After two promising pre-season games that ended in defeat, City finally achieved a result to match their performance, beating a young Bristol City side by two goals to one. The goals came in either half, Scott Walker heading home a Mike Davis cross after 25 minutes and Davis himself firing in off the post on 70 minutes. In between the visitors levelled with a stunning 30-yard effort from Docherty that gave keeper Ganfield no chance. The game saw 17-year old trialist keeper Liam Ball feature and Paul Bodin also played his first full game of the summer, in a centre-back role.
City Reserves had their first run out of the summer on Wednesday, going down 4-3 against Melksham Town. City’s goals came from Mark Harrington, Graham MacLean and an own goal from Town keeper Chitty, as he dropped a Craig Hopkins cross into his net. The Wiltshire side responded with a Lewis hat-trick and a Brown header.
Paul Bodin has completed his second signing of the summer, capturing Kidderminster Harriers full-back Phil King. The former teammate of Bodin’s at Swindon Town has signed for City on a pay-as-you-play contract, after leaving the Conference champions to run a Swindon pub. 32-year old King made over 300 league appearance for a number of league clubs including Aston Villa, where his penalty shoot-out success helped overcome Inter Milan in the 1994-95 UEFA Cup, and Sheffield Wednesday. For further details of King’s career click here.
Another player who has signed a new contract with City is the more familiar face of Jimmy Fraser. The midfielder was not offered a contract at the end of last season, but his performances in the pre-season friendlies so far, including a goal against Swindon, have impressed Bodin enough to offer the ex-Worcester City man a new one year deal.
Another encouraging City performance ended in a narrow defeat as 2nd Division Swindon Town overcame a 2-1 half-time deficit to win by three goals to two at a sun-drenched Twerton Park this afternoon. City began the stronger and took the lead after 13 minutes when Jimmy Fraser slide home a Martin Paul cross at the far post. A great chance to double the lead fell to Craig Hopkins but he was denied by the Robins keeper, and just after the half hour they levelled from an unmarked header. However, a minute before half time City retook the lead, Graham MacLean controlling a long ball before firing a low shot into the corner of the net. Swindon drew level again shortly after the interval from close range after an error by Peter Tisdale, before a neatly taken free kick after 70 minutes put them ahead. Bodin again used the match to field must of his squad and the second half changes affected City’s rhythm, with only a Martin Paul shot against the top of the bar threatening a further City goal.
City began their pre-season preparations with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of local rivals Yeovil Town. The game looked to be headed for a goalless stalemate, as City more than held their own against the full-time Conference side, but Belgrave nipped in ahead of keeper Ganfield with just two minutes remaining to give the Glovers an underserved victory. Prior to this City had created the better chances, with Paul denied on one occasion by the crossbar before twice testing ex-City keeper Matthews in the home goal. Birdy then rather blotted his copybook, a stray elbow seeing him substituted on the referees orders, although he did return to the action 15 minutes later. The game saw Bodin field 22 players, nine of the changes coming at half time, with Sal Bibbo making his debut in the first half, and trialists Andy Waller and Wayne Cleverly given 45 minutes.
Following a meeting between the Southern League, Northern League and Isthmian League, non-league football looks set for major restructuring from the 2002-03 season. From that season the Isthmian (Ryman) League will cease to exist, with just the Southern (Dr Martens) League and Northern (Unibond) League feeding into the Conference. The constitution of the two leagues will be made up from the current three competitions. The primary aim of this move seems to be to provide greater promotion to the Conference, although the exact details have yet to be confirmed. Clearly, whether City are still in the Dr Martens League (yeh, right) or the Conference this change will affect them, and it also seems to put an end to any Conference Division 2 plans.
City have once again been named among the pre-season favourites for the Dr Martens Premier Division title. They are third favourites at 9/2 behind Burton Albion (5/2) and Newport County (7/2). City’s first opponents Folkestone Invicta are the rank outsiders at 66/1. The full list is:
Burton Albion 5/2; Newport County 7/2; BATH CITY 9/2; Tamworth 5/1; Crawley Town 11/2; Margate 6/1; King’s Lynn 6/1; Welling United 8/1; Worcester City 10/1; Weymouth 10/1; Ilkeston Town 10/1; Stafford Rangers 12/1; Halesowen Town 16/1; Havant & Waterlooville 20/1; Cambridge City 20/1; Dorchester Town 25/1; Salisbury City 25/1; Clevedon Town 25/1; Fisher Athletic 33/1; Moor Green 66/1; Folkestone Invicta 66/1.
City will again begin their league campaign with a home game with Folkestone Invicta making the long journey to Twerton Park on Saturday 19 August. This means City have been given a home start every season since their relegation to the Dr Martens League in 1997. Two days later City make their first journey of the 2000-01 season, with a potentially tricky trip to Worcester City.
With the first friendly just a week away City’s players began their pre-season training at Bath University last night. Returning to action were last seasons long-term injured stars, Graham Colburne (knee), Kevin Lloyd (back) and Colin Towler (broken toe) all took part in the session and look set to be fit for the start of the new season. The only missing face was new signing Salvatore Bibbo who is still away on holiday. The keeper will return in time for the opening friendly at Yeovil Town on Wednesday 19 July (ko 7.45pm).
City have finally named their new keeper as Salvatore Bibbo – the shot stopper making the switch from Dr Martens rivals Havant & Waterlooville. As a former teammate of Paul Bodin’s at Reading the 25-year old was always a target of the City boss and, after protracted negotiations, he has signed a one-year contract. Having also played for Sheffield United before a back injury forced him out of league football, Basingstoke (!) born Sal Bibbo is rated as one of the top keepers in the DML. For further details click here.
After a quiet few weeks the return of City boss Paul Bodin from his summer holiday should signal the beginning of new arrivals, with a new keeper the likely first new face. Since Elliot Jackson’s release at the end of last season a new stopper has been top of Bodin’s wanted list, and a deal looks set to be announced within the next couple of days.
City will begin their 2000-01 FA Cup campaign with a trip to Hampshire to meet Basingstoke Town. The Ryman League side knocked City out of the 1997-98 competition 3-1 in a 2nd Qualifying Round replay at Twerton Park after a Mike Davis goal had given them a 1-1 draw at the Camrose Ground. The tie will take place on 30 September.