A leg injury suffered by midfielder Scott Rogers took some of the gloss off City’s first pre-season victory tonight over Bitton. Rogers had only been on the pitch seven minutes, having replaced Lewis Hogg at half-time, when he received the knock in a heavy challenge on the halfway line. Whilst he was heading to hospital for an x-ray City were running out comfortable 3-1 winners over the Toolstation side. Jon Holloway’s 16th minute penalty, after Kane Ingram was tripped in the box, gave them the lead and 15 minutes later Ingram made it 2-0, following up Hogg’s shot to tap home. Bitton should have pulled a goal back from the penalty spot before the break but Paul Evans saved the effort with his legs. A series of substitutions disrupted City’s rhythm after the break and the home side made it 2-1 with a successful penalty just after the hour mark. The win was secured ten minutes from time when trialist striker Justin Pritchard fired home off the post to register his third pre-season goal.
City deservedly held Cardiff City to a 1-1 draw last night in the third friendly game of the summer. The Welsh side, featuring a mix of trialists and youth players, gave City a stern workout in the hot and humid conditions and took the lead with 22 minutes remaining when MacDonald raced clear before slotting the ball past Paul Evans. City almost levelled when Justin Pritchard’s neat flick gave Scott Rogers a sight of goal, but keeper Allison blocked his effort. They weren’t to be denied though as with seven minutes left Pritchard’s through ball allowed Lewis Hogg to shoot home.
City have missed out on the signing of Julian Alsop after the Forest Green Rovers striker agreed to join Conference South side Newport County.
Another player who won’t be wearing black and white stripes this season is Ryan Dorrian after he signed for Mangotsfield United. The midfielder joined City in March 2006 from Merthyr Tydfil making just one start and two substitute appearances.
Friday night saw a young City side come from two goals behind to draw 3-3 with Western League Calne Town in their second pre-season outing. The line-up featured just five players with first team experience, but also included trialist striker Justin Pritchard who did his hopes of earning a contract no harm with two goals. He first strike came after 35 minutes which drew City level after a free header had given the home side the lead four minutes earlier. Two goals in the space of ten minutes after the interval looked to have given Calne victory but City’s side, now featuring five youth team players, never gave up and Pritchard’s shot from the edge of the area made it 3-2 just after the hour mark. City spurned several chances to level but in the final minute Kane Ingram turned well in the box and his low drive was deflected into the corner of the net.
City have turned their attention to Forest Green Rovers striker Julian Alsop in their search to increase their forward line options. The experienced 33-year old signed a one-year with the perinnial Conference strugglers but has decided to give up full-time football. He has enjoyed a long and, at times, controversial, league career with Cheltenham, Oxford, Northampton, Swansea and Bristol Rovers. City will have to fight off interest from Conference South side Newport County if they are to secure the services of the 6’2 target man.
Despite their interest in Alsop, City are keeping their options open and will give a trial to former Merthyr Tydfil and Weston Super Mare forward Justin Pritchard in tonight’s friendly at Calne Town. The 26-year old, who made three substitute appearances for City as a teenager in 1997, ended last season playing for Gloucester City. Another trialist who will feature in this evening’s match is ex-Bristol Rovers youngster Matt Thorne. The defender played the last 30 minutes against his former club, where he was release after a first year professional contract, and will get another chance to impress at Calne.
If City’s youth team are to repeat their 2005-06 FA Youth Cup success they will have to do it the hard way after they were drawn away from home in the three qualifying rounds. Last season the side reached the 2nd Round proper where only a single goal saw them lose to Cheltenham Town. The 2006-07 competition will begin with a 1st Qualifying Round trip to Bitton and the winner will face either Bristol Manor Farm or Cirencester Town. If successful the final hurdle before the 1st Round will be one of Yate Town, Newport County, Cinderford Town or Weymouth. Last season’s South West Counties Youth League runners-up began their pre-season campaign with a narrow 1-0 defeat at Biddestone last Thursday and the full list of their friendlies can be found on the Youth page. The league season begins on Saturday 26 August.
As expected the Bath Sports Festival, scheduled for the weekend of the 29/30 July, that was to feature a 25-minute each half meeting between City and Team Bath, has been cancelled.
City’s clash with Bristol Rovers yesterday saw them unveil their new home kit plus main sponsor. The name emblazoned across the front of the more traditional black and white striped shirts is John Crick Investment Consultants. The Somerset-based company, who offer advice on all finanical matters, including investments and pension, won the auction for the honour after the annual draw was won by the Club Shop.
City began their build-up for the 2006-07 season with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Coca-Cola League 2 side Bristol Rovers. Two goals in the opening 16 minutes through Igoe and Elliot were enough to give the full-time side the victory but a number of performances from City players will have impressed the home contingent in the crowd of 935. City’s three new signings Lewis Hogg, Mark McKeever and Mike Green all featured, with the former producing a man-of-the-match outing. Former youth team players Stu Pearson and Kane Ingram also featured as second half substitutes and ex-Clevedon Town keeper Richard Fey played the final 15 minutes.
