City stretched their unbeaten run to eight games and ensured they took four points from six over the Easter period but it was still a frustrating afternoon as they were held to a goalless draw by tenants Team Bath at Twerton Park this afternoon. After the stunning second half performance three days earlier at league leaders Chippenham Town it was particularly disappointing that they rarely threatened the university-based side. Leigh Henry had a first half effort cleared off the line and Steve Jones saw a late header tipped over by Chitty but in between it was the visitors who posed the greater threat without ever really testing Paul Evans. The draw sees City slip back one place into ninth spot, four points behind fifth placed Aylesbury United and the final play-off position.
A stunning second half hat-trick by John Williams saw City overturn a two goal deficit to beat local rivals and league leaders Chippenham Town 4-2 at Hardenhuish Park yesterday. The Blubirds raced into a 2-0 lead within just four minutes of the start as first Constable and then Kirk took advantage of slack marking to fire past Paul Evans. Gary Thorne also headed against the outside as Chippenham looked set to record their first ever success against City. However, a change in formation, from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, saw City completely dominate the second half. Williams headed the first goal on 55 minutes from an Alex Sykes cross then levelled proceedings ten minutes later with another headed goal, this time Scott Partridge providing the centre. Just another five minutes had passed when he completed his treble heading Chris Holland’s flick into the roof of the net. Gilroy twice almost raced clear for the home side after this but lacked the composure to beat Evans and it was left to Partridge to show him how it is done, rolling the ball past Hervin after latching onto Darren Hawkins’ pass with five minute remaining.
Swindon Town defender Leigh Henry will miss a major part of City’s run-in after he was sent off while playing for the Robin’s reserve side last week. The 18-year old, who is with City on work experience and has played a major part in their recent improved form, was dismissed in a 2-0 defeat against Plymouth Argyle and has received a four-game ban. The ban will be based on Swindon’s games rather than City but he is unlikely to be available until City’s final game against Alyesbury United after the suspension begins on 5 April.
The sun was shining on City in more ways than one this afternoon as they produced a remarkable late turnaround to beat Chesham United 2-1 and move to within four points of the play-off positions. Going into the last ten minutes they were trailing to a first half strike from Lawford and had rarely looked likely to find a way back into the game. Then Chris Holland rose to meet Gary Owers’ free-kick and loop a header into the top corner. Within a minute Graeme Power was tugged back in the area and Scott Partridge fired the penalty into the roof of the net. Partridge almost added a third in stoppage time as City comfortably held their advantage against a stunned Chesham side. The win, City’s third successive home victory, moves them back up to tenth position just four points adrift of fifth place Halesowen.
Gary Owers has decided to leave the search for an assistant until the summer after recent recruit Dave Bell left after just a week in the post. The former Manchester United Ladies boss joined City after his contract was terminated at struggling Coca-Cola League 2 side Chester City. However, he was offered his job back last week and understandably accepted. Russell Milton will remain Owers no.2 in his player-coach capacity.
For a second successive Saturday City produced a solid defensive show to earn a point in a goalless draw with a top 3 side and keep the play-off places just in sight. An exemplary display of handling from Paul Evans and another impressive performance from new defenders Leigh Henry and Chris Holland kept a Bedford Town side who had won 12 of their last 13 home matches at bay. Going forward City did pose a greater threat to the Eagles than they had the previous week at Halesowen, with Alex Sykes firing their best chance wide midway through the second half following a great cross-field ball from Matt Coupe. The draw sees City drop back into 11th place but remain six points off the all-important fifth position.
It appears that Dave Bell’s stay as City assistant manager has lasted less than a week after he was reported to have returned to Chester City yesterday.
Tonight City beat Grantham Town by two goals to nil and moved back onto the fringes of the Southern League play-off positions. They took the lead after just nine minutes when Gary Owers was tugged back in the box and Scott Partridge converted from the penalty spot. Martin Paul should have doubled the lead midway through the half, heading over from close range. The visitors were seeing the majority of possession but with new signings Chris Holland and Leigh Henry looking solid at the back they rarely threatened Paul Evans’ goal. The second half followed a similar pattern as City struggled to produce any attacks of note but comfortably defended their slim advantage. In fact, it took until the 90th minute for them to get an effort in on goal and from it Paul grabbed his 99th City strike with a low shot under Ziccardi.
