October 2008

Gosling tranfer listed and Wood released in latest squad moves (31/10/08)

Jamie Gosling has become the latest player to be transfer listed as City continue to reduce the size of their squad. Gosling, who only returned to Twerton Park in the summer for a second spell with the club, has only started five games after picking up a back injury in the opening game of the season. Another player definitely leaving is winger Jason Wood, who has been released. He has spent just over one injury-plagued season at Twerton Park, spending loan spells with Yate Town, Paulton Rovers and Chippenham Town during that time, making just 11 starts and 14 substitute appearances, scoring twice and seeing red once.

Cochlin heads back over Severn Bridge to become Exile once again (31/10/08)

Paul Cochlin has re-joined Newport County after he was transfer listed last week. The 25-year old moved to Twerton Park in the summer after he was released by new Exiles manager Dean Holdsworth but he has become the second victim of City’s squad reduction, and with the Welsh side’s defensive struggles – including shipping four goals against City in the Setanta Shield on Tuesday – they moved quickly to take him back over the border. Cochlin made six starts for City plus one subsitute appearance, and also netted twice against Hampton & Richmond Borough and Clevedon Town in the FA Cup.

City’s 2nd Round Somerset Premier Cup tie at Frome Town will take place on Wednesday 19 November (ko.7.45pm).

PREVIEW: Weston Super Mare v CITY – Blue Square South (30/10/08)

Saturday sees City make their first trip to the Woodspring Stadium since last season’s farcical Somerset Premier Cup Final, when eight minutes into extra-time – with City and Paulton Rovers locked together at 1-1 – the ground was plunged into darkness. With the Blue Square South clash with Weston Super Mare coming a week after the clocks went back all the City fans travelling to the coast will hope their hosts can manage to keep the twilight at bay in the game’s closing stages this time. They will also hope for a repeat of any of the 30 out of 35 meetings between the clubs that have since City come out victorious.

Complete record against Weston Super Mare

Last season saw City add another three ticks in the win column with a Blue Square South double and an extra-time Setanta Shield victory. The first of these clashes took place in August at Twerton Park with both sides having made a positive start to the campaign. City were sitting proudly at the top of the Blue Square South table and Weston had lost just one of their first four games, no doubt still riding the positive boost of avoiding relegation by default the previous season. Six weeks later the Seagulls were back in Bath for a Setanta Shield 1st Round tie and the cracks were beginning to show. They had already crashed out of the FA Cup at Twerton Park against tenants Team Bath – then still a Southern League side – and they made it an unwelcome cup double as a Matt Coupe header and Darren Edwards brace cancelled out a Mark McGregor double. The second league meeting took place between Christmas and New Year and saw the home side in a run of just one win in eight outings and this became one in nine thanks to second half goals from Edwards and former Seagull Lewis Hogg. Weston would only win another two games that season to finish five points from ‘safety’ in 20th position. However, for the second successive season the welcoming arms of the Southern League embraced another club, this time Cambridge City for failing to meet ground regulations (previously it had been Farnborough for financial reasons), and Weston remained in the Blue Square South.

In common with last season they began well this time around, beating Bishop Stortford at home on the opening Saturday before recording a shock 3-2 win at pre-season favourites Havant & Waterlooville. Former City boss Tony Ricketts was a busy man during the close season, initially bringing in a new player assistant manager in the shape of the vastly experienced Andy Gurney. Other targets then proved more elusive and his pre-season plans were not helped by the departure of striker Lewis Powell & utility man Kevin Davies to local rivals Clevedon Town and former City midfielder Barry Connell to big-spending Truro City. Another ex-Twerton Park player Scott Hendy looked set to be heading to Woodspring Park from Clevedon, only for a last minute change of heart seeing the centre-back heading for Mangotsfield United instead. Eventually Ricko captured former Swindon Town player Ben Wells from Basingstoke United, striker Marvin Brown, who returned to the club from Salisbury City, and local player Ryan Havard. Then on the eve of the new season he brought in three more players, young goalkeeper Ryan Harrison, ex-Bristol Rovers and Torquay United midfielder Darren Mullings and 19-year old defender Ryan Paddock, who had been released by Bristol Rovers. Even after the season started Ricketts continued to strengthen his squad, signing French-born Cedric Abraham and Bradley Middleton from Cardiff City. Harrison and Middleton were soon heading back out of Woodspring Park but another new arrival was Ludovic Quistin, a Guadeloupe international and cousin of Arsenal captain William Gallas. Results since their promising start have been mixed and they currently sit once place below City, although only on goal difference. In common with City they also made an embarrassing FA Cup exit to a side two divisions below them – Chesham United winning 4-2 at Woodspring Park in the 2nd Qualifying Round.

