City’s youth side carried their league form into the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Youth Cup to overcome local rivals Chippenham Town 4-1 last night at Hardenhuish Park. The side managed by Ali Belcher and Nigel Ashworth are currently top of the South West Counties Youth League after winning three and drawing one of their opening four matches. Last night they produced a somewhat below par performance but still comfortably disposed of the Bluebirds. Leigh Burke headed City into the lead on 29 minutes before slack marking allowed Chippenham to draw level. Despite playing up the slope Adam Shackle restored their advantage a minute before the break. They had a close escape early in the second period when a mistake by Josh Brigham allowed a Chippenham forward to race clear on goal but keeper Jim Hitchman saved with his legs. The tie was finally settled with 13 minutes left when substitute Alex Ingram fired home his fifth goal of the season and then five minutes before time Theo Sellasie grabbed the fourth. City will face either Yate Town or Newport County in the next round in the week commencing 11 October and are next in action against Newport at Twerton Park on Saturday (ko 11am) in a League Cup match.
City’s talented teenage centre-back Sam Bailey has been fined two weeks wages after missing the team coach to Saturday’s match at Aylesbury United. The 19-year old only returned to Twerton Park two weeks ago after moving to the USA for a football scholarship in the summer but his failure to make the 1-0 win in Buckinghamshire has left manager Gary Owers furious. He said, “Sam has told me why he missed the bus and I don’t want to go into that, but what I will say is that it is not a satisfactory excuse. I’ve left Sam in absolutely no doubt about how I feel about what he has done. I’ve fined him and then we will discuss the matter further. He has let the players down, he has let me down and he has let the supporters down. I’ve never known anything like this and Sam needs to take responsibility for his actions. I’ve been trying to help him get his career back on track and I’m not happy with what has happened.”
A John Williams goal six minutes from time gave City a hard fought 1-0 victory over Aylesbury United at Buckingham Road this afternoon. After having had the better of the first half – Bobby Ford went closest with a shot that rattled the crossbar – the second 45 minutes was a more even affair before Williams ran onto Ford’s pass to fire home his 7th goal of the season. The game saw new signing Alex Sykes make his debut as a second half substitute but teenage defender Sam Bailey was absent having reportedly missed the team bus.
City have signed midfielder Alex Sykes on a month to month contract following his release from Conference basement side Forest Green Rovers. The 30-year old, who spent a month on loan with City during the early stages of last season, was one of Rovers’ longest serving players but following their dreadful start to the season was shown the door by new manager Alan Lewer. During three spells at The Lawn Alex made over 250 appearances, scoring 50 plus goals, and he also had spells with Mansfield Town and Nuneaton Borough.
City will look to repeat one of their best performances of last season after they were paired with Conference South side Havant & Waterlooville in the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. Their last visit to Westleigh Park in April saw a Scott Partridge hat-trick fire them to a stunning 4-1 victory. The Hawks have had a mixed start to their season, winning five and losing five of their opening eleven games, and currently lie ninth in the table. The match will take place on Saturday 2 October (ko 3pm).
City comfortably progressed to the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on an afternoon that also saw the return of Scott Partridge and Paul Evans after their injury problems. Two goals from Darren Hawkins plus a penalty rebound from John Williams and a stunning 50-yard shot from Jimmy Benefield saw Bridport beaten by four goals to one. The Dorset’s side goal came from a deflected free-kick but with two disallowed goals plus a shot against the bar and a couple of other great chances City were good value for their win. However, it was the return of last season’s top scorer Partridge after his knee surgery that will lift the City fans. He came on with ten minutes remaining and showed no ill effects from the injury, providing the cross for Hawkins’ second goal in stoppage time.
City’s first summer signing Dean Stevens has left the club to join Southern League Western Division front runners Taunton Town. The former Torquay United player found his first team opportunities limited, making just one appearance at Grantham. Keeper Chris Giannangelo has also departed from Twerton Park after a single outing ahead of a return to his native Australia.
