Having finally ended their poor Skrill South run in emphatic style at Farnborough on Tuesday, City will look to build on the win when Havant & Waterlooville visit Mayday Trust Park on Saturday. The performance, which was labelled, “probably as good as we have put in at any time over the last three or four years,” by Director of Football Adie Britton, saw City score four goals for the first time since the 4-1 win at Weston Super Mare back in January. And they have to go back to the final home game of the 2011-12 season for the last time a Mayday Trust Park crowd witnessed the side on target four times. No doubt the side will be equally keen to cut out the defensive lapses that allowed Farnborough two goals plus several other clear chances, to help record first back to back wins of the current campaign.
The Hawks will travel north having had a mixed start to the 2013-14 season, although they are unbeaten in their last four games. Since becoming founder members of the Conference South in 2004 they have regularly been amongst the pre-season title favourites – though only once finishing in the top five since – but there has been no such added pressure this year on the back of two difficult seasons. After only avoiding a bottom three finish with literally the last kick of the 2011-12 season – a 93rd minute winner against Staines Town – for much of the last campaign they were struggling at the wrong end of the table. However, a ten match unbeaten run in February and March pulled them clear of the drop zone and they finished the season in a respectable 10th position.
Hopes of carrying over this strong finish to the new season received a setback during the summer when top scorer Ollie Palmer –who was named Conference South Player of the Year – joined League 2 side Mansfield Town just two weeks before the start of the campaign. Manager Lee Bradbury had already been busy during the close season, bringing in defender Dan Strugnell from AFC Bournemouth, following a successful loan spell at Westleigh Park last season, Farnborough midfielder Nic Ciardini, experienced left-back Danny Blanchett, goalkeeper Scott Bevan and midfielder Jesse Kewley-Graham on loan from Wycombe Wanderers. The former Bournemouth manager and Portsmouth youth coach, faced with having to quickly find a replacement for Palmer, turned to 29-year old striker Dennis Oli. He then added one final piece to his side with the capture of Newport IOW midfielder Alex Przpolewski, who scored a remarkable 48 goals for the Wessex League side last season. Defensively the Hawks got the season off to a great start with clean sheets in their opening three games, drawing with two title favourites, Ebbsfleet United and Eastleigh, and beating Weston Super Mare. However, they picked up just one further win in their next eight league and cup games, which culminated in a 5-0 home defeat to Sutton United and a disappointing FA Cup exit to Conference North side Gloucester City. They bounced back well from this with wins over Maidenhead United and Basingstoke Town then draws with Dover Athletic and Eastbourne Borough, and currently sit in 11th position, three places and four points ahead of City, albeit having played two games more.
Complete record against Waterlooville/Havant & Waterlooville
Havant have to go back to the opening month of the 2001-02 season for their last win in Bath. Having scored just once in their first three matches of the campaign the last thing City needed was going behind in the first minute but when Mark Hervin failed to reach a Ferrett corner, Taylor’s header achieved just that. This was the only goal in the first half, however within four minutes of the restart O’Rouke doubled the Hawks lead with a low shot from the edge of the area. He then made it 3-0 from the penalty spot on the hour mark and the game was all but over. Eight minutes later it was all over when Taylor grabbed his second of the game. Adrian Foster netted his first goal for the club on 72 minutes, lashing the ball into the net despite looking several yards offside, before a second penalty kick – this time from Hambley – restored the visitor’s four goal advantage. The south coast had future manager Liam Daish sent off shortly after this and with the last kick of the game Mike Wyatt made it 5-2 from close range. The rest of the season reflected the result with City spending it battling against relegation, whilst Havant ended up finishing third, albeit a fair way behind Tamworth and Kettering Town.
City responded in perfect style to their FA Cup disappointment this evening, beating Farnborough by four goals to two at Cherrywood Road to end their recent poor league form. After an early let off City took control of the first half and went ahead on 34 minutes through a Ross Stearn free-kick. However, the hosts looked to have turned the game around either side of the break, as Hammond took advantage of a slip by Sekani Simpson to level the scores two minutes before the interval, then within four minutes of the restart a deflected Donnelly shot made it 2-1. However, City came back strongly and on the hour mark Dan Ball struck to make it 2-2. Lifted by this City pushed forward and with 13 minutes left good work by Dan Bowman down the right saw Noah Keats fire City ahead. Then in stoppage time top scorer David Pratt netted his sixth goal of the season to secure City’s first Conference South win since August and lift them five places up the table.
