October 2009

FA Cup duo battle out entertaining Twerton Park stalemate (31/10/09)

Ahead of next weeks FA Cup 1st Round action against Grimsby Town and Colchester United respectively City and Bromley battled out an entertaining goalless draw at Twerton Park this afternoon. The visitors will have travelled back home the happier side as City always looked the better side as they were twice denied a late winner by Lilywhites keeper Williams. Both teams got the ball down and played neat football on an excellent Twerton surface but could not find the finish to secure a victory. In the first half Ryan Robinson twice saved well from McBean while Edwards and Perrott went close for City on several occasions. After the interval City increasingly dominated the game but failed to turn this into clear cut chances and were almost made to pay for this was Bromley broke out and Cassius had a clear run on goal only for a poor touch allowing Robinson to clear the danger. For a brief spell after this the visitors looked more threatening but City finished the match well on top with Williams producing stunning saves from Stuart Douglas and Chris Holland headers to ensure the spoils were shared for the fourth time in five meetings between the sides.

City have filled two supporter coaches for their FA Cup 1st Round trip to Grimsby Town next Saturday and are now taking provisional bookings for a third. For details on how to book a seat click here.

City will hold their latest Meet the Manager evening on Monday 16 November, starting at 7.30pm in Charlies.

PREVIEW: CITY v Bromley – Blue Square South (29/10/09)

City will look to climb back into the Blue Square South top ten on Saturday as they welcome in-form Bromley to Twerton Park. The Lilywhites have suffered just one defeat in their last thirteen outings and joined City in the 1st Round of the FA Cup with a 3-0 win over Blue Square Premier side Ebbsfleet United last weekend. Whilst City were handed the long trip to Grimsby Town by England Ashes cricket star James Anderson and former England and Charlton Athletic defender Chris Powell, Bromley were drawn to face Colchester United at their Hayes Lane home. This all-ticket match is one of the ties selected for extended coverage in the ITV Saturday evening highlights package.

After successive mid-table finishes in their two Blue Square South seasons since winning promotion in 2007 via the Ryman League play-offs Bromley will be looking to become genuine play-off contenders this campaign. They opened the 2009-10 season with a 2-1 win at Worcester City but followed this with three defeats, culminating in a 6-1 thrashing at Eastleigh. This embarrassing reversal seemed to kick-start their season though as they won their next four games before continuing to get results in batches with three draws on the spin. They began their FA Cup adventures with a laboured 2-0 win over Hellenic League side Flackwell Heath. A week later their eight match unbeaten run was ended in emphatic style with a 4-0 defeat at Maidenhead United but they bounced back from this loss by beating Tonbridge Angels in a game that will be mainly remembered for an eighth minute injury to referee that after a considerable minute delay saw Angels fan James Leslie run the line for the remainder of the game. Next up they produced their best performance of the season so far with a 3-1 win over Woking and, although Ebbsfleet are currently in the division above Bromley, it was no real surprise when they comfortably beat the struggling Kent club. Their last game was a 2-0 win over Basingstoke Town which sees them currently in 8th place, five points ahead of City and three behind the final play-off position.

Manager Mark Goldberg’s summer team building began in somewhat confused circumstances when it was announced that Loui Fazakerley was returning to Hayes Lane from Welling United. However, a few days later the deal fell through with the striker remaining at the Wings. Goldberg had more joy with the capture of defender Ashley Carew from Eastleigh, Braintree Town striker Gareth Williams, last season’s Kent League top goalscorer Marcus Cassius from Erith Town plus teenage defender Harrison Dunk. Another summer recruit was widely travelled forward Jacob Erskine, however he impressed so much in a pre-season match against Gillingham that the League 1 side snapped him up. He made four substitute appearances for the Gills but was loaned back to Bromley a couple of weeks ago. One player City will need to be especially aware of is top scorer Warren McBean. He has enjoyed his visits to Twerton Park with a brace for Bromley against City and former tenants Team Bath last season plus another two goals for former club Sutton United the previous year.

Complete record against Bromley

City go into the game still looking for their first ever win over the Lilywhites. The opening game of the 2007-08 season saw the clubs meet for the first time – having both earned promotion to the Blue Square South the previous campaign – in a game that ended 1-1 thanks to Chris Holland’s stoppage time equaliser. The return match also ended all-square with Dave Gilroy netting for City. Last season McBean’s two goals fired Bromley to a 3-1 win at Twerton before an overhead kick by Mark Badman ensured a third one-one draw between the clubs. City’s hopes ought to be boosted as they have a full squad to pick from for the first time this season. Striker Stuart Douglas made his first appearance of the campaign in Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Weymouth after recovering from his neck operation and fellow front-man Kaid Mohamed should have overcome the leg injury he picked up against Basingstoke Town two weeks ago.

City and Grimsby in disagreement over FA Cup price reduction (28/10/09)

FA Cup opponents Grimsby Town will charge their full admission price for the 1st Round clash at Blundell Park next Saturday after City objected to a reduction that the Mariners announced before consulting with them. The League 2 strugglers had proposed to nearly halve their usual prices but City felt this would impact too greatly on their takings from the tie. And when they offered to compromise on the price Grimsby insisted that either they were reduced to the level they had announced or remained at full price. City fans will be housed in the Osmond Stand end of the all-seater ground and admission prices are £18 (adults), £12 (concessions) and £8 (under-15s).

