a change in fortune on Saturday when they make a second long trip east in four days to face Eastbourne Borough. Despite a series of encouraging performances in recent weeks, not least against title chasing duo Eastleigh and Bromley, City now have to go back to Boxing Day for their last victory, a run that the draw at Tonbridge Angels on Tuesday stretched to five games without a win. And the Romans will hope a change in routine will help, with a rare overnight stay on the south coast planned ahead of the game with the Sports.

Eastbourne have enjoyed a solid first half to the 2013-14 season and, like City, are harbouring genuine play-off ambitions. Last year marked the beginning of a new era at Priory Lane with manager Tommy Widdrington in charge for his first full season having taken over from long-serving Garry Wilson midway through the previous campaign. In total 41 players pulled on a Borough shirt as the new manager tried to find the right mixture. They ended the season as the team having scored the fewest goals, but having one of the tightest defensive records, which contributed to their finishing the season in 12th place. The current season began in excellent fashion for the East Sussex side as they picked up ten points from a possible twelve in their opening four games to go into September top of the Skrill Conference South table. Their form dipped after this with just two wins in their next nine league outings, although these were high scoring victories over Bishop’s Stortford (5-2) and Farnborough (4-1). Four wins and two draws in their next six league games – with just a single goal conceded in that spell – lifted them back into the play-off positions. They were also boosted by the return of striker Jamie Taylor, on loan from Conference South rivals Sutton United, who netted four goals in five games having previously spent two years with the club between 2009 and 2011. However, a disappointing Christmas period saw the Sports lose to struggling Whitehawk and Tonbridge Angels before three successive postponements left them with an unwanted three week break from action. And when they finally got back on the pitch an understandably rusty performance ended with 3-1 home defeat to Basingstoke Town. They shook off some of this rustiness during the week with a single goal defeat against an under-21 Brighton & Hove Albion side in the Sussex Senior Cup. The match also saw former City midfielder Chris Shephard sent off for foul and abusive language.

Complete record against Eastbourne Borough

City enjoyed their first ever win at Priory Lane at the fourth attempt last season. The hosts started the game well and pushed City back for the opening ten minutes with Gorman blasting their best chance high over the bar. Having withstood this early pressure City began to get themselves back in the contest and created several good openings. It wasn’t until seven minutes before the interval though that they made this dominance pay when Mark Preece headed home an Aaron Brown corner. And in first half stoppage time it got even better for City as a mistake on halfway allowed Elliott Chamberlain to race clear and coolly slot the ball past Potter. With a two-goal cushion City were content to sit back and absorb what attacking threat Borough could muster and this approach worked perfectly as, with 17 minutes left, Potter dropped a corner under no pressure and Preece poked home his second and City’s third of the evening.

With the exception of Dan Ball, still recovering from his fractured collar bone, head coach Lee Howells should have a full squad to select from on Saturday. One player who won’t be making the trip though is striker Nat Jarvis after his short spell at Mayday Trust Park ended with a switch to Conference North side Gloucester City.

City draw little comfort in latest stalemate at Tonbridge (21/1/14)

City missed the chance to climb into the Skrill Conference South play-off positions this evening after drawing 1-1 with Tonbridge Angels. This was particularly frustrating for the Romans after they dominated a one-sided second half but couldn’t find a vital second goal. The hosts started brightly and deservedly went ahead on ten minutes through Browning’s stunning 30-yard free kick. However, within nine minutes City were level when Aaron Brown’s corner was flicked on by Andy Watkins and found the net via the post and Angels defender Muggeridge. The rest of the half was fairly even but after the interval City took control of the game and really should have gone on to record a first 2014 victory. Their best two openings fell to Andy Watkins, first racing clear of the Kent side’s back line but allowing a defender to deny him after delaying his shot for too long, then directing a free header from a Ben Adelsbury flick wide of the goal. Several other good openings also failed to trouble keeper Carey and Miles almost grabbed a goal for Tonbridge on the break, but could only shoot weakly at Jason Mellor when well-placed.

PREVIEW: Tonbridge Angels v CITY – Skrill South (20/1/14)

City are quickly back in action following Saturday’s narrow 2-1 defeat against league leaders Bromley when they make the long trip to Kent to face Tonbridge Angels tomorrow evening. The loss saw City slip back two places to ninth in the Skrill Conference South table although they remained two points off the play-off positions. With the majority of sides in the division now into the second half of their 2013-14 fixtures the battle for a play-off berth looks set to be a close one, with just five points separating twelfth place Concord Rangers and Sutton United in fourth. Therefore City will be keen to end a run of four games without a win and keep themselves right at the heart of this chasing pack.