City will need to get over the disappointment of Saturday’s narrow FA Cup exit against Salisbury City quickly when they make an immediate return to action at Farnborough tomorrow evening. Whilst the Whites were earning a 1st Round meeting with either Ebbsfleet United or Dartford, results in the Skrill South saw City drop a place to 19th, just one spot above the relegation zone, and the pressure will be on to end their run of six league games without a win and begin the climb back up the table.
The trip to Hampshire was originally scheduled for August Bank Holiday but fell victim to the Boro’s abortive start to the 2013-14 season. Despite forming just six years ago, following the demise of Farnborough Town, the club found itself in administration back in April with debts around the £2million mark. This move, which saw the club deducted ten points (their second points deduction of the season, having earlier lost four points for fielding an ineligible player), was labelled a ‘positive thing’ by owner/manager Spencer Day, adding that, “I’m proud of the way we have run this club since I’ve been here, on very limited and restricted cash flows, and we are not talking about big money debts here”. The summer saw several potential takeovers on the table but it wasn’t until the eve of the new campaign a management and supporters’ bid, backed by Day and shareholder Rob Prince, finally brought the club out of administration. At the same time the club announced a six-figure sponsorship deal with bookmakers Paddy Power, which made national headlines when the whole squad, including the boss himself, agreed to legally change their names by deed poll to that of a legendary footballer in their respective position. However, the Football Conference requested a £100,000 bond to allow the club to start the season – a move labelled ‘bizarre’ by Farnborough and ‘bullyboy tactics’ by Paddy Power. When they missed the deadline for payment of this amount their first two games of the season were cancelled and for a while it appeared their whole 2013-14 season was in doubt. Two weeks later, though, with three more games shelved, including City’s visit, the club met the 13 conditions laid down by Conference chiefs to accept their membership and Day and his side could finally take to the field. They would do so under their real names though, as the Paddy Power name-change plan was quietly dropped.
Remarkably after this three-week delay they began their campaign in perfect style, beating Dover Athletic by a single goal in front of a 1000+ crowd at The Cherrywood Road, boosted by free entry for all supporters. A narrow defeat at Havant & Waterlooville followed in their first away game before they picked up a further point in a six goal thriller against Sutton United. Since then they have enjoyed wins over Boreham Wood, Whitehawk, Tonbridge Angels and Chelmsford City, whilst encounters Eastbourne Borough, Staines Town and Hayes & Yeading United have ended in defeat. They also suffered a disappointing FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round replay defeat against Eastbourne but the solid league form has seen them climb up to 10th place, unsurprisingly still with games in hand on the teams above them.
Complete record against Farnborough/Farnborough Town
Last season was the first City and Farnborough had been league rivals for 16 years and it was the Romans who came out on top, recording the double over Boro. The two games were quite a contrast as City came out on top in a five goal thriller at Mayday Trust Park, Sean Canham netting the winner deep in injury-time. The return match in Hampshire saw City dominate the first half but fail to break the deadlock and it looked as if they would be made to pay for this as Farnborough took control after the break. However, a couple of excellent stops by Jason Mellor along with some last-ditch blocks kept the game goalless going into its final quarter. There a long ball downfield was picked up by Elliott Chamberlain, who ran on well before seeing his first shot stopped by Inman’s feet with keeper Clement off his line. The Exeter youngster – currently back on loan at City – made no mistake with his second attempt, sliding the ball home to register his first goal in City colours and take the three points back to Somerset.
