Despite a spirited second half performance City couldn’t recover from a 3-1 half-time deficit as Eastleigh showed signs that they may yet live up to their pre-season billing as title favourites. It took just 11 minutes for the hosts to take the lead, Scannell racing clear before beating Glyn Garner. Within four minutes it was 2-0 as McAllister netted after Garner could only parry an initial shot. City had been second best in every department but on 33 minutes they were handed a lifeline when Flitney couldn’t hold a Josh Low shot and Chris Allen fired the loose ball into the roof of the net. However, on 39 minutes the Spitfire’s restored their two-goal lead, Reason converting Scanell’s cross from eight yards. The second half began with Garner producing an excellent save from Binns but City were beginning to look a greater threat going forward. The second goal would not come though. Low, Sean Canham and Kerry Morgan all going close and when they had a strong penalty appeal turned down fifteen minutes form time hopes of a comeback finally began to fade.
City will begin their 2012-13 FA Trophy campaign in Surrey after they were drawn away to Leatherhead in the 3rd Qualifying Round. The Tanners are currently in the lower reaches of the Ryman League Division 1 South but after City’s FA Cup exit to fellow step 8 side Gosport Borough there should be no complacency in Lee Howells’ men. The tie will be the third meeting between the sides, with one win apiece from the previous two encounters. Both took place in the FA Cup, Leatherhead dumping then Alliance Premier League City out at the 4th Qualifying Round stage in 1980 by a single goal before 24 years later the same scoreline saw City progress to the 1st Round proper. The tie will take place on Saturday 10 November (ko 3pm).
City travel to the south coast on Tuesday evening looking to secure a third consecutive league win and continue their climb back toward the Blue Square Bet South play-off places. For the second successive game they will face an opponent level on points but having comfortably overcome AFC Hornchurch at Mayday Trust Park yesterday, City will hope for a similar outcome when they face Eastleigh at the Silverlake Stadium.
The Spitfires have endured a mixed start to the 2012-13 season after a summer spent strengthening their squad which saw them widely considered the favourites to land the Conference South title. Having only once reached the play-offs during the previous seven seasons at this level the takeover of the club by Bridle Insurance during the course of last season signalled a new dawn in Hampshire. A five-year plan was announced to get the ground up to League standard and take the club into the Football League. Whilst the change in ownership saw a number of changes at boardroom level it was the steady flow of new arrivals on the pitch that had the bookies shortening Eastleigh’s odds as the summer progressed. The dust had barely settled on the 2011-12 campaign before long serving manager Ian Baird was active in the transfer market. In total eleven new signings headed to the SIlverlake Stadium including experienced midfielder Glen Southam from Dover Athletic, Dale Binns from 2011-12 Conference South champions Woking, former Manchester City, Bristol City and Swindon Town striker Lee Peacock and highly regarded Scottish striker Craig McAllister from Conference National side Newport County.
Five of these new arrivals made their debut as Eastleigh opened their campaign with a trip to Boreham Wood back in August. Having lost 6-1 at the same ground the previous season the Spitfire’s faithful will not be classing Meadow Park as a favourite destination after their new look side suffered a disappointing 3-0 reversal. They then opened up their home campaign with a 1-1 draw against Basingstoke Town but back to back 3-0 wins over Weston Super Mare and local rivals Havant & Waterlooville appeared to have kick-started their season. However, this proved a temporary change in fortunes as their next three games ended in defeat, the third a 4-0 reversal at Billericay which saw Baird sacked a couple of days later. Former Stevenage Borough boss Richard Hill was handed the task of guiding the Spitfires back up the table and he began in perfect style with league wins Maidenhead United and Hayes & Yeading United plus FA Cup progress against Farnborough. This improvement came to an abrupt halt when Farnborough gained revenge with a remarkable 6-2 win and hopes of a long FA Cup run disappeared when a Gloucester City side, featuring five ex-City players, won by a single goal. Since then a win over Staines Town, draw with Chelmsford City and loss at Eastbourne Borough, in their most recent outing, has left the side in 14th place, already 12 points adrift of leaders Salisbury City.
