City couldn’t play party-poopers at Kenilworth Road this afternoon as they lost 3-1 to a Luton Town side celebrating their 125th anniversay. In fact, they initially were the perfect guests, gifting the Hatters two goals before a classy third saw the game effectively over as a contest by half-time. City improved considerably after the break but Lee Phillips’ well-taken goal proved to be nothing more than a consolation. City had already suffered several nervous moments at the back before Ryan Robinson failed to hold Drury’s 15th minute shot and Crow bundled home the loose ball. Robinson required lengthy treatment after being caught by the goalscorer’s boot as he attempted to recover from his mistake but, with no substitute keeper on the bench, in the end he countinued only to beaten again 12 minutes later when Pilkington rose highest to head home a Drury corner. If the first two goals had been avoidable there was little City could do for the third on 34 minutes as Atieno and Crow combined for the former to shoot low into the corner of the net. City then lost Marley Watkins with a foot injury and it looked as if a heavy defeat was on the cards. However, the half-time introduction of Joe Burnell for his long-awaited debut saw a marked improvement in City’s performance and it was his pass that Phillips ran onto before firing home to end his 13-match goal drought. City were now on top but they couldn’t find a second goal that would have put the increasingly nervous looking home side under real pressure and they began to run out of steam in the closing stages with Luton coming close to extending their lead on a couple of occasions.
Following their shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Southern League Swindon Supermarine, City will look to restore a measure of pride on Saturday when they travel to Luton Town, a side who as recently as 2007 were playing in the Championship. The Hatters have had an inconsistent start to the season but 14 goals in their last three games – including a 6-1 home win over Forest Green Rovers – demonstrates the size of the task facing City, however it also shows the level City are now competing. Just under a year ago City were facing Staines Town in front of 425 people in the Blue Square South, whereas on Saturday the crowd should be in excess of 6000 at a stadium that has been headline news for a number of reasons over the years.
Given their history and support it is remarkable that Luton are back in non-league football having joined the Football League in 1920 from the Southern League (two years before City were accepted into that competition). They first reached Division 1 in 1955 and four years later they got to the FA Cup Final only to lose 2-1 to Nottingham Forest. However, a year later they were relegated back to the Second Division which started a decade of struggle. The 1970s saw a single year back in Division 1 alongside financial problems that came close to finishing the club. Under the leadership of rookie manager David Pleat the Hatters steadily improved in the late 70s, early 80s before running away with the 1981-82 Division 2 title to regain a place at the pinnacle of English football. This began a ten-year spell in the top flight which saw the club twice reach the FA Cup semi-final and also win their only major trophy, the 1987-88 League Cup thanks to a late comeback in a 3-2 win over Arsenal. But for the ban of English clubs entering Europe at the time this would have earned them a UEFA Cup place. That season they also reached Wembley in the final of the Simod Cup – losing 4-1 to Reading – and a year later they were back there in the League Cup again but this time lost to Nottingham Forest. League form was not matching their cup exploits though and twice they escaped relegation on the final day of the season as the 80s turned into the 90s. It was third time unlucky as the 1991-92 season saw them finish 20th to drop back to the second tier and miss out on being founder members of the Premier League.
Two further relegations in 1995-96 and 2000-01 saw the club back in the basement division for the first time since 1968. They immediately bounced back to the 2nd Division as runners-up but under the ownership of John Gurney they suffered a series of bizarre off the pitch incidents, including an attempted merger with Wimbledon and a phone-in vote to appoint a new manager. Gurney was ousted by a supporters group and after a spell in administration the club lifted the 2004-05 League 1 title. The following season saw an impressive 10th place finish but the club would then suffer a remarkable three successive relegations. The 2006-07 season saw a solid start but their form quickly dipped and they were soon struggling at the wrong end of the table. Off the pitch the club was being investigated for irregular payments made by the its parent company, which would play a major part in their drop into non-league football. They finished that season in 23rd place and the next campaign entered administration which saw them suffer a ten-point deduction. This made relegation almost inevitable although they would still have been in the bottom four without this penalty. If Luton fans thought that things could get no worse they were to be sadly mistaken as the club started the next season with a 30-point deduction. Twenty of these were due to its failure to exit administration with a further ten added after being found guilty of misconduct for paying agents via a third party. Not surprisingly they ended the campaign rock bottom of the Football League although did win the Football League Trophy in front of 40,000 Luton supporters at Wembley Stadium.
