|Watkins back on target as City find a way through the Wood (30/11/13)
Andy Watkins’ seventh minute strike was enough to send City into the play-off positions as they beat Boreham Wood at Meadow Park this afternoon. He latched onto David Pratt’s pass before cutting inside and firing a rising shot into the top corner of the net but this turned out to be a rare moment of quality in a scrappy game. Watkins shot against keeper Russell’s legs midway through the half in what was their only other effort on goal before the interval as the home side enjoyed the majority of possession. However, time and again this possession was wasted and City comfortably reached the break with their one goal lead. The second half began with Wood looking more threatening and just past the hour mark Jason Mellor produced his first save of note, turning Moli’s well-struck volley aside. This turned out to be the closest City would come to surrending their adavantage and Adam Connolly, Watkins and Sekani Simpson all went close to adding to the scoring.
City’s development squad will be in action at Mayday Trust Park on Tuesday 4 December when they take on Weston Super Mare (ko 7.30pm). UPDATE: Due to Weston’s involvement in an FA Trophy replay on Tuesday this game may not take place. Please check this website before travelling to the game.
City travel to Hertfordshire on Saturday for the rearranged Skrill South clash with Boreham Wood, the first of a double header against the fourth from bottom side. The two clubs meet again at Mayday Trust Park seven days later by which time City will hope to have extended their unbeaten league run to seven games and further closed the gap on the play-off positions. In fact, a win at Meadow Park could lift Lee Howells’ side as high as fifth place as the 2013-14 season enters December.
The Wood have had an eventful few weeks mainly revolving around their FA Cup clash with League 1 side Carlisle United. Wins over Barton Rovers, Maidstone United and Heybridge Swifts saw the club reach the 1st Round proper for the second successive season where they were drawn at home to the Cumbrian side. In an entertaining tie neither team could find a goal leaving the hosts with the dubious pleasure of a long trip north ten days later. The prize of a home tie with Brentford in the 2nd Round would have helped make the journey a little easier and when Garrard put them in front from the penalty spot on 28 minutes, a first ever win over league opposition became a real prospect. And two minutes later it could have got even better for the Wood when they were awarded a second penalty. However, this time Garrard saw his effort saved and the tie remained finely balanced. It stayed this way until the 80th minute when Miller’s header levelled the scores. This was harsh on the Conference South side but with just seconds remaining in stoppage time it got even worse as Beck reacted quickest to a loose ball in the area to net the winning goal. The drama did not end there though with accusations that players from the home side taunted their part-time opponents after the goal and at the final whistle. This was followed with allegations that Boreham Wood players damaged a door in the away dressing room and urinated on the floor before heading back south. These claims were angrily denied by the Wood – the liquid on the floor was said to have been orange juice – and they have demanded a full apology from Carlisle or they will take the matter to court.
In the league the Wood have slipped steadily down the table after picking up four points from their opening two games. They followed this promising start with four successive defeats and, although this run was ended with a 2-0 win over Gosport Borough, they scored just once in their next four games to slip into the relegation zone. A week before the first meeting with Carlisle they recorded a third victory of the campaign, putting six goals past Chemlsford City without reply (a result that cost Clarets boss Dean Holdsworth his job) but single goal defeats against Eastbourne Borough in the league and Gloucester City in the FA Trophy saw them fail to build on this success. Two goals in the opening nine minutes against Maidenhead United in their last outing looked to have got them back on track, but the Magpies – who City beat 1-0 last weekend – fought back to draw the game. The point was enough to lift the Wood back out of the bottom three though on goal difference above the aforementioned Clarets.