Although none of these signings will be familiar to City fans there are a few faces likely to line-up against their side on Saturday that will be recognisable. Keeper Ryan Northmore and defender Mike Green are two, but the main one is wide midfielder Mark McKeever. Macca was a vital part of City’s 2006-07 Southern League winning side after joining from Weston during the 2006 close season. He returned to the Seagulls just before the transfer deadline in March 2008 after being offered a two year contract and role in the club’s academy. The 29-year old Irishman missed the opening three matches of the campaign after being sent off against Maidenhead United toward the end of the 2007-08 season. He has since missed just a couple of games and scored both of Weston’s goals in the aforementioned FA Cup exit.

Four-goal Gilroy puts Newport to sword in Setanta Shield rout (28/10/08)

Dave Gilroy became the first City player to score four times in a game for well over ten years after he netted all four goals in this evening’s Setanta Shield 4-1 win over Newport County. All four strikes came within a twenty minutes either side of the half-time interval, and this after the visitor’s had taken the lead. With new signing Richard Evans making his first start against his former club, City missed a series of chances in the opening half an hour then compounded this by gifting Newport the lead on 33 minutes when Martin Slocombe lost possession to Leek and he crossed to give Reid a simple chance. Gilroy drew City level nine minutes later, firing past Thompson after Darren Edwards had won the ball. And on the stroke of half-time a neat turn and finish by Gilroy made it 2-1. He completed his hat-trick nine minutes after the break despite both him and Edwards looking offside when the ball was lifted forward to send the strike pair racing clear. There were no such doubts about his fourth, collecting Gethin Jones’ pass and driving the ball into the corner of the net. He almost grabbed a fifth moments later and Jones and Chris Holland had headers cleared off the line as City threatened to inflict an even greater defeat on their Blue Square South rivals. The win gives City a 3rd Round meeting with Blue Square Premier side Salisbury City at Twerton Park on Tuesday 4 November (ko 7.45pm).

PREVIEW: CITY v Newport County – Setanta Shield 2nd Round (27/10/08)

By this stage last season City and Newport County had already faced each other on three occasions – they would go on to meet another two times – but tomorrow night’s Setanta Shield 2nd Round tie brings the clubs together for the first time this season. The Exiles have endured a difficult start to the season and they currently sit in 16th place in the Blue Square South table, but only out of the relegation places on goal difference.

After missing out on a play-off place last season thanks to defeats in their final two games of the season hopes were high at the start of this campaign when former Wimbledon and Bolton Wanderers striker Dean Holdsworth returned to Spytty Park – he spent a short spell there as a player during the 2006-07 season – to take over as manager from Peter Beadle, who was sacked after the play-off failure. The high profile Londoner was soon busy in the transfer market, immediately releasing a number of players and the new arrivals appeared on a seemly daily basis throughout the summer. These included two from City – midfielder Adie Harris and striker Phil Walsh. Pre-season optimism lasted for about 39 minutes into the new season when they went behind to Blue Square South newcomers AFC Wimbledon. The game finished 4-1 to the Dons and it took the Welsh side until their sixth outing to register a win – 1-0 over Hampton & Richmond. They have since won just one more league game and also crashed out the FA Cup at the 2nd Qualifying Round stage to Blue Square South rivals Dorchester Town.

Complete record against Newport County/Newport AFC

Last season’s five meetings between City and Newport ended all square in result terms with both sides winning two games and the other match ending in a draw. City will claim to be the moral victors with their two victories coming in a league meeting and FA Cup tie, compared to County’s FA Trophy and Setanta Shield success. All these four matches took place at Spytty Park, with the lone Twerton Park match ending all square.

Wayward finishing costs City dear in Saints defeat (25/10/08)

City only had themselves to blame for a failure to take their chances in a 2-1 defeat to St Albans City at Clarence Park this afternoon. Dave Gilroy set the tone in the opening minute – shooting weakly straight at former City keeper Bastock – and Stuart Douglas wasted an even better chance on 15 minutes, electing to square the ball to Gilroy rather than shooting when clean through, and overhitting the pass to his offside strike partner. Ironically in between City had taken the lead when Sekani Simpson’s cross deceived a poorly positioned Bastock to find the net. The home side were equally profligate in front of goal, Martin heading a chance into Paul Evans’ hands and the same player failing to lob City’s keeper. The second half saw City continue to look the better side, keeping the ball largely on the floor but a rare lapse at the back on the hour mark allowed Martin to head home Hunt’s cross. Despite this setback City still looked capable of winning the game but instead they failed to even get a point when an attack broke down eight minutes from time, Cohen raced two-thirds the length of the pitch to centre for Hakim to head past Evans. Deep into stoppage time City should have levelled but Gilroy failed to beat Bastock from six yards out, which summed up his and City’s afternoon.

