City return to league action on Saturday when they welcome Hungerford Town to Twerton Park following the trips to Oxford and Taunton.
The Crusaders have made a disappointing start to the season, having taken only five points from their eleven matches, scoring just four goals, and are currently in 22nd position. So far their only victory was against Eastbourne at Bulpit Lane and to rub salt into the wound their hopes in the FA Cup were ended at the first attempt with a home defeat to Gloucester City. Just one goal and one point have been achieved on the road with defeats at Dover, Chippenham and Havant.
Hungerford’s goal scoring problems are most probably connected with the departure over the summer of Ryan Seager who joined promoted Dorking Wanderers. The prolific striker’s total of 27 goals was the second highest in the division last season and went a long way towards his team ending in a comfortable 12th place, their best finish for five years.
Up until Easter things were going well for the Berkshire club as they aimed for a playoff place. But The Crusaders were always on the fringes without really breaking into the top seven after the New Year. In a disastrous end to the season they picked up just the one point from their final seven games and in fact lost ten of their last thirteen outings.
One of those came on Easter Monday when City travelled to Bulpit Lane desperate for points to ease their relegation worries. These were virtually banished with what was perhaps the most impressive performance of the season, Dave Sims-Burgess, Tom Smith and Elliot Frear scoring the goals against a demoralised home side whose red card was their tenth of the campaign!
There had been a very different outcome to the earlier meeting at Twerton Park which took place two weeks before Christmas. In what the City’s website described as ‘a highly charged contest’ played in front of an attendance of over 1200 (including around 100 from Hungerford’s junior teams) the match was paused in the 38th minute for everyone to applaud the recently passed Marvin Morgan. Will Fuller’s saving of Seager’s penalty counted for nothing as a late winner crashed home by Jake Evans won the match for The Crusaders.
That win for Hungerford was their second successive one at Twerton, their previous four visits since the first in 2016 providing City with ten points. So, despite the contrasting starts to the season by the two clubs, home supporters should guard against any complacency next Saturday as their team aim to keep leaders Ebbsfleet within their sights.