Last seasons top scorer Jason Eaton finally looks set to overcome the injury problems that have left him on the sidelines this season. He picked up the ankle injury in City’s opening day clash with Chelmsford City and has featured just once since, as a late substitute in the FA Cup victory over Brislington. However, following a cortisone injection he was able to feature for over an hour in last nights Severnside League meeting with Newport County.
The match itself saw the Welsh side run out 2-1 winners. They took the lead midway through the first half with a Rogers free-kick before City levelled via a deflected 25-yard shot from Russell Milton. The winning goal came from a Thomas header around the hour mark. In addition to Eaton’s appearance the game also saw Milton play his first full 90 minutes since breaking his collar bone back in August plus a return to action for Mike Trought. Ghanian trilaist Reni Prierra produced an impressive cameo appearance as a 70th minute substitute.
An improved second half performance was not enough to disguise another desperately disappointing afternoon for City as first half goals from Phillips (20) and Tully (33) helped Weymouth to a 2-0 victory. The visitors showed nothing of the attractive football they produced against City earlier in the season but two opportunist strikes were more than enough to seperate the sides. Underfire boss Alan Pridham threw on Russell Milton and Mitch Counsell at the interval and their introduction improved City beyond all recognition. Alfie Carter hit a post in the opening minute before Steve Jenkins rattled the crossbar with a thumping header. Former City keeper Matthews also had several other neverous moments but City could not find that vital finish against a notoriously fragile Terras side. The game finished on a further downer when Counsell received a harsh second yellow card to see red for the second time this season.
Vastly experienced midfielder Gary Owers has joined City in a player coach capacity from Nationwide Conference side Forest Green Rovers. The 35-year old made over 600 appearances in a career spaning 16 years for Sunderland, Bristol City and Notts County before joining Forest Green in August 2002. Owers will become the third person to take on a coaching postion at Twerton Park this season following the brief tenures of Tim Harris and Ian Juryeff, although he is first to combine the job with a playing role.
Ironically the arrival of Owers has led to Forest Green recalling Alex Sykes from his loan spell with City. Sykes made four appearances for City in his six week spell at Twerton.
Despite twice leading City were denied a much needed victory tonight at Twerton Park when local rivals Chippenham scored an equaliser deep into stoppage time. The Bright header from a corner was probably no less than the Bluebirds deserved from the game but was still desperately disappointing for City after they had looked to have done enough to secure the win. After a goalless first half a Steve Tweddle fired City ahead after 51 minutes from the penalty spot after Charity had handled. With 12 minutes remaining Town were level, Paul capitalising on a lucky break in the box to shot home. However, this lead lasted a matter of moments as Drew Shore’s 25-yard shot flew past Hervin. As the game reached it last few seconds the visitors won a corner. Keeper Hervin went up for it but it was substitute Bright who rose highest to head home via the underside of the bar.
Dwayne Plummer has left City with a parting shot at the clubs supporters who he blames for bringing his short spell to such an abrupt end. The former Bristol Rovers midfielder was the target of abuse from a small section of fans at last weeks FA Cup exit at Thame United. He responded in kind but has cited the incident as the reason for his departure, also stating that the fans should have been grateful that a player of his calibre was playing at a level he is clearly better than.
A 20th minute header by Adam Howarth, his first goal for the club, helped City secure a point against Grantham Town yesterday and end their three league game losing streak. He rose to meet Drew Shore’s corner after home keeper Ziccardi has misjudged the cross. The Gingerbreads equalised five minutes before the interval, an unmarked Slinn heading past Mark Bryant. It was an improved performance by City on recent outings (it could hardly be much worse) and they were slightly unfortunate not to come away with the three points against a poor Grantham side. The clearest opening fell to substitute Steve Bridges in the closing minutes. A great run and cross by Frankie Bennett picked him out at the far post. His low shot looked destined for the corner of the net before the slightest deflection off a defender sent it against the post. The point sees City remain in 19th place although they do climb above local rivals and Tuesday nights opponents Chippenham Town.
City have signed yet another new player. 32-year old Forest Green Rovers defender Steve Jones has become the 12th player to sign for City since the start of the season. The former Swansea City and Cheltenham Town player has signed until the end of the season. He looks certain to feature against Grantham Town tomorrow with Scott Hendy and Mitch Counsell suspended and in the process will become the 30th player to turn out for the club this season. After just 2 months and 16 games. You couldn’t make it up.
Under pressure manager Alan Pridham has been given the full backing of the City board following a meeting at Twerton Park last night. With calls for the managers head increasing following the teams woeful recent results and performances City chairman Steve Hall said, “We looked at two options and have decided to stick with the manager.” He added, “We recognise the concerns of some of the supporters [but] we don’t feel that an open meeting with supporters would solve any problems at the moment, but we will arrange to meet some of their representatives in the near future. Alan’s had a bad run in terms of injuries and we believe that he is the right man to lead us into Conference 2 next season. If we swapped things around now, we feel that we maybe wouldn’t achieve that objective.”