City will face Western League Frome Town in the 2nd Round of the Somerset Premier Cup after they beat Odd Down. The game is provisionally dated for Tuesday 18 November.

PREVIEW: St Albans City v CITY – Blue Square South (23/10/08)

Adie Britton goes in search of his third victory as City manager with a trip to one of the current Blue Square South form sides, St Albans City. The Saints have won their last four league outings, although three of the wins have come against clubs struggling near the foot of the table in Newport County, Basingstoke Town and Bognor Regis Town. This winning run has lifted them into the top half of the table – one spot above 11th placed City – after a mixed start to the season in which they failed to record a victory in their opening five matches. They ended this run in emphatic style with a five goal thumping of Eastleigh, which they followed up with a 2-0 win over Bishop Stortford. This mixed start to the season was in direct contrast to how they finished the 2007-08 campaign when just one defeat in their final eleven games carried them away from a relegation that had looked certain from the opening weeks of the season. This change in fortune coincided with the return of talismanic goalkeeper Paul Bastock. The vastly experience keeper had previously spent two seasons at Clarence Park before joining Rushden & Diamonds in the 2007 close season, only to return seven months later. Bastock made 625 appearances for Boston United but, no doubt, classes the single game he played for City – a 1-1 draw against VS Rugby in October 1988 – as the highlight of this career.

During this improved Blue Square South run they suffered a costly FA Cup exit at the hands of Ryman League side Harlow Town. After an uneventful goalless draw at Clarence Park the sides met again at Barrows Farm three days later with lowly Crowborough Athletic the plum tie awaiting the winners. Within just 14 minutes of the replay St Albans found themselves two goals down and but for poor finishing by Harlow could have found themselves even further behind. However, with 15 minutes remaining Cousins pulled a goal back and just three more minutes had elasped when Cohen levelled the tie. The game should have been there for the taking for the higher league side but instead Harlow won it with two minutes left to dump the Saints out at the first hurdle.

The meeting pitches two former Roman settlements in battle, with St Albans sited on the Roman town of Verulamium and Bath known as Aquae Sulis in Roman times. After the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43 Verulamium became one of the largest towns in Roman Britain. Built mainly of wood, it was destroyed during the revolt of Boudica in AD 60-61, but was rebuilt and grew to feature many impressive town houses and public buildings. It was encircled by gated walls in AD 275. It slowly declined and fell into decay after the departure of the Roman Army in AD 410. However, its ruined buildings provided building materials to build the new monastic and market settlement of St Albans which was growing on the hill above, close to the site of Saint Alban’s execution around AD 250. St Albans also held the first ever meeting of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) on 20th November 1972, at the Farriers Arms pub, and replaced Mayfair as the most expensive square on a special UK Here and Now Edition Monopoly board, having won an internet vote.

Complete record against St Albans City

The 2007-08 season saw City complete a double over the Saints in the first ever meetings between the clubs. The match at Twerton Park took place in September and was an afternoon to forget for the visitors. Coming into the game on the back of a 5-0 midweek home hiding at the hands of Thurrock they contrived to lose captain Elphick to a red card after just five minutes. It took City 17 further minutes to take advantage of this – and not before the Saints had had a ‘goal’ ruled out for offside – when Dave Gilroy fired home from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Deem. Eleven minutes into the second half Darren Edwards turned a loose ball into the net and Adie Harris completed the 3-0 win, blasting home an indirect free-kick after keeper Eyre had picked up a back pass. The sides met again five months later in a much closer encounter. St Albans led at the interval thanks to goal from Hakim only for City to catch them cold at the start of the second half, Gilroy lobbing Eyre with just 48 seconds gone. Both sides had chances to win it after this but with three minutes remaining City grabbed the three points when Edwards stabbed the ball home from close range.