Holland and Edwards on target to overcome ten-man Terras (27/10/09)

Second half goals from Chris Holland and Darren Edwards were enough to give City a comfortable 2-0 win over bottom club Weymouth at Wessex Stadium this evening. After a largely uneventful first half that the home side probably shaded the game turned in City’s favour shortly after the break when Terras defender Obaze was sent off for a second yellow card. Within five minutes City went ahead as Holland headed home from a Lewis Hogg corner. The game was made safe on 70 minutes when Weymouth failed to clear another corner allowing Edwards to stab home his 13th goal of the season from close range.

PREVIEW: Weymouth v CITY – Blue Square South (26/10/09)

When City last faced Weymouth in an FA Cup tie during the 2005-06 season the Terras were still in the midst of their ‘Living the Dream’ era that had begun a couple of years earlier under the leadership of Ian Ridley and Steve Claridge. That campaign would see the Dorset side win the Conference South and reach the FA Cup 2nd Round, where they took former European Champions Nottingham Forest to a replay, but even then the cracks were beginning to show and the dream was soon to turn into a nightmare, culminating now in the real possibility that the club may not even see this season out.

Apart from back-to-back Southern League Championship wins during the mid-1960’s success had been fairly limited for the club. Alongside City they were founder members of the Alliance Premier League in 1979 – finishing that first season as runners-up – but after ten seasons they were relegated back to the Southern League. They then went through a period of yo-yoing between the Premier and Southern Divisions of that competition until journalist and author Ridley took control of the club in 2003. He appointed widely travelled former league striker Claridge in May. Under the tagline ‘Living the Dream’ they turned the club from relegation strugglers to title contenders, finishing the 2003-04 season runners-up to Crawley Town. Attendances had also more than doubled and, with the club the focus of a BBC documentary and a book by Ridley, everything looked rosy in on the South Coast. However, the arrival of local hotelier Martin Harrison on the board let to the acrimonious departure of Ridley in September 2004 – with much of their bitter disagreement played out publically on the club’s message board. Within a month Claridge had been sacked and replaced by rookie manager Steve Johnson. He failed to see the season out and former Dagenham & Redbridge and Hornchurch boss Garry Hill took over to lead the club to the 2005-06 Conference South title. This success though was backed by large loans from Harrison – wages were believed to be in the region of £20,000 a week and the club had gone full-time – and it was soon clear that this situation was unsustainable. Hill departed in January 2007 after the whole squad was transfer-listed. Control of the club was then passed to Mel Bush – the father-in-law of Jason Tindall, who had taken over from Hill as manager – then on to local property developer Malcolm Curtis.

By then former Chelsea manager John Hollins was manager and he led the club away from the relegation zone to finish the 2007-08 season in 18th position. The Terras then underwent a rebranding for the 2008-09 campaign with a new badge, motto ‘Forward Together’ and a shirt sponsorship deal with children’s hospice Julia’s House. However, little seemed to be changing at Wessex Stadium as Weymouth continued to stagger from one crisis to the next. Hollins was suspended then sacked for an “unprofessional attitude” and Curtis announced he was stepping down as owner, but not before he had taken control of the land around the club’s ground meaning he had effectively complete control over any further development plans. It was also announced around this time that the club was about £300,000 in debt and still losing in the region of £9,000 a week. On the pitch the situation had got even worse when a side consisting of almost all youth players – the first team had refused to play due to problems over insurance cover – lost 9-0 at home to Rushden & Diamonds. In March 2009 the situation lurched into farce when it was announced that local contract cleaner, and Terras fan, Stephen Beer had agreed to save the club with a cash injection of £300,000. Initially he was greeted as the saviour of Weymouth FC but doubts began to surface when he attempted to make the payment with a cheque containing spelling mistakes and covered in Tippex. And on the morning of the press conference to announce his takeover Beer was reported to have suffered a minor stroke and then, shortly afterwards, he pulled out of the deal claiming that he “was unaware of the full extent of the club’s problems”.

With the goings on at Wessex Stadium now seemingly too far-fetched even for one of his books it was ironic that Ridley returned to the club to once again become chairman later that month. He installed ex-Wales manager Bobby Gould as manager but by then the club’s slide down the Blue Square Premier table has become unstoppable and they were relegated in April 2009, having taken just a single point since the Rushden embarrassment. Former City player Matt Hale was appointed as manager in May but it was still the financial position of the club that was the main concern. An appeal to raise £50,000 was launched in September with the aim of avoiding administration. Impressively within just over a week this amount was achieved but, once again, just as the club seemed to be edging forward they suffered another setback when Curtis reappeared demanding repayment of his £221,000 loan if the club did not settle monies owed to Barclay’s Bank and Carlsberg, loans totalling over £20,000 that he had previously guaranteed. This move by Curtis appeared to be prompted by the club beginning legal action against him on the grounds of gross negligence and misfeasance during his time as chairman. And whilst all this was happening Ridley and chief executive Dave Higson announced they were stepping down due to ill-health and work commitments respectively. The latest position is that after failing to receive any offers for the club by a deadline of last Tuesday it is reviewing its financial strategy and will make a further announcement on the future the day after the game with City.