City missed out on a place in the FA Cup 1st Round proper this afternoon as they lost by a single goal to Salisbury City at Mayday Trust Park. The Conference Premier side struck just before half-time and despite City enjoying the majority of possession after they interval they couldn’t find an equaliser their performance deserved. Neither side could stamp their authority on the opening exchanges, a couple of off target efforts the best either could manage. As the half progressed, though, the Whites began to show signs of their greater quality. Kamdjo headed their first clear-cut chance against the bar on 29 minutes and Feeney’s deflected shot flying just wide shortly afterwards. It looked as if City had withstood this pressure but two minutes before the break Frear’s cross was headed home by Lewis. The second half saw City gain greater control of the midfield, retricting the visitors to a rare break, but fail to turn this dominance into concerted pressure or clear-cut openings. It wasn’t until the 83rd minute that ex-City goalkeeper Puddy was really tested, pushing away Ben Adelsbury’s low shot, and even when Elliott Chamberlain charged down his attempted clearance luck was on Salisbury’s side as the ball dropped to safety. This turned out to be Salisbury’s last nervous moment as they saw the game out to take their place in tomorrow’s 1st Round draw.
The FA Cup is back at the top of the agenda on Saturday when City and Salisbury City meet at Mayday Trust Park with a place in the 1st Round proper on offer. And the possible reward for a victory is considerable, with former FA Cup winners Portsmouth, Coventry City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and AFC Wimbledon all possible opponents, or an equally attractive local derby against Bristol Rovers, Bristol City or Swindon Town. However, before City can dream of such a tie they face the considerable task of overcoming an in-form Whites side firmly amongst the Skrill Premier play-off chasing pack.
The 2013-14 marks Salisbury’s first back amongst the non-league elite since they were demoted to the Southern League in May 2010 having gone into administration nine months earlier. Under the leadership of Darrell Clarke the Wiltshire club immediately won promotion to the Conference South via the play-offs. A 1-0 win over Cambridge City in the semi-final earned them a trip to Hednesford Town where a late strike by current City midfielder Ben Adelsbury took the game to penalties, where he was also on target in the 3-2 win. The following campaign saw inconsistent league form undermine any hopes of back to back promotions but this was more than compensated for by an FA Cup run which saw them reach the 3rd Round proper for the first time in their history, where they eventually bowed out 3-1 against Sheffield United at Bramhall Lane.
Boosted by an estimated £100,000 they banked from this cup run along with a similar amount garnered in a sell-clause for former striker Matt Tubbs, the Whites spent the 2012 close season assembling a squad capable of earning promotion back to the Conference Premier. And with just three defeats in their opening 24 league games they looked set to achieve this aim as champions. However, a dip in form in February allowed Welling United to overhaul them and the Wings never relinquished this advantage, leaving Salisburyto settle for 2nd place. Despite the undoubted disappointment they recovered to beat Chelmsford City in the play-off semi-final then overcome Dover Athletic in the final by three goals to two after extra-time.
The club suffered a blow during the summer when manager Clarke left to join Bristol Rovers as their new assistant manager. The vacant post understandably attracted widespread interest but the Whites made the surprise appointment of Clarke’s assistant Mikey Harris. At just 28-years old this made him the youngest full-time manager in England. When his side lost their opening three games, against Tamworth, Luton Town and Alfreton Town, it looked like it might a difficult maiden campaign for Harris. This pressure was relieved though thanks to a single goal win over Aldershot Town which began a run of eight unbeaten games to lift them from the 22nd place to the play-off positions. A defeat to current league leaders Cambridge United saw them slip back to 6th place last weekend but they have showed enough signs that they are genuine play-off contenders.
Complete record against Salisbury/Salisbury City
Saturday’s game will be the 40th meeting between the two clubs, with three having previously taken place in the FA Cup. All three came when the Wiltshire side were known as just Salisbury, the first shortly after the Second World War when a then fully professional City team crashed out to the all-amateur Salisbury 2-0 at Twerton Park in front of a 5000+ crowd. The next time the sides met in the competition was for a 1971-72 2nd Qualifying Round tie with City in crisis on and off the pitch. And Salisbury took full advantage, winning 2-1 with City’s consolation goal coming from a John Mitten penalty. It was third time lucky though for City as they finally enjoyed FA Cup success over the Whites in 1978-79 – a Jimmy Jenkins double and Kim Book penalty save helping them to a 2-0 victory in the 2nd Qualifying Round tie at Salisbury’s former Victoria Park home.
