Joint top scorer Sean Canham’s two-month spell at Twerton Park has come to an end after Hereford United recalled him from his loan deal. The 27-year old former Team Bath striker made 12 starts and one substitue appearance, scoring four times, including the opener against Darlington that set City on the way to their one and only league win so far this season, and has played a major part in the team’s improved form of late.
City finally took their points tally into double figures this evening with a 1-1 draw at play-off chasing Cambridge United. Lewis Hogg’s 53rd minute strike cancelled out a first half goal by Hughes for the hosts but, once again, it was City who finished the game stronger and wil be the more disappointed of the two sides not to have grabbed a winner. There was little sign of this during the opening exchanges as the U’s started strongly, they had gone close on several occasions before Hughes fired them ahead on 21 minutes. This was as good as it got though for Cambridge as they failed to build on the goal. Therefore it was no surprise when Sekani Simpson’s cross dropped to Hogg to drive it home from 18 yards eight minutes after the break. City suddenly sensed the home side were there for the taking but a deserved second goal would not come. Alex Russell and Adam Connolly both forced keeper Naisbitt into excellent saves and despite a series of corners City had to settle for a point.
The draw for the FA Trophy 1st Round has given City a tricky trip to Blue Square Bet South side Chelmsford City. The Clarets have only lost two matches in all competitions this season and are currently on a 19 match unbeaten run. They reached this stage of the Trophy with a 2-0 win over Woking on Saturday. City’s last trip to Melbourne Park was for the 2nd leg of the 2009-10 Blue Square South play-off semi-final, where a second half goal from Kaid Mohamed was enough to win the game and the tie 3-0 on aggregate. The match will take place on Saturday 10 December (ko 3pm).
Tuesday sees City make the long journey to Cambridge United, the scene of one of the high points of their 2010-11 season, looking, once again, to build on a promising (though, in the end frustrating) result as the current campaign approaches its halfway stage. Although the point they secured against Mansfield Town was two less than they deserved it did move them closer to 20th place and a similar performance – in particular their dominant closing 20 minute spell – could see them pull off a surprise result at the play-off hopefuls.
Cambridge have suffered just one defeat in their last 17 league outings, putting them firmly amongst the group chasing front-runners Wrexham and Fleetwood Town. This marks a considerable turnaround from last season when they finished in 17th place, just four points above the relegation zone. Under rookie manager Jez George they have won ten of their 21 games, although they are currently in a run of four matches without a win. They exited the FA Cup at the 1st Round stage to Blue Square Bet Premier rivals Wrexham last week, going down 2-1 in North Wales after a stoppage time equaliser for the home side at the Abbey Stadium sent the tie to a replay. In-between the two FA Cup matches the U’s came from behind to draw 1-1 with fellow BELT Luton Town before they picked up another point in a goalless draw at Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday. They were left to rue a missed first half penalty by Carew although the Harriers struck the frame of the goal twice during the game. These back to back draws have seen United slip from 3rd to 4th place.
Whilst on the pitch everything seems to be headed in the right direction Cambridge have suffered a couple of unwelcome distractions off the pitch. The club lost an appeal to the FA over the case of summer signing Steven Connors at the start of the month. The midfielder arrived from Fleetwood Town in June but five weeks later he was released due to “a pre-existing medical condition that he did not disclose at his medical”. However, Connors won an appeal to the Football Conference that the U’s did not have grounds to terminate his contract and this decision was upheld by the FA. He remains a Cambridge player but has yet to feature in a first team squad. The club received a further unwelcome headline when striker Ryan Charles was found guilty of money laundering at St Albans Crown Court last week, in an eBay related scam. The 22-year old was given a six-month suspended sentence and was also ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work, pay £2,044 in compensation and £350 costs. The offence took place whilst he was a Rushden & Diamonds player and Cambridge only found out about the case when he was sentenced. Despite this the U’s have stuck by the player, fining him two weeks wages and giving him a final written warning. In a more light-hearted eBay related story the club listed their trophy cabinet on the auction site and at one point it had received bids of up to £3.1million. Not surprisingly most of the bids turned out to be hoaxes and in the end the cabinet sold for just over £1000.
Complete record against Cambridge United
The aforementioned match at Cambridge last season took place in early October with City still looking for their first away win of the campaign. When the home side raced out the blocks, scoring after five minutes and creating several further openings, it looked like it would be a long afternoon for City. However, having weathered this storm City drew level on 28 minutes through Marc Canham’s 25-yard free-kick. The second half was a more even affair as the U’s enjoyed the majority of possession but City looked a threat on the break. And it was from one such swift attack, two minutes into stoppage time, that Kaid Mohamed scored a wonderful solo goal to win the game.
After manager Adie Britton shuffled his side against Mansfield Town, giving keeper Jason Matthews his first league start and introducing loan teenage duo Joe Bryan and Aaron Amadi-Packington, the latter making an impressive 15 minute cameo, he will be forced into at least one change for the Cambridge game after Charlie Clough picked up his fifth booking of the season.
