City were given another tough pre-season workout this afternoon at a hot and sunny Twerton Park by Mansfield Town. A goal in either half seeing the Coca-Cola League 2 side run out comfortable 2-0 winners. City did produce some neat passing on the increasingly impressive Twerton pitch but the visitors had already missed three or four clear openings before O’Neil gave them the lead from close range on 31 minutes. The closest City came to scoring in the first half was a Steve Tweddle header from John Williams’ hooked cross that flew narrowly wide. The second goal came midway through the second half from Asamoah, beating Justin Shuttlewood at his near post after a strong run. City could have pulled a goal back when substitute Ricky Hulbert got clear of the Stags defence only to pulled back by a defender. However, the referee (maybe trying out for Southern League standard) amazingly waved play on. A few positives from the game were the first summer appearance of Mike Trought for the final 10 minutes and a solid performance by latest trialist Tom Jordan. City now travel to Yate Town for their penultimate friendly on Tuesday (ko 7.30pm).
Striker Scott Partridge has received a further injury setback following the operation to repair his damaged knee. The surgery revealed a small fracture in his knee socket in addition to the cartilage problem. This will mean the 29-year old will be unable to put any weight on the knee for four weeks and push his recovery time out even further.
Whilst not totally unexpected it still came as a blow as City discovered that star striker Scott Partridge faces up to three months on the sidelines due his knee injury. The 29-year old, who scored 18 goals in City’s final 20 games of last season, received the injury during the play-off defeat against Dorchester and despite two months rest a scan has discovered cartilage damage that will require an operation. Once he has been under knife the recovery could be anywhere between three weeks and three months.
Teenage defender Sam Bailey may be heading away from Twerton Park after he was offered a university football scholarship in America. The 18-year old joined City from Bristol City in February and forged an excellent partnership with Matt Coupe at the centre of the team’s defence. He signed a one year contract in May but is now considering the offer to head overseas. City manager Gary Owers has moved quickly to fill the gap should Bailey decide to leave by giving a trial to former Bristol City and Southend defender Tom Jordan. The 6’5 centre-back, who is the son of ex-Robins boss Joe Jordan, has also played in the Conference with Tamworth and Forest Green and will feature in City’s three remaining pre-season friendlies.
One player who looks unlike to play for City again is midfielder Iain Harvey. He had played a part in all City pre-season games so far in an attempt to earn a contract after missing the majority of last season with a broken ankle. However, with City well covered in the middle of the park the former Clevedon Town player has been told he will not be offered a deal and turned out for Tiverton Town at St Blazey during the week.
Football and soap fans congregated at a sunny Twerton Park yesterday afternoon to witness an entertaining match between a Coronation Street XI led by Ricky Tomlinson and Bradley Walsh and a Masters XI picked by City manager Gary Owers. Tomlinson, last in a managerial hot seat when he led England to the quarter finals of the World Cup in the film Mike Bassett: England Manager, spent the majority of the game signing autographs for the sizable crowd. Despite this his team battled out a 4-4 draw with Owers’ side. In addition to Walsh, who plays Danny Baldwin in the soap, the side also included Michael Le Vell (Kevin Webster), Thomas Craig (Tommy Harris), Trevor Dwyer-Lynch (taxi driver Patrick!) and newcomer Danny Young (Warren Baldwin). Also, more bizarrely, playing for the all-star team was former City secretary Quentin Edwards and ex-player Stuart James! Owers’ side included former professionals Brian Parkin, Gerry Sweeney, Andy Tilson and Darren Casky, plus City assistant manager Vaughan Jones and another former player Adie Mings. And it was Mings who headed them ahead midway through the first half. A penalty, converted by Dwyer-Lynch levelled the game early in the second half before Young put the Corrie side ahead. Caskey’s 25-yard screamer made it 2-2 then a close range finish from Owers made it 3-2. The goals continued to come thick and fast, West End director Barry Robinson drawing the game level again then Mings grabbing his second after stealing the ball off keeper Dwyer-Lynch. But with the last kick of the game Robinson fired home his second and honours were even. After the game, organised through former City director and world renowed film director Ken Loach, the stars spent a time signing autographs for the fans.