Complete record against Boreham Wood
The two games last season were the first time City and Boreham Wood had faced each other and, in truth, neither will live very long in the memory, both finishing goalless. The first at Mayday Trust Park saw the Romans enjoy the better of the first period – Kurtis Guthrie and Chris Allen going close – before the visitors improved after the interval. However, with both sides looking equally unthreatening up front the eventual outcome will have surprised few in the 508 crowd. The return fixture at Meadow Park was slightly more entertaining with the hosts chasing a play-off place. It was a resolute defensive effort from City with keeper Jason Mellor in excellent form. He was quickly off his line to deny Pires early on before producing a stunning one-handed save to turn away Thalassitis’ 20th minute shot that looked destined for the top corner. For City, Elliott Chamberlain curled a shot wide and Mark Preece looked to have a strong penalty shout when a Wood defender clambered all over him at a corner. The second half opened with another fine stop by Mellor, pushing Thalassitis’ low shot round the post at full stretch, but City began to gain the upper hand without testing home shot-stopper Russell. He almost gifted City the lead as the game reached the final quarter when his misplaced pass went straight to Kerry Morgan but the substitute’s first touch was poor and the chance was gone. Mellor capped a fine all-round performance in the final minute, tipping a Thalassitis header over the bar.
David Pratt scored the only goal of the game this afternoon against his former club Maidenhead United to move City to just one point off the Skrill South play-off positions. The hosts created enough chances to have won the match much more comfortably and were forced to endure some nervous moments during the second half before they could enjoy a seventh successive home win over the Magpies. United keeper Putnins had to be quick off his line on 12 minutes to deny Pratt then was grateful that Andy Watkins’ crisply struck shot was straight at him. He was beaten by Watkins moments later only for a defender to clear the shot off the line. However, on 23 minutes City finally broke through when Josh Low’s precision cross was headed home by Pratt via the left-hand post. City appeared to lose their momentum after this, the visitors seeing considerably more possession, but saw a couple of more openings spurned before the half-time interval. This turned out to be the pattern for the majority of the second half as Maidenhead saw the ball for long periods but lacked the quality to make it count. By contrast what possession City did have saw further chances created, Pratt and Watkins having efforts cleared off the line, whilst the latter also headed narrowly wide and shot into the side-netting. Understandably the visitors increasingly committed men into attack as the game progressed, getting the ball forward as quick as possible, but only once was Jason Mellor called into serious action, saving Clifton’s 68th minute point-blank header.
Following on from the rather tame FA Trophy exit against Dover Athletic last Saturday, City can now focus attention on their Skrill South campaign and look to continue to close the gap on the play-off places. Having picked up ten points from a possible 12 in their last four outings, City have climbed from 19th position to 11th and now lie just four points adrift of fifth place Hayes & Yeading United. And they will be looking to continue this upward trajectory this weekend when Maidenhead United visit Mayday Trust Park.
Whilst City have been edging back up the Skrill South table the Magpies have been heading in the other direction. Having only once finished above 16th place at this level since winning promotion from the Southern League via the play-offs in 2007 (beating Team Bath at Twerton Park) the Berkshire side got their 2013-14 campaign off to a flying start, winning three and drawing two of their opening five games. Pre-season optimism that a mid-table finish was a realistic target looked well founded and even a reversal in their next game against title favourites Eastleigh, where the Magpies scored first, would have done little to dampen these hopes. However, this began a run of nine defeats in eleven games, which saw them exit the FA Cup at the first stage against Conference North side Oxford City and an embarrassing Berks & Bucks Cup home defeat to Southern League Central Division Slough Town. Understandably long-serving manager Johnson ‘Drax’ Hippolyte – now in his eighth season in charge at York Road – found a number of supporters questioning his position but this pressure was finally lifted last Saturday when a single goal from Grant was enough to beat Eastbourne Borough in a FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round tie.
Complete record against Maidenhead United
Although Twerton Park will no doubt bring back good memories for Maidenhead fans given the aforementioned win over Team Bath that meant they joined City in securing promotion to the Conference South, their record against the Romans there is woeful, having lost all six visits. Even during the 2006-07 season the Magpies travelled back down the M4 empty-handed when the sides met in Bath. They came into the having won eight of their previous nine games (although one game they didn’t win was a 2-0 loss in their previous match at home to Team Bath) but met a City side on the verge of securing the Southern League title. The game saw City look the more confident side from the word go and they had gone close on several occasions before Edwards headed them ahead four minutes before half-time. On the hour mark City gave themselves breathing space when a great run from Lewis Hogg saw him centre for Paul to sweep the ball home. With fifteen minutes left Matt Coupe was adjudged to have handled a cross and Behzadi fired home from the spot but this was as good as it got for the visitors. City had to wait another week to lift the title whilst Maidenhead won their remaining four games of the season without conceding another goal and a few weeks later were enjoying a much happier trip back from the West Country.