Having been on the wrong end of a shocking offside decision in their FA Cup exit against Dagenham & Redbridge three days earlier, City were once again left to rue the actions of a linesman that denied them a deserved win over Mansfield Town at Twerton Park. Add to the fact Mansfield’s goal was a complete fluke and it was another frustrating afternoon for the Romans. After an even opening 20 minutes, where both sides had created several openings, City took the lead when Stags keeper Marriott could only parry Sean Canham’s shot and Marley Watkins slid home the loose ball. Within five minutes the visitors were level as Meikle’s cross, that seemed to be floating to safety, appeared to catch the wind and dip under the bar. Charlie Clough wasted a great chance to restore City’s lead on 27 minutes, firing over from close range, before Jason Matthews – making his league debut in the City goal – had to block Howell’s low shot. The second half was a much more one-sided affair but City failed to turn their domination into further goals. They were almost made to pay for this 16 minutes from time when Green shot wide with only Matthews to beat. This escape only appeared to spur City on as they laid seige to the Stags goal for the rest of the game. And with five minutes left it seemed this pressure had finally yielded the winning goal. Scott Murray drove in a low cross for Lee Phillips to turn the ball home from three yards out only for the linesman to adjudge him offside in a very marginal decision. There was still time for Marriott to save Murray’s effort and Aaron Amadi-Packington to flash a shot inches wide with the overworked Stags keeper rooted to the spot. Whether this was a point gained or two dropped will only become clear in April but it was no doubt a game that with even a small amount of good fortune City would have won and Mansfield could have had no complaints about that.
City have signed two Bristol City youngsters on loan as attention returns to their Blue Square Bet Premier relegation battle. Joe Bryan plays as a full back and as a winger on the left. He is a first-year professional at Ashton Gate, and was awarded a two-year contract recently despite suffering a broken-leg as part of the Under 18s last season. Aaron Amadi-Holloway is a Wales youth international who has played in a variety of positions, including most recently, in an attacking role. Bryan has been assigned squad number 28 and Amadi-Holloway number 35, and both will go into the squad to face Mansfield Town tomorrow.
Defender Mark Preece has joined Blue Square Bet South side Weston Super Mare on a one month loan deal.
In co-operation with Snapdragons Nursery and the Bath Chronicle, Saturday 26 November has been declared ‘Kids Day’ at Twerton Park. All children under 12-years old with an accompanying adult will be admitted FREE to the City vs Mansfield Town match at 3pm. In addition to free entry, all children will also receive a FREE pig-style ‘weepul’ (a small, round, fuzzy toy with googly eyes and big feet). The pig-style ‘weepul’ is in honour of the club mascot, Bladud the Pig. These are being made possible thanks to sponsorship from Snapdragons Nursery, which has six locations around Bath and West Wiltshire.
If City can somehow channel the fully understandable sense of injustice they felt at the end of last night’s FA Cup exit to Dagenham & Redbridge into turning around their league campaign then some good may yet come of the scandalous refereeing decision that cost them a place in the 2nd Round of the World’s Greatest Cup Competition™ (in association with Budweiser). Whilst the referee and linesman acted like extras from a George A Romero film, and Jon Nurse was allowed to walk the ball into the net, City hopes of retaining their Blue Square Bet Premier place took another blow – this time financial rather than points-based but a massive setback nonetheless. In truth though City’s position at the foot of the table is looking increasingly desperate. The last gasp defeat at Southport last weekend left them eleven points adrift of safety and needing 40 points from their remaining 26 games to reach the commonly accepted target of 48 that would, at least, give them a realistic chance of claiming the vital fifth from bottom spot. Given they have taken just eight points from the first 20 games this would mark a stunning turnaround in form, but it is one that Adie Britton and his squad must continue to believe is possible.
Fittingly, Saturday will see a return fixture against their opening day opponents, Mansfield Town. Back on that sunny August day in Nottinghamshire everything looked much brighter as Adam Connolly’s deflected shot earned them a 1-1 draw that the majority of City fans would have happily taken before they travelled north. None of these supporters would have seriously believed that when the sides met again four and a half months later City would have picked up just seven more points, with just one win in this time. The Stags head to Bath with inconsistency threatening to undermine their play-off ambitions. Since a run of five successive wins in late August and early September lifted them as high as 3rd place they have failed to record back to back wins. Their last ten games have seen three wins, three losses and four draws, during which time they also crashed out of the FA Cup, losing 5-0 to league rivals Fleetwood Town in a 4th Qualifying Round replay, dropping them back to 9th place.