In an almost annual event City have been installed as the pre-season favourites to lift the British Gas Business Southern League Premier Division title in April 2007. Stan James Bookmakers have quoted City at 9/2 (compared to 5/1 in the first set of odds for last season) ahead of second favourites King’s Lynn (11/2). Chippenham are third favourites at 13/2 whereas tenants Team Bath are outsiders at 28/1. The full list is:
Bath City 9/2; Kings Lynn 11/2; Chippenham Town 13/2; Yate Town 9/1; Banbury Unted 10/1; Halesowen Town 18/1; Mangotsfield Utd 18/1; Maidenhead 20/1; Gloucester City 22/1; Corby Town 25/1; Hitchin Town 25/1; Merthyr Tydfil 25/1; Rugby Town 25/1; Stamford 25/1; Tiverton Town 25/1; Clevedon Town 28/1; Team Bath 28/1; Wealdstone 28/1; Cheshunt 33/1; Cirencester Town 33/1; Hemel Hempstead Town 33/1; Northwood 50/1.
The release of the 2006-07 British Gas Business League fixtures today has given City a trip to last season’s Southern League East Division runners-up Corby Town to start their campaign. It will be the second season running they have begun at an athletics stadium and they will hope for a repeat of the 3-0 victory over Grantham Town last season. Their first home match is also a repeat of 05-06 with a visit from Tiverton Town. City will finish their league season at Twerton Park against Rugby Town and the two local derbies against Chippenham Town will take place on New Years Day at Hardenhuish Park and at home on Easter Monday (April 9). The full list can be found on the Results and Fixtures page.
The Bath Sports Festival, that features a meeting between City and Team Bath for the Coronation Cup, is now in doubt after the Council turned down a licence for a key part of the event. The two-day festival is due to be held over the weekend of the 29/30 July, with City facing their tenants at the Recreation Ground on the second day, but now the organisers face a race to get a safety certificate in time after their initial application was turned down.
City have moved to dispell rumours linking Jon Holloway with a move to British Gas Business League rivals Gloucester City or Merthyr Tydfil. The 29-year old midfielder played for both sides in the past and, after missing City’s return to training last week, a return to the Tigers, in particular, was rumoured. However, assistant manager Adie Britten has confirmed that Holloway remains an integral part of next season’s squad, only missing the training session due to a recent minor operation.
One City player who will be plying his trade away from Twerton Park next season is former youth team captain Adam Shackell after he agreed to join British Gas Business League South and West Division side Paulton Rovers on a season-long loan deal.
The only player from last year still to sign a new deal has finally committed himself to City for the 2006-07 season. Goalkeeper Paul Evans has been recovering from the back injury that saw him miss the final few games of last season but has now agreed to a new one-year deal. With the first pre-season friendly, at home to Bristol Rovers, just over a week away the signature of Evans almost completes John Relish’s squad with just another striker on the wanted list.
And it finally looks as if this striker will not be Chippenham Town’s Dave Gilroy. City made an increased bid of £4000 this week for the striker but after several weeks of contradictory statements from various Bluebird sources this bid has been officially rejected and their Chairperson, Sandie Webb, is reported to have said, “The board of Chippenham Town have decided that Dave Gilroy is not for sale in the present circumstances … why would we want to sell our best striker to our local rivals?” She then made some laughable claim about Chippenham being a stronger club, but maybe she was mis-quoted there.
City will begin their 2006-07 FA Cup and FA Trophy campaigns at Twerton Park after they were drawn at home in both competitions this morning. In the FA Cup they will face fellow British Gas Business League Premier Division side Tiverton Town and their FA Trophy season will begin with a meeting against either Bishops Cleeve or Newport IOW, who both play in Division 1 of the league. The matches, both 1st Qualifying Round ties, will take place on Saturday 16 September and Saturday 21 October, respectively.
City have completed their pre-season line-up with the addition of a meeting with Paulton Rovers on Tuesday 8 August (ko 7.30pm).
With a series of conflicting statements emanating from Hardenhuish Park, City’s pursuit of Dave Gilroy is no nearer a conclusion despite the increased offer they made for the striker this week. Chippenham manager Darren Perrin immediately labelled a fee of £10,000 to £15,000 on the 26-goal hitman, but then admitted the decision could be taken out of his hands. The situation was further clouded when Bluebirds chairperson, Sandie Webb, on her return from following England at the World Cup refused to rule out selling Gilroy or back her manager’s valuation of the player. Understandably, given the mixed messages coming from City’s local rivals, manager John Relish has identified three further targets should the chase for Gilroy finally prove unsuccessful.
City have arranged a further pre-season friendly, travelling to Western League side Calne Town on Friday 21 July (ko 7.45pm).
Around 25 City supporters gave up a Saturday morning yesterday to give Twerton Park a summer spruce up. Despite the hot and sunny conditions they energetically wieded paintbrushes to brighten up the terrace side of the perimeter wall, the access gates, club shop frontage plus a number of other areas. The work was organised by City vice-chairman John Reynolds and the supporters were rewarded with a drink of their choice on completion of the work.
The possibilty of Bristol Rovers making a surprise return to Twerton Park has surfaced following the release of plans to redevelop their Memorial Stadium home. The Pirates – who spent ten years sharing City’s home between 1986 and 1996 – have proposed a £30million re-building of the ground that would involved moving out for 18 months. A number of potential temporary homes have been suggested including Cheltenham Town, Yeovil Town and Forest Green Rovers, but Bath’s location and previous history as Rovers’ home makes it one of the most likely options.
City received a big boost for the 2006-07 season when Scott Partridge ended weeks of uncertainty by agreeing to a new two-year contract. Last season’s top scorer – who now has scored 57 goals in 109 appearances for City – had delayed signing a new deal due to interest from a number of other teams higher up the non-league pyramid, but in the end decided to remain at Twerton Park to lead City’s title ambitions.