Remarkably the match will only be Tonbridge’s second home league game since October with a series of postponements leaving them regularly kicking their heels. The most recent of the cancellations was the visit of Concord Rangers on Saturday but chairman Steve Churcher says he is 99 per cent sure Tuesday’s game will happen given the improved weather forecast. Not surprisingly this lack of action has seen Angels slip into the relegation zone although they have got games in hand on all the sides in reach above them. And during the run of away games they produced a couple of very impressive results, becoming the first (and, so far, only) side to win at title-chasing Eastleigh and beating fourth placed Sutton United, both games ending 2-1 to the Angels. On the other side of the coin they did suffer a disappointing loss to rock bottom Dorchester Town and a 4-0 thrashing against Southern League St Albans City in the FA Trophy. However, having won their last two home games – albeit two months apart – City can expect a tough fight to record their first win of 2014.

Complete record against Tonbridge/Tonbridge Angels

The sides have already met at Mayday Trust Park this season – with the visitors earning an unlikely point thanks to a stoppage time equaliser in the 2-2 draw. They were regular opponents from shortly after the Second World War until the mid-1970s when they original club Tonbridge went into liquidation. So it was 27 years before their paths crossed again when City made a first ever visit to Longmead Stadium in October 2012, in what turned out to be an astonishing game. After the home side started strongly City were awarded an 11th minute penalty when Josh Low’s cross was blocked by Elphick’s arm. Sean Canham stepped up to take the penalty only for to Worgan to save his effort, however Low reacted quickest to the rebound to coolly set up Canham to atone for his miss from six yards. This saw a shift in the balance of the game and on 39 minutes Worgan failed to get any distance on a punch from a Low free-kick and Chris Allen fired the ball home from the edge of the box. City maintained their ascendancy after the break and Low tricked Schulz into a lunging challenge that saw the referee point to the spot again on 56 minutes. This time Allen took the responsibility to send Worgan the wrong way from 12 yards. City looked in complete control even though Collin made it 3-1 after 69 minutes, heading Purcell’s cross home. Within three minutes a swift break from City ended with Canham drilling home his second goal and the three-goal cushion was restored. It remained like this until past the 90 minutes and, with neither trainer on the pitch during the second half or any time-wasting from the Romans, it looked as if City were seconds away from a comfortable win. Even when Elphick made it 4-2 from close range it looked nothing more than a consolation but Mr Rock allowed the game to continue and with 95 minutes on the clock substitute Gayle headed past Glyn Garner to reduce the deficit to one goal. To the increasingly incredulity of City players, coaches and supporters the game continued for another five minutes, which saw Tonbridge twice win a free-kick 30-yards from goal and only when Garner tipped the second of these over the bar did the referee finally bring the game to an end.

City fail to cross the line in narrow defeat to league leaders Bromley (18/1/14)

City once again showed they could compete with the best the Skrill Conference South has to offer this afternoon, falling to an undeserved 2-1 home defeat to league leaders Bromley. In common with their reversal by the same scoreline at 2nd place Eastleigh last month City dominated much of the game but a wasted penalty and a series of narrow misses allowed the visitors to maintain their 11 point advantage at the top of the table. An early run by Ross Stearn left several Bromley’s defenders trailing in his wake before his shot was deflected for a corner before David Pratt was denied by a well-timed Pooley tackle. However, it was the Ravens who took the lead on 19 minutes when Mark Preece pushed Swaine and Goldberg netted from the penalty spot. Despite this setback City continue to enjoy the upper hand and after 31 minutes they won a penalty of their own after Swaine was adjudged to have deliberately blocked Adam Connolly’s shot with his hand. It looked a harsh decision so Bromley will feel justice was done when Stearn blasted high over the bar from 12 yards. However, within four minutes he redemned himself, crossing for Noah Keats to flick in a deserved equaliser. Andy Watkins came close to giving City the lead early in the second half, Pooley clearing his header off the line but just before the hour mark Bromley took the lead against the run of play for a second time, Joseph-Dubois heading past Jason Mellor. This was the sign for the Ravens to look to shut up shop and their reactions to a number of challenges was increasingly frustrating the home players. City did not this behaviour prevent them pressing for an equaliser, though, but the closest they came was three minutes from time when Keats’ diving header was again blocked right on the line by Pooley.