Manager Paul Cox has been busy during the last few weeks as he looks to freshen up his squad. The start of November saw the former Eastwood boss bring in winger Nick Hegarty on a short-term contract and Nottingham Forest defender Kieron Freeman on loan. Both players made their debuts in the 2-1 home defeat to Cambridge United and this week Cox has further dipped into the loan market, capturing Crawley Town defender John Dempster, who has already played against City this season whilst on loan at Kettering Town, and striker Nialle Rodney from Bradford City. The Stags also received a double defensive boost with the return to fitness of Rhys Day and John Thompson. The former had been out of action since February with a knee injury whilst big-name summer signing Thompson had not played for the club yet after suffering a facial injury in a controversial pre-season match against Ilkeston. One player on his way out of Field Mill is highly-rated defender Tom Naylor after he joined Derby County on loan with a view to a permanent move on January. Mansfield will also be without captain Adam Murray for the game with City after he picked up his fifth booking of the season against AFC Telford United last week.
Complete record against Mansfield Town
Mansfield’s first ever meeting with City at Twerton Park took place on the final day of last season as City went looking for a win that could secure them a top ten finish and the Stags were preparing for a trip to Wembley Stadium to face Darlington in the FA Trophy Final. The visitor’s hopes suffered a setback after just 15 minutes when Istead received a red card following an altercation with Joe Burnell. It took City until eight minutes after the interval to take advantage of their extra man, Marley Watkins racing onto a Lee Phillips pass to round keeper Marriot and fire home. With 15 minutes left a stunning solo goal from Scott Murray made it 2-0 to secure the three points and, as other results went their way, the targeted top ten placing.
City will welcome back Gethin Jones and Marc Canham to their squad after they missed the last one and three games respectively through suspension. With today also marking the final chance to make loan signings ahead of the re-opening of the transfer window in January City are likely to have a number of new faces arriving plus the possibility of some of the current squad heading the other way.
City crashed out of the FA Cup to Dagenham & Redbridge in controversial circumstances this evening at Twerton Park. The game was ten minutes into extra-time, after the 90 minutes had finished a goal apiece, when a clearance out of the Daggers defence fell to Nurse on the edge of the City box as he slowly made his way back from his side’s last attack. Although the ball had flicked Jim Rollo on the way through Nurse was clearly offside when the ball was first played forward, however the linesman kept his flag down and the striker rounded Glyn Garner to put his side 2-1 in front. With five minutes left the same player took advantage of a tiring City side throwing men forward and slotted home a third goal to give his team a result their performance never deserved. Even though City fell behind to Woodall’s 20 minute header they were by far the better side over the 90 minutes of normal time. Alex Russell saw a curling free-kick strike the post and Lewington was much the busier keeper. He produced an excellent save from Charlie Clough early in the second half but could do nothing to stop Adam Connolly’s stunning strike drawing City level on 71 minutes. The Daggers briefly woke up after this but it City who twice nearly grabbed a winner in stoppage time through substitutes Scott Murray and Lee Phillips. With little sign that the League 2 side would make their full-time status count even in extra-time it took the officials intervention (or lack of) to break City’s resistance and secure them a 2nd Round berth against Walsall.
For eleven tantalising minutes at Southport on Saturday it looked as if City were about to record a desperately needed league win, which would have lifted them off the foot of the Blue Square Bet Premier table and given them a huge confidence boost ahead of Wednesday’s ESPN covered FA Cup 1st Round replay against Dagenham & Redbridge at Twerton Park. These hopes were dashed in the cruellest of fashions as the home side struck twice in the closing three minutes and instead City now face the task of raising themselves for a game that could define the remainder of the 2011-12 season. A win and a 2nd Round tie with either Exeter City or Walsall could give manager Adie Britton the money to boost his squad and embark on an escape that even the most optimistic City fan must be starting to doubt is possible. Defeat to the League 1 side, even with the consolation of the TV money, and the financial picture is suddenly a lot bleaker and the club’s board would be faced with some very difficult decisions during the next few months.
Dagenham also suffered another defeat at the weekend – their seventh successive league loss – which saw them slip into the relegation zone for the first time this season. Unlike City, though, they will have been able to draw some positives from the reversal against Southend United. Twice they pegged the League 2 leaders back through goals from Montaño and Ogogo before Ferdinand struck with 26 minutes left to finally end the Daggers resistance, although it took an excellent double save from Shrimpers keeper Daniels to maintain his side’s advantage. With Southend manager Paul Sturrock admitting his team was fortunate to hang-on for the win it was clearly a much improved performance from Dagenham. They were boosted by the arrival of two new players on loan – West Ham United’s Columbian born Cristian Montaño and Brentford defender Michael Spillane. The pair will not be eligible to face City given they were only signed after the first match, although the Daggers will welcome back Scott Doe after suspension, probably at the expense of Ilesanmi after his unconvincing performance against City ten days ago.
