The draw for the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup has handed City a trip to Zamaretto Division 1 South & West side Bishop’s Cleeve, where they will face ex-Roman Steve Jones who joined the Villages during the summer after playing nearly 250 games for the club. The Gloucestershire side provided one of the shocks of the previous round when they dumped City’s Blue Square South rivals Weymouth out of the competition by three goals to nil. The tie will take place on Saturday 10 October (ko 3pm).
City thumped Western League Willand Rovers 5-0 this afternoon to progress to the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, with all the goals coming in a one-sided first half. The home side did enjoy a promising opening five minutes – former City defender Stocco heading over and a strong penalty appeal waved away by the referee – but from then on it was all City. Florin Pelecaci was at the heart of everything good about City’s play and it was his ball forward that saw Darren Edwards out jump veteran keeper Cann to head them ahead on 14 minutes. Just past the half-hour mark the Romanian made it 2-0 with a stunning 25-yard volley which flew into the roof of the net. Three minutes later he sent Kaid Mohamed racing clear to net the third from a narrow angle and within another three minutes Edwards tapped in from close range after Cann had blocked his first effort. The rout was completed on the stroke of half-time when Mohamed was brought down as he bore down on goal – the referee pointing to the spot, although the offence appeared to be just outside the box, and sending off the guilty defender Mammola. Edwards confidently completed his hat-trick, sending Cann the wrong way from 12 yards. To their credit the Devon side did not give up and prevented City adding to their tally after the break, although this was largely achieved by catching City offside time and again with their trimmed down back three. They also reduced Pelecaci’s influence on the game with several ‘robust’ challenges leaving City content to see out the game knowing all the hard work had been done in the opening 45 minutes.
City’s FA Cup trip to face Willand Rovers on Saturday should see Matt Coupe become the 19th player to reach the 300 game milestone with the club. The 30-year old defender initially joined the club in June 2001 but almost immediately left again to join Aberyswyth Town in his native Wales. 18 months later though he was back at Twerton Park after being released by Forest Green Rovers and he made his debut as an 80th minute substitution in the 1-1 at Hastings United in February 2003. He soon secured a starting XI place and netted his first goal for the club against Weymouth on Easter Monday. The 2003-04 season saw him almost ever-present and he was named player of the year that campaign, a honour he repeated in 2007-08. The match in Devon could also see him move nearer to one further milestone as he is now just two bookings away from reaching his half century with the club.
City begin their 2009-10 FA Cup campaign on Saturday with a trip to Devon to face Western League Premier Division side Willand Rovers. The tie has already been labelled ‘massively important’ by manager Adie Britton as City look to embark on a run which will ease the financial problems that constantly lurk in the background of every move the club makes. At this 2nd Qualifying Round stage the prize money for the winners is £4500 and a run to the 1st Round proper would be worth £24,500 to the club. The cost of an early exit in the competition is still fresh in the City minds after last season’s shock Twerton Park defeat to Aylesbury United which led to budget cuts and saw them forced to release striker Danny Carey-Bertram, who went on to net 21 times for the Bucks and help them to the Blue Square North play-off final and win the Setanta Shield.
Rovers have already pocketed £5250 in prize money having begun in the Extra-preliminary Round of the Cup. A single goal was enough to beat fellow Western League side Street following a 2-2 draw at the Stan Robinson Stadium and earn a Preliminary Round meeting with Falmouth Town. After a 1-1 draw in Cornwall they beat the Carlsberg South West Peninsula League side 2-1 thanks to goals from Hawes and Steele. They were next paired with Wessex Premier League leaders Poole Town, who boasted a 100% record coming into the game. However, in one of the shocks of the round a 65th minute penalty by Jee was enough to separate the sides and earn Willand their first ever meeting with City. This run equals their best ever in the competition having reached this stage once before during the 2006-07 season before losing 3-1 to Clevedon Town.
In the league Willand have enjoyed steady progress since joining the Western League in 2001 following to Devon League titles during the previous three years. After a 15th place finish in their first season at this level they secured two top ten spots (7th and 6th) and then in 2004-05 won the 1st Division title to earn promotion to the Premier Division. They finished 6th twice before coming 3rd in the last two seasons. This campaign they currently lie in 7th place having won three and lost two of their opening seven games. Whilst City were suffering their injury-time heartbreak in Kent last Saturday, Willand were running out easy 4-0 winners just outside Bath at Radstock Town.
