City recorded their second home win of the week and moved within two games of completing a full season unbeaten at home with a 2-1 win over Tamworth. However, they were made to fight all the way for the victory and rode their luck in a tense final fifteen minutes. The visitors had already had the better of the opening exchanges, although Colbourne should have scored after a kick by Bibbo cleared the Lambs back line and gave him a clear sight of goal, but after they missed two great chances, City grabbed the lead on 32 minutes. A free kick 35 yards out, following a foul on Harrington, was driven in low by Davis and Tamworth’s Mutchell diverted it past his own keeper. This lifted City and they began to gain the upper hand, and just five minutes after the interval they doubled their lead. Davis began the move, running from his own half, before freeing Gosling and his low cross was turned home by Paul at the far post. This was Birdy’s 96th goal in City colours on his 200th appearance and meant he has now scored against Tamworth for sixth successive meetings. City should have been safe but with 25 minutes remaining the Midlands side pulled a goal back – Haughton turning and firing past Bibbo from 8 yards. Suddenly City were faced with a rejuvenated opponent and, cheered on by their sizable following, they pressed Paul Bodin’s men back. A number of desperate goalmouth scrambled were somehow cleared and even when Tamworth did get a sight of goal they failed to find a way past Bibbo. The final whistle was greated were a degree of relief and means that just Salisbury and Welling stand between City and an unblemished Twerton Park league record this season.
City finally returned to winning ways tonight but had to overcome a stubborn Dorchester side and the appalling conditions before recording a flattering 3-0 victory. A heavy shower just before kick-off and almost constant rain during the match left the Twerton Park pitch barely playable and for the first half this was reflected in the play, both sides struggling to produce a worthwhile effort on goal. However, despite conditions worsening, the second half saw the relegation threatened visitors gain the upper hand and City had to be thankful for three excellent stops by Sal Bibbo. The saves became even more vital when on 68 minutes Mike Davis fired City ahead after good work by Scott Walker. Four minutes later they doubled the lead from the penalty spot, Jon Holloway converting after Graham Colbourne was felled in the box. And the game was wrapped up after just another three minutes when Martin Paul scored following a mistake by Impey.
Earlier in the day Jon Holloway was handed a further three match ban following his FA misconduct hearing at Cheltenham’s Wadden Road ground for his sending off at Burton Albion. The punishment was for the blow he threw at Burton’s Christian Moore after he was dismissed for an incident with the same player. Holloway did escape further punishment after he was cleared of three further charges and will miss the games against Salisbury City, Moor Green and Welling United.
City’s hopes of producing a surprise result at league leaders Margate yesterday disappeared as a goal at the beginning of each half left them on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline. Fielding an unchanged line-up and formation from the goalless draw against Cambridge last week City got off to the worst start possible, keeper Bull spilling a Keister corner, allowing Saunders to lift the ball into an unguarded net. To their their credit City then took the game to the Kent side but, against the league’s best defence, could only fashion a handful of changes despite their neat approach play. The best of these fell to Holloway but he fired a point-blank volley straight at keeper Tucker. The second half began in a similar manner but on 51 minutes Margate gave themselves the breathing space they needed, a long ball over the top allowing Collins to fire past Bull. The home side were now content to absorb what little threat City produced and ran out easy winners in the end.
Missing again from City’s line-up was top scorer Martin Paul after a car accident left him stranded in Bath. He did join fellow striker Graham Colbourne in the reserve clash with Street, grabbing a goal in the 5-1 win, where Colbourne struck a hat-trick.
The extent of City’s plans for next season became clearer yesterday with the news that Paul Bodin has only been offered a part-time contract for the 2001-02 campaign. Bodin, who has held a full-time position since his return to Twerton Park at the end of the 1997-98 season, will also sign a playing contract but the net result will around a 50% wage cut. The ex-Wales international has said he will consider his position at the end of the season, but a it must now be considered a major doubt whether he will remain at Twerton Park following this move.