City will play Boreham Wood on successive Saturday’s after the trip to Hertfordshire was rearranged for Saturday 30 November (ko 3pm). The Romans were originally due to face Tonbridge Angels on that date but their win over AFC Sudbury yesterday means they will be in FA Trophy action instead, so City moved quickly to slot in the game against The Wood. And a week later the sides will meet again when Boreham Wood, who suffered a last-gasp heart-breaking FA Cup exit to Carlisle United last night, travel to Mayday Trust Park.
There was no change to City’s dismal FA Trophy record and recent run of poor results against Dover Athletic as a single first half goal was enough to send the Kent side into the 1st Round of the competition at the Crabble Athletic Ground this afternoon. City began the game brightly but as the half progressed the host came back strongly and, just after Ross Stearn had forced an excellent save from Whites keeper Walker, Elder headed past Jason Mellor to give his side a 33rd minute lead. Dover continued to boss the game after this but City stood firm and just past the Walker produced another fine stop to deny Andy Watkins. Both sides created chances after this and even though City finished the game on top, winning a series of free-kicks around the Dover box, they couldn’t find an equaliser that they probably just about deserved, condemning them to a fourth successive defeat against the Whites and another early FA Trophy exit.
City’s 2013-14 FA Trophy campaign begins on Saturday as they look to enjoy success in a competition that has, by and large, only brought disappointment to the club over the years. Already luck has appeared to desert them with the 3rd Qualifying Round draw handing them the longest away journey possible, a 400 mile round-trip to in-form Dover Athletic. However, given the recent upturn in their performances City will travel in confident mood to face a Whites side whose recent FA Trophy record is even less impressive and who may already have an eye on their big FA Cup 2nd Round match with MK Dons early next month.
When the clubs met at Mayday Trust Park back in September the Kent side were on a run of four successive Conference South defeats. They made light of this record though, winning 2-0 with only a man of the match performance from keeper Jason Mellor preventing a more comfortable scoreline. This began a spell of three league wins and a draw without conceding a goal that lifted them back to the fringes of the play-off positions, before Basingstoke Town ended this run with a 2-0 win in the Whites last league outing. The improvement in their form coincided nicely with the FA Cup and they are now just one game away from emulating their 2010-11 exploits when they reached the 3rd Round. A week after beating City they met Guernsey in the 3rd Qualifying Round. The tie was moved from the Channel Islanders Footes Lane ground as it was unavailable at 3pm on the Saturday and the Isthmian League Division 1 side could not find an alternative time or date agreeable to Dover. Instead the teams met 170 miles closer to Dover in Lancing, Sussex and it was the ‘away’ side who raced into a two goal lead by half-time. However, Guernsey fought back and an Allen brace levelled the scores just past the hour mark. Within a minute, though, Modeste restored Dover’s advantage and this was how the game finished. The next round saw another potentially tricky tie with AFC Rushden & Diamonds heading down to Kent but a dominant performance saw the Combined Counties side beaten 3-1. Oxford City were then comfortably dispatched by three goals to nil to take Dover into the 1st Round proper where they met Southern League Corby Town. The Steelmen put up a strong performance against the higher division side but two goals midway through the second half put Dover in control which made Corby’s injury-time strike nothing more than a consolation. The draw for the 2nd Round handed the Whites a mouth-watering trip to League 1 side MK Dons. Hopes that the game would be shown live on TV were dashed (perhaps not unsurprisingly as games selected normally feature the non-league side at home) but it will still be a big day for Dover at the Milton Keynes based club’s impressive Stadium MK home.
