A Dominic Gentle header after 87 minutes and an injury-time Bontcho Guentchev strike left City’s FA Cup hopes in tatters as they crashed 2-0 to Hendon at Twerton Park this afternoon. In an evenly contested game City had created the clearer chances, particularly in the first half, Mike Davis firing a shot against the post and then lobbing weakly with keeper McCann stranded. The second half had seen both defences on top until the visitors found space down the left and Gentle’s header beat Jackson. City then threw everything at Hendon and, as the game entered stoppage time, looked to have earned a life-line when Davis was tripped in the box, but the referee unbelievably waved play-on, and a minute later sub Guentchev ran clear to put the result beyond doubt.
City came within three minutes of surrendering their unbeaten start to the season but a first goal for the club from Kevin Lloyd snatched them a 1-1 draw against Dorchester Town. Having made the worst possible start, going behind to an Owen Pickard header after less than 30 seconds, City produced a disappointing and tired looking performance. Missing Mark Harrington they could have fallen further behind but for a last ditch tackle by Towler. Colbourne missed City’s best first half chance, firing straight at the keeper from 2 yards, and it was only as the game approached it’s final 20 minutes that City woke up. Paul headed straight at keeper Dungey, then Richards saw his shot tipped around the post. It looked like it was going to be of those nights, in front of 1355, City’s biggest league crowd of the season, until Lloyd popped up to knock home Colbourne’s cross shot. Paul then had chance to win the game but could only steer his header over the bar.
A first goal conceded away from home this season cost City a vital victory over Boston United as they had to settle for a 1-1 draw in the table top clash. In an evenly contested game, that City, perhaps, just shaded, Mike Davis had given them the lead after 50 minutes, capitalising on a weak back pass, to round Bastock and, despite the keepers best efforts to pull him down, roll the ball into the empty net. The equaliser came 11 minutes from time after Elliot Jackson could only parry Nuttle’s header and Rawle made no mistake from 2 yards. Rather than caving in, as they had at Boston last season, City continued to give as good as they got and created a great chance in stoppage time to win the game. A powerful run by Bodin saw him lay the ball off to Richards but his effort was parried by Bastock and cleared to safety. The match showed that City can comfortably match the best of the league and, with a shade more luck, they could have made the long journey home with all three points.
Also, City have re-arranged two of their recently cancelled games, with the trip to Crawley Town now taking place on Tuesday 7 December and the visit of Halesowen Town to Twerton Park set for Tuesday 28 March. No date has been set for the Salisbury City game.
With City in the FA Cup 1st Round proper for the first time since 1994, the tie with Hendon has been given an extra edge with captain Colin Towler set to face his brother. With City also out to avenge last seasons 4-0 Cup exit, the game can not come quick eneough. Paul Bodin paid tribute to both his players and the fans, saying, “There was no luck about it. We worked ever so hard and we deserved to win the game. I’m absolutely delighted. The scenes at the end say it all. The crowd were magnificant, absolutely magnificant.”
Don’t be misled by the game being decided by an own goal as from the opening whistle to the end of stoppage time City out-played, out-fought and out-thought their Conference opponents, and throughly deserved their 1-0 FA Cup win. Chances came and went as City controlled the game, but only a combination of poor finishing and bad luck kept the tie level. With the game approaching extra-time City finally got the break their performance warranted, Towler heading a Bodin free-kick goalwards and Trott helping the ball over the line. In front of over 1400 fans (including about 50 from Stevenage!) Borough were never allowed the time and space they had in the first half on Saturday and only forced one decent save from Jackson. Even after the goal they never looked like equalising as City’s defence coped easily were their feeble threats. City now have the chance to gain revenge for their FA Cup exit last season, with Hendon the visitors to Twerton Park on 30 October in the 1st Round proper.
City produced a excellent second half performance to come away from Stevenage Borough with a creditable 1-1 draw and a second chance at Twerton Park in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round. And only a stunningly inept piece of refereeing at the end prevented City from recording an even better result, when Graham Colbourne was pulled down on route to goal but the referee missed the offence completely and waved play-on. The first half had seen Borough push City back for long periods but despite a number of promising positions they failed to test Elliot Jackson. As half time approached City had a great chance to open the scoring when a Bodin corner found Towler six yards out but he could only blast the ball high over the bar. And they were made to pay for this in first half stoppage time when Strout rose above Towler to head home a right wing cross. However, the second half was a different story as City stepped it up and took the game to the home side. Colbourne had already hit the post with a curling shot before, from another Bodin corner, he headed City, via a defenders leg, back on terms. Moments before Jackson had produced a stunning point blank save to keep City in the game. Even a squirrel running across the pitch failed to break City’s stride as a Towler header flew inches over. City had to survive for a nervous last few minutes after the referee’s blunder but the final whistle signalled celebrations among 250+ travelling fans and a deserved second chance at Twerton Park.
The draw for the 2nd round of the FA Trophy has paired City with Erith & Belvedere in a tie to be played at Twerton Park on the 27 November. The Kent (?) side currently lie in the lower half of the Dr Martens Southern & East Division.
City moved one step nearer Wembley with a single goal FA Trophy victory over Baldock Town at Twerton Park this afternoon. The vital goal came on 35 minutes when Martin Paul reacted first, after Steve White’s low shot had been blocked on the line, to bundle the ball home. Missing the injured Mark Harrington and Graham Colbourne, City then failed to capitalise on this goal and missed a series of chances to kill the game. As the final whistle approached, and with Baldock looking far and away the poorest side to lose to City this season, the certain equaliser should have come when a deep cross found a Town player unmarked at the far post, but he sidefooted the ball wide and City could continue their Wembley plans.
Having won the manager of the month award in August despite drawing one of that months games, Paul Bodin has been awarded the September prize after City’s 100% winning record in that month. The City boss has also distanced himself from two managerial vacancies he has been linked to, Yeovil Town and Reading. He denied the rumours that he has connected both clubs expressing interest in the posts at the Conference make-weights and his former club, pledging his immediate future to City.
On the field City go into tomorrows FA Trophy tie without Mark Harrington, who has suffered a recurrance of the ankle trouble that plagued him last season, with either Scott Walker or Stuart James looking set to take the left sided midfield role.
City moved into the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round, and a tie with Stevenage Borough, with a 3-1 victory over Ryman League side Farnborough Town. The win was sealed by a Martin Paul hat-trick as City defended for long periods, although Elliot Jackson was never forced to make a difficult save. City began strongly and were 2 goals up by the 16th minute. Paul opening the scoring from close range after Graham Colbourne had deflected Paul Bodin’s cross goalwards, and then grabbed his second, firing home from just inside the box. In between Colbourne should have scored but blasted over from a Paul centre. The visitors looked to have pulled a goal back 10 minutes before the break but a linesman flag for offside halted the celebrations. They finally did get back into the game after 65 minutes when Ansah headed home from a corner. However, a nervous finale was advoided when the referee adjudged a block on Paul was a penalty 10 minutes from time, and Birdy confidently completed his hat-trick. City’s next FA Cup opponents Stevenage crashed 3-2 today to City Reserves (aka Forest Green Rovers) in perfect preparation for the clash.