Complete record against Dagenham & Redbridge/Redbridge Forest/Dagenham
The last time Dagenham faced City at Twerton Park was in April 1996 where, despite coming into the game rock bottom of the Vauxhall Conference, they ran out 2-0 winners. The previous meeting during the opening month of the 1994-95 campaign though was a much happier affair for City. They came into the game in 4th place having lost their first match of the season two days earlier against Southport (omen?) but knew that win over the Daggers would lift them to the top of the table. On 26 minutes City took the lead, Nicky Brooks firing home a Gary Smart cross, and two minutes later the visitors hopes suffered another set-back when Jones was shown a straight red card for elbowing Craig Taylor. Four minutes before half-time City took advantage of their extra man, as a flowing move involving Brooks, Rob Cousins and Paul McLoughlin ended with Dean Birkby sliding the ball through keeper Oliver’s legs. City were now comfortably in control of the game and with nine minutes remaining they grabbed a deserved third goal as Birkby – watched by an Oxford United scout – headed Smart’s cross into the net.
In addition to the blow of conceding two late goals to Southport on Saturday, in stoppage time captain Gethin Jones also picked up his fifth booking of the season meaning he joins Marc Canham in missing the game due to suspension. Apart from that manager Adie Britton should have a near full squad to select from including Lewis Hogg who missed the 1-1 draw at Dagenham due to suspension.
City suffered a heartbreaking defeat at Southport this afternoon as the home side struck twice in the closing minutes to deny the Romans a desperately needed win that Sean Canham’s third goal in as many games had looked like securing. The game was a contrast of styles as City attemtped to play football whilst the Sandgrounders relied on lumping the ball forward and Owen’s long throws. Neither approach yielded a goal before the interval and as the second half progressed it looked as if the anti-football method was the more likely to break the deadlock. However, with 14 minutes remaining Lewis Hogg’s cross was glanced in by Sean Canham and suddenly City’s first away win of the season was on the cards. Not surprisingly after this City found themselves under constant bombardment and with just three minutes remaining they failed to clear a corner and Gray fired home the equaliser from 18 yards. Then two minutes later it got even worse for the visitors as another corner caused havoc in their box allowing Gray to net again, this time with his head. City now face the huge task of lifting themselves for Wednesday’s FA Cup replay against Dagenham & Redbridge and they will have to do this without captain Gethin Jones after he picked up his fifth booking of the season in the final minute.
Two former England internationals will be at Twerton Park next Wednesday as part of the ESPN broadcast team. The show will be presented by Rebecca Lowe and she will be joined by pundits Steve McManaman and Craig Burley, match commentator Derek Rae, co-commentator Chris Waddle and reporter Alex Gordon-Martin. It will not be the first time McManaman has visited Twerton Park as he was part of the Liverpool team which drew 1-1 with Bristol Rovers in February 1992 in front of nearly 9500 supporters, the record attendance for the Pirates during their 10-year spell in Bath.
City must put FA Cup dreams on hold for a few days now and return their focus to league action as the battle at the foot of the Blue Square Bet Premier table resumes with a trip to the North West to face Southport. Whilst the draw with Dagenham & Redbridge and the understandable excitement of being chosen for live TV coverage has provided a welcome distraction from the club’s league difficulties, nothing would provide a bigger confidence boost for the ESPN covered replay next Wednesday than climbing off the bottom of the league and closing the gap on the teams above them with a win over the Sandgrounders.
However, this will be far from a straightforward task, even if City can transfer their cup form to the league, as they face the surprise package of the 2011-12 season so far. Having only avoided relegation back to the Conference North after Rushden & Diamonds folded during the summer Southport have enjoyed an extraordinary change in fortunes and currently sit in 5th place with just eleven points less than they managed during the whole of the previous campaign. This record is all the more remarkable given they picked up just two points from their opening five games. A win over Barrow at the end of August kick-started their season though and since then they have lost just one league game – a 4-0 home defeat to Braintree Town – and have now picked up 33 points out of a possible 42. Their away form has been particularly impressive with a club record seven successive wins. City can take some comfort from the fact that their home form has (relatively) been less great, with just one win in their last five league outings at Haig Avenue. They also suffered a disappointing FA Cup exit last Saturday, losing 2-1 at home to League 2 strugglers Barnet in match they would have gone into with high hopes of winning. They fell behind just before the hour mark but when Akrigg headed an equaliser eleven minutes from time it looked as if a replay would be required. However, four minutes into stoppage time Taylor earned the London side a place in the 2nd Round. The game also saw captain Moogan pick up his fifth booking of the season and loanee Walker suffer an injury in the pre-match warm-up, meaning the former and, possibly, the latter will be unavailable for the City game. Southport also exited the Lancashire Co-operative Challenge Trophy during the week, albeit with an under strength side, to Lancaster City by the same scoreline.