Complete record against Dover Athletic/Dover
Only two of the previous 39 meetings between City and Dover have taken place in a cup competition, both ending in a 1-0 win for the away side. The first of these was a 2nd Round tie at Twerton Park in the 1994-95 Bob Lord Trophy and for 90 minutes it looked as if the game would end goalless, as after a bright start City were increasingly thankful to keeper Dave Mogg for repelling the visitors with a string of excellent saves. However, even he could do nothing about Hall’s stunning 25-yard shot as the clock ticked beyond 90 minutes, although in truth there weren’t too many City fans unhappy at avoiding a long trip to Kent for a midweek replay in a competition of which they had little interest. More recently in September 2011 City travelled to Kent rooted to the foot of the Conference Premier for a FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round tie. The game had a cup shock written all over it but Andy Gallinagh’s header early in the second half turned out to be the only goal of the game in what turned out to be a rare highlight in a long and difficult season for the Romans.
A penalty miss by Ross Stearn denied City a stunning comeback against Sutton United at Mayday Trust Park this evening, the Romans having to settle in the end for a 2-2 draw. However, given they trailed a U’s side with genuine title ambitions by two goals after an hour it was still a great result for City that increases their unbeaten league run to five games. Over the course of the 90 minutes a draw was probably the fair result as both sides produced some excellent football. It was the visitors who struck first on 37 minutes when Nelson headed a corner past Jason Mellor. The crossbar then denied Slabber a second goal for Sutton before the interval but after 56 minutes his neat turn and shot made it 2-0. City needed to respond quickly and within three minutes David Pratt’s far post header did just that. Suddenly City were on top and with eight minutes left a great run and finish by Stearn levelled the scores. And when Pratt was tripped just in the box moments later it looked as if the comeback was about to be made complete but keeper Lovelock guessed right to save Stearn’s spot kick.
After reviewing all the video evidence we could obtain, we have decided that we will not be appealing the red card Ross Stearn received against Dorchester Town on Saturday. In order for an appeal to be successful, there has to be clear incontrovertible proof that an error has been made, in effect, we would have to prove a negative, to prove that Ross did not retaliate, and that proof would have to take the form of a video showing clearly the referee got it wrong. Most clubs at our level don’t appeal decisions, not because they agree that they were necessarily fair or right, but because they don’t have sufficient camera angles available as evidence to overturn a decision. Informally, we got a steer from the FA about the quality of the evidence we had to challenge the decision, and were told it was unlikely to result in a reversal. With this in mind we did not wish for an appeal to be treated as ‘frivolous’ and result in a further one game ban which was possible. The decision not to appeal in no way means we agree that a red card was the proportionate response to the incident, that is a red card for Ross.
Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting between City and Sutton United, supporters of both teams are advised that the centre of Bath is likely to be even busier than usual before the game due to the switching on of the Christmas lights. Therefore it is advisable to avoid this area if possible and allow more time to reach Mayday Trust Park.
City can move within two points of the Skrill South play-off positions if they can record a fourth successive league victory when Sutton United visit Mayday Trust Park on Tuesday evening. Dan Ball’s double against Dorchester Town yesterday was enough to fire City to a comfortable win but as important in the longer term was the clean sheet against the Magpies. Having previously only prevented Gosport Borough and Bridgwater Town from scoring, both in the FA Cup, if City are to maintain a play-off challenge they will need a regular recurrence of their accomplishment in Dorset.
This will not be easily achieved against a Sutton side with genuine promotion ambitions of their own. Having reached the play-offs in 2011-12 they missed out last year after failing to win any of their opening ten league games, which even an eight-match winning run at the end of the campaign failed to overcome. No doubt looking to make it third time lucky manager Paul Doswell has pulled out all the stops to return Sutton to the top flight of non-league football for the first time since 1999-2000. The two highest profile captures of the summer saw strike duo Jamie Taylor and Jamie Slabbler head to Gander Green Lane. Taylor signed from Lincoln City where he scored 16 goals last season, turning down an offer from Luton Town to return to his native South London and Slabber switched from fellow Conference South side Chelmsford City, having scored 28 goals for the Clarets. He also added the signings of Dale Binns and Mitchell Nelson from Eastleigh, which understandably had many bookies installing the U’s amongst the pre-season title favourites.