City ended their run of three Skrill South defeats with a 2-2 draw at Whitehawk this afternoon, but did it the hard way, coming back from two goals down at half-time. Injuries and suspension forced City into naming three youth team players on the bench and they got off to the worst possible start as Boetang was given far too much room to cross for an equally unmarked Robinson to fire home after just three minutes. City enjoyed the majority of possession after this setback but failed to turn this into clear cut openings and on 35 minutes Ross Stearn’s wayward pass allowed Gargan the chance to shoot across Jason Mellor and make it 2-0. The second half saw City play down the considerable slope at the Hawks basic Enclosed Ground home and eight minutes after the break a 20-yard shot from Noah Keats flicked off Josh Low to reduce the deficit. The home side twice went close to restoring their two-goal advantage before City levelled in the 65th minute. Moments after Whitehawk had a strong penalty appeal turned down Sekani Simpson burst into their box where he was felled by Robinson’s lunging challenge and this time the referee did point to the spot. Chris Allen blasted the penalty into the roof of the net for his second successful spot-kick in as many games. Both sides went in search of a winning goal after this, Mellor producing a stunning save from El-Ahb’s point blank header, before City fashioned several excellent positions only for the final pass or cross to go astray. In the end a draw was probably a fair result as City now turn their attention back to the FA Cup and Salisbury City’s visit to Mayday Trust Park next weekend.
Two of City’s stand out performers in their youth set-up have signed Conference South forms. Striker Nathan Legge and attacking midfielder Elliott Gibbons will now be available for the 1st team squad when required. Gibbons has already enjoyed a taste of first team action, coming on as a second half substitute in the Somerset Premier Cup match at Wellington last season, and Legge showed his potential with a hat-trick for the U18 side in a recent game against Dorchester Town.
City are back in Skrill South action on Saturday when they travel to Brighton for a first ever meeting with Whitehawk FC. The contrast between the Romans league and cup form in recent weeks couldn’t be more marked – the 3rd Qualifying Round win over Bridgwater Town on Saturday saw them secure a second clean sheet of the season in the competition, a feat they have yet to achieve in a Conference South outing. And at the other end of the pitch the difference is just as evident. Chris Allen’s brace and David Pratt’s strike made it five FA Cup goals in two rounds compared with the blanks they have drawn in their last three league games. Therefore, Lee Howells will be hoping his team can finally transfer their cup form to the league and return from Sussex with a much needed victory.
Having formed in 1945 as Whitehawk & Manor Farm Old Boys the Hawks joined the Sussex County League where they were runners-up for three successive seasons between 1954 and 1957. In 1960 they dropped the second part of their name and two years later lifted the league title for a first time. They were also crowned champions in 1963-64, 1983-84 and 2009-10. The last of these, after five top three finishes in the previous eight seasons, saw them secure promotion to Ryman League Division 1 South. They narrowly missed out on back to back promotions, losing on penalties to Leatherhead in the play-off semi-final a year later after finishing in 3rd place, but in 2011-12 they lifted the title and a place in the Ryman League Premier Division. And this meteoric rise continued last season as the Hawks won the league, eight points ahead of nearest challengers Lowestoft Town. Against this background of on-the-field success the club did suffer two off-the-pitch setbacks. They had hoped to move into Brighton & Hove Albion’s former home the Withdean Stadium for the 2012-13 campaign, whilst their intriguingly named Enclosed Ground was redeveloped, but this switch was blocked by the Ryman League. Then during the summer they announced plans to change their name to Brighton City but this switch has put been on hold for at least a season.
Hawks manager Darren Freeman brought in former Albion striker Jake Robinson from Northampton, Portugal under-19 forward Edinho Junior on from Blackburn Rovers, right-back Michael Boateng from Newport County and experienced defender Richard Rose from Dartford while another former Seagull, Tommy Fraser, has returned to the club following a spell in America. Life as a Conference club did not get off to the best start though, losing 3-0 at home to Maidenhead United on the opening day of the season then 4-0 at Bromley three days later. They responded superbly to the defeats with a 6-2 win at troubled Dorchester Town but then failed to build on this with defeats against Dover Athletic and Sutton United. However, a four match unbeaten run followed, with wins over Basingstoke Town and Chelmsford City plus draws at home to Havant & Waterlooville and Weston Super Mare, which suggests they are beginning to find their feet at the higher level. They did suffer a disappointing first hurdle FA Cup exit against Sutton United and their unbeaten league run was ended by Farnborough two weeks ago. So, as the season enters it second quarter Whitehawk lie in 15th place with eleven points, three places and two points above City.