In a rare piece of good news for City at the moment, last night saw the return to action of Russell Milton in the hastily arranged friendly against Larkhall Athletic. City ran out 2-0 winners with goals from Steve Tweddle and Steve Bridges but it was the introduction of Milton just after the hour mark that will have lifted the spirits of the many disillusioned supporters. The former Cheltenham midfielder has been sidelined since August after he broke a collarbone whilst celebrating his second goal in the 3-1 win over Weston Super Mare. City’s line-up last night was: Shuttlewood, Coupe (c), ????, Jenkins, Howarth, Rollo, Bridges, Counsell, Cleverley, Tweddle, Jeffries. Subs (all used): Milton, Carter, Shore, Hulbert, Brigham.
Manager Alan Pridham has responded to the increasing calls for his resignation by defiantly claiming he can “turn things around”. Pressure has been mounting in recent weeks following the teams 7-0 humilation at Worcester and their subsequent slide into the bottom four of the Dr Martens Premier Division. Saturday’s FA Cup exit at the hands of lower league Thame United was the last straw for many fans and their anger was directed at several players during the game plus Pridham after the final whistle. However, the former Paulton Rovers boss reacted to this by saying, “I heard the fans shouting ‘Pridham out’, which is their opinion and they are entitled to that. I wouldn’t have been happy if I was them after watching [the Thame defeat]. I was under pressure from the day I came to this club and not many people have been backing me since then apart from the board. I know the board will be under pressure now but I can turn things around if I get the tools to do it. The truth of the matter is that we’ve got too many players out injured. If it was January I would think about resigning, but it’s only October. He added: “I’m disappointed with certain things that have gone on this week but I’m not going to expand on that. Players are not stupid, they know the situation and it’s a difficult time for everyone.” Pridham then went on to ask fans to be more patient. “One thing that upsets me is that because they support Bath City, the fans think they have a divine right to be successful, expectations are massively too high and it’s hard for the supporters because they want good things to happen. I understand that and sympathise with them but they’ve got to give people a break. Frankie Bennett didn’t have the best of times but the supporters caned him – that’s not going to make him do any better, is it? I can’t understand the logic of that because the kid has been loyal to Bath. Every supporter would pick a different side. They were calling for Mark Salter’s head the other day and then today they wanted him to start – it’s a difficult job. I’m not criticising the fans but I just wish they would take stock of the situation. We’re six points off fifth and although we’re not playing well at present, we’ve been missing crucial players.”
City’s FA Trophy 1st Round clash with Mangotsfield United has been put back 24 hours on police advice to assist with stewarding and car parking arrangements. The match at Cossham Street will now take place on Sunday 2 November (ko 3pm).
City have arranged a friendly with Western League side Larkhall Athletic tomorrow night (Tuesday 14 October) at Twerton Park. The match will see Russell Milton make his long-awaited return from injury. Entry’s free and kick off is 7.45pm.
City’s hopes of a decent FA Cup run evaporated yesterday as they were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Ryman League Division One North side Thame United. From the first whistle to the last City were outplayed and outfought by the lower league opposition in another low point of a season not short of them. Thame has already twice gone close before an unmarked Mitchell put them ahead with a close range finish on 26 minutes. A brief spell on top before the interval gave false hope to the City fans but this was cruelly exposed nine minutes after the break, substitute Keen latching onto a long ball forward and lobbing Mark Bryant. Six minutes later the game was truly up for City as the same player turned home a Mitchell cross to make it 3-0. City’s disarray was summed up perfectly toward the end when substitute Dwayne Plummer directed an obscene gesture and comment towards the City fans after another attack has failed miserably.
Top scorer Steve Tweddle took just three minutes to show what City have been missing during his work-related four week absence, winning and converting a penalty to set City on their way to a 4-2 Somerset Premier Cup win over Paulton Rovers. Buxton scrambled home an equaliser after 21 minutes before a 20-yard shot from Drew Shore and a close-range finish by Josh Jeffries saw City go into the interval 3-1 ahead. Debutant keeper Justin Shuttlewood misjudged a Ford header midway through the second half and when Scott Hendy pulled the same player down when he was clean through on goal it looked as if City were heading for another embarrassing result. However, the referee only booked the City defender and the free-kick came to nothing. And with a couple of minutes left Drew Shore fired home another long-range effort to put some respectability on the scoreline.
The draw for the 2nd Round has already been made and will see City face a home tie against either Welton Rovers or Bishop Sutton. The match will take place on Tuesday 18 November.
Two second half goals, the second from former City striker Matt Lewis, left City on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline after another disappointing performance this afternoon at Twerton Park. It was no less than City deserved as they produced a lacklustre showing that never threatened the well-organised visiting side. A Drew Shore inswinging corner midway through the first half and two late shots from the same player were all City could muster. By Contrast Hinckley always looked the more likely to score and the goal duly arrived around after 66 minutes, substitute Jenkins turning the ball past Mark Bryant. Moments later Lewis, who had a very undistinguished loan spell with City last season, produced a neat turn before placing a shot into the corner of the net. The defeat leaves City in 19th place in the Dr Martens Premier Division.
City have continued their trend of looking up the A46 for players by signing Forest Green Rovers left-back Steve Jenkins on a free transfer. The 23-year old former Southampton Academy star went straight into City’s starting line-up for todays clash with Hinckley United at Twerton Park. To make room for Jenkins City have released recent arrival Tom Ramasut. The midfielder arrived from Barry Town two weeks ago but featured for just 45 minutes in the second half of the 7-0 defeat at Worcester.