Although injury prevented the high profile strike duo from building an understanding during pre-season, optimism would have been high when they met another fancied side, Eastleigh, on the opening day of the 2013-14 season. However, a single first-half goal was enough to send Sutton back home pointless. After this anti-climax they bounced back strongly with a 4-1 win over ten-man Staines Town but then suffered a second defeat, surrendering a one goal half-time lead against Bishop’s Stortford to lose 2-1. Since then though, they have finally begun to live up to the pre-season expectation with a nine-match unbeaten run to climb to 6th place in the table. They have also enjoyed an excellent FA Cup run that was only ended by Conference Premier side Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday. The U’s actually took the lead when former City defender Charlie Clough netted a 10th minute header but within eight minutes Harriers were in front and two further goals in the second half ensured Sutton’s FA Cup dreams were over for another year.
Complete record against Sutton United
City will be hoping to avoid a repeat of Sutton’s most recent visit to Mayday Trust Park on the final day of last season when the visitors ran out 4-0 winners. This meant the three games in which City have failed to score against the Surrey side in their 17 meetings have all finished 4-0. The previous two both came in 1987, although in different seasons. The second took place early in the 1987-88 campaign which ended with City relegated back to the Southern League. Having won just one of their opening eight league games City were already rooted to the foot of the GM Vauxhall Conference table, although that victory was in their previous home game against Boston United. And City started the game brightly, Adie Mann and Sean Mills both going close, but on 24 minutes Lenny Dennis slid the ball home to put Sutton in front. Just before the interval Awaritefe made it 2-0 after Dennis had headed against the bar. There was no coming back from this for City and Golley headed a third before Dennis made it 4-0 to record his eighth goal against the Romans in just three games.
A Dan Ball double carried City to their third successive league victory this afternoon against Dorchester Town at the Avenue Stadium. Although the Romans rarely reached the heights of their recent performances they never looked in trouble against the Skrill South bottom side, even after Ross Stearn was sent off midway through the second half. It took just three minutes for City to open the scoring, Ball out-jumping Dorchester’s Rolls to head home David Pratt’s looping cross. And nine minutes he repeated the trick, this time from Stearn’s free-kick. City were now content to allow the Magpie’s plenty of the ball but break quickly when they inevitably squandered possession. Jason Mellor was called into action to save Goodship’s shot but City always looked the more threatening side, Walker-Harris saving well when Walker deflected a Dan Bowman cross goalwards and Vickers denying Andy Watkins after he had rounded the keeper. There was little change to the pattern of the game until the 58th minute when City burst forward with a three on two break. Just as Stearn looked set to put in either Pratt or Watkins he was floored by Vickers which in itself was a borderline dismissal. Instead it was the City winger who saw red for his reaction to the foul whilst both players were on the ground. Despite being a man down City still looked comfortably in control of the game and it wasn’t until the closing ten minutes, as they understandably began to tire a little, that the hosts threatened. The closest they came to grabbing a goal was from Walker’s 87th minute header which Mellor saved well and after that City saw the game out with no further alarm.
Boreham Wood’s goalless draw with Carlisle United in the FA Cup this afternoon means City’s league meeting with the Wood scheduled for Monday 18 November is now postponed. The new date will be posted on here in due course.
City go in search of a third successive league victory on Saturday when they travel to Dorset to face Dorchester Town. The Romans have to go back to April 2011 for the last time they enjoyed such a run, with home wins over Grimsby Town and Gateshead either side of a long successful trip to Barrow, securing nine points out of nine during their memorable maiden Conference Premier season. And after the impressive performances and results against Farnborough and Havant & Waterlooville, Lee Howells’ side will be confident that a repeat showing should complete a treble against the Skrill South’s bottom club.