Mayday Trust Park pitch inspection planned ahead of Bromley clash (17/1/14)

With rain forcast for the West Country overnight and mindful of the departure time for opponent’s Bromley, City will be holding a pitch inspection at Mayday Trust Park early on Saturday morning. The pitch is fine at the moment and the club are hopeful that the highly anticipated clash with the league leaders will go ahead. An update on the insection will be annouced as soon as possible in the morning.

PREVIEW: CITY v Bromley – Skrill South (16/1/14)

City welcome league leaders Bromley to Mayday Trust Park on Saturday as they look to maintain their unbeaten start to 2014. The goalless draw at Basingstoke Town last Saturday kept them in 7th place, just two points off the play-off positions, but they know they will face a tough encounter with the surprise package of the 2013-14 season so far, with the title looking very much like a two-horse race between Mark Goldberg’s side and Eastleigh.

The Lilywhites suffered a surprise home defeat to mid-table Concord Rangers in the week which brought an eleven league game unbeaten spell to an end. This run included a remarkable seven successive matches without conceding a goal, which combined with their league leading goals for record has seen them open an eleven point lead at the top of the Skrill Conference South table. Having never finished higher than 11th place since winning promotion to the division in 2006-07 this marks a great improvement for the club and they set their stall out early on, winning their opening three games, scoring 11 goals in the process. Although they then suffered narrow defeats against fellow Bishop’s Stortford and Eastleigh, consecutive wins over Staines Town, Concord Rangers and Basingstoke Town saw them enter November in 2nd place behind the Spitfires. However, their unbeaten November and December opened an intimidating lead but, with Eastleigh having played four games fewer, they know they cannot afford many more slip-ups like they suffered against Concord.

Complete record against Bromley

If Bromley had to choose an opponent to return to winning ways, City would be fairly high on their list, having suffered just one defeat in the eight meetings with the Romans, with two wins and two draws in the West Country. Their first ever trip to Bath came almost exactly five years ago to the day. Despite difficult conditions both teams tried to play football, with City looking the better side during the first period. Phil Walsh was causing the Ravens backline all sorts of problems a couple of half-chances came and went but against the run of play Bromley took a 13th minute lead. Unusual hesitation in the City defence allowed McDonnell all the time and space he needed to slot the ball past Paul Evans. City continued to dominate the game and deservedly drew level on 29 minutes when a neat build-up ended with Gilroy’s 20-yard effort going under keeper Walker’s dive. A deflected Walsh cross-shot almost gave City the lead just before the interval, which would have been a fair reflection on the half. Although the rain had eased, football was becoming harder as the pitch understandably cut-up and the second period failed to match the quality of the first. The visitors were looking slightly more likely to score again, McDonnell tamely chipping their best chance into the arms of Evans. The final stages of the match saw City regain the upper hand, Gilroy almost grabbing his second from a Luke Prince pass and Chris Holland seeing a powerful header pushed out by Walker in stoppage time, but in the end a draw was the right result.

City welcome defender Mark Preece back after he missed the match at Basingstoke Town through suspension but will still be missing Dan Ball as he continues his recovery from a fractured collar bone. However, they hope that winger Ross Stearn will be available despite being stretchered off in the game with a gashed knee.

Honours even as Romans and Dragons play out entertaining goalless draw (11/1/14)

City played out their first nil-nil draw of the 2013-14 season at Basingstoke Town this afternoon, although both sides twice had the frame of the goal to thank for keeping the game scoreless. Despite an understandably heavy playing surface the two teams attempted to play football and produced an entertaining game. The hosts showed first, with Jason Mellor twice saving well, before Ross Stearn went close on 24 minutes. This was the recalled winger’s last involvement as he was carried off with a gashed knee but nine minutes later City went even closer when Dan Bowman crossed for Andy Watkins to crash a shot against the underside of the bar. The second half saw Dragon’s keeper Well’s push an Aaron Brown effort onto the post before Williams shot narrowly wide and Mellor produced futher top class saves. Both sides continued to chase the victory as the game reached its closing stages and it was Basingstoke who came closest, Ibe’s volley hitting the bar then, in stoppage time, the same player striking the post when he probably should have scored.

New date and opponent for development squad (10/1/14)

City have switched the date and opponent for next week’s development squad match at Mayday Trust Park. With original opposition Bristol Rovers now involved in an FA Cup 3rd Round match against Birmingham City on the scheduled date of Tuesday 14 January, City will instead face Conference Premier side Forest Green Rovers on Wednesday 15 January. Kick off remains 7.30pm and admission is free.