Complete record against Swaythling/Eastleigh
City will go in search of their first ever win at the Silverlake Stadium having drawn three and lost one of their previous four visits. The most recent of these came in March 2010 with both sides chasing a play-off place. City went ahead from the penalty spot on 29 minutes, Kaid Mohamed netting from 12 yards after Darren Edwards was pulled back in the area. City looked in control of the game after this but in the 66th minute Bottomley levelled for the hosts. City’s hopes of grabbing a late winner received a blow after 75 minutes when Sido Jombati was dismissed for a second booking although they comfortably held out for the point. The draw heralded a dip in form for both sides, City losing their next three matches and Eastleigh going one worse, but it was City who recovered in time to secure a play-off place and, ultimately, promotion to the Blue Square Bet Premier.
City beat AFC Hornchurch by three goals to one at a cold and bright Mayday Trust Park this afternoon to record their first back to back wins since the opening week of the 2012-13 campaign. The game also saw City field an unchanged starting XI for the first time this season and the opening exchanges were all the home side. The only surprise was it took 19 minutes for them to open the scoring, Chris Allen curling a low shot past Woolley into the corner of the net. The Urchins had shown nothing up to that point but within a minute they stunned City by finding an equaliser, Gray beating Glyn Garner via the post. Despite this blow City continued to dominate, Sean Canham flicking a free-kick against the post moments later and on 34 minutes another set-piece dropped to Joe Burnell six yards out to net his first goal for the club. The second half failed to live up to the first as City struggled to reproduce their performance and the visitors looked bereft of any real attacking threat. The late drama in last week’s 4-3 win at Tonbridge Angels would still have been fresh in City’s mind though but they secured the three points four minutes from time when Aaron Brown’s free-kick was fired into the roof of the net by Sean Canham.
Chris Allen and Noah Keats have both signed long term deals with City subject to paperwork being accepted at the FA. Chris has been with the club for five weeks now, and has on two occasions been man of the match, most recently, scoring a brace in the 4-3 victory at Tonbridge Angels. Noah is a product of Lee Smith’s development squad based at the university, and has stepped up to first team football very successfully during this season. City are very pleased to have secured the services of two young talented footballers.
City are also in the process of registering winger Aaron Hopkinson to make him available to cover squad injuries.
After their much-needed victory at Tonbridge Angels last Saturday lifted City seven places in the Blue Square Bet South table they could move to within two points of the play-off places with a win over AFC Hornchurch at Mayday Trust Park this weekend. This shows how tight the division is, with just seven points separating second from bottom Havant & Waterlooville and third placed Boreham Wood (and but for Truro’s ten point deduction and Staines Town having played at least two more games than most teams the gap could cover 21 of the 22 teams in the league). The Hornchurch meeting begins a run of three games in the next week, by the end of which could see City firmly amongst the play-off candidates.
With Hornchurch coming into the game level on points with City they will equally be hoping to record a win and close in on the top five places. The 2012-13 season marks the Urchins first back at this level after Hornchurch FC folded in 2005 following a meteoric climb from the lower reaches of the Ryman League. Backed by Carthium Ltd, who provided funds for the redevelopment of their Hornchurch Stadium home, the clubhouse and also the building of a team capable of gaining Conference status, by the 2003-04 season the club had 12 full-time players and a fifth place finish was sufficient to secure a place in the newly formed Conference South. The Urchins looked set to continue their climb up the non-league pyramid, losing just once in the opening 15 league games, but the rollercoaster ride came to an end in November 2004 when Carthium Ltd went bust and the expensively assembled squad disbanded (including ex-City midfielder Adie Harris) along with manager Garry Hill. Although the club saw out the 2004-05 season the off pitch affairs could not be resolved and the club re-formed under the name AFC Hornchurch and were placed by the FA in the Essex Senior League.