Although City will go into the game as firm favourites against one of the lowest ranked teams still in the competition they have far from an unblemished record against Western League opposition. Their last three clashes with teams from this league have all ended in victory, Truro City in 2007 (1-0), Bridport in 2004 (4-1) and Brislington in 2003 (2-0). However, two seasons prior to this last win at the same 2nd Qualifying Round stage of the FA Cup they met Bideford at Twerton Park. At the time the Devon side were beginning a domination of the Western League that would net them four titles in five seasons and City got the game started in the worst possible way when Mark Hervin conceded a 10th minute penalty and was sent off by 18-year old rookie referee Simon Knapp. With no substitute keeper, striker Adrian Foster donned the gloves but could not stop the penalty giving the visitors the lead. To their credit City came back strongly and dominated the rest of the half, drawing level two minutes before the break from Gary Powell’s 20-yard free-kick. The second half continued in the same manner but the game took another turn on 73 minutes when Mike Wyatt received a second caution to reduce City to nine men. Even after this Sam Allison managed to miss a great chance when he took too long to line up a shot into the unguarded net after rounding the keeper and the Robins finally took advantage of their numerical superiority with two goals in the closing ten minutes from Southgate and Harvey. This was City’s first defeat against a Western League side since they’d lost by the same scoreline to Frome Town during the 1984-85 season and for many reasons they will be desperate to avoid such a fate again.
City lost 2-1 to Dover Athletic this afternoon in the cruellest of fashion, conceding a goal in the final minute of stoppage time just sixty seconds after they appeared to have grabbed a point thanks to a great Darren Edwards strike. City went into the game missing 8 first team players, forcing them to play midfielders Lewis Hogg and Marcus Browning in defence and Edwards, as the only fit striker, up front on his own. They also gave a debut to Romanian newcomer Florin Pelecaci and rushed Mark Badman back into the starting XI after his hamstring injury. Understandably City were content to sit back and try to catch Dover on the break and the league leaders rarely had the invention to find a way through the well organised ranks of red shirts. In fact, it was City who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half when Edwards’ neat finish was ruled out by a linesman’s flag. While the home side were also missing several players through injury the difference in the benches was clear – while City could only name two teenagers, a 40-year old and a player they signed last night, Dover could boast vastly experienced Birchall amongst it’s full contingent and it was his introduction at the interval that proved telling. On 65 minutes he received a pass from another repacement Hughes to fire past Perrin from the edge of the box. With City visibly tiring on a warm and muggy afternoon it looked as if that would be signal for Dover to comfortably maintain their 100% home record but the visitors never gave up and when, in the first extra minute of two, Schulz misjudged a ball forward by Hogg, Edwards raced clear to lift the ball over Hook and appear to earn City a point. However, from the restart the Whites quickly got the ball forward and when it dropped on the edge of the six-yard box it was again Birchall who was in the right place to blast it home, leaving City with a 200 mile journey home to contemplate how cruel a game football can sometimes be.
City have further strengthened their squad ahead of tomorrow’s long trip to league leaders Dover Athletic with the non-contract signing of defender Callum Hart (pictured). The 23-year old began his career with Bristol City before joining AFC Bournemouth during the summer of 2005. He spent two seasons with the Cherries, making 67 appearances, and also earned a call-up to the Wales Under-21 squad in February 2006. He was released by the Dorset club in July 2007 and surfaced at Weymouth in November that year. Since then he had a short spell at Farnborough.
City have confirmed that they have received international clearance for Florin Ioan Pelecaci and he will also be in tomorrow’s squad to face the Whites.
Subject to obtaining international clearance City hope to add Romanian midfielder Florin Ioan Pelecaci to their squad for the long trip to Dover on Saturday. The 29-year old, who has played top flight football in both his home country and Hungary, is a friend of summer signing Sido Jombati and has been training with the club during the last few weeks. City could also welcome back Jombati, Mark Badman and keeper Will Puddy from injury to face the league leaders, plus Marcus Browning is available after completing his three match ban.
City’s youth team begin their 2009-10 FA Youth Cup campaign at Weston Super Mare on Monday 21 September (ko 7.45pm).
City will receive a surprise bonus of £6000 following a one-off payment of £1million to the Football Conference by the Premier League. The ‘solidarity’ payment has been made in recognition of the current difficult financial times, and in particular, following the loss of the broadcast partner, Setanta Sports. The amount will be shared between the 68 clubs, with Premier sides receiving £30,000 and North and South clubs £6000.