With a four week gap between home games City supporters have a chance to reacquaint themselves with Mayday Trust Park ahead of the big 4th Qualifying Round tie against Salisbury City a week on Saturday, when the development squad take on a Bristol City side on Tuesday 22 October. The game kicks off at 7pm and admission is free.
The clash with Salisbury has been confirmed for Saturday 26 October (ko 3pm) following discussions between the two clubs. In the event of a replay this will take place at the Whites’ Raymond McEnhill Stadium on Tuesday 29 October (ko 7.45pm). Admission prices have also been agreed: Mayday Trust Park – Adults £12 Senior Citizens £8 Students £5 U16s £1 (Seating £1 extra). Raymond McEnhill Stadium – Adults £14 Senior Citizens £12 Students £10 U16s £5 U6s Free (Seating £2 extra).
City have arranged their Somerset Premier Cup 2nd Round tie against Larkhall Athletic at Mayday Trust Park for Monday 4 November (ko 7.45pm). And the Skrill South meeting at Boreham Wood will now take place on Monday 18 November (ko 7.45pm).
City’s FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round match scheduled for Saturday 16 November may be moved to the Friday evening depending on the opposition. The draw will take place on Monday 4 November and the date will be confirmed as soon as possible after this date.
And finally … Ross Stearn, Jason Mellor and Dan Ball all played for an FA XI side in the match against the Devon FA last night. Ball played the full 90 minutes with Stearn and Mellor featuring for the first half, helping their side to a 5-0 win and, more importantly, coming through the game unscathed.
Jason Mellor, Dan Ball and Ross Stearn have been selected for the FA Representative squad to face a Devon FA Senior side on Wednesday 16 October (ko 7.45pm). They will join a number of Weston Super Mare and FA Cup opponents Salisbury City players in the side selected by Seagulls manager Craig Laird. The game is being held at the Devon FA headquarters at Coach Road in Newton Abbot and is part of the celebrations of the Associations’ 125 years birthday.
The draw for the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup – broadcast live on Talksport – has given City a home tie with Skrill Premier side Salisbury City. The Whites currently sit in 4th place in that division having won promotion from the Conference South via the play-offs last season. The match will take place at Mayday Trust Park on Saturday 26 October (ko 3pm), meaning City’s league game at Boreham Wood scheduled for that day will now be played at a later date.
Chris Allen scored two and set up one as City comfortably avoided a FA Cup upset with a 3-0 win at previously unbeaten Bridgwater Town this afternoon. It took just nine minutes for City to strike as Allen’s cross was headed home by top scorer David Pratt and this set the tone for the reminder of the half. They dealt solidly with the home side’s long ball game and looked threatening whenever they ventured into the Robins half. The second goal duly arrived just before the half hour mark when Adam Connolly was clipped in box by Griffiths and Allen stroked home the resulting penalty. And two minutes later a great run by Pratt saw him pull the ball back to Allen to fire past Wright and effectively secure City’s 4th Qualifying Round place. Inbetween Allen’s goals Bridgwater thought they had won a penalty when Miller went down in City’s area only for the referee to book him for diving. The Robins frustrations increasingly began to show after this with a number of late challenges and disputing decisions but after they interval they enjoyed their best spell of the game. Having come from 3-0 down in the previous round before drawing 4-4 with Bristol Manor Farm, a early goal for Bridgwater could have turned the course of the game and Bushin should have done just that on 49 minutes only to lift the ball high over the bar from just four yards out. Jason Mellor also made his first save of note on 67 minutes but from then on it was City who looked more likely to add to the scoring, Ross Stearn twice testing Wright, as they saw the game out to bank the £7500 prize money and ensure their presence in Monday’s draw.
Legendary City goalscorer Paul Randall returned to Twerton Park this evening to meet supporters and sign copies of his autobiography, Punky: The Paul Randall Story. Around 50 fans joined the ex-Bristol Rovers and Stoke City striker, who scored 112 goals in 212 games for City, in the TR Hayes Lounge, along with a number of his former teammates, including Graham Day, Peter Aitkin, Dave Payne and John Freegard.