Not surprisingly against this backdrop the side has struggled on the pitch and is currently rooted to the foot of the table. Even the publicity stunt of Claridge returning to play in the match against Bromley in September failed to help the team (although it did assist the club in promoting their attempt to raise the £50,000 – despite the club’s website address being incorrectly printed on their shirts). That game finished in a 5-1 reversal which was one of a series of heavy defeats the club has suffered this season. With just a single win under his leadership Hale stepped down earlier this month to be replaced by his assistant Ian Hutchinson, who had made over 500 appearances for the club. His first two matches in charge have ended in narrow 2-1 defeats against Dover Athletic and Basingstoke Town leaving him facing a huge challenge to prevent Weymouth suffering a second successive relegation.

Complete record against Weymouth

Although City have not faced Weymouth for over four years they have met on 151 previous occasions dating back to the first clash in the Western League in 1908. City won that game 4-1 and overall have recorded 62 victories to Weymouth’s 47. However, more recently City have only won once in the last eleven meetings. The most memorable of these took place during the opening months of Claridge’s one full season in Dorset. City travelled south with a side missing a number of players through injury and when the home raced into a two-goal lead after just seven minutes a long evening looked on the cards. Claridge had netted the first and won the penalty – with a typically theatrical fall – for the second, but his interest in the game waned somewhat midway through the half after a typically ‘robust’ challenge by Matt Coupe (one that he referred to in Ridley’s ‘Floodlit Dreams’ book and led to him petulantly labelling City a ‘horrible’ side). City had rarely looked like getting back into the game but just before the hour mark they were gifted a goal when an off-the-ball incident saw Kenaway shove Scott Hendy to the floor in the area allowing Steve Tweddle to net from the spot. And seven minutes he repeated the trick after Danny Cleverley had been felled in the box. Suddenly City were on top and with eight minutes remaining it looked as if they had won the game when a cross by (fittingly) Coupe was volleyed home by Cleverley from the corner of the six-yard box. There was one final twist though and typically it involved Claridge. Once again showing all the ‘skill’ he had learned in his long career he went over under Hendy’s challenge and for the fourth time in the game the referee pointed to the spot. Unlike the first three though Tully’s effort was saved by Mark Bryant, only for the official to order it to be retaken from which the same player made no mistake and the game ended 3-3.

Grimsby trip the FA Cup 1st Round reward for Totton victory (25/10/09)

City face the long trip to managerless Grimsby Town following the FA Cup 1st Round draw this lunchtime. The Mariners sacked Mike Newell last week after winning just three of their opening fourteen league matches this season, leaving them second bottom of Coca-Cola League 2. The clubs have met once before back in 1952 when City lost by a single goal in an FA Cup 2nd Round tie. The game will take on Saturday 7 November (ko 3pm).

City hunt down Stags to secure place in FA Cup 1st Round (24/10/09)

City’s name will be in the hat for tomorrow’s FA Cup 1st Round draw after they beat AFC Totton 3-2 this afternoon at Twerton Park. Two late goals for the visitors gave the final scoreline a misleading edge as, after a nervous start, City controlled the game, showing the two division gap between the sides. It could have been different though had Williams not wasted a great chance for the Stags in the opening minutes when he raced clear only for Ryan Robinson – finally making his City debut – to block the shot with his legs. A dangerous ball across the box moments later also suggested Totton would give City a real test but for the rest of the half it was the hosts who stamped their authority on the game. The opening goal arrived on 25 minutes when a great cross by Sekani Simpson was volleyed home at the far post by Richard Evans and five minutes later Totton failed to deal with another centre allowing Adam Connolly to stroke the ball home from the edge of the box. Connolly also struck the outside of the post before the break but within two minutes of the restart Gethin Jones looped a header home to make it 3-0. City spurned several further openings and to their credit the Southern League Division 1 side never gave up, Robinson showing his quality with a stunning save on 75 minutes. However, he could do nothing after 86 minutes when Jack’s shot through a crowed area found the corner of the net. And two minutes into stoppage time City failed to clear a corner letting Whisken fire the ball into the roof of the net. There were no further scares after this though leaving City to bank £12,500 and look foward to a place in the 1st Round proper for the first time in five years.

The draw for the 1st Round takes place tomorrow live on ITV1 beginning at 1pm.

City have released non-contract defender Callum Hart and with the return to fitness of goalkeeper Ryan Robinson, loan signing Will Puddy will officially return to Cheltenham Town on Monday, although he has not played for the club since picking up a thigh injury in August.