The new club raced away with the league title during their first season, when they also won the Gordon Brasted Cup and the League Cup to complete a treble. The league and cup success continued the following season, the Ryman League Division 1 North title and Essex Senior Cup heading to Hornchurch. A third successive promotion looked a possibility in 2007-08 but the Urchins lost at the play-off semi-final stage to AFC Wimbledon. Three seasons then passed before the club secured another play-off place, finishing runners-up to Billericay Town in the Ryman League Premier Division. After beating Bury Town in the semi-final they faced Lowestoft Town for a place in the Blue Square Bet South. After the match had ended goalless during normal time Hornchurch went ahead on 94 minutes through McKenzie only for the Suffolk side to equalise from the penalty spot ten minutes later. With the game looking set to go to a penalty shoot-out the Urchin’s struck through Spencer’s shot and the club were back at the level they had departed seven years earlier.
In their opening match of the 2012-13 season the Urchins surrendered a one goal lead to lose 2-1 at Salisbury City and they failed to pick up a league win in their opening six games. This poor start left them at the foot of the table but a 2-0 victory at Basingstoke Town started an unbeaten run of five games, including further wins over Dorchester Town and Maidenhead United, which lifted them back toward mid-table. Since then though they have suffered back to back defeats against Staines Town and Eastbourne Borough, which sees them currently in 14th place.
The meeting is the first ever between the two clubs although City striker Sean Canham will have fond memories of facing the Urchins, having scored the only goal in a 1-0 FA Cup win for Team Bath in October 2007.
City finally ended their poor league run, and recorded a first away win of the season, at Tonbridge Angels this afternoon in a remarkable 4-3 scoreline. After the home side started strongly City were awarded an 11th minute penalty when Josh Low’s cross was blocked by Elphick’s arm. Sean Canham stepped up to take the penalty only for to Worgan to save his effort, however Low reacted quickest to the rebound to coolly set up Canham to atone for his miss from six yards. This saw a shift in the balance of the game and on 39 minutes Worgan failed to get any distance on a punch from a Low free-kick and Chris Allen fired the ball home from the edge of the box. City maintained their ascendancy after the break and Low continued to show what the side has been missing in his stop-start season when he tricked Schulz into a lunging challenge that saw the referee point to the spot again on 56 minutes. This time Allen took the responsibilty to send Worgan the wrong way from 12 yards. City looked in complete control even though Collin made it 3-1 after 69 minutes, heading Purcell’s cross home. Within three minutes a swift break from City ended with Canham drilling home his second goal and the three-goal cushion was restored. It remained like this until past the 90 minutes and, with neither trainer on the pitch during the second half or any time-wasting from the Romans, it looked as if City were seconds away from a comfortable win. Even when Elphick made it 4-2 from close range it looked nothing more than a consolation but Mr Rock allowed the game to continue and with 95 minutes on the clock substitue Gayle headed past Glyn Garner to reduce the deficit to one goal. To the increasingly incredulity of City players, coaches and supporters the game continued for another five minutes, which saw Tonbridge twice win a free-kick 30-yards from goal and only when Garner tipped the second of these over the bar did the referee finally bring the game to an end.
The Bath City FC U21 Development Squad will play their second game of the 2012-13 season on Tuesday 23 October (ko 1pm) when Bournemouth U21s visit Mayday Trust Park. The first match was against a Portsmouth FC XI which ended 1-0 to the south coast side. The fixture was a tough test for the young squad but was one which produced some good individual performances from the likes of Will Hailston, Josh Ferguson and Brad Norris. The Squad will be looking to take this performance into next weeks games against AFC Bournmouth and continue to improve and develop. Lee Smith, Head of Football at the University of Bath, said, “The group of players that have been training this season have been fantastic to work with, they have a real desire to learn and develop and this shows in the performances so far. The programme, based at the University of Bath has so far produced the likes of Noah Keats and Brad Norris who have featured regularly in the first team and also has players such as Will Hailston and Martin Lenihan who have featured in some of the match day squads.”