Saturday sees City make their first long trip to Kent to face Dover Athletic since an unforgettable 3-3 draw during the 2003-04 season. City went into the game rooted at the foot of the table, having not won an away match for exactly one year, so when they found themselves 3-0 down at the interval the only positive to take from the game was that it could have been 4-0 had the home side not missed a twice taken penalty. However, when Josh Jeffries stabbed the ball home within a minute of the restart and then Scott Partridge struck ten minutes later City were suddenly right back in the game. For all their efforts after this it appeared Dover had regained their composure and would hold out, but with just three minutes left player-manager Gary Owers let fly from 25 yards to spark delirious scenes amongst the City followers. Although the away drought had not been broken that was of little concern on the 200 mile journey back to the West Country and it began the turnaround in form (including that long-awaited away win two weeks later at Moor Green) that saw City reach the end of season play-offs for a place in the newly formed Conference South.
Although it did take City another three seasons to finally get out of the Southern League the result also seemed to send the Whites in the opposite direction as they finished that season in 19th place to miss out even on the play-offs. In truth their downward spiral had begun couple of seasons earlier when nine seasons in the Conference ended with relegation back to the Southern League. Against a background of financial problems the club had been run by its Supporters Trust since the early part of the decade and in 2002 had to enter a Company Voluntary Arrangement due to debts that were now estimated at £400,000. For the 2004-05 season they switched to the Ryman League but troubles continued both on and off the pitch as they came within a couple of months of being closed down and finished in 21st place to be relegated to the fourth tier of non-league football, the lowest at which they had ever played. However, that season also saw former director Jim Parmenter return to head up a consortium that took over the club. He had soon arranged for the club’s outstanding CVA debts to be cleared, putting it on a firm financial footing for the first time in many years. They could now begin the climb back to higher reaches of non-league football, although two play-off defeats in 2005-06 and 2006-07 meant it wasn’t until new manager Andy Hessenthaler took over in the summer of 2007 that any tangible progress was made. He led the club to two successive championships to take their place in the Blue Square South this season.
On the back of just eight defeats during the previous two campaigns Dover were immediately installed as pre-season favourites for a third successive title. After a opening day goalless draw at Maidenhead United they began to live up to this tag with wins over Bishop’s Stortford (2-0), Dorchester Town (4-1), Weston Super Mare (5-3), Eastleigh (2-1), Welling United (2-0), Thurrock (2-0) and Hampton & Richmond Borough (4-2), plus a 1-1 draw at Chelmsford City. Only the trip to Havant & Waterlooville had ended in defeat (1-2), meaning City face a side with a 100% home record and currently sitting proudly at the top of the table. Dover’s top scorer of the last two campaigns Francis Collin has made the step up to a higher level with five goals so far and he has been joined on that total by Adam Birchall who joined the club from Barnet during the summer. He was one of a number of impressive pre-season signing by Hessenthaler, including experienced Eastbourne Borough keeper Lee Hook, former White Jake Leberl from AFC Wimbledon, another ex-Womble midfielder Tom Davis and 37-year old former Gillingham player Nicky Southall. They also brought in striker Andy Pugh on loan from Gillingham last week to cover for injuries to Birchall and Shaun Welford, the 20-year old netting on his debut against Hampton.
Complete record against Dover/Dover Athletic
City have met Dover Athletic and its previous incarnation as Dover FC (who went bust in 1983) on 32 occasions and have the better of the head-to-head record with 14 wins against eight defeats. In addition to the aforementioned 3-3 clash there have been a number of memorable meetings between the sides. Two of these took place during the 1989-90 season when the two clubs, plus Dartford, where involved in a great race for the Southern League title. The first clash took placed in Kent in October with the home side boasting a 100% record – ten games played, ten games won. City’s start to the season had left them already four points adrift in second place having played two games more. And when a mistake by Dave Palmer – on his 350th appearance for the club – gifted Dixon a goal after just three minutes and Lee headed a second 21 minutes later it looked as if the Whites would maintain this perfect start. City desperately needed a goal back before the interval and Gary Smart provided it after being set up by John Freegard on 35 minutes. Incredibly just two minutes later Rob Cousins’ speculative 35-yard effort took a wicked bounce to deceive Munden in the home goal and City were level. And it was City who came closest to claiming the three points in the second half when Freegard fired a shot against the post.