Given the circumstances involved in the drop to the Football Conference it was widely assumed they would bounce back at the first attempt. However, a poor start saw manager Mick Harford sacked and replaced by former player Richard Money. Results soon improved and a run of nine successive wins kept them in touch with leaders Stevenage Borough. In the end though they had to settle for second place and the play-offs where they met York City in the semi-final. A single goal defeat in the away leg was followed up by the same scoreline at Kenilworth Road in a match that was marred by violence with home fans invading the pitch and hurling objects at the York players and fans. This condemned the Hatters to a second season in non-league football and despite disappointing defeats against Tamworth and Gateshead, along with possibly more expected ones to Grimsby Town and Crawley Town, they are currently in third position, five points behind leaders AFC Wimbledon.
Although this is the first time City have faced Luton Town in a competitive match they did meet the Hatters reserve side four times during their first two seasons in the Southern League. The first three meetings ended in wins for the Bedfordshire club before City finally ended this run thanks to a Dick Williams goal giving them a point in a 1-1 draw. The reorganisation of the competition for the 1923-24 season ended this short rivalry until this season. Kenilworth Road, Luton’s home since 1905, is mostly known for the six year experiment with an artificial playing surface between 1985 and 1991. It was also the scene in 1985 for one of the most infamous riot’s in English football when Millwall fans tore seats from the ground to use as missiles against the home supporters and police. This led Luton to impose a blanket ban on away fans at the ground and make home supporters carry membership cards to get into the ground. This ban lasted four seasons and even saw the club thrown out of the 1986-87 League Cup. City fans will be housed in the 1800 capacity all-seated Oak Road End, which has a highly unusual entrance, requiring spectators to go through an entrance built into a row of houses.
City will welcome back loan signing Marley Watkins to the squad after he was refused permission to play in the FA Cup by his club Cheltenham Town and also hope that top scorer Kaid Mohamed will have recovered from the ankle injury he picked up in the first match against Supermarine that kept him out of the replay. The match will see Luton celebrate their 125th anniversary, wearing a commemorative pink and blue halved shirt in honour of the occasion.
City suffered an embarrassing and costly defeat this evening as they crashed out of the FA Cup to Swindon Supermarine by four goals to three at Twerton Park, despite leading 3-1 at one stage. After Saturday’s low-key goalless draw it took just three minutes for the deadlock to be broken tonight when Stanley flicked home a Gosling cross for the visitors. Two minutes later City were level, Sido Jombati heading Scott Murray’s free-kick in off the post. And on 21 minutes Adam Connolly fired a low shot across keeper Scott to put City in front. Twelve minutes later Hector Mackie outjumped Scott and a Marine defender to give City a two-goal cushion. Incredibly this was the first time City had scored more than two goals in a game since December 2009 but before the interval the Southern League side were back on level terms. Both goals came from corners as Robinson and Henry took full advantage of City’s continuing struggles in defending set-pieces. City made two changes at the break but still perserved with the baffling tactic of playing Darren Edwards as a lone striker. However, after a couple of early scares – once again from corners – they looked to be gaining the upper hand and Edwards wasted a great chance to restore their lead midway through the half. With Marine visably tiring and extra-time looming the game took one final twist right on 90 minutes. Once again City’s undoing was from a corner as Lapham’s header was adjudged to have crossed the line despite Joe Edwards diverting it onto the crossbar, sparking understandably jubliant celebrations from the Marine contingent in the 665 crowd.
The winners of Tuesday night’s replay between City and Swindon Supermarine will face a home tie against Eastwood Town of the Blue Square North in the 1st Round following the draw at lunchtime today. The Badgers reached this stage of the competition with a 2-1 win over league rivals Stalybridge Celtic yesterday and they have recent FA Cup pedigree having reached the 3rd Round during the 2008-09 season, although this ended up in disappointment when they missed out on facing one of the top sides, losing 2-1 to Kettering Town. The 1st Round match is scheduled for Saturday 6 November.