PREVIEW: CITY v AFC Totton – FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round (22/10/09)

City go into Saturday’s FA Cup clash with AFC Totton looking to reach the 1st Round of the competition for the first time since 2004. Having comfortably dispatched lower league opposition in the previous two rounds in the shape of Willand Rovers (5-0) and Bishop’s Cleeve (4-1), City have shown they do not underestimate such clubs and they will have to maintain this approach against a side boasting a sixteen match unbeaten run. This record has placed them firmly amongst the early season front runners in the Zamaretto Southern League Division 1 South & West, with only their FA Cup & FA Trophy progress preventing them topping the table – they currently lie in third place, just a point behind leaders Cirencester Town with a game in hand. Although it is interesting to note they have yet to face any of the other top eight sides in the closely fought league to truly test their title credentials.

The Stags are relative newcomers to this level of football having only won promotion to the Southern League in 2008. They had spent the majority of their existence playing in the Hampshire League before becoming founder members of the Wessex League when it was formed in 1986. After finishing in third place during the competition’s inaugural season they struggled to make an impact with just one further top six finish during the next 12 seasons. However, their fortunes began to improve at the start of the new century and this culminated in the most successful season in the club’s history in 2006-07. They were involved in a great battle with Gosport Borough for the Wessex League title which went right to the final game of the season, when the two clubs met at Totton’s Testwood Park home. The hosts needed to win by two clear goals to take the championship but had to settle for the runners-up spot on goal difference after a 1-0 victory. Two weeks later the club stepped out at Wembley to contest the first FA Vase Final at the new stadium against Truro City. This game also ended in disappointment though as, despite taking a 29th minute lead, they lost by three goals to one against the big-spending Cornish side. The 2007-08 campaign saw the Stags finally crowned Wessex League champions, scoring an incredible 120 goals during the season, to earn a place in the Southern League. They almost celebrated back-to-back promotions, finishing in 3rd place during their first season at this level to earn a play-off place. They met Beaconsfield SYCOB in the semi-final in a match that was marred by a post-match brawl. Totton won the game 2-1 but were then subjected to physical attacks by their ill-disciplined opponents. SYCOB even tried to claim the fighting was started by Totton fans invading the pitch but these allegations were unfounded. The Stags faced Didcot Town in the play-off final but a goal in extra-time gave the Railwaymen a narrow 2-1 victory.

Their 2009-10 season began slowly with just one win in the opening three games but they then went on a twelve match winning run which only ended when they surrendered a two-goal lead against Woodford United in the FA Trophy. They corrected this rare lapse with a 4-1 win in the replay on Tuesday to reach the 2nd Qualifying Round of the competition. In the FA Cup they began with a 3-1 Preliminary Round win over Sussex County League side Chichester City before comfortably sweeping aside Ryman League North VCD Athletic by five goals to nil. They secured equally straightforward passage in the next round against an Almondsbury Town side containing several ex-City players including Paul Chenoweth and Ali Gibb to earn a 3rd Qualifying Round meeting with league rivals Bridgwater Town. The sides had battled out a goalless draw earlier in the season but when the Stags raced into a three-goal lead just after the interval it looked as if a hammering was on the cards. However, City’s Somerset Premier Cup victors had other ideas and pulled two goals back to give Totton a nervous closing few minutes before they could continue their efforts for a first ever 1st Round appearance.

On the back of two four-goal wins over Bishop’s Cleeve and Basingstoke Town, and with their injury problems finally easing, City should approach the game in a positive frame of mind. The match may even see the long awaited debut of goalkeeper Ryan Robinson. The former Forest Green Rovers stopper has been sidelined since his arrival at Twerton Park following a summer back operation. If he is available City could have an almost full squad to choose from for the first time this season, with just Stuart Douglas (neck) missing, although striker Kaid Mohamed is struggling to overcome the dead leg he picked up against Basingstoke last week.

A message from former City chairman Steve Hall (19/10/09)

On behalf of myself, Pat and my family I would like to thank you all for your kind support on the occasion of the recent home game with Basingstoke. The minute’s silence was impeccably observed and the spontaneous applause was indeed very touching and a fitting tribute to Melanie.

Bath City Football Club has always played a large part in my life but none more so than the last thirteen years during which time I have found great strength from the friendship and support of everyone connected with the club.

My time as Chairman was never a spectacular period in the clubs history however it did provide a period of relative stability, which allowed hundreds of wonderful people to come forward, culminating in the buy back of the shares and the returning of the club ownership to its supporters. This was a truly magnificent effort not by me but by you – the fans of Bath City Football Club.

I was particularly delighted when, some years later under the stewardship of Geoff Todd, the Southern League championship was won – a fitting reward for all your efforts.

In recent years I have tried to slip quietly in to the background and simply enjoy being one of the supporters. I now wish you all the best for the remainder of this season and, God willing, look forward to joining you in your support for the club for many seasons to come.