City will once again look to the FA Cup to give their faltering start to the 2013-14 season a boost on Saturday when they head down the M5 to face Southern League Division 1 South & West side Bridgwater Town in a 3rd Qualifying Round tie. The 2-0 win over Gosport Borough in the previous round is City’s only win in their last six games and three successive league defeats without scoring a goal has seen the Romans slip down to 18th place in the Skrill South table. However, with £7500 prize money and a place in the final qualifying round on offer, City will be determined to put these struggles to one side and give their faithful supporters something to cheer.
Although the Robins ply their trade two divisions below City they will provide a stern test for Lee Howell’s men having yet to taste defeat this season. After returning to the Southern League in 2007 the club enjoyed steady progress culminating in the play-offs in 2009-10. They lost in the final to Cirencester Town by four goals to three after extra-time then suffered a further blow in the summer when manager Craig Laird left to join Weston Super Mare, taking many of his successful squad with him to the Seagulls. The next two seasons saw the club battling to avoid the drop back to the Western League, finishing 18th and 15th, before a promising start to the 2012-13 campaign under manager Kevin Milsom looked to have turned their fortunes around. However, their hopes were undermined by having a remarkable 32 games postponed over the course of the season for a variety of reasons, which left them with 14 games to play during the final month. Despite this they finished the season in 19th place and also reached the final of the Somerset Premier Cup, losing to Paulton Rovers.
Shortly after this defeat Milsom was sacked and replaced by Richard Fey, who played one game for City in August 2006 as cover for regular keeper Paul Evans. Fey was soon strengthening his squad with the signing of former Dawlish Town, Tiverton Town and Paulton Rovers striker Joe Bushin, fellow forward Dean Griffiths from Chippenham Town, highly-rated goalkeeper Sam Alexander from Toolstation League side Bitton, two midfielders, Aaron Wilson and Kristian Miller, and ex-Yate Town front-man Mitchell Page. And his new look squad got the 2013-14 season off to a great start, winning their opening three games. Although a draw against Wimbourne Town ended this 100% record they currently sit in fourth place in the Southern League Division 1 South & West table with six wins and two draws from their opening eight games.
The Robins reached this stage of the FA Cup thanks to wins over Taunton Town (after a replay), Merthyr Tydfil and Bristol Manor Farm. The latter victory was after an astonishing match that saw the Somerset side battle back from 3-0 down at half-time to lead 4-3 late in the game only for a penalty to take the game to a replay at Fairfax Park. There was no such drama in the second game as goals from Griffiths and Middleton earned them a 2-1 win and a meeting with City. They have also enjoyed success in the FA Trophy thanks to another entertaining game, overcoming Chalfont St Peter 5-3 on penalties after the sides shared six goals during normal and extra-time.
Complete record against Bridgwater Town
Although the majority of the 22 games between the clubs have been in the Somerset Premier/Professional Cup they have met on three previous occasions in the FA Cup. The first two of these saw the then Western League amateurs shock Southern League City, winning 2-1 in a 1956-57 2nd Qualifying Round tie then 2-0 five years later, on their way to a 2nd Round meeting with Crystal Palace. History was not on City’s side then, when they were once again drawn to face each other in 3rd Qualifying Round at Twerton Park in October 1978. Reigning Southern League champions City had already beaten Glastonbury, Weston Super Mare and Salisbury City to reach that stage but a week before the tie Hillingdon Borough had become the first side to beat them at home since March 1977. However, there no repeat of the previous cup shocks as a Jimmy Jenkins hat-trick plus braces from Peter Higgins and Andy Provan fired City to a 7-1 win.
City suffered a third successive Skrill South defeat this afternoon, going down by a single goal to Chelmsford City at Melbourne Park. The game’s pivotal moments came in the closing five minutes of the first half as the hosts struck what turned out to be the winning goal and City had defender Aaron Brown sent off. After a largely uneventful opening 39 minutes Edmans held off Mark Preece to stab the ball under Jason Mellor. It got even worse for City when two minutes later Aaron Brown tangled with Davis and became the first City player to see red since January 2012 when Gethin Jones and Sean Canham were both dismissed against Alfreton Town. Although City battled hard to overcome their man disadvantage it was the Clarets who understandably looked the more likely to add to the scoring after the break as they struck the frame of the goal on no less than five occasions. They were almost made to pay for this failure to kill the game off when David Pratt forced an excellent save from former City keeper Pentney a couple of minutes from time but in the end the encounter was decided in that short first half spell.