PREVIEW: Basingstoke Town v CITY – Skrill South (9/1/14)

Having ended 2013 with a trip to Hampshire, City return to the county on Saturday for their first away trip of 2014, this time hoping for a more positive outcome. A goal in the closing stages against title-chasing Eastleigh, then down to ten-men, was enough to send City back to Somerset empty-handed but a repeat performance, where they outplayed the home side for much of the match, would certainly give them a chance of success against mid-table Basingstoke Town.

Having reached the Skrill Conference South play-offs for the first ever time in 2011-12, having been founder members of the division in 2004, the Dragon’s suffered a disappointing 2012-13 season. They spend the majority of the campaign struggling in the lower reaches of the table before a six-match unbeaten run in February and March gave them some breathing space. This meant even though they lost their final four matches of the season they finished in 14th place, four points clear of the relegation zone. Understandably manager Jason Bristow looked to strengthen his squad over the summer bringing in experienced strikers Robbie Matthews from Salisbury City and Kezie Ibe, who finished last season playing for Margate, former Dartford goalkeeper Louis Wells and midfielder Neil Barrett. And his side got off to a flying start this year, winning their opening three matches against Concord Rangers, Gosport Borough and Eastleigh. This run was ended by a single goal defeat at Weston Super Mare but a 2-1 win over Staines saw the Dragons end the opening month of the season in second position. Since then though they have suffered a very up and down series of results. They picked up just a single point from their next five league outings and crashed out of the FA Cup to Skrill Conference South rival Weston but then won four successive games without conceding a goal to climb back into the play-off zone. Three 1-0 defeats and a 5-3 loss at Bishop’s Stortford sent them sliding back down the table but they returned to winning ways on Boxing Day, thumping fast-fading Farnborough 4-0. This was their last outing and City will hope it doesn’t spark another winning run for the Dragons.

Complete record against Basingstoke Town

The Camrose has not been a happy hunting ground for City with just one win in eight visits, including defeats in their last three trips south. Their only victory came during the 2007-08 season thanks in a large part to Dave Gilroy’s fourth hat-trick of the campaign. In a one-sided first half the home side were second best in every area of the pitch and City took full advantage of their inadequacies. It took just ten minutes to go ahead, Gilroy latching onto Darren Edwards’ pass to lift the ball over poorly positioned keeper Jones. Eleven minutes the same two players combined again and City’s top scorer went to 20 goals for the season with another perfectly executed lob. The game was effectively over as a contest a minute before the half-hour mark when Hogg took advantage of a poor clearance by Bristow to fire a left-foot shot into the net via a post. The second half was largely uneventful, although Paul Evans did produce a stunning double save from Charles to deny the Dragons a late consolation, and with two minutes remaining a rare burst into the box by Steve Jones saw him upended by Wells to allow Gilroy to complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot.

Both sides are likely to be missing players through injury and suspension. For the hosts defenders David Ray and Adam Green are out through suspension, while Simon Dunn is a doubt with a dead leg. City’s defensive duo of Dan Ball (fractured collar bone) and Mark Preece (suspension) are definitely out and Josh Low is almost certain to join them having suffered a calf injury against Staines Town last weekend.

City’s Development squad will play Bristol Rovers at Mayday Trust Park on Tuesday 14 January (ko 7.30pm). Entrance is free.

City beat the weather but suffer another late stain on home record (4/1/14)

After City’s groundstaff and small band of helpers beat the weather to provide an excellent Mayday Trust Park playing surface this afternoon City were denied a victory thanks to a 90th minute equaliser from visitors Staines Town. Whilst a draw was just about a fair result City will no doubt be frustrated at conceding another late goal and seeing Andy Watkins twice strike the bar with stunning long range shots. After both goalkeepers were called into early action the Middlesex side settled first and their excellent passing game showed what a great job City had done into preparing the pitch. Jason Mellor produced several further good stops but on 24 minutes Watkins came within inches of putting City ahead when his 20 yard shot hit the underside of the bar before bouncing to safety. City were now beginning to compete on a more equal footing, although Sekani Simpson had to clear a Theophanous effort off the line just past the half-hour mark, but neither side could fashion a goal before the interval. The second half began with City gaining the upper hand with Watkins again being denied by the frame of the goal and David Pratt forcing a fine flying save from Merson. Staines did have the ball in the net on 70 minutes but the linesman’s flag had long since gone up for offside and ten minutes later City finally broke the deadlock. Ben Adelsbury’s cross was flicked on by Pratt and despite Merson blocking Mark Preece’s initial shot, Pratt was on hand to fire the lose ball home. As the game reached stoppage time it looked as if this would be enough to secure the three points but Ferrell rose highest to head home a 90th minute Pashaj free-kick and ensure a share of the spoils for the Swans.