City were held to a goalless draw by Swindon Supermarine this afternoon in a surprisingly low-key FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round tie. The game was not helped by the greasy uneven pitch – players on both sides were regularly slipping and mis-controlling the ball – but despite the prize of a place in the 1st Round on offer it was a game that won’t live long in the memory of either set of supporters. The home side began brightly but soon City took control of the game without ever looking particularly threatening. With Marine’s star player Jamie Gosling finding Conference Premier defenders less accomodating than their Southern League conterparts, City’s only worry was from a number of ‘robust’ challenges from which the referee did little to protect them. City were largely restricted to long-range efforts, although one such shot from Alec Russell was spilled by keeper Scott for Lee Phillips to net the loose ball only for a linesman’s flag to halt the celebrations. The second half continued in the same manner with Ryan Robinson largley a spectator but the goal would not come and the sides will meet again at Twerton Park on Tuesday (ko 7.45pm). The 1st Round draw is live on ITV1 tomorrow at 12.30pm with ball no.76 the one for City and Marine fans to look out for.
City take a break from their Blue Square Bet Premier efforts on Saturday to begin the 2010-11 FA Cup campaign with the short trip to Southern League Swindon Supermarine looking to at least match their exploits of last season. It is the first time that City have entered the competition at the 4th Qualifying Round stage since the 1995-96 season and they will hope to avoid the same fate that befell them that year when they crashed out to lower league opposition.
In contrast to City, Supermarine have already played three FA Cup ties to reach this stage. They began with a home tie against Wessex League side Brading Town. With the visitors missing a number of players through injury once the host took the lead in the 17th minute the result was not in doubt. Brading held out until the interval but three goals in the second half took Supermarine through to the 2nd Qualifying Round. There they were paired with Southern League Premier Division rivals Weymouth. However, the troubled Dorset club put up little resistance allowing Supermarine to run out comfortable 3-0 winners. And they earned the right to face City with another straightforward victory at the 3rd Qualifying Round stage over Hungerford Town thanks to two goals in each half. After a shaky start to the season where they picked up just one point from their opening three games Supermarine have now lost just one of their last nine league games to sit in mid-table. They have also progressed in the FA Trophy thanks to a win over Beaconsfield SYCOB during this excellent run of form.
Undoubtedly the star of their season so far is former City player Jamie Gosling. The 28-year joined Supermarine on the eve of the season and has now netted 9 goals in 16 appearances. He struck a hat-trick in their last outing, a 4-1 win at Didcot Town on Tuesday, and has also been on target in each of their FA Cup ties. This record will come as little surprise to the majority of City fans and it remains something of a mystery why the skilful midfielder did make it at a much higher level. He first joined City following a short spell with now defunct Team Bath in November 2000. He was soon a first team regular although his progress was hampered when he suffered a freak injury at Chippenham Town in 2002. Whilst celebrating a goal a perimeter wall at Hardenhuish Park collapsed on him causing an ankle injury that sidelined him for four months. At the end of that season though he joined Yeovil Town for a four figure sum and a league career looked on the cards. However, he only made 14 appearances for the Glovers and spent short spells with a number of clubs over the next few years until settling with Hungerford Town in 2006. From there he rejoined City in July 2008 only for a back injury to restrict his availability and he rejoined Hungerford in November. He then spent time last season with Racing Club Montegnee in Belguim before joining Supermarine.
Gosling will not be the only familiar face in the Supermarine side with a number of former City players plying their trade in Wiltshire. Defender Leigh Henry played seven games for City whilst on loan from Swindon Town during the latter stages of the 2004-05 season, whilst Gary Horgan made one more appearance between August and November 2002. More recently Justyn McKay, who only began his third spell with Supermarine last week, spent the 2007-08 season with City, scoring once in 25 outings. The two clubs are also linked through City boss Adie Britton, who spent the second half of the 2001-02 season there as assistant to manager John Murphy. He helped take the side from relegation certainties to mid-table safety but when Murphy left early the following campaign he was not offered the job and ended up at Merthyr Tydfil with John Relish.