My sincere thanks and best wishes

Steve Hall

Injury-time Perrott strike gives City win in seven goal thriller (17/10/09)

City’s Twerton Park faithful got a taste of the excitement the club’s away followers have enjoyed this season as they overcame Basingstoke Town in a seven goal thriller. The visitors took the lead after just seven minutes through Downes’ neat finish before he doubled their advantage on the half hour mark with a stunning 20 yard strike. City gave themselves a lifeline just before the interval thanks to Gethin Jones’ close range header. Within two minutes of the restart they were level when Florin Pelecaci’s cross was turned into his own net by Hankin. It was all City now, although they suffered a blow when Kaid Mohamed was stretched off after he was body-checked by Hankin, as Chris Holland – back in the side after two months out with a knee injury – saw one effort cleared off the line and he then beat keeper Kitteridge to a free-kick only for a linesman’s flag to rule out the effort. With 20 minutes left Hankin received his second yellow card and when the Dragon’s failed to clear the resultant free-kick Jones blasted home to put City 3-2 ahead. However, there was another twist as four minutes later, from their first attack of the half, Mitchell powerfully headed past Steve Perrin. It looked as if the game was finish level but two minutes into stoppage time another free-kick caused havoc in the Basingstoke box and substitute Mike Perrott turned the ball home at the far post.

PREVIEW: CITY v Basingstoke Town – Blue Square South (15/10/09)

Saturday sees City enjoy a break from cup football as the Blue Square South returns to the diary with Basingstoke Town making the trip to Twerton Park from Hampshire. Whilst attention has understandably been focused on making progress in the FA Cup (and the prize money that entails), two narrow defeats against the current top two sides in the league, Dover Athletic and Newport County, in their last couple of league outings has seen City slip to 16th place in the Blue Square South. Although there should be no need to start mentioning the ‘R’ word as this stage a win over the Dragons would move City back in the right direction of the play-offs and also give them a boost ahead of the resumption of their FA Cup exertions next week.

They face a Basingstoke side who have stuttered slightly after a great start to the 2009-10 season. They opened the campaign with an eight game unbeaten run that left them firmly amongst the early front-runners. However, a narrow defeat against Woking ended this run and two losses in their next three league games, including a 4-0 home reversal versus Thurrock last time out, has seen them slip out of the play-off places. They also crashed out of the FA Cup to fellow Blue Square South side Eastleigh as their season threatens to fall away. Their hopes were not helped with the departure of club captain Joe Dolan and defender Robbie Watkins in the last couple of weeks. Off the pitch the club also suffered a setback when their ambitious plans for a new community stadium complex at Down Grange were rejected by the local council.

Despite this dip in form it is still a great start to the campaign for a club who spent last season battling at the opposite end of the table. An upturn in results after the turn of the year was enough to finally secure an 18th place finish. Manager Frank Gray – the former Scotland international and Leeds United and Nottingham Forest star – brought in Reading forward Jahson Downes, right-sided defender Robert Rice and attacking midfielder Jordan Lumsden from Wycombe Wanderers plus former Bashley midfielder Matt Finlay. They also captured a player who was rumoured to be on City’s radar, striker David Pratt from Chippenham Town. He was immediate success at the Camrose with five goals in his first seven appearances but since then has struggled to maintain this rate with just one further strike against Brackley Town in the FA Cup. Amongst the departures from Basingstoke during the close season was Sido Jombati who was snapped up by City manager Adie Britton. The versatile Portuguese player had only joined the club during the previous summer but immediately became a cult hero amongst the Dragons’ supporters and was voted their player of the season in May.

Complete record against Basingstoke Town

Last season’s two meetings between the clubs were both very forgettable encounters. The first took place in Hampshire and a single goal from the penalty spot was enough to give the home side victory and begin a run off three successive 1-0 defeats against sides struggling against relegation that would effectively end City’s play-off ambitions. By the time they met again three and a half weeks later City had rediscovered their form and came into the game on the back of the 4-0 hammering of Newport County. However, and despite an early header from Darren Edwards being enough to separate the sides, it was probably an even poorer performance from City than in the first game. In fact, the only real incidents of note after this involved Jombati, as he was booked for petulantly clapping the referee after he awarded the soon-to-be City player a free-kick and then he ended striker Stuart Douglas’ evening with a stray elbow.

City to hold minute silence for daughter of former chairman (14/10/09)

A minute silence will be held before City’s match against Basingstoke Town at Twerton Park in honour of Melanie Hall, the daughter of former chairman Steve Hall, whose remains were found last week, thirteen years after she had disappeared. Mr Hall was chairman of the club for seven years between 1998 and 2005 before handing over the reigns to current top man Geoff Todd. His daughter Melanie went missing in June 1996 after a night out at Cadillacs nightclub in the city and despite an extensive search, a £10,000 reward offered for information and a feature on a Crimestoppers special, no trace of the hospital clerical worker was found until last week when her remains were found on the M5 slip road at junction 14, north of Bristol. Anyone with any information about the enquiry is being urged to contact the Avon & Somerset Police incident room, via the main force switchboard on 0845 456 7000. Alternatively call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. They never ask your name and never trace your call.

Mmmmmmmm – Beer and Pies (13/10/09)

City (and opposition) supporters will once again be able to enjoy a meal in Charlie’s before Saturday games at Twerton Park after the club reintroduced a pre-match food service. The food will be served between 1.30 and 2.30pm and initially the following will be available, sausage and chips + beans/peas (£2.50), burger and chips + beans/peas (£3.00) or pie* and chips + beans/peas (£3.50). There will also be a new queuing system in operation at the bar in Charlie’s from Saturday aimed at improving the speed of service.