It’s no easy Street for City as they begin Somerset Premier Cup defence (21/10/08)

City were made to battle hard by Western League side Street this evening before running out 3-2 winners to begin their defence of the Somerset Premier Cup. Martin Paul had seen a goal ruled off by an offside flag before City took the lead in bizarre circumstances on 42 minutes when the home keeper blasted the ball against Milner and it rebounded into the net. Two minutes later a Paul header clearly crossed the line before being cleared only for the linesman to fail to award a goal, but after 67 minutes Darren Edwards headed home to make it 2-0. The Cobblers pulled a goal back nine minutes later through a deflected Pearse free-kick but Chris Holland restored City’s two goal lead firing home in a crowded penalty box nine minutes from time. Still Street were not done and with five minutes remaining Cox made it 3-2 following a great run by Pearse but there was no late drama and City held on to earn a 2nd Round meeting with either Odd Down or Frome Town.

PREVIEW: Street v CITY – Somerset Premier Cup 1st Round (20/10/08)

City begin their defence of the Somerset Premier Cup with a trip to Tannery Field to face Western League Premier Division side Street. The Cobblers – nicknamed due to the history of shoemaking in the town – are one of the oldest football clubs in Somerset, having been formed in 1880. In their early years they were very successful, winning the Somerset Senior League four times before the turn of the century and they first met City in an FA Amateur Cup tie in October 1908. The lack of a railway in the town saw City attempt to switch the game to Bath – and consider withdrawing from the competition when the home refused – due to the cost of a motor bus but they went through with the match, winning 1-0 thanks to a late goal by FJ Bartley. When Street joined the Western League in 1910 they became league rivals for three seasons until World War I. Twice they recorded wins over City during this time but also suffered an 8-0 defeat in 1913. After the war they returned to the Somerset Senior League for eight seasons before re-joining the Western League where they remained until 1960. During this time they twice reached the 1st Round proper of the FA Cup, facing Ipswich Town in 1938/39 – having beaten City in the previous round despite at the time playing at the same level as their reserves – and Cheltenham Town in 1947-48. However, lean times followed in the 1950’s and they dropped back into the Somerset Senior League in 1960 where they would remain for 37 years. After winning the Somerset Senior League for the 8th time in their history in 1996-97 they were back for a third spell in the Western League.

In 2005-06 a third place finish under manager Simon White – who had masterminded the Cobblers Somerset Senior League triumph before leaving the club two and a half years later – was enough to gain promotion to the Premier Division. Since then they have finished in 19th and 18th place but this season they have started well and currently sit in 10th position. They slipped from a high of 7th place on Saturday thanks to a 1-0 loss at Sherbourne but are currently unbeaten at Tannery Field and have reached the 2nd Round of the FA Vase where they will face a trip to Dawlish Town. The ground has only been their home since 1967 having previously played at Victoria Field. Floodlights and a seated stand were added in 1998 following their return to the Western League, as well as enlarged changing rooms.

Complete record against Street

This will be the 20th meeting between the clubs, which apart from the aforementioned FA Amateur Cup, Western League and FA Cup matches have all been in the Somerset Professional/Premier Cup. Only once had Street knocked City out of the competition, in the 1947-48 semi-finals, and in 1960 they became the fifth side to suffer a double-figure defeat to City when they lost 10-0. They also met in the 1952-53 final in match that finished 1-1 to take the game to a replay. However, with this match having taken place a week after City’s final league match of the season it was agreed the replay would take place the following season. This game finishing in a 2-0 win for City. The most recent encounter was during the 2000-01 season when City ran out comfortable 5-2 winners thanks to braces from Graham MacLean and Sam Allison plus a Scott Walker strike.

Heads up to Birdy for getting Britton reign off to a flying start (18/10/08)

Adie Britton’s managerial reign got off to a winning start against Fisher Athletic at Twerton Park this afternoon thanks to a 72nd minute Martin Paul header. Birdy had only been on the pitch for four minutes when he connected with a great Gethin Jones cross to power the ball into the roof of the net. This was no less than City deserved as they produced a much improved performance than last weeks disappointing FA Cup exit against an admittedly poor Fisher side. Paul Evans had his quietest afternoon of the season and only the lack of a quality final ball prevented City winning by a greater margin. That was forgotten though when Jones produced a stunning centre for Paul to net his 115th goal in City colours. And the afternoon got even worse for the London side late on when cente-half Cunningham was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

New signing Richard Evans will have to wait another ten days to make his City debut due to international clearance rules. The regulations prevent him from playing until 28 days after his last appearance for Newport County – despite the Welsh side playing in the same division as City – which ironically will keep him out of action until the Setanta Shield meeting with his former club on October 28.

Ex-Newport County Evans wings his way to Twerton Park (17/10/08)

City have signed former Newport County winger Richard Evans. The 25-year old ex-Birmingham City trainee was released by the Blue Square South club last month, having made approaching 100 appearances for the Welsh club. Evans, who was a target for City during the summer, should go straight into the squad to face Fisher Athletic tomorrow but that is dependant on recieving international clearance for the left-sided player.