This will be the first competitive meeting between the two clubs, although they have met three times in pre-season friendlies. The first came in August 2001 as Marine prepared for their maiden season in the Southern League. City went ahead after 15 minutes when Jamie Mills headed a Sam Allison cross home but the hosts levelled just before the interval. The second half was still an even affair with City edging ahead 16 minutes from time thanks to a Jamie Crandon effort from the edge of the box. With heavy rain and thunderstorms sweeping across the ground City’s superior fitness appeared to tell as they struck twice more in the last ten minutes, Graham MacLean netting both, to finish 4-1 winners. A year later City were back in Wiltshire to begin their 2002 pre-season campaign. French trialist Bertrand Cozic (now a regular with Exeter City) opened the scoring in the first half before a second half brace from the aforementioned Gosling saw City home 3-0. More recently the side faced each other prior to the 2009-10 season and once again City came out on top thanks to Jack Allward and an own goal by Leigh Henry.
The match could see the first appearance in a City shirt of midfielder Joe Burnell. The summer signing from Exeter City has recovered from an operation on his groin and he is likely to be joined in the squad by Lewis Hogg after he came through training this week with no reaction to the groin problem that has sidelined him for four weeks. City will definitely be without loan winger Marley Watkins after Cheltenham refused permission for him to play in the FA Cup, although Bristol City have allowed Joe Edwards to feature, and Sekani Simpson is a doubt after picking up an ankle injury at York City last weekend.
City and Cheltenham Town have agreed to extend winger Marley Watkins’ loan deal for another two months after the 19-year old impressed during his first month at Twerton Park. He will not be permitted to play for City in their FA Cup trip to Swindon Supermarine on Saturday to avoid being cup-tied but should feature when they begin their FA Trophy campaign in December. The Robins can now recall the player with 24 hours notice.
City manager Adie Britton has vowed to fight any FA charge that may arise from City’s draw with York City last Saturday. Referee Richard Clark, who awarded the Minstermen a controversial first-half penalty, has included in his match report that he sent Britton from the dugout in the final minutes of the game after he came onto the pitch following a late challenge on midfielder Alex Russell. At the time Britton insisted he had not been dismissed but City are now awaiting contact from the FA over the incident.
City stretched their unbeaten league run to four games with a 1-1 draw at York City this afternoon. Having fallen behind to a disputed first-half penalty an Alex Russell goal on 63 minutes drew them level and they could have won the game late on. The Minstermen started the game like a side intent on impressing new manager Gary Mills but it took a huge intervention from the referee Mr Clark to gift them the lead. McGurk’s 30th minute shot appeared to strike Gethin Jones’ chest but the official judged that it had hit his arm – which even if had could not have be classed as deliberate – and pointed to the spot. Rankine confidently beat Ryan Robinson from 12 yards. City could have fallen further behind before the interval but the second half saw them take control of the game. Their dominance was rewarded just after the hour mark when Russell controlled Marley Watkins before firing home. City went in search of the win after this and Russell fired inches over then forced York keeper Ingham into a stunning reflex save. Scott Murray also curled a shot narrowly wide of the far post and it was the hosts who were more relieved to hear the final whistle.
Former City boss Malcom Allison has passed away aged 83. The flamboyant character made his name at Manchester City but began his managerial career at Twerton Park in 1963. He only spent once season at City but led them to a third place finish in the Southern League and the FA Cup 3rd Round, where they took 1st Division Bolton Wanderers to a replay. This success saw Plymouth Argyle lure him away in the summer of 1964. A year later he moved on to Manchester City and, alongside Joe Mercer, oversaw the most successful era the club has enjoye, winning the First Division (1967-68), FA Cup (1969), League Cup (1970) and Cup Winners’ Cup (1970). He became as well known after this for the “Lucky Fedora” he wore and his love of cigars but in recent years has suffered increasingly from ill-health.
City make the long trip to York on Saturday looking continue their improved form and go into the following week’s vital FA Cup meeting with Swindon Supermarine full of confidence. They will face a club that has suffered a turbulent couple of weeks but hoping that the appointment of a new manager in the last few days will signal a change in their fortunes. Since the sides met at Twerton Park in the second weekend of the season the Minstermen have lost their star striker, gone through two managers and slipped down the table to sit two points above the relegation places.