*Choice of Beef and Stilton, Lamb and Mint, Somerset Pork and Apple or Cheese, Leek and Onion.

Southern League Div 1 opposition stand in way of FA Cup 1st Round place (12/10/09)

City have been handed an excellent opportunity to reach the 1st Round proper of the FA Cup for the first time since 2004 after they were drawn to face one of the lowest ranked clubs remaining in the competition, AFC Totton, at Twerton Park. The Stags play in the Zamaretto Southern League Division 1 South & West, where they are league rivals of Bishop’s Cleeve who City comfortably swept aside in the last round. However, Totton are likely to provide a stiffer test than Cleeve and are currently on a ten game winning streak (including coincidentally a 4-1 win at Bishop’s Cleeve). The match will take place on Saturday 24 October (ko 3pm).

City face battle to keep Romanian star Pelecaci at Twerton Park (11/10/09)

City hope to make an offer to Florin Pelecaci this week to keep him at Twerton Park for the rest of the season. The 29-year old midfielder, who was shortlisted for the FA Cup player of the round for his performance at Willand Rovers two weeks ago, is set to talk to manager Adie Britton when he returns from a few days back in Romania for his son’s birthday. City hope to find Pelecaci a part-time teaching job in the area and convince him to remain with the club, however they face competition from Exeter City, where he had a trial last week, and also a Romanian Division 1 club who have offered him a deal.

Edwards and Badman on the double to send City to FA Cup success (10/10/09)

Two goals apiece from Darren Edwards and Mark Badman saw City ease into the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup with a 4-1 win at Bishop’s Cleeve this afternoon. City had already struck the bar from a Marcus Browning header before Kaid Mohamed was tripped in the box by former City defender Steve Jones on 16 minutes. Edwards appeared to scuff his penalty kick but it still found the corner of the net. This settled City and they made light work of the blustery wind and hard, uneven pitch to race into a 3-0 half-time lead. Badman bundled the ball home from close range on 39 minutes and then grabbed his second two minutes later, converting Lewis Hogg’s cross from six yards out. The Villagers reduced the deficit on the hour mark thanks to Slack’s confident finish but eleven minutes later City restored their three goal lead when Edwards’ looping header dropped beyond keeper King. With that goal City could look toward Monday’s draw with the possiblty of facing local opposition in giantkillers Paulton Rovers or Chippenham Town, or Blue Square Premier big guns Luton Town or Oxford United.

Pelecaci misses out on E.ON FA Cup Player of the Round award (9/10/09)

Florin Pelecaci has failed to emulate former City striker Scott Partridge and win the FA Cup Player of the Round award. The 29-year old Romanian was shortlisted following his performance in the 5-0 victory over Willand Rovers two weeks ago but was beaten to the prize by Northwich Victoria forward Mark Danks, who netted five goals in the Vics win over East Midlands Counties League side Bardon Hill Sports.

PREVIEW: Bishop’s Cleeve v CITY – FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round (7/10/09)

City will look to avoid a repeat of last season’s costly 3rd Qualifying Round FA Cup exit against Aylesbury United when they travel up to Gloucestershire on Saturday to face Bishop’s Cleeve. The aftermath of the single goal defeat to the Ducks saw manager John Relish step down and Danny Carey-Bertram, Paul Cochlin and Jason Wood released as City were forced to trim their squad. And twelve months down the line a loss to the Zamaretto League Division 1 South & West side could see a repeat of these cuts, as not only is there £7500 prize money on offer for the winners but also a place in the 4th Qualifying Round when the Blue Square Premier clubs enter setting up the possibility of a meeting with the likes of Oxford United or Luton Town.

Standing in the way of these potential riches are Bishop’s Cleeve who showed they will be no pushovers in beating City’s Blue Square South rivals Weymouth 3-0 in the previous round of the FA Cup. The Villagers FA Cup form has been the highlight of their season so far with wins over Reading Town and Brockenhurst earning them the meeting with the Terras. Although the former non-league giants are at present struggling both on and off the pitch it was still one of the shocks of the round when goals from top scorer Kevin Slack (2) and Ben Gascoyne fired them to a thoroughly deserved victory. In contrast they have struggled in the league this season, lying currently in 18th place without a win in four matches. They also exited the FA Trophy at the first hurdle last Saturday with a 2-1 defeat against league rivals Yate Town.

Situated about four miles north of Cheltenham, Cleeve were formed in 1905 and until 1983 played in local league football. The formation of the Hellenic League in 1983 saw them placed in Division 1 and they were promoted to the Premier Division four years later. After five seasons in the top flight they were relegated back to Division 1 but the runners-up spot in 2000-01 lifted them back up again, where they remained until 2006 when, on the back of three successive top three placings, they stepped up the Southern League. They have adapted solidly to this higher level with finishes of 13th, 12th and 18th last season. The Villagers have played at their Kayte Lane home since 1997. They had previously played at Stoke Road but when this site was sold off for housing by landlords the Church Commissioners they were left homeless for several seasons, ground-sharing with Moreton Town, Wollen Sports at Highworth, and Forest Green Rovers during this period. Even after moving into their new home they spent one further nomadic season at Evesham United in 2001-02 to bring Kayte Lane up to Hellenic League Premier Division standard.