Rearranged league fixtures and Somerset Premier Cup date (2/1/14)

City have confirmed new dates for their recently postponed matches against Ebbsfleet United and Weston Super Mare plus when they will travel to Cheddar for the quarter-final of the Somerset Premier Cup. They will travel to the coast to face the Seasiders on Tuesday 18 February before the Kent side will visit Mayday Trust Park on Tuesday 4 March. In-between on Wednesday 26 February City will face the Cheesemen for the first ever time in the county up competition. All games will kick off at 7.45pm.

PREVIEW: CITY v Staines Town – Skrill South (2/1/14)

Although 2014 began in very similar circumstances to 2013, with the postponement of a trip to Weston Super Mare, City open the new year in a much more positive position in the Skrill Conference South. A year ago City were in a lowly 14th position, just two points off the relegation zone. Fast forward twelve months and the table makes much more pleasant reading, with the Romans sitting in 7th place, this time the two point gap separating them from the play-off positions. Although their nine game unbeaten run was ended by Eastleigh in their last outing, the nature of the defeat will have done little to dent Lee Howells’ side’s confidence and they will welcome Staines Town to Mayday Trust Park on Saturday hoping to open the year with another three points.

They will face a Staines side lying just a single point behind them but with a wildly disparate home and away record. Remarkably 28 of the 29 points they have picked up this season have come at their Wheatsheaf Park home. The single point secured on their travels came back in October with a 1-1 draw at Tonbridge Angels. By contrast only league leaders Bromley can boast a better home record. With five away games scheduled for January beginning with the trip to the West Country, manager Marcus Gayle will be desperate for his side to overcome this travel sickness and ensure they remain in touch with the play-off positions. Accordingly the former Wimbledon player has been strengthening his squad over the Christmas and New Year period. On Christmas Eve he brought in 17-year old Kurtis Pykes, a young central midfielder, on a work experience loan from League 2 Dagenham & Redbridge. Then yesterday, at the other end of the experience spectrum, striker Callum Willock, joined the Swans. The 32-year old, who is a full international for the Caribbean island nation of St Kitts & Nevis, began the season with fellow Skrill Conference South side Boreham Wood before playing for Harrow Borough to recover fitness after picking up an injury.

Complete record against Staines Town

City were one of Staines’ nine victims at Wheatsheaf Park back in September but could count themselves unfortunate not to have picked up at least a point from the game. For 88 minutes the match looks destined to finish goalless before a deflected shot from Pashaj gave Jason Mellor no chance. City then appeared to have salvaged a draw when Ross Stearn’s free-kick was only parried by Swans keeper Merson and Ben Adelsbury headed home the rebound. However, their joy was short-lived when the referee disallowed the ‘goal’. Staines’ last visit to Mayday Trust Park in February 2013 also ended in a 1-0 win for the Middlesex side thanks to a goal two minutes from time. This time, though, City could have few complaints having been second best for much of the match. In a generally uninspiring first period Staines created the best of the few openings, City keeper Jason Mellor denying Marsh with his legs after seven minutes, pushing Wheeler’s shot away then turning another Marsh effort over the crossbar late in the half. In first half stoppage time Chris Allen saw a goalbound shot deflected away for a corner and the second half began with more promise from City. Mark Preece’s header from a Marc Canham corner was cleared off the line then Adam Connolly lifted a shot past keeper Turner but just the wrong side of the post. This proved false dawn though and Staines were soon back in charge. A combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping from Mellor, though, looked set to see the game end goalless but with two minutes left Wheeler out-muscled Preece on the halfway line. He raced toward goal and although his shot was blocked by Gethin Jones it dropped kindly to Marsh who finally fired past Mellor into the roof of the net.

Weston Super Mare match OFF due to waterlogged pitch (1/1/14)

Following a 10am inspection this morning’s City’s match against Weston Super Mare has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. As forcast heavy rain swept into the region overnight leaving the Woodspring Park surface unplayable. City will now turn their attention of their first home match of 2014 when Staines Town visit Mayday Trust Park on Saturday (ko 3pm) for a Skrill Conference South clash