City have transfer listed a second player as they attempt to reduce the size of their squad. Midfielder Jason Wood will be allowed to leave Twerton Park after two injury-hit seasons with the club.

The draw for the 3rd Round of the Setanta Shield has given the winners of City versus Newport County a home tie with Blue Square Premier side Salisbury City.

Post Relish era begins with departure of Carey-Bertram and Cochlin (16/10/08)

With a new manager in place and on the back of the costly FA Cup defeat to Aylesbury United last Saturday, City have placed defender Paul Cochlin on the transfer list and seen striker Danny Carey-Bertram leave Twerton Park to join Blue Square North side AFC Telford. And further departures are likely after missing out on the £7,500 prize money with the shock 1-0 loss to the Ducks and the injury problems that have dogged the side since pre-season beginning to ease. Carey-Bertram scored twice in four starts and four substitute appearances since signing on non-contract terms in August, but a move to a side closer to his Birmingham home had always been a possibility.

New manager Adie Britton has also made a couple of changes to his backroom staff with club captain Jim Rollo taking over as fitness coach and second all-time top scorer Martin Paul becoming forwards coach.

PREVIEW: CITY v Fisher Athletic – Blue Square South (15/10/08)

Fittingly for City’s first match in the post-Relish era they come face to face with a side that have also gone through managerial upheaval in the last few weeks, Fisher Athletic. In fact, the clash will be a very rare mid-season occurrence where both managers are taking charge of their first game, after former Millwall player Dave Mehmet took over the reigns at Fisher last week following the departure of Wayne Burnett to troubled Blue Square Premier side Grays Athletic. This will be Mehmet’s fifth spell with the South London club having had three separate spells with them as a player in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s before a two-year stint as manager toward the end of the 1990’s.

He arrives at a club who last season finished in fourth spot and only missed out on a play-off final place with a penalty shoot-out defeat against Hampton & Richmond Borough, but have seen the heart of that side ripped out over the summer and early months of the new season, and look to be facing a battle at the other end of the table this campaign. The first player to head away from the Fish was Kieran Murtagh in a switch to Coca-Cola League 1 side Yeovil Town. He was soon joined in Somerset by teammate Gavin Tomlin before fellow striker Andre McCollin made it a trio of players heading West after a successful trial at Huish Park. Shaun Batt then become a fourth player to move up to League football when he joined Peterborough United. The start of the 2008-09 season failed to slow the stream of departures with Wesley Thomas joining Dagenham & Redbridge and duo Mark Wright and Jeff Goulding moving to Bournemouth. Even since Mehmet’s arrival Kenny Beaney has been released for financial reasons and club captain Scott Gooding could soon be heading the same way.

Not surprisingly given these departures Fisher have struggled in the opening two months of the season, getting off to the worse possible start with a 6-0 home defeat to Team Bath. They followed this up with back to back 3-0 losses at Chelmsford City and Eastleigh before they finally got off the mark with a 1-1 draw against Havant & Waterlooville. A 4-0 win over fellow strugglers Dorchester Town would have briefly brought back memories of last season but with just one further league win they currently lie one place and one point above the relegation zone. They also exited the FA Cup at the first hurdle against lower league opposition in Ryman League side Maidstone United.

Complete record against Fisher Athletic

However, if they were going to pick a side to face given their current troubles City would no doubt feature high on the list. They teams have met on eight previous occasions with the Fish coming out on top six times. Last season they completed the double over City, a penalty giving them a single goal win at Twerton Park before first half goals from Batt and Thomas made Sekani Simpson’s rare strike a mere consolation in the return match at Fisher’s temporary home, Dulwich Hamlet’s Champion Hill.

John Relish to step down from managerial hot-seat (14/10/08)