Further details of the shareholders vote over the possible sale of Twerton Park have also been revealed. The vote, which fell 10% short of the required 75% majority that was needed to allow the board to approach two possible buyers of Twerton Park, saw 14% of the smaller shareholders join majority owner Corporate Equity in favour with a similar number against. 17% did not vote (cheers!) and 4% were untraceable.
Following a five hour meeting last night City’s board have given the go-ahead to Paul Bodin to begin assembling his team for next seasons Dr Martens Premier Division campaign – but they have delayed setting a budget until the manager has confirmed details of the squad he wants. Bodin will also be offered a new one year playing contract, although it is understood that he may play less than in previous years.
The meeting also confirmed that the recent vote on the possible future of Twerton Park failed to get the required 75% majority vote to allow the board to consider two offers to purchase the ground. However, despite this setback chairman Steve Hall has accepted the decision, saying “We were rather expecting this, and it clears the air a little. We now know that we have to take our own steps to secure the long-term future of the club and we have plans in hand which we shall reveal before the end of the season.”
City’s top scorer Martin Paul may face internal disciplinary action after being relegated to the bench in Saturday’s goalless draw with Cambridge City. The move that surprised most fans, particularly with the absence of fellow striker Graham Colbourne due to an ankle injury, came after Birdy missed Thursday’s training session due to domestic problems. City boss Paul Bodin has called the 26-year old’s training ‘spasmodic’ and will have a meeting with the player this week to try to solve the problem.
The voting to give the board the option of approaching the two firms interested in buying Twerton Park has now closed, although the result is not expected to be made public for a couple of days. Tomorrow night sees the board meeting where the playing budget for next season is due to be confirmed – a decision that could determine whether Paul Bodin has a future at the club.
City returned to action after a fortnight break but had to settle for a goalless draw against Cambridge City, as they missed a number of chances at a cold and wet Twerton Park. With Sal Bibbo, Kevin Lloyd and Mark Clode all suspended, and Graham Colbourne injured, City boss Paul Bodin surprisingly dropped top scorer Martin Paul to the bench, playing Mike Davis and Sam Allison up front in an experimental 3-4-3 formation (I think). The changes appeared to be working as City carved through the visitors almost at will in the first half, but Gosling, Allison, Davis and Holloway all saw chances come and go, with Gosling coming the closest when his overhead effort was clawed onto the post by keeper Davis. City failed to keep this pace up in the second period, although Allison and Gosling did have further chances, and they nearly paid the ultimate price in the closing minutes when a low cross by Hann just beat the outstreched foot of Cambridge’s Cambridge.
Jon Holloway will face an FA disciplinary hearing on Tuesday 27 March where he will appeal against three of the four charges levelled against him following his sending off against Burton Albion in January. The hearing will take place at Cheltenham’s Whadden Road ground and Holloway will attend personally to face charges of striking Burton’s Christian Moore after being sent off, failing to leave the field, using foul and abusive language and pushing Albion’s player-manager Nigel Clough. The ex-Gloucester City player denies the two latter charges and also argues that the second accusation was included in the referee’s report, therefore he has already been punished for it in the three-match ban he received for the incident.
More immediately City boss Paul Bodin faces a mini-selection crisis for Saturday’s return to action against Cambridge City. After a two-week break Bodin will have to do without Sal Bibbo, Mark Clode and Kevin Lloyd (all suspended), and Graham Colbourne is also doubtful with the ankle injury he received in the draw against King’s Lynn.
Despite leaving Saturday’s 2-2 draw with King’s Lynn on a stretcher Graham Colbourne may be fit for City’s next outing against Cambridge City on March 17. Fears that he had again injuried the knee that saw him miss eight months of last season proved unfounded – as the injury turned out to be ligament damage in his ankle. With a free Saturday this week Colbourne may not miss a single game which will please his biggest fan – manager Paul Bodin.