By the time the sides met again at Twerton Park in December Dover had a three-point advantage at the top of the table. However, on a cold and grey Saturday afternoon a 67th minute strike from Smart gave City a 1-0 win that carried them above Dover on goal difference. Unfortunately this was City’s only win that month – they drew their other four games – even when they followed this up with fourteen successive league wins they could not shake off the Kent side. And when they dropped four points in their final six games it was enough to slip to second place. So, despite amassing 98 points they still finished four points behind the Whites. City did have the final laugh though as they were promoted to the Conference due to Dover’s Crabble Athletic Ground failing to meet the required stadium criteria.
City will begin their 2009-10 FA Cup campaign in Devon after they were paired against Willand Rovers in the 2nd Qualifying Round draw made at lunchtime today. The Western League Premier Division side produced a surprise result in the previous round, beating the previously unbeaten Wessex League side Poole Town by one goal to nil. This was their fifth match in this season’s competition, having gone to replays to overcome Street and Falmouth Town in the two preliminary rounds. They currently sit in 14th place in league, although they have played fewer games than most of their rivals, having finished an impressive third last season. The match will take place at The Stan Robinson Stadium on Saturday 16 September (ko 3pm).
City’s hopes of competing at the top end of the Blue Square South could be threatened by the poor crowds that they have attracted so far this season. Just 429 supporters turned up to yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Lewes which was the lowest Saturday League attendance since 26 less attended a game against Hednesford Town in October 2001*. This took the season average down to 502 after six home matches which represents an 18.9% drop from last season’s average of 619. The downward trend had already started as the last nine games of the 2008-09 season drew an average crowd of just 461, which included 310 against Bishop’s Stortford which was the third lowest league crowd at Twerton Park in living memory. Whilst 13 other Blue Square South clubs have also seen their crowds fall so far this season this will put further pressure on City’s playing budget already suffering from the loss of Team Bath’s rent and the Setanta sponsorship money. Tomorrow sees City enter the hat for this year’s FA Cup and, although cup prize money is never factored into the budget, and a decent run in that and the FA Trophy is increasingly needed if the club is to come close to balancing it’s accounts this season.
*This game kicked off at the same time as England played Greece in a vital World Cup qualifier, which no doubt had a considerable effect on the attendance.
City endured another afternoon to forget at Twerton Park as they conceded a late equaliser against struggling Lewes. Facing a side who had not won all season and were suffering even worse injury problems than City it was another disappointing performance that will do little to stem the falling home crowds. The first half had been a low key affair with City struggling to inject any urgency in their play and whilst the Rooks were full of running and effort they rarely tested Steve Perrin in the home goal. Foreman had the ball in the net on 42 minutes after the keeper had spilled a shot but an offisde flag had long since been raised and Kaid Mohamed flashed a snap shot inches wide on the stroke of half-time. And it was Mohamed who broke the deadlock after 53 minutes when he raced clear from Adam Connolly’s pass to round Banks and roll the ball home. However, City failed to build on this goal and the visitors almost levelled on 76 minutes, Wheeler’s shot hitting the outside of the post after a strong run. City failed to learn from this escape and five minutes later a goalmouth scrabble ended with Pople forcing the ball home. Both sides created chances to score again after this – Edwards heading City’s best chance straight at Banks – but the draw was no more than City deserved from the game.
City have missed out on signing Clayton Fortune after the defender signed a one-year deal with Weston Super Mare. They had put in seven days notice on the 26-year old but he has now committed his future to the fellow Blue Square South club. One further potential target is reported to be Frome Town’s Jamie Cheeseman. The central defender has attracted the interest of both City and Weymouth with a series of impressive performances for the Robins, where he won player of the season during their 2008-09 promotion winning campaign.
City face struggling Lewes at Twerton Park on Saturday as they look to bounce back from their disappointing midweek defeat against Eastleigh. The Rooks currently sit in 21st place having yet to record a victory this season, although given their off field problems that is the least of their worries. The club survived a latest winding-up order last week when they were given three months to pay £30,000 of an outstanding £80,000 tax bill to HM Revenue and Customs, having made a similar payment the previous week. This comes just four months after the club survived two winding-up petitions brought by Portakabin. Lewes financial woes can directly be attributed to their 2007-08 Blue Square South title success, starting a chain of events that has left the club still on the brink of oblivion.