With immediate effect, John Relish has relinquished his role as Team manager of Bath City and will be succeeded by his assistant, Adie Britton. Coach Lee Howells becomes assistant manager. However Relish is not leaving the club. Over recent months John has had a leading role in the development of new initiatives which will benefit the club in the long term. These will give City a stronger presence in the community and youth development, together with the prospect of a football academy in the near future. These are now at an important stage and Relish feels he needs more time to see these important initiatives to a successful conclusion. Following a Board meeting on Monday evening, Chairman Geoff Todd and the Board were unanimous in praising the achievements of the management team who have been at the helm for just over 3 years. They also expressed their delight that Relish’s talents would still be available to the club, together with their confidence in Britton and Howells to continue the good work. In 3 years, City achieved Runners-up in the Southern League, then Champions with promotion. Last year in the Conference South City exceeded expectations by being in the top 3 for a large part of the season, in the end just missing out on the play-offs. In a tough opening to this season City have played many of the top clubs and are now well placed to improve on their current mid table position. The club and Relish are confident that the continuity provided by his long-time assistant, plus a more important role for ex-Mangotsfield manager Howells, can help with the reshaping of the football structure that will take the Club forward. Todd said, “This was not a surprise or shock but an evolution of the management structure, utilising the abilities and skills that John has nurtured around him in his staff appointments. We are certain that he will do this with the same professionalism that he has shown with the first team.”

City’s much re-arranged Setanta Shield 2nd Round meeting with Newport County will now take place on Tuesday 28 October (ko.7.45pm). The Basingstoke Town league match will now be played at a later date.

City make emarrassing and costly FA Cup exit to flying Ducks (11/10/08)

City suffered their first FA Cup defeat against lower league opposition since the 2003-04 season at Twerton Park this afternoon when a single goal gave Southern League Division 1 Midlands side Aylesbury United a place in the 4th Qualifying Round. Hawkins’ simple 63rd minute tap-in from Henney’s cross was enough to deny City the £7,500 prize money on offer and despite a late spell of pressure, where Darren Edwards and Dave Gilroy both had shots cleared off the line and Lewis Hogg crashed a free-kick against the crossbar, the visitors deserved their giant-killing victory. The first-half had been largely ruined by the whistle-happy referee Mr Busby, frustrating both sets of players and the 577-strong crowd, as the two league gap between the teams was rarely obvious. The second half had shown little sign of improvement (although at least Mr Busby finally appeared to realise he wasn’t supposed to be cente of attention) until Henney raced clear of a square City backline to give Hawkins his easy opening. Manager John Relish threw on Stuart Douglas and Martin Slocombe in an attempt to rescue the game and City did at least begin to apply some pressure. A low Gilroy shot brought a fine save out of Vincent on 74 minutes before somehow he and Edwards where both denied in the last minute. And when with the final kick of the match Hogg’s 25-yard free-kick struck the underside of the bar, with Vincent well beaten, and bounced to saftey the Buckinghamshire side could celebrate a first ever win over City.

City’s Setanta Shield 2nd Round game against Newport County scheduled for Tuesday will have to rearranged after Twerton Park tenants Team Bath came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Frome Town in the FA Cup this afternoon, meaning they will face the Western League side in a replay that evening.

PREVIEW: CITY v Aylesbury United – FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round (8/10/08)

After returning to Blue Square South winning ways at Bognor Regis Town last week, City once again focus their attention on the FA Cup with Aylesbury United making the trip to Twerton Park for a 3rd Qualifying Round tie. The Ducks are currently in the British Gas Business Southern League Division 1 Midlands Division, sitting in 9th position with three wins, two draws and one defeat from their opening six league games. However, the three winless matches came in their opening games of the season and they travel to Bath on the back of a seven match winning run. This sequence includes home FA Cup wins over Windsor & Eton, Almondsbury Town and Mangotsfield United. The latter of these a very impressive 4-1 victory over the higher division Bristol-based side.

Aylesbury presently play their home games at Chesham United’s The Meadow Ground, having been evicted from their long time home of Buckingham Road during the summer of 2006. Former Chairman Bill Carroll left the club after his plan to install a 3rd generation artificial pitch at the ground was blocked by the FA and Southern League, and with their lease on the ground expiring they were forced to move in with local neighbours Aylesbury Vale. Their final game at Buckingham Road was a 5-1 defeat to City, which ensured their relegation from the Southern League Premier Division. Management duo Neil Trebble and Tony Joyce quit a week later, but given the comments of Carroll, who was still at the club, that “[Trebble] cannot control his temper, rules players by fear, and has no administrative or organisational skills”, it would appear he jumped before he was pushed. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the club new manager Jon Franklin took them to within a point of making the 2006-07 play-offs only to resign himself shortly afterwards. So, the 2007-08 season saw the Ducks at another new ground, some 15 miles to the south in Chesham, and with former player and assistant manager Tony Thompson in charge. Although they led the table at Christmas, they fell away to finish in 8th position. The club are currently running a ‘Bring the Ducks Home’ campaign aimed at returning to Aylesbury with the most recent plan a multi-million pound ‘sports village’ to built in the area, although this is at a very early stage.