York followed up the 2-2 draw against City with just one defeat in their next six outings. This run came despite Richard Brodie, who netted 37 goals during the 2009-10 season, finally joining Blue Square Bet Premier rivals Crawley Town. The Sussex club had been linked with the striker on several occasions and finally got their man just before the transfer deadline for a fee rumoured to be in the region of £250,000 to £300,000. In York’s next game they suffered a 5-0 reversal at the hands of Mansfield Town and couple of days later manager Martin Foyle quit the club. This brought to an end a 20-month spell in charge during which he twice led the club out at Wembley and took them to the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. He was replaced on a temporary basis by his assistant Andy Porter and youth team boss Steve Torpey. They got off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory at Tamworth then followed this up with a creditable goalless draw against Darlington. However, they then suffered back to back defeats against Eastbourne Borough and Kettering Town which saw Porter step down from his caretaker role leaving Torpey in control. A heavy defeat at promotion chasing Newport County was his single match in charge and the Minstermen appointed Tamworth’s Gary Mills as their new manager this week.
Mills, who was part of the Nottingham Forest side that lifted the 1980 European Cup, has already crossed paths with City on a number of occasions during his managerial career. His first role was player-manager with then Southern League Midland Division Grantham Town and in his second season the Gingerbread’s drew City in the FA Trophy 2nd Round. Although City were in a division higher Mills inspired them to a 3-2 win that, at the time, was heralded as their greatest ever result. Despite going on to reach the quarter-finals of the competition and lifting the Midland Division title Mills left Grantham at the end of that season and a few months later took over at King’s Lynn. During his time with the Linnets he faced City three times, winning twice and drawing once. He resigned a few days before the sides were due to meet again but was soon enjoying success over City when his new club Tamworth beat them 3-1 in January 2001, with Mills scoring one of the goals. The return match at Twerton Park that season finally saw City enjoy a win over one of Mills’ sides, Martin Paul on target for the sixth successive game against Tamworth in the 2-1 victory. The next season the two games ended in a win for the Lambs and a draw which, when added to the draw between the teams earlier this season, means Mills has tasted just a single defeat in nine meetings with City.
Complete record against York City
City’s first ever appearance at Bootham Crescent will see Hector Mackie and Joe Edwards return to the squad that faced Eastbourne Borough last Saturday, but Lewis Hogg, Luke Ruddick and Joe Burnell will all still be missing. However, the latter could be in line for his long-awaited debut for the club in next week’s FA Cup trip to Swindon Supermarine after recovering from the groin problem that has sidelined him for the last six months.
Swindon Supermarine stand between City and the FA Cup 1st Round following today’s 4th Qualifying Round draw. The Southern League Premier Division side reached this stage with a comfortable 4-0 win over Hungerford Town on Saturday and the tie will see City face one of their most enigmatic players of recent years in Jamie Gosling. The Bath born 28-year has been Supermarine’s star, scoring in all three of the club’s FA Cup ties this season. The match takes place on Saturday 23 October (ko 3pm) and the winners receive £12,500 prize money.
City’s Christmas and New Year’s games against Newport County have been switched on police advice. The Welsh side will now travel to Bath on Sunday 26 December with City making the return journey on Saturday 1 January. Both games are due to kick off at 3pm.
City were left to rue a number of missed chances this afternoon as Eastbourne Borough netted an 82nd minute equaliser to head back to Sussex with an undeserved point. They had trailed to Kaid Mohamed’s spectacular 27th minute overhead kick but Langston’s header from a corner ensured the points were shared. Mohamed’s strike had brought the game to life after a low-key opening in which City dominated possession without creating many clear-cut chances. The visitors had a goal disallowed for offside at the start of the second half but this was a rare scare for City against the division’s top scorers. By contrast City looked threatening on a number of occasions, with Lee Phillips, Darren Edwards and Marley Watkins all spurning good openings. They were made to pay for this but the disappointment felt at the final whistle amongst the vast majority of the 1000+ crowd shows how City are now beginning to feel at home in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
The game saw midfielder Scott Murray return action after two months sidelined with an ankle injury and City have received a further boost with the news that loan star Joe Edwards has signed for a second month and will be available when City begin their FA Cup campaign in two weeks.