City have confirmed that, following discussions this morning, Adie Harris has joined Chippenham Town and will be available for their FA Cup match against Gloucester City tomorrow. The 31-year old midfielder returned to the club in the summer for his fourth spell with the Romans and, as one of the most popular players on and off the pitch, heads to the Bluebirds with the best wishes of all connected with City.
Lee Howell’s first away game in charge of City on Saturday is a trip to Kent to face Tonbridge Angels. Although the clubs were regular opponents from just after World War II to the mid-1970s – before they added Angels to their name – this will be City’s first trip to their Longmead Stadium. Having slipped into the bottom three following the 3-2 defeat to Hayes & Yeading United, City will be keen to record a first away league win of the 2012-13 season and begin the climb back up the Blue Square Bet South table.
The club was formed in 1947 – initially playing at the Angel Ground, formerly the home of Kent County Cricket Club and named after the nearby hotel, ‘The Angel’. Hence they became known as ‘The Angels’. They joined the Southern League and would remain members until relegation to the Kent League in 1989. They spent four seasons at this level before winning the 1992-93 title to return to the Southern League. After finishing the 2003-04 season in third place in the Southern League Eastern Division they were placed in the Isthmian League Premier Division as part of the re-organisation of the non-league pyramid. Although they were relegated in 2005 they bounced straight back, beating local rivals Dover Athletic 3-2 in the 2005-06 play-off final. This time the Angels established themselves at this level and, after losing in 2008-09 play-offs at the semi-final stage to Carshalton Athletic, secured promotion to the Conference South in 2010-11 thanks to a dramatic 4-3 play-off win over Lowestoft Town. Their maiden campaign in the second tier of non-league football saw a solid finish of 9th place under the leadership of Tommy Warrilow, now in his fifth full season in charge at Longmead Stadium.
Tonbridge currently sit three places and two points above City having begun their second season at this level with seven draws from the opening twelve games. The campaign started in disappointing fashion with two defeats against Maidenhead United and Salisbury City before they picked up their first point in a 1-1 draw with Welling United. This began a run of five successive draws before two goals in the opening six minutes against Boreham Wood set them on their way to a 4-2 win. They followed this up with a disappointing FA Cup exit to Dover Athletic but a draw with Sutton United and win over Eastbourne Borough stretched their unbeaten run to eight games. This came to an abrupt halt at Farnborough last weekend though as they were swept aside by four goals to one.
Complete record against Tonbridge
City’s previous 19 trips to Kent all took them to the Angel Ground, the most recent during the early stages of the 1975-76 season. Despite pre-season optimism City had begun the campaign slowly, including an FA Cup Preliminary Round exit to Hampshire League Fareham Town, and Tonbridge deepened their woes with a single goal victory. City did get their revenge later in the campaign with a 6-1 victory at Twerton Park – David Coombes, Brian Owen 2 and John Fairbrother all netting a brace – although by then the Angels had gone into voluntary liquidation. They were allowed to complete the season – adopting the new name Tonbridge Angels – on the understanding that relegation would result at the end, wherever the club finished. This set the clubs on their divergent paths that has only now ended 37 years later.
Lee Howells first game in charge of City against Hayes & Yeading United ended in defeat this afternoon thanks to a last minute penalty. City had twice come from behind during an entertaining first half but when the referee deemed loan debutant Harry Hooman’s challenge on Wishart a foul there was no time for a third comeback. The visitors started the game brightly and took just seven minutes to open the scoring, Williams slicing Wishart’s cross into the path of Williams for a simple finish. Just six minutes passed though for City to level when Adam Connolly’s stunning volley hit the underside of the crossbar and Chris Adam stabbed the rebound home. Hayes restored their lead on 33 minutes when the impressive Wishart crossed for Anderson to fire home. Once again though City fought back and three minutes before the interval a diving Sean Canham header from Joe Burnell’s cross found the net via a post. City suffered a blow early in the second half when Kerry Morgan was forced off having been the victim of a late challenge from Butcher late in the first period and, after the open first 45 minutes, both sides looked tighter in defence after the interval. However, just when the game looked set to finish all-square Hooman challenged Wishart in the box and, despite no appeals from Hayes players or their small band of supporters behind the goal, Mr Harris pointed to the spot. Substitute Oyenuga took full advantage of the decision, sending Glyn Garner the wrong way, to send City to their fifth league defeat in six games.