In recent times Aylesbury’s greatest success has come in the FA Cup, with a ‘golden period’ between 1985 and 1993 when they made at least the 1st Round Proper every season. During this incredible sequence they faced Football League opposition on seven occasions; recording a famous win over Southend United at Buckingham Road in 1989 and featuring live on Sky against Walsall a year later. Their best run came in the 1994-95 season when they reached the 3rd Round for the one and only time in their history. They were drawn at home to face then Premier League side QPR but had to switch the game to Loftus Road where they lost 3-0. The defeat brought the spell to an end – they went out at the first attempt in the 4th Qualifying Round the following season to Stevenage Borough – although they did once again reach the 1st Round and face league opposition (Port Vale) in 2001. During this time they also had the unique honour of playing a full England side as part of the national side’s build-up to the 1988 European Championship.

Complete record against Aylesbury United

Saturday’s game will be the 6th time the sides have faced each and City currently boast a 100% winning record. The last meeting was the aforementioned final game at Buckingham Road, where goals from Scott Rogers, Tony Bird, Jon Holloway (pen), Andy Sandall and Craig Davidge completed the one-sided route. The corresponding fixture at Twerton Park that season was an eventful one or, rather, two, after the first attempt in November 2005 was abandoned due to fog with just over ten minutes remaining and the score at 0-0. When the sides tried again on Valentines Day the game was a much livelier affair, a Tony Bird brace plus a Scott Partridge strike helping City to a 3-2 victory that was ever bit as close as it sounds. The previous season John Williams had given City a narrow 1-0 win at Buckingham Road before the sides met in the final game of the season. City needed a win to ensure a play-off place, which a twice-taken Scott Partridge penalty and a 40-yard Bobby Ford free-kick gave them.

Despite these memorable meetings it is the first time the sides ever met in November 1986 that remains the most unforgettable clash. Fittingly it was an FA Cup game and marked the second of the Ducks eight successive 1st Round appearances. City had reached that stage with a famous victory over local rivals Yeovil Town and were at the time a division above United. The visitors though came into the game on the back of a 23 match unbeaten run and having beaten another Vauxhall Conference side Kidderminster Harriers a few weeks earlier in a League Cup match. This form counted for little in the opening 50 minutes as City raced into a two-goal lead. On 18 minutes Dave Payne knocked a deep Mickey Adams centre back across goal for Paul Bodin to finish from close range. Then five minutes after the interval Payne was again the provider, crossing for Martyn Grimshaw to plant a firm header into the net via the underside of the crossbar. Eight minutes later the Ducks were back in the tie when Cliff Hercules converted Gary Hartnell’s cross. Only another five minutes had passed when Paul Stevens’ weak back-pass forced Dave Mogg to pull down Hercules and Dave Botterill fired home from the penalty spot. Both sides went in search of a winning goal after this but as the game reached stoppage time plans were being made for a replay in Buckinghamshire. However, man of the match Payne had other ideas, winning the ball down the right flank before racing forward to fire a low cross into the box where Adams timed his run (almost) perfectly to knock home the winner via his knee and earn City a 2nd Round trip to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City.

City v Aylesbury cup tie to feature on ITV Local website (7/10/08)

City’s FA Cup 3rd Qualfying Round tie against Aylesbury United has been selected as one of the games to be covered by the ITV Local website. Highlights of the game will be available at www.itvlocal.com/facup/. One other tie to be featured of interest to City fans will be Guiseley v Sheffield, with former Twerton Park favourite Scott Partridge banging goals in for the latter, including a four goal haul in a recent League Cup match (something he never managed for City!).

City begin to untangle fixture pile-up with Newport & Street dates (6/10/08)

City will face Newport County at Twerton Park in the Setanta Shield 2nd Round on the original date of Tuesday 14 October (ko 7.45pm) subject to neither they nor Team Bath being involved in an FA Cup replay. This means the Somerset Premier Cup meeting with Street will take place on Tuesday 21 October (ko 7.30pm) in place of the scheduled Blue Square South match against Basingstoke Town. That game will now be played on Tuesday 28 October (ko 7.45pm).

Bognor blown off course as City storm to welcome victory (4/10/08)

City ended their five game winless league run at a wet and windy Nyewood Lane this afternoon with a 2-0 victory over Bognor Regis Town. Despite strong winds and heavy showers a goal in each half from Danny Carey-Bertram and Stuart Douglas saw City claim the three points. Both sides struggled to adapt to the conditions in the first half but with six minutes to go the break Carey-Bertram latched onto a Dave Gilroy flick to neatly lift the ball past Tardiff. The second half saw the gusty wind behind the home side and they nearly equalised five minutes after the interval, Paul Evans’ fingertips deflecting Clarke’s shot onto the post. This was as close as the Rocks came to levelling the scores despite seeing the greater possession and with three minutes left Gilroy repeated his first half trick to send Douglas clear and he confidently netted his third goal of the season.