As recently as the 2000-01 season Lewes were playing in the third tier of the Ryman League. Two successive promotions under the management of Jimmy Quinn took the club to the 1st Division and then a new boss in the shape of Steve King led them to the dizzy heights of the Conference South via a 2003-04 play-off win. Despite effectively leaping two levels the success continued as they twice finished in 4th place during their first two Conference seasons. However, their on the field progress had not been matched off the pitch as they were prevented from entering the play-offs due to the failure of their Dripping Pan home to meet the necessary ground criteria. Eventually work was carried out on the ground and after a battle with local rivals Eastbourne Borough during the 2007-08 season they lifted the Blue Square South title to win promotion to the top level of non-league football. The manner of their success was never pretty and the antics of their players frequently left a sour taste in the mouths of opposition clubs and it was clear that this approach emanated from manager King, whose touchline behaviour soon earned him the tag of one of non-league more despised characters. There would have been some wry smiles around the non-league community then as on the day Lewes were presented with the championship trophy King was sacked and eight first-team players released for the bizarre reason of being ‘too successful’. Or, as one of the club’s directors Kevin Powell put it: “At no time has Steve King been asked to get us promotion. He’s created the problem, if you like – and I don’t mean this in a negative way – because he’s been so successful.”
King’s replacement was almost immediately announced as Kevin Keehan. The former Brighton & Hove Albion commercial director had no football management experience and was faced with competing with the likes of Oxford United, Mansfield Town and Wrexham with just one contracted player and a budget that was a fraction of those enjoyed by King. An opening day draw at Kidderminster Harriers may have raised hopes that the Rooks could survive at this level but it wasn’t until the end of September they recorded their first win and they were soon rooted to the foot of the table. Four cup exits to lower league clubs – including an embarrassing FA Cup defeat at home to Eastern Counties side Leiston – further added to the Dripping Pan woes and in March, with the club on a run of 15 successive league losses (that would only end after 20 consecutive defeats) Keehan was sacked and replaced by the two under-18 coaches, Jason Hopkinson and Steve Ibbitson. Relegation back to the Blue Square South was confirmed with seven games to go and they ended the season with just six wins, 19 points behind 23rd place Weymouth. For most of the summer it was not clear whether Lewes would even start the 2009-10 season as they continued the, so far fruitless, search for new investors whilst fighting off the aforementioned winding-up orders. Eventually, with Ibbitson and Hopkinson confirmed as permanent manager and coach respectively in June they could begin planning for the new campaign – albeit still with the unpaid tax bill hanging over them. An unbeaten pre-season campaign preceded another first Saturday draw – this time against one of the sides who came down from the Blue Square Premier alongside them, Weymouth. Since then they have also drawn against two of the early season pacesetters, Newport County and Basingstoke Town, plus Thurrock but have lost against Braintree Town (0-3), Woking (0-2), Bromley (0-3) and Chelmsford City (1-2).
Complete record against Lewes
City and Lewes’ paths have only crossed during the 2007-08 season with the Sussex side taking four out of the six points. The first match took place on a wet Saturday in December where an early goal by Booth was enough to separate the sides. City also finished the game with ten men after Justyn McKay received two cautions, although the home side’s cynical approach was evident throughout the disappointing game. This was also true as the clubs met again at Twerton Park in March. City came into the game in their poorest run of form of the season and with the Rooks four points clear at the top of the table it looked like a tough afternoon for the Romans. And when Jim Rollo put through his own net on 14 minutes it appeared they would struggle again. However, just four minutes later a rare Scott Rogers goal levelled proceedings. Both sides created chances in the remainder of the half but after the interval City dominated the game. Led by King on the touchline the visiting players constantly disputed every decision and harangued the officials but unfortunately City could not provide the ideal response to this obnoxious behaviour by finding a winning goal and the game ended 1-1.
City will still be without Ryan Robinson, Mark Badman, Stuart Douglas and Marcus Browning on Saturday but hope that Chris Holland could be back following his knee problem and have Richard Evans close to starting the game following his earlier than expected return from a bruised foot as a 60th minute substitute game against Eastleigh. However, on the negative side Sekani Simpson (hamstring) and Sido Jombati (knee) both picked up injuries in that match and are doubts.