City have signed Cheltenham Town defender Harry Hooman on a one month loan deal. It will be the second time the 21-year old centre-back has pulled on a City shirt having made a single pre-season appearance for the club back in 2011, shortly before joining the Robins. Leaving Mayday Trust Park is striker Kurtis Guthrie after his short-term contract was not renewed. He made 13 appearance and scored six goals during his brief spell with the club.
The Board met last night to discuss the start of the 2012/13 season. Despite being top of the league after 5 matches, recent form has been very disappointing, culminating in our defeat at Gosport in the FA Cup. We do not make knee jerk decisions and are mindful of two things, the overriding need to stick to the long term plan we set out this Summer, coupled with the need for change to revitalise this season. With immediate effect, the following changes to the management team are to be implemented.
Adrian Britton will become Director of Football Development. In this role, Adrian will report into the Board and will have responsibility for the evolving structure of the football operation including the academy and the development squad. A lot of his time will be spent building relationships with other league football clubs, and continuing to watch many games; our development squad, local teams, also possible player targets from further afield. He will also assist in the ongoing work to develop a new stadium for Bath City. The contribution Adrian has made to the club so far is immense, and will continue to be so. It is to his huge credit that he recognised that a change needed to happen for the good of the club, and he offered to relinquish the first team day to day coaching. The Board is delighted he will stay on in another role.
The first team coaching role will be taken on by Lee (Arch) Howells. Lee Howells has a very good playing history at both non-league and League level, a successful managership at Mangotsfield and has shown passion and commitment at City over the last 5 years. Bath City has a successful record of promoting from within, and some of the initiatives need to be given some consistent time and attention to maximise returns. Jim Rollo, club captain, will also enhance the coaching staff, whilst continuing with his playing career.
A review of the playing staff will also take place as part of the restructure. Bath City is a special place, and it deserves the best players we can get. We need a true Roman spirit, players performing to the best of their ability, willing to work for the team as a whole, driven to win and only those best demonstrating these characteristics, coupled with footballing ability, will be the ones we retain and acquire as we rebuild to be where we want to be.
The two seasons in the Conference were the highest level Bath City has ever played, culminating in being named the top part time team in the country. We want to get back there, but want to do it when we know we can be competitive both through financial sustainability and youth development of our own players. We are not throwing money at this, so it will need some time. We need the fans to support during this rebuilding, transitionary period. We have a three year plan, patience is necessary, but in the interim, we want fans to enjoy the football and we believe the set up announced today is best placed to change the things which need changing, and nurture those which only need time to bear fruit.
City will look to put Tuesday night’s desperately disappointing FA Cup exit at Gosport Borough behind them on Saturday when they return to Blue Square Bet South action in a Mayday Trust Park meeting with Hayes & Yeading United. Although the full fall-out of the defeat in Hampshire will only become clear in the coming weeks and months, a win over the mid-table visitors will at least lift some of the gloom that has understandably descended on the club since the disastrous eleven minute spell against the Southern League side.
Hayes have suffered an inconsistent start to the 2012-13 season after coming down from the Blue Square Bet Premier alongside City back in April, and are yet to record successive league victories. In common with City, despite relegation, Hayes kept faith with their manager, Nas Bashir, and he was busy over the summer securing deals for Josh Ekim, Sam Cox, Jay Kalama, Kudus Oyenuga, Manny Williams and a return for Daryl McLean. Two of these new arrivals enjoyed contrasting debuts in United’s opening match of the season at Weston Super Mare. After ex-City striker Kane Ingram had put the home side ahead, Oyenuga fired home an equaliser just before the interval. When Weston’s skipper Kirk was sent-off the Middlesex side were pushing for a victory, but these hopes were dashed when Williams, on as a substitute, picked up two quick bookings to even the numbers up. Their first ‘home’ game of the season ended more positively with Oyenuga picking up another two-goals in a 4-2 win over Billericay Town, although they again finished the game with ten men, Cox seeing red for deliberate handball on the goalline. Since then United has enjoyed wins over Welling United, Dover Athletic and Staines Town, whilst losing to Boreham Wood, Havant & Waterlooville, Salisbury City and Eastleigh plus a draw with Basingstoke Town. They did enjoy revenge over Salisbury in the FA Cup last weekend, winning 2-1 thanks to an injury-time free-kick from Williams.