City’s Somerset Premier Cup 1st Round meeting with Street scheduled for this coming Tuesday has been postponed after the Western League side drew with Clevedon United in the FA Vase this afternoon meaning they will face a replay instead that night. The game has provisionally been rearranged for Tuesday 14 October replacing the Setanta Shield meeting with Newport County, but that will be dependant on City not being involved in an FA Cup replay that night.

City Youth will play their FA Youth Cup 2nd Qualifying Round tie against Cirencester Academy at Twerton Park on Wednesday 8 October (ko 7.45pm).

PREVIEW: Bognor Regis Town v CITY – Blue Square South (1/10/08)

After a two week break from Blue Square South football to begin their FA Cup campaign City return to league action looking to end a five match winless run with a trip to the south coast to face Bognor Regis Town. Since their narrow single goal victory at Worcester City on August Bank Holiday Monday they have drawn with AFC Wimbledon, Havant & Waterlooville and Eastleigh, and suffered defeats against Hayes & Yeading United and Hampton & Richmond Borough. However, with the return of several players from injury and boosted by the 2-0 FA Cup victory over Clevedon Town, City will be optimistic of getting back to winning league ways. And in the Rocks they come up against a side struggling both on and off the pitch. Whilst goals from Dave Gilory and Paul Cochlin were ensuring smooth progress into the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, Bognor were being held to a goalless draw at Ryman League Division 1 South side Burgess Hill. It then got even worse for them as they lost 2-0 in the replay at Nyewood Road to exit the competition and miss out on the £4,500 prize money.

This financial loss will have hit the club as hard if not harder than the footballing setback as they struggle against a series of blows. With just one league win all season – albeit in their last outing against fellow strugglers Fisher Athletic – they currently lie in 21st place. Seven of their first ten league matches have ended in defeat but given the upheaval at the club over the summer this poor start is no real surprise. Having spent the majority of last season around the wrong end of the table they finally finished seven points above the relegation zone in 18th place but within two weeks of the season they were rocked by the resignation of manager Dave Birmingham. He had been with the club for 14 years as a player and manager but uncertainty over the budget for this season led to him joining Gosport Borough as assistant manager. His worst fears were proved to be true a few days later when General Manager Jack Pearce revealed they would not be able to afford to pay any wages for the 2008-09 season. Not surprisingly this led to a player exodus, with just defender Duncan Jupp and midfielder Scott Harris remaining at Nyewood Lane, along with coach Dave Killpatrick. In the middle of June this nightmare scenario was avoided when the club managed to attract new investment and former Havant boss Mick Jenkins was named as their new manager, assisted by ex-Portsmouth and England under-21 star Andy Awford. The new management duo soon began the job of rebuilding the squad, amongst the new arrivals vastly experienced defender Paul Watson from Crawley Town, Jamie Whisken from Farnborough and former Eastleigh captain Danny Smith.

Although they only recorded a single pre-season victory – ironically against Birmingham’s new club Gosport Borough – a series of solid performances raised hopes for the forthcoming season. A narrow opening day defeat at Worcester City was followed by a creditable goalless draw against last season’s play-off finalists Hampton & Richmond but just as things were beginning to look slightly better for the Rocks they suffered another major setback when fire destroyed their club house. The loss of this revenue stream – so vital to the vast majority of non-league clubs – has been exacerbated by falling crowds and once again talk of budget cuts has cast a cloud over Nyewood Lane.

Complete record against Bognor Regis Town

Last season saw City travel to Bognor for the first time in over 33 years. They had met the Rocks back in the early 1970’s when both clubs were in the Southern League Division 1 before a switch to the Isthmian League in 1981 meant their paths diverged. City’s promotion to the Blue Square South in 2007 – Bognor were amongst the founder members in 2004 – saw them face each other again. It was a Tuesday night in September when City made the journey to Sussex. The hosts named former Wales international goalkeeper Paul Jones in their line-up but within three minutes he was picking the ball out of the net – Gilroy turning home a Mark McKeever free-kick. Two further goals in the second half saw Gilroy record his first hat-trick for City, with only a late Nightingale consolation strike giving the home fans something to cheer. The return match at Twerton Park ended goalless but was memorable for the red card received by Lewis Hogg, which for a while threatened to end his City career.