City go into Saturday’s meeting with Eastbourne Borough at Twerton Park looking to record a third successive victory and put further breathing space between themselves and the Blue Square Bet Premier relegation zone a third of the way into the 2010-11 season. Eastbourne arrive in Somerset five places and four points ahead of City after a remarkable start to their campaign. Their 14 matches have seen an incredible 60 goals, the Sports finding the net on 29 occasions whilst conceding 31 times.
They set the tone on the opening day of the season with a 4-2 defeat at Tamworth before following this up with a 5-0 win over Hayes & Yeading United and a 4-3 victory against Wrexham, thanks to an injury time strike from top scorer Richard Pacquette. Since then they have been involved in high scoring encounters with AFC Wimbledon (2-3), Barrow (0-4), Altrincham (5-0), Forest Green Rovers (4-3) and Mansfield Town (0-4). Last time out they shared six goals with Newport County, once again scoring a late goal to grab a point despite the Welsh side playing 83 minutes with ten men. The three goals were enough to keep Borough as the league’s highest scorers, one ahead of second placed AFC Wimbledon.
This is Eastbourne’s third season in the Conference Premier after winning the Blue Square South play-offs in 2008. This capped an extraordinary rise up through the non-league pyramid where as recently as the 1999-00 season they were playing at Sussex County League level. At the time they played under the name Langley Sports but a year after winning promotion to the Southern League they adopted Eastbourne Borough to reflect the town in which they played. In 2002-03 they won promotion to the Southern league Premier Division after finishing runners-up to Dorchester Town and the next year an 11th place finish was enough to become founder members of the Conference South. The Sports almost made it three successive promotions when they won the 2004-05 play-off final but lost to Altrincham (winners of the Conference North play-offs) in a one-off match for a place in the Conference Premier. It took them three seasons to reach the play-offs again, finishing runners-up to local rivals Lewes in 2007-08, and this time a win over Hampton & Richmond Borough in the final was enough to secure promotion. After a slow start to the 2008-09 campaign improved form during the second half of the season saw them comfortably finish in mid-table. Last season it was a turnaround in form as after a bright start they dropped away and going into the final game of the season needed to beat play-off bound Oxford United. And thanks to a Weatherstone penalty six minutes from time they did just that.
Complete record against Eastbourne Borough
City and Eastbourne have met on four previous occasions with City yet to suffer a loss in the encounters. The first took place during the early stages of the 2003-04 season in Eastbourne and the home side dominated from the opening whistle. They found Romans keeper Mark Bryant in excellent form though and it wasn’t until the 71st minute that a clumsy challenge by Adam Howarth gifted them the lead from the penalty spot. This finally seemed to wake City up and seven minutes later Dwayne Plummer and Mark Salter (in probably the highlight of their short spells with City) combined for the latter to head home the equaliser. And City almost grabbed an undeserved winner in the closing minutes when Scott Hendy glanced a header narrowly wide. When the sides met again in March City had spent the majority of the intervening months in the bottom two places of the table whist Borough were safely in mid-table. Despite this goals from Frankie Bennett and Steve Tweddle fired them to a comfortable 2-0 win. The last two clashes have both finished goalless during Eastbourne’s successful 2007-08 campaign. The first at Twerton Park saw the visitors protecting a 14 game unbeaten start to the season and it was clear from the kick-off that making this 15 was more important than actually trying to win the game. This made for a poor spectacle with City struggling to combat this negative approach, only the late introduction of a fit-again Scott Partridge ever looking likely to break the deadlock. The return match was little better as a strong wind blowing across Eastbourne’s open Priory Lane home made passing football difficult. City came the closest to scoring, Aaron Ledgister’s long range effort tipped on to the bar after 19 minutes, but long before the final whistle both teams had appeared to settle for a point.
City received an injury boost during the week with the news that summer signing Scott Murray had returned to training having recovered from the ankle injury he picked up in the opening game of the season at Hayes & Yeading United. Obviously he is still several weeks away from a return to action and joined on the sidelines by Lewis Hogg, Gethin Jones (both groin) and Joe Edwards (ankle) for Saturday’s match, plus fellow long term absentees Joe Burnell and Luke Ruddick. Adam Connolly will be available again after missing the win at Cambridge United because of the birth of his first child the night before the match.
