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23rd October 2004
League Premier Division
(3), Mustoe (60, pen)
L.Smith, Knight (M.Thompson 54), Griffiths, Tomkins, C.Thompson,
Mustoe, Webb, Addis (Reid 86), Davis (Cox 81), Wilkinson.
Subs not used: Harris,
T-Ender Man of the Match: Lee
Smith; always available as an attacking outlet and worked hard tackling
back until the final whistle.
|It would be fair to say that if you're in
low spirits arriving at a rain soaked Creasey Park isn't an obvious
place to go to be uplifted. City's fans could be forgiven for being
in low spirits after midweek results dumped us on the bottom of the
table and reeling from the shock decision of last season's top socrer
Andy Hoskins to walk out on the club in favour of Cinderford. However
there was something to pick up from Dunstable. This was a club re-started
by their fans, and despite the delapidated ground and the lack of
support through the gate they have managed a string of promotions
and play at the same level as us. Makes you think doesn't it?
Back on the pitch City's players at least didn't seem too depressed,
despite the glum surroundings and even glummer weather. Burns threw
Daryl Addis straight into the side for his debut up front, but his
partnership with Jimmy Cox will have to wait as he was limited to
the subs bench due to his bruised ribs. Instead Lee Davis got another
chance up front. The one surprise selection saw Keith Knight start
at left wing-back ahead of Marvin Thompson who was also on the bench
along with Adie Harris.
|Top: Square Dancing in the rain at Creasey
Bottom: Mustoe pulls Wilko away as he reacts to a late tackle
The match started
frantically and it was the City side setting the tempo as they tried
to exorcise recent poor form and the memory of Hoskins. Both Davis
and Addis showed some lively touches and Webb was immediately finding
some space down the left flank. Dunstable were stretched and must
have been relieved to clear their lines, but actually this just
sucked their defence too far up field and they got caught on the
break. A perfectly weighted 40 yard ball from Mustoe emerged from
the gloom and Davis nipped goalside of his marker to push the ball
into the box. The youngster was being forced to his left but as
the keeper came out Davis kept his head and squared his body to
side foot the ball neatly inside the far post. The City players
went understandably potty. It was 375 minutes (and one month!) of
frustration since City last scored, and suddenly it seemed very
For a ten minute spell it looked as if this would
lead to the opening of the floodgates, but as it turned out we coouldn't
really capitalise on our domination of the match and the only floods
were those threatened by the expanding puddles. Smith charged down
the right and having seen his cross pushed back out to him he tried
his luck with a dipping drive over the bar. City were playing some
slick football on the wet surface and the home side could not live
with us. Daryl Addis looked lively and played some neat two touch
football with Webb who almost manged to get the debutant striker
through on goal but the keeper just managed to beat him to the ball.
Davis was also causing the home defence problems and he also wriggled
clear but this time he was stretching to shoot and his effort was
However City were soon forced to defend
after a halt in play for Knight to get treatment on an injury seemed
to rob us of the momentum we'd built going forward. The match descended
into a midfield war of attrition with Mustoe and Wilkinson having
to work hard closing down space and generally getting in the way
of any Dunstable efforts to put together much in the way of passing.
This was a scrappy phase of the game but it proved pivotal as we
withstood the home team's pressure. In fact Dunstable failed to
produce any real efforts on goal, once they looked to have got clear
but Smith did well to get back and nick the ball away and the crosses
that did come in were comfortable for Bath or the defence.
City were still trying to play some good football
and were constantly looking for opportunities to either move the
ball wide or give Davis or Addis something to run on to. One of
the fears following the departure of Hoskins is that City will struggle
to adopt their way of playing, now lacking the big target man capable
of holding the ball up while support arrives. There was some evidence
of this when a few defensive clearances from our lines found themselves
immediately returned as we lacked anyone able to hold onto the ball
and help relieve the pressure, but generally our players were bright
enough to change the play. We either passed the ball short or played
the ball behind the opposition to try and utilise the pace of the
forwards. At one point Davis almost got on the end of a Matt Bath
clearance, showing you don't need a big forward to be able to use
the route one approach at times.
With the match largely being stuck in the middle third
and the surface being wet and slippy there were some moments when
the match threatened to turn ugly. Wilko was caught by a very late
tackle and reacted badly and as he tried to swing punches he was
pulled away from the incident by Mustoe who gripped him in a tight
bear hug. Perhaps our central midfielder shares more than a passing
resemblence to the third in line to the throne. As it was he escaped
with a talking to while the original challenge merited a booking.