Off the pitch the club are still playing their home games 20 miles from Hayes at Woking’s Kingsfield Stadium. They moved there during the 2011 close season after vacating Church Road, the former home of Hayes, with the aim of moving to a redeveloped The Warren, the former home of Yeading, in October 2012. After a long period when little or no movement appeared to be being made on the ground, pictures taken a month ago show the framework of the main stand in place and, although the October target now looks unlikely, the club will still hope to be in their new home sometime during the 2012-13 season. And with crowds struggling to average over 200 in Surrey a return to their true home cannot come soon enough.
Complete record against Hayes/Yeading/Hayes & Yeading United
City will hope for a much better outcome to the game than when the sides met at Twerton Park last season. The hosts came into the match rock bottom of the table after a six match losing run, but knowing a victory would close the gap on second bottom Hayes to just three points. However, in an encounter where both sides showed why their Conference Premier time would be up a couple of months later, a single goal by Thalassitis seven minutes before the interval was enough to send the three points back up the M4. The previous season saw City record their one and only victory so far over the merged club, thanks to goals from Kaid Mohamed, Gethin Jones and Lee Phillips.
No-one said it was going to be easy. We set ourselves targets this season, one of which we have failed on…we wanted a cup run. Incredibly disappointed with the result on Tuesday, fair play to Gosport, but a great chance to get to the first round has gone begging.
I can not comment on the match, for once, I wasn’t there. I have been told by many who were that at half time we were one up and everything was looking rosy, second half, we conceeded three goals in eleven minutes and never looked like getting back into the match. This was the most important match of the season for us, certainly financially, and also in terms of confidence for the league. Absolutely devastated.
It is my job, and that of the Board of Directors, to take the best decisions for the club, and that includes not reacting to emotional events, rather taking stock to come up with the best decision. We lost to Gosport, we have been both the victim of cupsets and in the past, perpetrators of them. Thats what happens in football. At the time of writing these notes, I can not tell you what decisions the club will have taken. I do know that what is best for the club will be the driving principle. And on a purely personal note, I can assure you I have no problems at all in making hard decisions…a few have questioned if I have the guts to change things, yes I do, but I also have the guts to stick to the original plan despite setbacks if we decide that is right.
In the absence of money, we need time to rebuild and rework the team. We said so at the beginning of the season, and for a while it looked like everything was coming together quicker than anticipated, but we have been found out in recent matches. We said we would invest in youth…we have had 6 players 21 and under play significant roles in the first team so far, playing some great football but also lacking consistency. Four players who would have been first choices, indeed are amongst our best players, were missing from the starting line up Tuesday night, and a couple who played a role were not fully fit. Not an excuse, a fact which would have impacted the team no matter who was managing it, especially as we have a very small squad to begin with.
So there we have it. As we strive towards a firmer financial footing, there will be some very rocky times ahead. As you know, we went public with our strategy document during the Summer, and I have yet to see anything which makes me believe that this route is the wrong way to go. We are making progress on the central plank of finding a new stadium, the target of a top eight finish more than possible. The cost of taking this route is that we are nowhere near the finished article on the pitch and whilst I understand fans frustration, indeed share it, am not willing to throw money we havent got at the situation. I’d like you to continue to support the club patiently during this transition…the fans are the lifeblood of the club, and I am so grateful for the support you give us. We may lose a few along the way, I know, and I really regret that, any change means some will not like it, but I won’t court short term popularity by jeopardising long term sustainability. If this isnt the approach you want, say so now, as you have the wrong chairman.