After snapping up disgraced defender Sam Bailey within days of being thrown out of City, Chippenham Town boss Steve White has look to boost the incredible number of ex-City players in his squad by putting seven days’ notice of approach for England Under-18 Schoolboys captain Yan Klukowski. The 17-year old had been on the fringes of City’s first team all season but a combination of England and Wiltshire County call-ups have seen his opportunities limited. Unfortunately as the Chippenham-based youngster is still in full-time education City cannot put him on a contract which has allowed the Bluebirds to make this unwelcome approach. However, Gary Owers had stated he does not believe Klukowski will be tempted by any offer and he played a part in tonight’s win over Grantham as a second half substitute.
After a four month gap City have finally filled the assistant manager’s position vacated by Vaughan Jones’ disappearance. The new man is former Manchester United Ladies boss Dave Bell. Recently Bell was technical co-ordinator at troubled League 2 side Chester City and he has also held coaching posts at Bristol Rovers and Cardiff City. He holds a UEFA ‘A’ coaching badge and was community officer at Bristol City during Gary Owers’ time with the Robins.
City have signed Chris Holland on a month’s loan from tenants Team Bath. The former Bournemouth, Bristol City and Exeter City left-sided central defender has made over 100 appearances for Team Bath and captained the side this season. City had hoped to complete the signing in time for the 24-year old to play against Halesowen on Saturday, instead having to use his former teammate Tom Stocco on a one-off basis, but he will go straight into the squad to face Grantham tomorrow night.
City overcame their defensive problems this afternoon to battle to a goalless draw at a cold and windy Halesowen Town. New arrivals Leigh Henry and Tom Stocco produced solid performances in the centre of the defence alongside Alex Sykes in an unusual left-back role. After a couple of nervous moments in the opening stages, Lamey hit a post and Sykes cleared another shot off the line, City soon settled and comfortably dealt with Halesowen efforts despite missing five first choice defenders. In response they produced little though, and the second half continued in a similar manner. Evans was only really tested by a Lamey shot and the closing ten minutes saw City’s best spell of the game with the otherwise quiet Scott Partridge coming within inches of stabbing a Bobby Ford free-kick into the net. A couple of corners in stoppage time also came to nothing and it would have been harsh on the home side had City stolen the points, and given City’s defensive troubles a goalless draw was as much as they could have hoped for.
City boosted their defensive options with the short-term signature of Tom Stocco before this afternoon’s game. The 21-year former Team Bath player has just been released by Tiverton Town due to problems over training availability and was due just to feature in the Halesowen clash.
With just one recognised defender definitely available for tomorrow’s trip to Halesowen Town, Gary Owers has signed Swindon Town centre-back Leigh Henry on a month work experience deal. Owers watched the youngster play for the Robins reserve side against Bristol City on Wednesday and he looks set to go straight into the team to face the third place side tomorrow. In addition to Henry, Owers hopes to sign a further defender today on a non-contract basis.
Yan Klukowski made an immediate mark on the international stage when he struck a stunning 35-yard goal in England Schoolboys 3-0 win over Scotland at Dunfermline last Friday. In front of a 1000 or so spectators at East End Park the 18-year old midfielder captained the side and produced a wonder strike that flew in via the bar for his side’s second goal. He will next don an England shirt when the side faces Northern Ireland at Witton Albion this Friday night.
As expected City have parted company with defender Sam Bailey after his failure to turn up for last weeks match with Chippenham Town. This was the final straw in a series of incidents involving the 19-year old and his contract has been cancelled by mutual consent.
The departure of Bailey has increased City’s defensive problems ahead of Saturday’s clash with Halesowen. With Graeme Power and Matt Coupe both suspended and Steve Jones joining Mike Trought on the injured list, City are down to one recognised defender in Jim Rollo. And while he is versatile he will struggle to fill all four defensive positions leaving Gary Owers in a desperate race to boost him numbers before the weekend.