City once again failed to translate their away form to Twerton Park as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Eastleigh this evening. Against a side so well versed in the cynical side of the game the last thing City would have wanted was to gift them an early goal but a third minute slip by Gethin Jones did just that, Forbes taking full advantage of the mistake. And when Jordan headed the visitors further in front on 18 minutes it got even worse for City. However, the goalscorer should not have been on the pitch by then having smashed a forearm into Steve Perrin’s face between the two goals. He escaped punishment so it was no real surprise when Challis pushed Darren Edwards in the face five minutes before the break but only received a caution – the referee inexplicably also booking Edwards. The second half saw Eastleigh now content to timewaste at every opportunity and even though City’s attacking threat was boosted by the introduction of Richard Evans they could not find a way back into the game. Fittingly the game ended with the referee waving away penalty appeals after Edwards was tripped in the box and then the same player flashing a shot against the post. This was as close as City came all night to scoring, leaving Eastleigh no doubt heading back to Hampshire thinking the result fully justified the way they went about obtaining it.
City will look to bring their travelling goalscoring form to Twerton Park tomorrow night as Eastleigh make the trip up from Hampshire. Saturday’s 5-1 win at Bishop’s Stortford – their biggest away league victory since they matched that scoreline at Aylesbury United in April 2006 – took their tally to 12 goals on the road this season, two more than the next highest scorers Bromley. City are also joint top Blue Square South scorers overall with the Kent club and Dover Athletic, but only five of these goals have been witnessed by the Twerton faithful. They will face a tough task to improve this record though as the Spitfires have kept clean sheets in their last two outings.
Despite this Eastleigh’s season has got off to a mixed start as they look to build on last year’s 3rd place finish. This earned them a play-off spot and after 50 minutes of the semi-final first leg it looked as if they were set for a final place as they led Hayes & Yeading United by four goals to nil. Even after two late goals for the home side they were still in a commanding position but it all went wrong in the second leg at the Silverlake Stadium as the visitors made it 4-4 by the end of normal time, then completed a remarkable turnaround by scoring twice more in extra-time to finish 6-4 winners. Manager Ian Baird was one of the quieter Blue Square South movers during the summer, releasing just three players Harris, Groves and Heeroo and bringing in the same number. Midfielder Danny Smith rejoined the club from Bognor Regis Town, Bashley striker Richard Gillespie, who had netted 173 goals in 308 appearances for the Southern League club, and winger Shaun McAuley arrived from Blue Square South rivals Hampton & Richmond Borough. More recently the club has been involved in two deals with former FA Vase finalists AFC Totton. They brought in striker James Taylor on loan to cover for injured Jamie Brown. Another loan deal saw Eastleigh’s Michael Green swap places with Totton’s Mike Gosney but this move ended in farce when the latter failed to show up for training after making his debut as a substitute against Thurrock. Understandably Baird immediately cut ties with the player but cannot recall Green until the month deal is up.
Eastleigh’s opening eight games of the 2009-10 season have yielded just two victories, although remarkably they have both been by five goal margins. Their campaign opened with a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Braintree Town but they followed this up with a 5-0 mauling of the Terras (although subsequent 6-2 and another 5-0 home reversals have shown that big defeats at the Wessex Stadium are becoming the norm for the troubled Dorset club). They then managed to repeat this inconsistency – losing 2-1 to St Albans before putting six goals past Bromley. Since then they have gone four games without a win, losing against Thurrock and Dover Athletic then battling out goalless draws with Woking and Staines Town – although the latter game was a one-sided encounter that the Spitfires dominated. These results have left them in 14th place, five places and four points behind City.
Complete record against Eastleigh/Swaythling
Last season City could only manage to claim a single point in their two meetings with Eastleigh. And it took an injury time equaliser from Danny Carey-Bertram to earn that in the Twerton Park clash. The return game in Hampshire saw the hosts run out comfortable winners thanks to two second half goals, which was the Spitfires first win over City at the sixth time of asking.
Despite having just eleven fit senior players plus two teenagers and an unfit Richard Evans on the bench, City produced a stunning performance to thrash Bishop’s Stortford by five goals to one at Woodside Park this afternoon. It took them just nine minutes to unlock the home side as Adam Connolly fired home after Mike Perrott’s initial effort was blocked. And on 24 minutes Darren Edwards was set up by Sido Jombati to make it 2-0 from close range. The Blues got back into the game through Sheringham seven minutes before the interval but any fears that the would repeat the comeback from two goals down they achieved the last time the sides met back in April were dispelled just before the hour mark when Edwards netted his second from a Gethin Jones knock-down. And six minutes later Lewis Hogg curled in a 20-yard free kick to all but put the game beyond the home side. Sheringham wasted the chance to give them a slender hope from the penalty spot on 75 minutes after Matt Coupe tripped Brayley and Kaid Mohamed completed the rout eight minutes from time racing clear before slotting the ball home.