Complete record against Southport
All these factors should give City hope that they can provide a surprise result and they only need to look back to last season’s 3-2 win at Haig Avenue for good memories of a trip to Southport. This game also took place a week after the Sangrounders had exited the FA Cup to Football League opposition (though the higher profile Sheffield Wednesday that time) and the home side dominated the opening half, scoring twice but wasting a number of further chances. And they were made to pay in the second half as City completely turned the game around. Kaid Mohamed pulled a goal back within just four minutes of the restart, shooting home from a narrow angle, and the initiative was further handed to City as Watson took off one of his strikers to bolster the midfield. With 12 minutes remaining Marc Canham crossed for Danny Webb to head City level. When the referee failed to award City a clear penalty a few minutes later it looked as if Southport might hang on for a point but on 85 minutes a surging run from Mohamed ended with him crossing for Lee Phillips to fire in the winner.
City will welcome Lewis Hogg back to the squad after he missed the Dagenham & Redbridge FA Cup match due to suspension but Marc Canham will still be unavailable as he sits out the second of his three match ban for his red card against Grimsby Town. Keeper Glyn Garner (stomach upset) and Lee Phillips (heavy cold) should both be available for selection after missing training this week meaning manager Adie Britton will have an almost full squad from which to select his starting XI.
City have announced the following match day information for next Wednesday’s FA Cup First Round replay with Dagenham & Redbridge. The match will not be segregated. As the match is not expected to sell out all standard ticket types will be available at the turnstile. There is no need to purchase tickets in advance. Ticket prices will be the same as prices for normal league matches: Adult Terrace – £14, Adult Seating – £15, Concession/Student Terrace – £9, Concession/Student Seating – £10, Child Terrace – £4, Child Seating – £5. All supporters attending the match will receive a voucher at the turnstile which will serve a dual role. If City advance to further rounds in the FA Cup the vouchers will be used to claim priority for FA Cup tickets when demand is expected to exceed supply. If City do not advance to further rounds in the FA Cup the vouchers will be valid for £1 off normal ticket prices for any future home league match. Please note: season ticket holders, TR Hayes Premier Lounge members, Supporters Club members, and Supporters Society members are automatically given priority for FA Cup tickets.
Two pre-booked hospitality packages are available to both home and away fans:
- Ticket to grandstand and entrance to the TR Hayes Premier Lounge with full bar facilities, half-time tea and coffee £25. (Limited to 50)
- Ticket to grandstand, two course meal with glass of wine, complimentary match programme, half time refreshments – £40 (Limited to 40)
To take either of these offers up please contact Commercial Manager Ian Jones on 07967 609042 or email email@example.com
The club bar, Charlie’s, will be open before and after the match, and at halftime. Charlie’s has a wide range of beer, ales, lagers, ciders and spirits. Local brewers Palmers will be providing a range of cask ales for the match, and the 50p off vouchers for Palmers pints and bottles available in the Bath City Insider will be accepted as normal. There are also several big screen televisions which will be showing ESPN pre-match and halftime coverage. Away supporters are welcome.
Loan midfielder Ben Swallow has been recalled by Bristol Rovers with immediate effect. The 21-year old made seven starts and two substitute appearance for City.
City’s FA Cup 1st Round replay with Dagenham & Redbridge will be screened live on ESPN. The tie will now take place on Wednesday 23 November (ko 7.15pm). Both clubs will receive an FA live TV broadcast fee of £33,750. City will hope for a repeat of their one previous FA Cup live TV appearance when goals from Nicky Brooks and Paul Batty earned them a 2-1 win over Hereford United in December 1993.
City or Dagenham & Redbridge will face either Exeter City or Walsall at home in the FA Cup 2nd Round following this afternoon’s draw. Both sides are struggling just above the League 1 relegation zone and drew 1-1 yesterday with the Grecians equalising deep in stoppage time. Should both the City’s prevail in next week’s replays it will see Exeter manager Paul Tisdale return to Twerton Park where he spent five years as manager of long since defunct Team Bath. The 2nd Round games will take place over the weekend of December 3/4.
City and Dagenham & Redbridge will meet again at Twerton Park in ten days time for a place in the FA Cup 2nd Round after a 1-1 draw this afternoon in a damp and misty East London. Sean Canham fired City in front on 11 minutes before Woodall’s looping header four minutes before the interval levelled the scores and, although City could feel aggrieved over a controversial refereeing early in the second half, a draw was the right result. The home side had started brightly but a mistake by defender Ilesanmi – who was woeful all afternoon – allowed Canham to race clear from Marley Watkins’ pass and slot the ball past Lewington. This was the only bright moment for City in the first half as the Daggers enjoyed the majority of possession and it was no real surprise when they finally made the most of this, Nurse crossing for Woodall to head over Glyn Garner into the the top corner. And Dagenham nearly went into the break ahead when Green’s shot was cleared off the line by Andy Gallinagh. At the interval Charlie Clough replaced Jim Rollo and this change appeared to have an immediate effect as City started the half on top for the first time and on 55 minutes Canham’s pass sent Watkins bearing down on goal. He knocked the ball past Lewington only to be tripped by the keeper’s outstretched leg. The challenge was clearly outside the box but everyone in the ground must have been expecting a red card only for the referee to show the relieved keeper a yellow, indicating Watkins had knocked the ball wide of the goal. The free-kick came to nothing but City continued to look the more threatening side as Jamie Cook’s 35-yard dipping volley just cleared the bar with Lewington well beaten. The game then entered a quieter period with neither side able to gain the upper hand. However, Canham then fired a rising effort that Lewington managed to parry away for a corner and in stoppage time Gethin Jones shot through a crowd of players only for Lewington to produce the best stop of the match. That turned out to be the last chance of the game and sides will face each other again on Tuesday 22 November (ko 7.45pm) at Twerton Park (subject to possible TV coverage).