City somehow contrived to throw a 2-0 and 3-2 lead away this afternoon to finish on the end of a 4-3 defeat against a Hednesford Town side reduced to ten men during the first half. Steve Tweddle’s header after 26 minutes had given City the lead before Turner received a straight red card for foul and abusive language directed at a linesman. Early in the second half Darren Hawkins was tripped in the box and although keeper Young saved his spot kick he buried the rebound. Hednesford grabbed a lifeline within ten minutes when Teesdale headed home and moments later they were level as a deflected free-kick beat Chris Giannangelo. City regrouped and with twelve minutes remaining Tweddle’s stunning 25 yard lob restored the lead. However, when Giannangelo could only parry a McSweeney shot that just crossed the line ahead of Graeme Power’s clearance the scores were level again. And the Pitmen won the game with six minutes remaining as substitute Charie was allowed an unmarked far post header.
In amongst all the injury bad news City have received a huge boost with the return of defender Sam Bailey (pictured). The 18-year old, who produced a series of impressive performances during the final three months of last season, left City just before the start of this season for a scholarship in America. However, this move has not worked out and, with City having retained his contract, he has rejoined the club and is in line to play against Hednesford Town this afternoon.
City’s goalkeeping crisis with see them field fourth choice stopper Chris Giannangelo in this afternoon’s Southern League clash with the Pitmen. With Justin Shuttlewood and Stuart Fraser both set for over a month on the sidelines with rib and knee injuries repectively City may be forced into bringing back no.1 keeper Paul Evans back into action earlier than expected. The South African, who has yet to play this season after hurting his knee in pre-season, may be on the bench today and return to action in next Saturday’s FA Cup game as Giannangelo is due to return to his native Australia later this week.
Back on the positive side last season’s top scorer Scott Partridge is due to step up his training this week as he continues his recovery from his summer knee operation.
City’s recurring problem of turning possession into goals cost them another two points last night after they were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Gloucester City at Twerton Park. Despite dominating possession it was the Tigers who created the clearer openings only to find keeper Stuart Fraser in excellent form on his full debut. The pick of his saves both came in the opening 15 minutes after which City took control of the game. However, just before the half hour mark against the run of play Glouceter took the lead. A long ball out of defence dropped between Matt Coupe and Mike Trought and ex-City striker Jimmy Cox raced clear before tucking the ball into the corner of the net. City came back well and after John Williams and Darren Hawkins had wasted good chances they equalised from the penalty spot. It was in stoppage time when Davis stuck up an arm to block Graeme Power’s cross allowing Williams to blast the kick past Bath. A recurrance of his hamstring injury meant this was his last involvement and he was replaced by Steve Tweddle. The second half followed a similar pattern to the first – City gaining the majority of possession but failing to turn this into clear openings. By contrast, Gloucester – becoming the second team this season to wear City’s yellow third kit after being so unprofessional to fail to bring shirts that didn’t clash – forced another couple of smart stops out of Fraser with their one-dimensonal Cox-based attack. In the end a draw was probably a fair result.
City’s Southern League meeting with Hitchin Town at Twerton Park scheduled for Saturday 9 October has been brought forward 24 hours to Friday 8 (ko 7.45pm) to avoid clashing with the England versus Wales match.
City returned to winning ways this afternoon after their double Bank Holiday setback by beating Dunstable Town 3-1 at a hot and sunny Creasy Park. The opening goal came right on the stroke of half time when Spring headed a Darren Hawkins corner into his own net. Six minutes into the second half John Williams took advantage of hesitation in the Dunstable defence to fire home the second goal. Despite adding Bobby Ford and Russell Milton to their injury list City secured the victory with 21 minutes left when Reinier Moor was tripped by Williams, who received a red card, and Hawkins converted the penalty. Ten minutes from time Dunstable pulled a goal back from a penalty of their own but this was little more than consolation for the home side. City did suffer further injury blows as Gary Owers, Williams and Justin Shuttlewood all limped off during the second half which could leave them struggling to make Tuesday’s match at home to Gloucester City.
City will have to wait a few more days before they know their opposition in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup after Chard and Bridport drew 1-1 this afternoon.