Complete record against Bishop’s Cleeve

City have faced Bishop’s Cleeve twice before, once in a pre-season friendly and once in a competitive meeting. The pre-season match took place in July 2005 at Kayte Lane where a single first-half goal was enough to give the home side victory. Just over a year later the sides were drawn together in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy at Twerton Park. Although the 2006-07 season would see City lift the Southern League title at that time they were struggling, particularly at home having failed to win in their eight Twerton outings so far that campaign. Therefore it would have been with as much relief as anything when an Arek Zarczynski double saw them through to the next round by two goals to one.

The game will see ex-City player Steve Jones make a quick return to face his former club, having switched to the Villagers in the 2009 close season. The former Swansea City defender made nearly 250 appearances for City during his six seasons at Twerton Park having joined the club from Forest Green Rovers in 2003. He was a vital member of the aforementioned Southern League winning squad in 2007 and his versatility was especially useful as he filled a number of positions, including on a couple of occasions in goal. Another former City player currently with the villagers is striker Gareth Hopkins, although he played 238 fewer times than Jones during a brief loan spell with the club in December 2001.

City make tame Somerset Premier Cup exit at Southern League Robins (6/10/09)

City exited this season’s Somerset Premier Cup tonight at the first stage with a 3-0 defeat at Southern League Bridgwater Town. Fielding a starting XI that contained just three players who lined up against Newport County on Saturday – Matt Coupe, Mark Badman and Richard Evans – City were comfortably beaten by the Southern League side. Keeper Owen Dunn was at fault for Young’s opening goal on 34 minutes and the Robins doubled their lead ten minutes into the second half through Mercieca. Even the introduction of Florin Pelecaci and Jim Rollo after this failed to get City back into the game and Bridgwater’s Peppin completed the scoring in the closing minutes.

PREVIEW: Bridgwater Town V CITY – Somerset Premier Cup 1st Round (5/10/09)

The Somerset Premier Cup provides an unwelcome distraction tomorrow for both City and opponents Bridgwater Town as they meet in a 1st Round tie just four days before the next round of the FA Cup. With City’s threadbare squad still missing a number of players through injury it is clearly a game they could do without ahead of their hugely important 3rd Qualifying Round trip to Bishop’s Cleeve on Saturday. At least they are facing opposition in exactly the same position as The Robins prepare for their encounter with fellow Zamaretto League Division 1 South & West side AFC Totten. It is likely to mean the game will see two sides more concerned with getting through it without picking up any injuries than worrying about a place in the 2nd Round.

Complete record against Bridgwater Town

City and Bridgwater have met in the Somerset Premier Cup on 15 previous occasions, although not since the 1999-00 season when a side mainly consisting of youth team and fringe first team players ran out 3-0 winners. That game came just three days after City had crashed out of the FA Cup to Hendon at the 1st Round stage and only goalkeeper Elliot Jackson started in both games. However, goals from Simeon Allison, Lee Vickerman and Eddie Howells was enough to see City comfortably through to the next round. The previous clash was in the 1981-82 final when, after a 1-1 draw at Twerton Park in the 1st leg, goals from Dave Singleton and Peter Hayes two days later in Somerset saw City lift the Trophy. In total the clubs have played each other 21 times, including three FA Cup ties that the Robins have the better record in, with two wins to City’s one. Overall though, City have won eleven of the meetings against five defeats.

The Robins are currently in their third season back in the Southern League having won promotion from the Western League after finishing runners-up in the 2006-07 season. This is their second attempt to step up to the level having followed Somerset rivals Minehead and Taunton Town into the Southern League in 1982. Unfortunately, in common with those two clubs, they did not last long at this level. After just two seasons the extra travelling costs combined with falling support and the cost of refurbishing their clubhouse saw the club go bust with debts of around £100,000. They reformed as Bridgwater Town (1984) FC and joined the Somerset Senior League Division 1, taking over the place previously filled by their reserve side. They then began the climb back up the non-league pyramid, returning to the Western League in 1994 on the back of five successive top three Somerset Senior League finishes, including three titles, before, as already mentioned, reaching the Southern League two seasons ago. This time they appear to have adapted to the higher level, with two top seven placings and average crowds around the 300 mark.

This season the Robins have so far lost just one of the opening six league games. Three draws – all away from home – and two wins leaves them currently in 11th place. The FA Cup has seen them record wins over Launceston (3-2), Hamworthy United (3-1) and Hallen (1-0) to secure the 3rd Qualifying Round meeting with AFC Totten – who they drew 0-0 with in the league in August. This run will have revived memories of the club’s FA Cup exploits in the early 1960s and early 1970s when they reached the twice reached the 2nd Round and twice the 1st Round, playing league sides Crystal Palace, Luton Town and Reading. On Saturday Bridgwater progressed to the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy with a comfortable 4-1 win over AFC Hayes, which was their first ever win in the competition since reforming in 1984. One familiar face who may line-up against City is striker Nat Pepperell. He joined City as an 18-year old after impressing in pre-season but failed to make the grade and rejoined Bridgwater, with whom he had started his career.