The 2nd Round draw will be screened live on ITV tomorrow at approximately 2.40pm after the live FC Halifax Town v Charlton Athletic game. City and Dagenham will be ball no.11.
City travel to East London on Saturday for the FA Cup 1st Round meeting with Dagenham & Redbridge coming into their best form of the season. Unfortunately given how disappointing the 2011-12 campaign has been thus far this run is just two games unbeaten. However, the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round win at Dover Athletic followed by the comeback from two goals down to draw with Grimsby Town should have boosted the team’s confidence – that has at times this season looked desperately low – and given them a realistic hope of overcoming the League 2 strugglers to move a step nearer the Holy Grail of a place in the 3rd Round of the Budweiser sponsored competition.
They will face a Daggers side in a run of form that is even worse than City have experienced this season, with six successive league defeats and having taken just three points from a possible 36 in their last 12 games. But for the three wins they picked up in their opening four games of the season they would certainly be firmly entrenched in the relegation zone, as it is just goal difference separating them from 23rd place Barnet with crisis club Plymouth Argyle four points further adrift. Relegation back to non-league would mark the end of a brief five year spell in the Football League that until last season had shown steady progress following their Conference title season of 2006-07. Although the Daggers struggled during their first season as a league club, finishing in 20th place, they only missed out on a top seven position the next year in the last game of the campaign, losing 2-1 at home to Shrewsbury Town who took the final play-off place. There was no such last gasp suffering the following season when they won their final two games to secure a play-off spot. A 6-0 thrashing of Morecambe in the 1st leg of the semi-final set them on the way to Wembley Stadium where they beat Rotherham United by three goals to two to win promotion to League 1. They only lasted one year at this level though, spending the vast majority of the 2010-11 season in and around the relegation zone before eight defeats in their final ten games condemned them to a quick return to League 2.
To be battling at this level, even near its foot, is still a remarkable achievement for a club that only came into existence in its current guise in 1992. When Redbridge Forest and Dagenham merged prior to the 1992-93 season it brought four former amateur clubs Ilford (formed in 1881), Leytonstone (1886), Walthamstow Avenue (1900) and Dagenham (1949), together under one name. The newly formed club spent its first four seasons in the Conference (having taken Redbridge Forest’s place after the merger) before relegation to the Isthmian League (where Dagenham had been playing). It took the Daggers five seasons to regain their Conference place but they soon established themselves as one of the strongest non-league clubs with three successive top five finishes between 2000 and 2003. Although the third of these saw Dagenham miss out on promotion in the first ever play-off final at that level it was the acrimonious outcome of the 2001-02 season that understandably causes consternation still at Victoria Road. After they had finished runners-up to Boston United it was found the Lincolnshire club were guilty of making illegal payments to its players. A four-point deduction was put in place but not for the season the irregularities were committed so the Pilgrims were still allowed to take their place in the Football League. After their play-off loss the next three seasons saw mid-table finishes but in 2006-07 they head off the challenge of Oxford United to lift the Conference title and secure the promotion they had been wrongly denied five years earlier. That they took the place of Boston United will have no doubt have added an extra gloss to their success.
In charge at Dagenham is manager John Still, now in his eighth year during this spell with the club making him the fifth current longest serving manager in English football. Having been at both Ilford and Dagenham during his injury shortened playing career his maiden managerial post was with Leytonstone before they merged with Ilford. He led that club to their first Isthmian League title in 1982 before enjoying further success with Dartford (Southern League winners in 1984) and Maidstone United, who he guided into the Football League in 1989. Having turned down the opportunity to go full-time with Maidstone he joined Redbridge Forest and remained in charge when they became Dagenham & Redbridge three years later. Still left to join Peterborough United in August 1994 then had a couple of spells in charge at Barnet before re-joining the Daggers in 2004 where he has remained ever since, making him an integral part of the history of the relatively young club.