City’s reserve side have announced dates for two more of their fixtures. They will visit Street on Wednesday 18 April and the trip to Chard is now the final game of the season on Saturday 28 April. Only the clash at Clyst Rovers remains to be arranged, following its cancellation on Saturday due to the foot and mouth problem.
City had to settle for a point in an eventful match at Twerton Park this afternoon after 10-man King’s Lynn grabbed an equaliser 12 minutes from time. This levelled the game at 2-2 after City had fought back from a goal deficit at half-time plus the loss of Graham Colbourne and a Martin Paul penalty miss. Colbourne was stretchered off after 20 minutes with a knee injury after City had started the game brightly, but following his departure they seemed to lose their way and it was no surprise when the visitors took the lead – Bush firing past Bibbo. On the stroke of half time City were given a lifeline with their second questionable penalty in two home games. The ball was struck against a Linnett defender’s arm and the referee pointed to the spot. Unlike the clash with Clevedon Town Jon Holloway did not grab the spot kick duties – only watching on as regular taker Paul was denied by keeper Martini. The second half saw City push the visitors back but fail to trouble Martini until the game turned on a sending off (and, for a change, it wasn’t a City player who saw red). A long ball over the top sent Allison clear and as he cut across Robinson he was sent sprawling. The referee immmediately brandished the red card and, from the resultant free kick, Allison headed Walker’s cross to Holloway and he beat Martini from close range. And 10 minutes later it got even better for City when hesitation in the Lynn defence saw an attempted clearance hit Fraser and loop over the unfortunate Martini. However, with City pushing for a third goal the Norfolk side grabbed an equaliser, when a long ball sent sub Jones clear and his low shot beat Bibbo. Towler and Paul almost grabbed a winner right at the end, Martini denying both players with fine saves, which would have been hard on King’s Lynn in the circumstances.
City’s future was put into the hands of it’s shareholders last night following the extraordinary general meeting and the vote to allow the board of directors to consider the sale of Twerton Park. Over 150 people attended the two-hour meeting where they heard the financial position that City are in and the options facing the club if it is to survive. Despite all along making it clear that selling Twerton Park was the final option in the efforts to clear the current debt of £425,000 the club now has two developers interested in purchsing the land. Twerton Park Properties, a Midlands based company, is the favoured of the two as their offer includes a site at Newton Fields for the club to build a new ground. This bid also would see the company pay £100,000 up front while planning permission is sought for both sites. The second bid is from McAlpine’s and would also involve the company finding City a suitable site for a new ground, although this time no area has been confirmed. Both offers for the land are in the region of £4 million, which, after the debts and costs are paid, would leave City around £3 million to build a new ground. It was also revealed at the meeting that the board is drawing up plans to buy the controlling interest of the club back from Corporate Equity, giving them greater independance and control. The company has agreed to sell their 51% shareholding at £2.50 per share plus the full repayment of their loan. This would require around £500,000 to be raised. The meeting also revealed that the board had approached several local businessmen, including Bath Rugby backer Andrew Brownsword, to buy the club but these moves had, so far, failed. The possiblity that the club could be forced into a large cut in the playing budget, should these various options fail, was confirmed. Shareholders now have until March 16 to vote on the proposal and the result is expected around a week after that date.
For the second successive trip a red card left City’s hopes of a rare away victory in tatters but, unlike the Stafford farce, they could have few complaints. Keeper Sal Bibbo was dismissed for felling Dale after knocking an attempted clearance straight to the County striker. The incident also gave the home side a penalty that Dale converted past stand-in keeper Martin Paul and doubled their lead. Hill had given Newport the lead just eight minutes earlier, heading home ex-City player James’ right wing cross. James also provided County’s third goal five minutes from time, crossing for Dale to nod in his second goal of the night. Despite playing with a strong wind behind them in the first period City had struggled to find a way through a disciplined Exile defence, with only Davis’ header late in the half threatening Mountain’s goal, and once Bibbo departed the action it became a damage limitation exercise and County cruised to a comfortable win.