City will meet Larkhall Athletic for the first ever time in a competitive match after the fellow Bath-based side were paired together in the Somerset Premier Cup 2nd Round draw. The Larks, who reached this stage thanks to a 1-0 win over Ashton & Backwell last night whilst City enjoyed a 1st Round bye, are currently lying second in the Western League Premier Division having won seven and drawn one of their opening eight league games. The tie will take place the week commencing 4 November, with the date to be confirmed.
City and Bridgwater Town have confirmed the admission prices for their FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round tie on Saturday 12 October (ko 3pm) – Adults £8, Concession £6 and Under-16s £1.
City will look to build on their morale-boosting FA Cup victory over Gosport Borough when they travel to face Chelmsford City on Saturday. The win, which secured a 3rd Qualifying Round trip to Southern League Division 1 side Bridgwater Town, relieved the pressure felt in some quarters around Mayday Trust Park. However, an improvement in their league form, which saw the Romans pick up just two points from a possible twelve during September, is urgently needed and 1st Team Coach Lee Howells will hope this change begins in Essex this weekend.
Melbourne Park has certainly been a happy hunting ground for City in recent years, with three successive wins, and they face a Clarets side who have suffered a difficult start to the 2013-14 season. Remarkably the club has reached the Conference South play-offs in four of the last five seasons but then failed to progress beyond the semi-final stage on each occasion. This disappointment finally led to the departure of Glenn Pennyfather in May 2013. The former Southend United player had been continually involved with the club during the spell, initially as assistant to Jeff King then in sole charge from 2009 onwards. The club opted for a big name replacement when they appointed Dean Holdsworth a couple of weeks later.
The widely travelled former striker – who enjoyed his greatest playing success with Brentford, Wimbledon and Bolton Wanderers during the 1990s – began his managerial career with Redbridge before taking over at Newport County in May 2008. After a poor first half to the 2008-09 season the Exiles improved considerably, finishing in 10th place, and this form continued the following campaign with the Welsh side topping the table from October onwards, securing the title with seven games remaining and finishing with a record total of 103 points. With the club firmly amongst the play-off challengers the next season a double promotion looked possible but Holdsworth switched to League 2 Aldershot Town in January 2011. Having led the Shots to mid-table safety that season he enjoyed another solid campaign in 2011-12, finishing just outside the play-offs, but the next year the club struggled near the foot of the table and he was sacked in February 2013.
Understandably there were a series of comings and goings at Melbourne Park during the summer as Holdsworth looked to build a squad capable of taking that final vital step and securing promotion to the Conference Premier. After an aborted start to the season, when they were the first victims of Farnborough’s troubles, a four-point haul from home games against Concord Rangers and Staines Town was a positive start to Holdsworth’s tenure. However, defeat against Tonbridge Angels began a run of four successive losses. This run was halted with a 2-0 win over Ebbsfleet United but the Clarets followed this with a defeat against previously winless Dorchester Town. If this was a disappointing result it got even worse a week later when they crashed out of the FA Cup to Southern League Biggleswade Town. This defeat has had implications both on and off the field as the Clarets first announced that a number of (unnamed) players were being made available for transfer and/or loan moves, then followed this by confirming that the playing budget would be cut along with other costs within the club.
Complete record against Chelmsford City
Since the extraordinary 4-3 defeat on the opening day of the 2009-10 season, City won five of the next six encounters, with three of the victories coming on Essex soil. The first of these came at the end of that same campaign, in the play-offs, with City completing a 3-0 aggregate win thanks to a single goal victory, then in December 2012 goals from Marc Canham, Scott Murray and Jamie Cook earned FA Trophy progress. The most recent meeting came during the closing weeks of last season, with Chelmsford chasing a play-off place and City set for a mid-table finish. Despite this a Charlie Griffin header early in the second half was enough to see the points head back to the West Country.