The Magpies enjoyed their best ever Conference South campaign last year finishing in 8th position, just seven points off the play-off places. They also reached the FA Cup 2nd Round, beating League 2 side Plymouth Argyle before losing to Luton Town. And off the pitch they announced that the club had started on the path towards the aim of full community ownership with the transfer of 50% of the shares from majority shareholder Shaun Hearn to the Community Trust. Optimism that they could build on the previous season was tempered though when manager Phil Simkin announced he would be working with a much reduced budget for the 2013-14 campaign. The 60-year old, now in his third season in charge at the Avenue Stadium, still signed a new one-year contract and was soon followed by top scorer and former City striker Ben Watson, who put pen to paper on a two-year deal. Simkin also brought in highly-rated goalkeeper Tim Sandercombe, ex-Yeovil Town youth winger Jamie Beasley, attacking midfielder Elliot Ward and AFC Bournemouth striker Brandon Goodship on loan.
A narrow opening day 1-0 defeat at Staines Town, with just a second half penalty separating the sides, raised hopes that the Magpies would be competitive but they followed this up with two heavy home defeats, 3-0 to Weston Super Mare then 6-2 against League newcomers Whitehawk. They picked up a first point of the season against Gosport Borough in their next outing but three furthers losses left them rooted to the foot of the table. A 2-0 win over another struggling side, Chelmsford City, lifted spirits but they crashed back down when the Magpies exited the FA Cup to Southern League Division One South & West Shortwood United. This defeat has further repercussions with co-chairman Hearn stepping down from the board and a further budget cut announced. Having already lost ex-City defender Charlie Clough to Sutton United, keeper Sandercombe was released and Watson and Arran Pugh joined Truro City. Lewis Morgan became the fourth player to depart in a week but the club showed it battling spirit, narrowly losing 1-0 at in-form Dover Athletic before beating Maidenhead United 3-1. However, since then defeats against Basingstoke Town (0-4) and Bromley (1-4) has left the Magpies at the bottom of the table with seven points from their opening 12 games.
Complete record against Dorchester Town
The Magpies enjoyed the better of the meetings between the sides last season, recording a first ever double over City. The game in Dorset saw two goals in as many second half minutes end City’s unbeaten start to the season. Having largely controlled the game for an hour they only had Charlie Griffin’s maiden goal for the club to show and two set-pieces proved their undoing. City went in front after just 13 minutes when a low free-kick from Griffin beat ex-Roman keeper Matthews just inside the post. Kurtis Guthrie and Griffin just failed to get on the end of teasing crosses after this but a second goal did not look on the cards as City flattered to deceive. Guthrie shot narrowly wide shortly after the interval before just past the hour mark Walker headed home the equaliser via the crossbar and Glyn Garner’s desperate attempt to prevent the ball crossing the line. And before City had a chance to recover from this blow they were behind, another free-kick ending with Martin firing a low shot under Garner’s body. Noah Keates, Mark Canham and Kerry Morgan were all introduced in quick succession but City were unable to regain the control they had previously enjoyed and only a great tackle from Gethin Jones – in his 300th appearance for the club – prevented Reid adding a third for the home side late on.
City’s U18 meeting with Newport County scheduled for Mayday Trust Park on Saturday has been postponed following a request by the Welsh club.
A goal in the final minute of extra-time saw City overcome Larkhall Athletic at Mayday Trust Park this evening in an entertaining Somerset Premier Cup tie. City’s line-up mainly consisted of U18 players – with just four first team players starting the game, including Jim Rollo making his first appearance of the season – but they were always a match for the high-flying Western League side. In fact they had the best chance of an even first half after Larks keeper spilled the ball only for Jake Miller to fire wide of the unguarded goal. The visitors began to look more threatening as the second half progressed and when Lyons headed home a 75th minute corner it looked as if they were on course to win the first competitive meeting between the Bath clubs. However, six minutes later a stunning 25-yard shot by Aaron Brown levelled the scores. It took two excellent late saves from City keeper Josh Barrington to take the game into extra-time and he produced another fine stop early in the additional period. Just when the game looked destined for penalties City broke forward and, after Snoddy had blocked the first shot, substitute James Fisher slotted the rebound home to secure City a quarter-final place.
City have confirmed their FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round match at Dover Athletic will take place on Saturday 16 November (ko 3pm).