One of Still’s many signings during his time with the club is former City striker Phil Walsh. The son of ex-Bristol City star Alan Walsh, who also had a spell with City, he made 106 appearances for the club, scoring 25 goals, and was part of the 2006-07 Southern League winning squad, although he spent several months on loan at Paulton Rovers and Tiverton that year. After spells with Newport County, Tiverton and Dorchester Town he was signed by Dagenham in late 2009 after impressing in a reserve game. Although he missed the Daggers last game with a back problem as the 6’3 player now mainly plays in defence, and with fellow centre-back Scott Doe out of the City game suspended, he could face City for the first time since scoring for Dorchester in August 2009.
Complete record against Dagenham & Redbridge/Redbridge Forest/Dagenham
City have met Dagenham 27 times in three of their guises, with honours very nearly even. City winning 11 of the encounters with the Daggers coming out on top one time fewer. Remarkably one City player featured in the first meeting between the sides, a FA Trophy 1st Round tie in January 1981, and the last, a Vauxhall Conference clash over 16 years later. Striker Graham Withey was a fresh-faced 19-year old in his first season at Twerton Park when Dagenham dumped City of the Trophy by four goals to nil. ‘Sting’ was in his fifth and final spell with the club in April 1996 when bottom of the table Dagenham & Redbridge won 2-0 at Twerton Park. Two weeks earlier though Withey had scored at Victoria Road to give City a 1-0 win in their last trip to the Daggers.
Although the draw with Grimsby last week will have given City a welcome confidence lift it has cost them two of their most influential midfielders through suspension. Lewis Hogg picked up his fifth booking of the season in the game and the harsh sending off of Marc Canham will see him unavailable for the first time since the opening month of the season. On the plus side Joe Burnell came through the midweek friendly at Bristol City and as long as there is no reaction to that outing he will return to the squad having missed the last four games with a hamstring injury.
City’s friendly match at Ashton Gate last night ended in a 2-0 defeat to Bristol City. Joe Bryan fired the home side ahead after just seven minutes before their advantage was doubled just past the hour mark through a diving header from Ryan Taylor. With the game having served its purpose of giving the majority of City’s squad a run-out, including Joe Burnell and Charlie Clough on their return from injury, plus several trilalists, the closest they came to scoring was when an Alex Russell free-kick struck the post with five minutes remaining. City’s line-up was: Matthews, Stonehouse, Hogg, Preece, Clough (Rollo), Murray (Mackie), Swallow, Burnell (Russell), M Canham, Cook (Landell), Phillips (Bueno).
A fault with the power supply to the floodlights at Twerton Park has meant tomorrow night’s friendly match against Bristol City has been switched to Ashton Gate. The problem was discovered during Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Grimsby Town and will require specialist attention ahead of City’s next home match. The match remains open to the public, kicking-off at 7.30pm, with adults now £2 and concessions £1.
Despite playing for the closing 15 minutes with ten men City’s spell over Grimsby Town continued this afternoon as the recovered from two goals down to earn a point that for the opening hour of the game never looked possible. The visitors went ahead from their first attack in the 10th minute when Duffy’s flick was deflected to Makofo and he confidently slotted the ball past Glyn Garner. The rest of the half was largely forgettable, Townsend firing over when well-placed for the Mariners and Lewis Hogg dragging a shot wide following a strong run. Within six minutes of the restart Makofo headed his, and Grimsby’s, second goal from Coulson’s cross to put them firmly in control of the game. However, six minutes later City were handed a lifeline as Duffy bundled Gethin Jones over in the box and Marc Canham maintained his 100% record from the spot. Lifted by this it took City just a further 15 minutes to draw level when Marley Watkins broke forward before sliding Sean Canham in to lift a shot over the advancing McKeown. The home side now looked the likelier winners but on 75 minutes they suffered a blow when Marc Canham caught Disley with a high tackle. Although it appeared he had tried to put out at the last moment the referee Mr Martin immediately brandished a red card. Grimsby couldn’t take advantage of this though, as Hearn fired over from close range and Thanoj saw his header hit the top of the crossbar, and City ensured their excellent recent record against the Mariners was maintained.
If City needed a reminder of the size of the task to compete financially with their fellow Blue Square Bet Premier rivals the accounts recently published by Saturday’s opponents Grimsby Town would have provided clear proof of the world in which they are now competing. The Mariners posted an eye-wateringly huge loss of £911,274 for their first season as a non-league club. Within this figure the club received over £300,000 for being one of the two worst clubs in the Football League in 2009-10 (more delicately known as a parachute payment) and showed a wage bill (for 53 full-time, 34 part-time and 204 match day staff) of £1,635,370. Both amounts sound more like Monopoly money to a club like City as they battle to raise every penny they can to survive in the 5th tier of English football.