Early goal enough to condemn City to Newpport defeat (3/10/09)

A 7th minute goal by Charlie Henry was enough to see Newport County end their poor run of results against City at a wet and windy Spytty Park this afternoon. The win lifted the Welsh side to the top of the Blue Square South but for much of the game they looked far removed from being geniune title challengers, in particular during a one-sided second half. However, City failed to turn their domination into the equaliser they clearly deserved. Henry struck following good work from ex-City midfielder Sam Foley as Newport initially adapted better to the difficult conditions. They failed to increase this lead though and as the half progressed City began to gain the upper hand – Mark Badman heading their best chance over the bar. And despite playing into the elements after the break they continued to look the stronger side. Florin Pelecaci brought a fine stop out of keeper Thompson and Adam Connolly had a goalbound shot blocked. Darren Edwards then saw his effort deflected inches wide by Thompson and even with seven minutes of stoppage time they couldn’t force an equaliser against the increasingly desperate home side.

Pelecaci shortlisted for E.ON FA Cup Player of the Round (2/10/09)

For his man of the match performance in the 5-0 FA Cup win over Willand Rovers last Saturday Florin Pelecaci has been shortlisted for the E.ON player of the Round award. The Romanian midfielder created two of the goals and scored a stunning 25 yard volley in the 2nd Qualifying Round victory. He joins four other players, including Bishop’s Cleeve’s Kevin Slack who City will face in the next round, in the vote to be named Player of the Round. The winner will receive a commemorative trophy and two VIP tickets to The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON Final on 15 May 2010. Pelecaci is the second City player to be shortlisted for the award after Scott Partridge’s won for his hat-trick against Brockenhurst in 2004. To cast your vote visit http://www.thefa.com/.

PREVIEW: Newport County v CITY – Blue Square South (1/10/09)

City return to league action on Saturday with a trip over the Severn Bridge to face unbeaten Newport County. The Exiles are the only Blue Square South side not to have lost a game this season and are on an unbeaten run that stretches back 18 league matches to last season when they were hammered 4-0 at Spytty Park by City, thanks in the main to a Stuart Douglas hat-trick. The end of that game saw manager Dean Holdsworth involved in a slanging match with a small section of home fans but that all seems forgotten now as his expensively assembled squad sit comfortably in 2nd place with, it would finally seem, genuine title ambitions this season.

The seeds of this success were clearly sown during the second half of last season with the capture of Salisbury City duo Wayne Turk and Aaron Cook, former Kidderminster Harrier’s left-back Paul Bignot and ex-City loanee Sam Foley. The services of all these players were retaining during the summer along with a number of impressive signings. Arriving from the ashes of the Team Bath set-up were defender Gary Warren and Takumi Ake and highly rated winger Charlie Henry switched from league rivals Havant & Waterlooville. Two further new arrivals were very familiar to City fans as they made the move from Twerton Park to South Wales. Midfielder Scott Rogers had spent a loan spell with Newport during the 2008-09 season and made this move permanent in April and he was joined by Dave Gilroy, who had been City’s top scorer for the previous two seasons. Slightly surprisingly the latter has started all but one of Newport eleven league matches this season while Gilroy has spent most of the time warming the bench. He was handed a rare start against Clevedon Town in last week’s FA Cup tie but understandably looked far from the goal every other game hit-man he was for City given his lack of match sharpness.

Although Newport are unbeaten so far this season they have had a few disappointing results, failing to beat three of the bottom four clubs Weymouth, Lewes and Dorchester Town – the first two at Spytty Park. However, against the stronger sides they have clearly raised their game. Big home wins over Hampton & Richmond Borough (3-1), Chelmsford City (4-0) and Eastleigh (5-1), all who made the play-offs last season, preceded an impressive single goal victory at fellow early season front-runners Woking. The deciding goal was scored by Foley and although the Cards missed a penalty late in the first-half (the aftermath seeing Holdsworth sent to the stand for his protestations over the decision) it was a deserved victory. Last week they also comfortably progressed to the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup thanks to a 3-1 win at Southern League Clevedon Town. They will now meet a number of ex-City players when they face Paulton Rovers.

Complete record against Newport AFC/Newport County

The aforementioned four goal win at Newport in March was City’s third successive league win over the Exiles and maintained an unbeaten record since winning promotion to the Blue Square South in 2007. Honours have been more even in various cup encounters during this time with two wins each, although the last cup match saw City had out another four goal thrashing – Gilroy netting all four in the Setanta Shield win. One of City’s more memorable games at Spytty Park was their first ever game there during the 1999-00 season, which also saw the debut of striker Bobby Zamora in City colours. The Welsh side had not lost at home in the league for over 18 months but this incredible run was ended thanks to a rare Mark Clode strike ten minutes from time.

City hope to have Mark Badman and Sido Jombati back in their squad after they missed the Willand Rovers FA Cup win, but will still be without Chris Holland (knee), Stuart Douglas (neck), Sekani Simpson (hamstring), Ryan Robinson (back) plus Matt Coupe who is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season at Dover Athletic two weeks ago.