City face a 400 mile round trip to begin their FA Trophy campaign after they were drawn to face Dover Athletic in today’s 3rd Qualifying Round draw. The Conference South rivals have already met once this season, with the Kent side running out 2-0 winners at Mayday Trust Park back in September. The tie will take place at the Whites Crabble Athletic Stadium on Saturday 16 November (ko 3pm).
City begin their 2013-14 Somerset Premier Cup campaign tomorrow evening with a first ever competitive meeting with fellow Bath based side Larkhall Athletic. The Larks are enjoying a remarkable season so far, having dropped just two points from their opening 14 league games to lead the Toolstation Western Football League Premier Division by eight points. In fact, their only defeat of the season came against Southern League Bidford in the FA Cup. Since winning promotion to the Premier Division for the first time in their history five years ago Larkhall have taken great strides forward and look very well-placed to make the step up to the Southern League next year, which would be perfect timing with 2014 marking the club’s 100th anniversary. Only the facilities at their Plain Ham home denied them promotion in 2011 after clinching a maiden Premier Division title. However, the necessary work has been done to the ground and based on their early season form a Southern League place looks to be very much in their grasp.
Their success has been all the more impressive coming against the background of the serious injuries suffered by manager Wayne Thorne in car crash just before the start of the season. The former Chippenham Town and Gloucester City defender was involved in a head on collision which left him with a ruptured artery, sixteen crushed ribs, punctured lung, broken sternum, dislocated hip, shattered pelvis and fractured leg. As his team took to the pitch for their opening game of the season against Bridport the 33-year old was in a coma but when he was told the score – the Larks had come back from 3-1 down to win 4-3 – by his wife Mandy and brother Gary – who played 81 games for City in the early 2000s – he opened his eyes for the first time since the accident. Thorne is continuing on the long road to recovery, with another former City player Lee Collier in temporary charge.
Although the two sides have never faced each other in a competitive match they have twice met during pre-season. Goals from Danny Hazelhurst, Stuart James and a Mike Davis double saw City win 4-1 on the eve of the 1996-97 season. Ten years later City were back at Plain Ham in a lively encounter that saw the home side finish the game with ten men. The dismissal followed an off the ball incident involving Matt Coupe and he received a caution for his part in the flashpoint. This episode apart the game was played in a competitive but fair manner with City running out 3-0 winners. Justin Pritchard struck in the first half with a shot from the edge of the box that keeper Tucker allowed to squirm through his grasp before second half goals from Lewis Hogg and Kane Ingram completed the victory.
In a game that finally finished at 5.25, following the late arrival of the visitors and an injury to one of the assistant referees, Ross Stearn netted a hat-trick to fire City to a 3-1 win over Havant & Waterlooville. City continued where they had left off in the impressive win at Farnbrough in the week, Andy Watkins sending a dipping volley narrowly wide on seven minutes and Noah Keats forcing a good save from Bevan shortly afterwards. He was beaten moments later though as Stearn’s low free-kick found a way past his outstretched left hand. City maintained their control of the game after this without creating any clear-cut chances and the Hawks only once threatened, getting the ball into the net but well after an offisde flag had been raised. It was very much against the run of play then when Havant equalised four minutes into the second half, substitute Kabba firing home following a neat flick by Oli. There was a then a ten minute delay when one of the linesman injured his ankle and a replacement was sought from the crowd. Once play resumed it took City a while to regain their momentum but on 71 minutes a surging run by Watkins saw him pull the ball back for Stearn to make it 2-1. Just four minutes later the lively winger’s burst into the box was halted by a body check by Ciardini and he completed his hat-trick from the spot. Stearn was then denied a fourth by the stand-in linesmans’ flag before Havant finished the game strongly, Kabba’s thumping shot against the outside of the post coming the closest to reducing the arrears deep in the seemingly endless stoppage time.
City have confirmed the admission prices for Monday night’s Somerset Premier Cup tie with Larkhall Athletic: Adults £6, Concessions/students £3, accompanied U-16’s £1. No extra cost for a seat.
City’s U18 side are in action at Mayday Trust Park next Saturday 9 November against Newport County. The South West Counties Youth League match kicks off at 10.30am and admission is free.