On the pitch there is little sign that the money being thrown at the club is likely to see them regain their Football League place anytime soon. After finishing last season in 11th place (one below City), they have started this campaign even more disappointingly, currently lying in 15th position, already 13 points off the play-off places but just four above the relegation zone. The tone for the campaign so far was set when they failed to score in their first three matches. An opening day defeat at home to one of title favourites Fleetwood Town was hardly a surprise but when they followed that up with a 5-0 hammering at division newcomers Braintree Town it was a clear indication that all was not well within Blundell Park. A goalless draw against struggling Newport County saw the Mariners pick up their first point of the season and they followed this up with a win over Cambridge United. The pressures at the club were illustrated when a video of a heated exchanged between joint-manager Rob Scott and a section of their supporters surfaced on YouTube following a defeat to Darlington in their next match. Since then their form has been mixed with 5 wins, 1 draw and 7 defeats, although three of those losses have come in their last three outings against York City, Ebbsfleet United and Luton Town. They did enjoy a comfortable win in the FA Cup last weekend though when they beat Northern League Division 1 Ashington by five goals to nil to earn a 1st Round trip to Port Vale.
Against the background of the losses incurred by the club last there is further uncertainty after long serving chairman John Fenty stepped down from the role back in September. This move came about after former director Mike Parker obtained 54% of the club’s shares. Fenty had pumped over £2 million into the Mariners but made it clear that he could not keep underwriting its losses which has understandably led to many supporters worrying that administration could be a possible outcome without this financial support. Parker then made it clear he was not interested in taking over from Fenty, instead transferring £500,000 worth of shares to the Grimsby Town’s Supporters’ Trust make them the club’s biggest shareholder. The Trust, set up back in 2002, had largely been dormant in recent years but now appears to be in position play a major part in determining the long term future of the club.
Complete record against Grimsby Town
Last season was the first City and Grimsby had been league rivals and the Romans came out on top in the two games. The meeting at Twerton Park was notable for a number of reasons aside from City’s 2-1 win courtesy of Hector Mackie’s late winner. The match was the focus of City’s ‘Project 3000’ campaign which generated national headlines for its admission discount offer to the Polish community in Bath. Prior to kick-off there was a further storm when striker Kaid Mohamed refused to take a place on the substitute bench, having announced he would be leaving at the end of the season. City made light work of his absence though taking the lead on 32 minutes through Marley Watkins’ shot following good work from Lee Phillips. The Mariners levelled on the hour mark from Coulson’s swerving free-kick. However, City would not be denied the win that took them to their pre-season target of 48 points as Mackie showed great composure to take full advantage of keeper Croudson fumbling Sekani Simpson’s high cross. The return match in Cleethorpes did not have the off the field incidents but more than made up for it with on the pitch drama. There was little sign of the excitement to come when a Connell brace in the opening 23 minutes put Grimsby in control of the game. This was still the scoreline with ten minutes remaining but Scott Murray’s free-kick handed City a lifeline and as the game reached its final minute the ex-Bristol City winger turned provider, crossing for Charlie Clough to head home an equaliser. There was still time for further drama when Connell was tripped in the box by Gethin Jones. However, he was denied a hat-trick, and the Mariners a win, by Ryan Robinson’s penalty save.
City will welcome striker Sean Canham back to the squad after he missed last week’s win at Dover Athletic due a family bereavement and Lewis Hogg should have recovered from the foot injury he picked up in the warm-up of that game. Jim Rollo also picked up a knock in the FA Cup match – in his case a bang in the crown jewels – but like Hogg should be fit for selection. Charlie Clough and Joe Burnell are both close to a return to action, although this game may be a week too soon, and the only other doubt is keeper Glyn Garner with a minor knee injury.
City have announced the matchday information for their FA Cup 1st Round tie at Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday 12 November (ko 3pm). Away supporters will be seated in the Barking & Dagenham College Stand and ticket prices are as follows: (In Advance/On the Day) Adult – £15/17, Concessions (65 and older or students with a valid student ID) – £9/£11, Junior (under 18) – £5/£6 and 7 & Under – £2/n/a. City supporters wishing to take advantage of the advance ticket prices can do so by calling the Dagenham & Redbridge ticket office on 0208 592 1549 Ext 21. Tickets are for collection on the day only, please note there is a £1.50 booking fee per transaction if paying with a credit card, but no charge for a debit card. Also, the Daggers are offering fans of City the opportunity to watch the Romans in style with their matchday hospitality package:
- Three course carvery meal
- Complimentary match day programme and team sheet
- Half time refreshments
- Seat in the sponsors box
All this is on offer for just £45. For more information or to make a booking please contact the club’s commercial department on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 592 1549 Ext 33.
City will play a friendly match against Bristol City on Tuesday 8 November (ko 7.30pm) at Twerton Park. The match will be open to the public and admission will be £5 for all spectators.
Out of favour defender Danny Webb has joined Blue Square Bet South side Salisbury City on a months loan.
City winger Marley Watkins has been selected for the England C contingency squad for the upcoming match against Gibraltar on Tuesday 15 November.