Somewhat ironically given his refusal to worry over City’s lack of pre-season goals it was manager Gary Owers who finally broke the duck to start a mini-rush as City ran out 3-0 winners over Clevedon Town at the Hand Stadium this afternoon. His 66th minute header from a Bobby Ford corner deservedly gave City the lead after they had produced their most assured friendly performance so far. After the Seasiders started well City soon began to control the game without ever looking totally convincing. John Williams spurned a great chance ten minutes before the break, firing straight at the keeper when clean through. The second half followed a similar pattern until Owers rose above the keeper and his header just evaded two defenders on the line. Justin Shuttlewood produced a good save to preserve this lead shortly afterwards before a neat Williams lob made it 2-0 after 76 minutes. The final goal was the pick of the three, Dean Stevens firing a 20-yard shot into the roof of the net with two minutes remaining. City now have a week break before their next friendly outing when Mansfield Town visit Twerton Park.
City’s search for a first pre-season goal will go into a fifth game at Clevedon on Saturday after they were beaten 1-0 by Frome Town in their latest friendly outing this evening. Fielding a side comprising largely of trialists and youth team players they struggled to produce any decent football on a well-grassed bumpy pitch. The goal came within five minutes of the start of the second half and despite a little flurry by City in the game’s closing minutes this turned out to be the deciding strike.
Drew Shore has completed a switch to Southern League Division 1 West side Mangotsfield United for an undisclosed four-figure sum. The move comes after the former Bristol Rovers player turned down a new contract due to his lack of opportunites in the City midfield. He was a regular starter toward the end of last season but mainly at left-back. The Bristol-based club have guaranteed the 22-year old a starting place in central midfield and he has signed a one-year contract.
City continued their build-up for the new season this evening at Twerton Park with a 3-0 defeat against old rivals Yeovil Town. Despite failing to score for the third pre-season outing in a row it was an improved performance by City as they created several good openings against the Glovers. The best of these came five minutes before half-time when they won a penalty. However, Steve Tweddle saw his spot-kick saved by Weale and within 60 seconds Yeovil won a penalty of their own. Williams did not make the same mistake as Tweddle. Three minutes later Pluck’s scuffed shot, after City had failed to clear a corner, made it 2-0. The second half saw Paul Evans made a number of good stops before he was beaten for a third time with ten minutes left by Gall.
Having already succeeded in one appeal City have had a second victory after Gary Owers was found not guilty of using threatening behaviour toward a linesman during the local derby against Chippenham Town back in April. Initially he faced a three-game playing ban for the incident, that happened moments after he was substituted, but the first appeal saw the matter treated as a managerial dismissal. Now following a personal hearing at the Gloucestershire FA Owers has been cleared of the offence completely.
In front of an incredible crowd of 1778 City fought out a goalless draw with Coca-Cola League Two side Bristol Rovers in their second pre-season outing this evening. City, resplendent in their new home kit, were on the back foot for most of the game but, in contrast to Tuesday’s defeat against Reading, they withstood all their league opponents could produce. With Matt Coupe and Sam Bailey strong in the centre of defence and former Dorchester Town full-back Simon Radcliffe impressing on the left the closest the Pirates came to scoring in the first half was when Paul Evans tipped a long-range effort over the bar. The second half saw City win more possession without testing Rovers’ keeper. New signing Dean Stevens looked the most threatening City player although it was Jimmy Benefield won won a free-kick on the edge of the box midway through the half. Unfortunately Russell Milton could only fire a shot into the wall. The game finished with a couple of close escapes for City but it was a more positive outing after the six-goal reversal earlier in the week.
Last seasons top scorer Scott Partridge may miss the start of the season after it was revealed he is still struggling with a knee injury picked up in the final game of the campaign. He limped from the play-off defeat against Dorchester and, despite two months rest, has failed to overcome the problem. The situation has not been helped by problems away from the football field for Partridge, both his wife and young son has been in hospital recently, and he hopes to get a scan on the knee next week to try to identify the cause of the trouble.