City have put in seven days’ notice of approach for Weston Super Mare defender Clayton Fortune as the Twerton Park injury crisis deepens. The 26-year old joined the Seagulls during the summer on non-contract terms having previously played for Bristol City, Port Vale, Leyton Orient and Darlington. Manager Adie Britton is also trying to bring in loan replacements as he faces the trip to Bishop’s Stortford with just eleven available senior players. Chris Holland (knee), Mark Badman (hamstring), Stuart Douglas (neck), Ryan Robinson (back), Richard Evans (foot), Aaron Cornwall (groin) and Marcus Browning (suspended) are all definitely out of that game plus Tuesday’s home match against Eastleigh.
City Youth’s opening league match of the season against Broadway Academy due to be played at Twerton Park on Saturday has been postponed. Owing to changes in League rules which the FA insist the Clubs have to receive the South West Counties League cannot start this weekend as planned.
City make the trip to Hertfordshire on Saturday to face Bishop’s Stortford with both sides looking to improve on an indifferent start to the 2009-10 season. With identical records of two wins, three draws and two defeats from their opening seven games they are both firmly in mid-table with 1/6th of the season gone. The Blues came into the campaign with high hopes of repeating their 2006-07 play-off placing, following mid-table finishes in the past two years, after a summer spent quietly strengthening their squad. Their marquee signing was Welling United striker Charlie Sheringham – son of former England international Teddy Sheringham – after he netted 19 league goals for the Wings last year. They also brought in Braintree Town midfielder Louis Riddle, Ashley Nicholls from Maidenhead United, Thurrock striker Leon McKenzie and Cambridge City’s Ben Bowditch. More recently they captured well-travelled Bertie Brayley from Chelmsford City. Also returning to the club in the last week was Lewis Smith. The 19-year old was the club’s top scorer last season, with 12 goals in just 19 games, after joining them following his release by Fulham. He looked set to join League 2 AFC Bournemouth but a transfer embargo on the Cherries has seen him return to Woodside Park on a match to match basis.
The Blue got their season off to a reasonable start with a goalless draw at home to another well-fancied club Newport County. However, when they followed this up with a 2-0 defeat at Dover Athletic it meant they had just one point and no goals from their opening two fixtures. This all changed when they travelled down to Dorset to face Weymouth – hammering the Terra’s by six goals to two, with Sheringham netting five goals. This failed to kick-start their season though, with a 2-2 draw at home to Blue Square South newcomers Staines Town followed by a single goal defeat to Woking. Smith’s return inspired Stortford to a 2-0 win over St Albans’s last Saturday and on Bank Holiday Monday they had to settle for a point in a 2-2 draw with Thurrock despite leading at the interval.
The summer also saw the conclusion of a long running legal case over an illegal park and ride scheme operated from the club’s car park for nearby Stansted Airport that had threatened its future. Run by Chairman Luigi Delbasso and Bradley Goodwin the Crown Court found them liable for £1.8 million which they obtained from the four-year operation. However, once the prosecution had withdrawn confiscation proceedings against the football club, the Judge said there was ‘little point’ in punishing it and imposed a nominal fine of £5.
Complete record against Bishop’s Stortford
Last season saw the Blues record their first ever victory over City at the seventh attempt at Twerton Park in April. This had not looked likely at half-time as goals from Lewis Hogg and Gethin Jones had given City a 2-0 advantage. However, City’s smallest league crowd for over 13 years witnessed a remarkable second half comeback from the visitors, with Lindie netting twice to level the scoreline before a stunning individual goal from Green completing the turnaround with 15 minutes remaining. The meeting at Woodside Park back in August had had no such drama as City comfortably recorded their first victory of the season thanks to a Hogg free-kick and a close range finish from Darren Edwards.
Prior to the Bank Holiday clash with Worcester City yesterday City manager Adie Britton was presented with a cheque for £3600 raised by the recent sponsored walk. Organisers Keith Leakey and Darren Haines handed over the money which will go straight into the playing budget. Around 60 City supporters took part in the 10 mile walk that started and finished at Twerton Park back at the end of July.