Three goals in the space of eleven second half minutes sent City spinning to a shock FA Cup exit at a Gosport Borough last night. Heavy rain all day on the south coast made for tricky conditions but City seemed to adapated well during the first half, Aaron Brown looking particularly threatening down the left flank. Igoe had given a sign of things to come when his 17th minute shot struck the post, but ten minutes later Sean Canham fired into the roof of the net for his first goal since returning to the club. City were good value for this lead at the interval and would have hoped to push on and secure a trip to Slough Town in the next round, however by just past the hour stage it was the home side who had a foot in the 4th Qualifying Round. On 53 minutes Bennett reached a cross ahead of Glyn Garner to level the scores then six minutes later Martin’s 30-yard free-kick found the corner of the net. Just another four minutes passed before Garner could only parry Bennett’s shot to give Wooden a simple tap-in. Despite nearly a third of the contest still remaining City never threatened to get back into the game and long before the final whistle looked a beaten side.
The winners of tomorrow’s night replay between City and Gosport Borough will play Slough Town in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round following this morning’s draw. The Rebels, who were regular opponents of City during the 1990s, ply their trade in the Southern League Division 1 Central and are currently in 13th place, albeit having played fewer game most of their rivals. The tie will be played at Beaconsfield SYCOB’s Holloways Park, where Slough have been since 2007 having lost their Wexham Park home in 2003.
City came within four minutes of crashing out of the 2012-13 FA Cup this afternoon against Gosport Borough before a Charlie Griffin penalty took the tie to a replay in Hampshire on Tuesday night. It was another disappointing performance from City as they struggled to break down the Southern League side and when Wooden headed past Glyn Garner with just 12 minutes it looked as if they were heading for an embarrassing and costly cup exit. Even the return of last season’s top scorer Sean Canham failed to liven up City’s attacking threat, although he did go closest for City in the first half when his 11th minute shot brought a fine finger tip save out of keeper Ashmore. Apart from that Kurtis Guthrie was a constant handful for the Gosport defence but Ashmore was rarely tested after Canham’s effort. The visitors created little more than City as they were largely confined to long-range efforts and they seemed content to slow the game down at every opportunity. The second half began with a spell of pressure by Borough but after City weathered this the game looked to headed toward a goalless stalement. Therefore, when Wooden headed home Woodward’s 78th minute cross it appeared that a single goal would decide the tie. However, when Brown blocked Luke Cummings’ cross with his arm City were given a lifeline from which Griffin took full advanatge. Suddenly City sensed the game was there for the taking as Guthrie fired a low shot against the outside of the post and Griffin headed inches wide but they will have to trvel south on Tuesday, knowing that a much improved performance is needed if they are to make any further progress in this season’s competition.
City have received a major boost ahead of their FA Cup tie against Gosport Borough with the news that striker Sean Canham has rejoined the club. The 28-year old was City’s top scorer last season, netting 11 goals in 28 appearances, during two loan spells from Hereford United. He returned to the Bulls in May and was on target in three of their opening four games this season. He has joined City on a three-month loan deal and, subject to the paperwork, will go straight into the squad to face Gosport in the 3rd Qualifying Round match.
City will hope the FA Cup proves a welcome boost after their stuttering start to the 2012-13 season when Gosport Borough visit Mayday Trust Park on Saturday with a place in the 4th Qualifying Round at stake. The defeat at Truro City on Tuesday saw City slip to 17th position in the Blue Square Bet South, however they only have to look back to the 2009-10 season when they were just one place higher at the start of October before FA Cup progress preceded an improvement in form that culminated with play-off success and promotion to the Conference National.