After several false dawns and a pathetically long wait the Southern League has finally published the 2004-05 fixtures and City will start and finish the season at Twerton Park. Banbury United will be the visitors on Saturday 14 August before Aylesbury Town close the season on 30 April. In between City will face local rivals Chippenham Town at home on 27 December and travel to Hardenhuish Park on Saturday 26 March. The full list can be found here.
Gary Owers has handed the captaincy of his team to midfielder Bobby Ford for the forthcoming season. The experienced former Oxford United and Sheffield United takes over from Steve Jones.
Gary Owers has wasted little time in replacing Andy Williams, signing Torquay United midfielder Jimmy Benefield on a one-year contract. The 21-year old, who made 8 starts and 31 substitute appearances for the Gulls, scoring twice, has been training with City and, despite interest from Chesterfield, has committed himself to the club. With Williams deciding to take a break from the game due to a knee injury Bristol-born Benefield is an ideal replacement.
City’s pre-season campaign got off to a less than perfect start as they were handed a six-goal hammering by Coca-Cola Championship (!) side Reading at Twerton Park last night. And the final score could have been even more embarrassing but for excellent performances from City’s two goalkeepers Justin Shuttlewood and Oz Giangello. After City won a second minute corner it was all the Royals, two goals from Kitson and Forster giving them a 3-0 half-time lead. Kitson completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot early in the second half before Goater headed the fifth. The visitors saved their best goal for last when Newman fired a stunning 30-yard shot into the top corner of the net.
City have received a major blow on the eve of their pre-season campaign with the news that Andy Williams had decided to take a break from the game to try to overcome a knee injury. The 2002-03 player of the year missed most of the last campaign due to a hernia problem then suffered the knee injury a couple of games into his return to action. An exploratory operation identified bruising to the cruciate ligament and it had been hoped he would be fit for the start of the season. However, the former Southampton and Swindon Town winger has choosen to take a complete break from the game and, rather than see out the final year of his contract with no guarantee of being fully fit, quit the club and not collect his wages whilst still injured. Manager Gary Owers was shocked at the decision but made it clear that should Williams overcome the injury he will be given another chance at Twerton Park.
With the first pre-season friendly fast approaching City have announced that season tickets are now available for collection. They can either be picked up from the club office during normal working hours or before any of the friendly matches from the ticket office. And supporters are reminded that the season ticket entitles them to free admission to all of City’s pre-season matches at Twerton Park.
Despite missing out on a place in the grand final boss Gary Owers pronounced his 2004 Masters Football run-out as perfect exercise in the week City returned to training. His Sunderland side lost their first match 2-1 against Blackburn Rovers, Owers grabbing the Black Cats goal, but wins over Middlesborough and big rivals Newcastle United saw them through to the final. However, a 5-0 defeat by eventual winners Middlesborough ended their hopes. Owers looked one of the fitter players amongst the four sides although one crunching challenge with Brian Kilcline would have had any watching City fans wincing.
Another City player released at the end of last season has found himself a new club. Young striker Josh Jeffries has teamed up with former City front man, Dan Cleverley, at Southern League newcomers Paulton Rovers.
With City back in the 1st Qualifying Round for the first time since the 1997-98 season today’s FA Cup draw has given them a trip to either Bristol Manor Farm, Bridport or Chard Town. The tie will take place on Saturday 18 September 2004. They have also been handed an away draw in the 1st Round of the FA Trophy, with fellow Southern League side Tiverton Town the opposition on Saturday 6 November 2004. And completing an away day hat-trick the FA Youth Cup 1st Qualifying Round draw has paired City’s youth team with Chippenham Town’s in a match to be played at Hardenhuish Park week commencing 27 September 2004.
2002-03 top scorer Jason Eaton, who was released after an injury-ruined season last year, has reportedly signed for fellow Southern League side Merthyr Tydfil.