With a side containing just five first team squad players (including one making his debut) City bowed out of this season’s Somerset Premier Cup last night on penalties to Western League Radstock Town. The rest of the side was made up with youth team players but they gave a good account of themselves in an entertaining game. Beau Blakeman was the star of the youngsters, scoring both of City’s goals, the first late in the second half to cancel out the Miners opener and take the game into extra-time. He then put City in front but they couldn’t hold onto this advantage and the game went to penalties where the home side triumphed 4-3.
After the back to back wins over Kidderminster Harriers and Cambridge United it would have been a perfect time to welcome the side rooted to the foot of the Blue Square Bet Premier table to Twerton Park. However, this week, instead of facing Altrincham as the original fixture list had scheduled for Tuesday, a day later City will travel to Radstock to play the Western League side in the Somerset Premier Cup 1st Round. This change comes about due to the ludicrous situation that county cup games take precedence over league matches, even though any success City enjoy at the pinnacle of non-league football will reflect more glory on the Somerset FA than a competition that generates so little interest that it is unlikely to attract a three-figure crowd on Wednesday evening.
The Miners have been playing in the Premier Division of the Western League since 2005 after winning promotion from Division 1, just a year after they returned to the competition following 10 years in the Somerset Senior League. They finished in 12th place during the 2005-06 season which is their highest position with two 16th and two 17th placing since then. This season they currently sit in 16th place again with two wins and three defeats from their opening six games. In the FA Cup they fell at the 2nd hurdle. A 3-2 Extra Preliminary Round win over Buckland Athletic earned them a trip to Willand Rovers, but their Western League rivals, who City knocked out of last season’s competition, progressed thanks to a single goal win. In the FA Vase they enjoyed a 3-2 win at Barnstaple Town in the 2nd Qualifying Round before Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Premier Division side Torpoint Athletic dumped them out the competition by four goals to one.
Complete record against Radstock Town
Considering the four division gap between the clubs it is somewhat surprising that City have won just two of the 13 meetings, with Radstock victorious on eight occasions, although twelve of these clashes took place before World War II. One of the pre-war games was in the 1928-29 FA Cup and over 2000 City fans travelled down to Somerset no doubt expecting a comfortable win for their team. However, a goal in each half gave the Miners a shock 2-0 victory. Three years later City gained revenge with a 3-0 win in the same competition, which was the last competitive game between the teams until the 1991-92 season. City went into the Somerset Premier Cup 2nd Round match preparing for the slightly higher profile last 16 FA Trophy tie against Wycombe Wanderers five days later. Despite this manager Tony Ricketts included nine players with first team experience in his starting XI including himself. And it was Ricko who scored the only goal of the game, unfortunately it was a 35-yard back pass that flew past Alan Churchward into the City goal. City created a number of chances after this 17th minute goal but Radstock stood firm to earn a semi-final meeting with Bristol Rovers.
City’s on-going injury problems make this an even more unwelcome game but it is expected to see manager Adie Britton give starts to goalkeeper Giancarlo Borhy and recent bench-warmers Callum Hart and Hector Mackie. Unfortunately it is likely to come too early for Lewis Hogg, Gethin Jones and Luke Ruddick to return from injury and Britton may use a number of Academy players to supplement his squad.
A stunning injury-time goal by Kaid Mohamed fired City to their first away win as a Blue Square Bet Premier club at Cambridge United this afternoon. The home side had started the game strongly and took the lead after just five minutes, Russell firing past Ryan Robinson. City could have found themselves further behind but after weathering this opening they levelled on 28 minutes through Marc Canham’s 25-yard free kick. The U’s saw the majority of possession in the second half but City always looked a threat on the break. Lee Phillips and Darren Edwards wasted good openings and it looked as if the game was destined to finish level. However, two minutes into stoppage time Mohamed collected the ball on the left flank, cut across the area past several defenders before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net to spark joyous celebrations amongst the travelling City fans.