Gosport’s path to this stage of the competition has not been without controversy after they were involved in an incident during their 1st Qualifying Round match against Bashley that made national headlines. With the teams level at 2-2, Bashley ‘scored’ late on after James Stokoe struck from close range, but in frustration the Gosport keeper kicked the ball through the side netting. And, having missed the ball going in, referee Bull then awarded a corner. The incident was also missed by the assistant referee and Gosport took full advantage of this escape, scoring in extra time to win 3-2. After the defeated side unsuccessfully appealed to the FA to have the game replayed, and a predictable war of words between the sides, Borough took their place in the next round but it is unlikely to be episode that will be quickly forgotten. No doubt Gosport were pleased that there was no such controversy in the next round as two first half goals comfortably saw off Bideford to earn the trip to Bath.
Gosport’s league form, much like City’s, has been inconsistent and they currently sit in 13th place in the Southern League Premier Division after winning promotion from the South & West Division via the play-offs last season. They only returned to the Southern League in 2007 following a 15 year spell in the Wessex League, but having flirted with the play-off places for several seasons last year they secured a third place finish helped, in part, by tempting former City nemesis Steve Claridge out of retirement in October 2011. After scoring on his debut for the Boro’ during their FA Trophy game against Sholing he netted a last-gasp equaliser in the play-off final versus Poole Town before adding a second in extra-time as the Hampshire side ran out 3-1 winners. Claridge did consider continuing his career into a 30th season but decided to finally hang-up his boots after this memorable finale. After just winning one of their opening six league games they steadied the ship with an impressive 3-0 win at early season pacesetters Chesham United. They followed this with a disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to St Albans before sharing the points with Weymouth in a six-goal thriller at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
Complete record against Gosport Borough
City and Gosport last met in the FA Cup just seven years ago at Privett Park and the then Wessex League side pushed their higher league opponent all the way. The home side came into the game unbeaten and showed why when Laidlaw, the player of the previous round, put them in front after just three minutes. Ten minutes later Andy Sandell and Scott Partridge set up Tony Bird to level the scores but on 23 minutes Dyer restored Borough’s advantage after Paul Evans could only parry Rew’s close range shot. However, City responded strongly, striking twice before the interval, Jon Holloway and Chris Holland on target, to go into the break ahead. And they should have put the game beyond Gosport before, with 12 minutes remaining, Scammell looped a header into the net. The game looked set for a replay but with six minutes of normal time remaining Sandell beat his marker on the left byline and whipped in a low cross for Bird to steer home the winner from six yards. The last clash at Twerton Park was a much more one-sided affair with City effortlessly dismantling the visitors. The game took place during the second half of the 1989-90 campaign that culminated with City returning to the Conference and Gosport suffering relegation, and the gulf between the sides was evident long before Paul Randall headed the opening goal on 21 minutes. Five minutes later he set up Glyn Riley to make it 2-0 and City could even afford a dreadful penalty miss by Gary Smart just before the interval. Chris Banks’ header after 59 minutes was soon followed by Randall’s second, and 30th of the season, before Smart completed the 5-0 rout, this time making no mistake from 12 yards.
If Truro City do fold in the next week or two then they will have finished on a winning note after a late goal secured a 2-1 victory over City at Treyew Road this evening. Although the result will be removed from the records if the Cornish side fail to find a buyer it was the last thing City wanted ahead of their FA Cup meeting with Gosport Borough on Saturday. With new arrival Jordan Rugg starting in place of joint top scorer Charlie Griffin, the latest injury blow for City, the home side started strongly, as maybe to be expected from a side playing potentially their final ever game. On the half-hour mark they deservedly went ahead through Yetton’s spectacular scissors kick but four minutes before the break Kurtis Guthrie drew City level from close range. The second half saw City increasingly dominate but they struggled to create clear cut openings and with three minutes left Watkins set up Yetton for his second goal of the evening. The defeat, City fourth in the last five league games, drops them to 17th place.
City have strengthened their attacking options with the signing of striker Jordan Rugg ahead of this evening’s trip to face Truro City in the Blue Square Bet South. The 21-year old came through the ranks at Premier League club Wigan Athletic, where he was a regular scorer with the Latics reserve side. He has signed a short term deal with City and goes straight into the squad making the long journey to Cornwall.