A few minutes later Lee Smith was also ticked off after he caught
the Dunstable keeper trying to reach a loose ball, but the wet surface
was now seeing several players lose their footing. At one point
a Dunstable player entertained all by tumbling over with no-one
|Left: Thommo looks to push City forward
again at a sparsely populated Creasey Park
Middle: Webb surges past the Blues full back.
Right: Addis comes close to nicking the ball past the home
City managed to steady
the ship and by the end of the first half it was City who again
looked the more likely side to score. Addis showed what he is capable
of as he turned a defender to send in a raking shot and City enjoyed
a string of corners. A well flighted dead ball from Knight was headed
just over by Tomkins and from another corner Davis almost latched
onto a loose ball but it was scrambled clear. Despite the difficult
conditions City were playing some good stuff, particularly memorable
were a classic trick by Webb to leave his opponent trailing helplessly
behind him and a strong run by Chris Thompson as he carried the
ball out from defence, imperiously gliding past two midfield challenges
before finding Smith on the right. Dunstable have had some excellent
results recently but there midfield never got going, perhaps in
large part to the amount of effort being put in by our team. The
conditions did cause their own problems though, Bath almost caught
out by a high ball that swirled alarmingly in the win as it dropped
The second half started scrappily as the two teams
tried to assert themselves. Mustoe seemed to have risen to the occasion
and was giving a real captain's perforamance, encouraging his side
and appearing everywhere to win the ball and prompt the side forward.
Any efforts to push us back were quickly extinguished, Tomkins
was booked for an overly robust bit of defending. Dunstable had
clearly been told to tighten up at half-time and for a short while
they seemed to have succeeded, especially trying to get close to
Smith to block City's main attacking threat. The home side had more
problems to deal with though as Marvin Thompson replaced Knight
on the left and made an immediate impression, beating his marker
only to be tripped as he surged forward. That earnt a booking and
after that his opponent was reluctant to get as close, and minutes
later he was again set clear by Mustoe and he in tun put in Davis.
He held off a defender and fired his shot across the goal only to
see it fly inches the wrong side of the post.
|Mustoe puts aside
any jitters and finds the net with his spot kick
City needn't have worried too much
as attempts to close down Smith were singularly ineffective. The
markers were too tight and Smith is too quick for that, able to
knock the ball into space and beat the opposition through sheer
pace. Webb slid the ball square to Smith who surged past one defender
before cutting inside another and heading into the box. As he ran
in a desperate leg came out and tripped him. It looked a clear penalty
but for an agonsing moment the ref stood with his arms clamped behind
his back, and everyone remembered this was the ref who failed to
award us a similarly clear cut penalty when Cox was tripped at Cirencester
last year. Thankfully the ref did finally point at the spot and
the next wave of panic hit the travelling City fans as they realised
Hoskins has departed, Knight had been subbed and Cox was on the
bench. Mustoe missed a couple of poor penalties last season and
it must have taken some courage to pick up the ball to take what
could be a crucial opportunity to turn round our lacklustre season.
With fans hiding behind their hands Mustoe picked up the ball and
knocked it coolly into the corner of the net.
Dunstable looked shell shocked and again we had the
opportunity to really bury the opposition and for a while it looked
like being a matter of how many we could get. They had no answer
to Smith on the right or Marvin on the left and both Addis and Davis
continued to create good space. Addis played a clever diagonal ball
from deep to put Smith into space and he skipped past one defender
before seeing his low cross scrambled away from Davis. On a luckier
day Davis could have grabbed a hatrick, hugely unlucky not to get
another as he raced clear from an Addis pass only for keeper Paul
Taylor to get just enough on the ball to push it on to the post.
City were playing some sparkling football
but the last ten minutes saw Dunstable rally and at last they forced
Matt Bath into some meaningful action, the keeper forced to stretch
to tip over a rasping drive from just outside the penalty box. City
started to take off some tired players. Lee Davis had enjoyed his
best game in City colours but was replaced by Cox, still nursing
his rib injury. Even in the closing stages Cox had an opportunity
to stretch his legs after a Webb through ball put him in for a low
shot from 20 yards. To their great credit City were working hard
right to the final whistle and were determined to deny Dunstable
even a consolation goal. Smith made a series of timely interventions
down the right while Griff and Tomkins combined to keep out the
threat, both having to make smart defensive headers as the home
team began to find their range with crosses. Youth team product
James Reid got a chance to make his Southern League debut in place
of Daryl Addis who had acquitted himself well in his first game
for City. Reid added some extra cover in midfield but still Dunstable
came close to finding the net, Bath getting down well to a drilled
effort through a crowded goal mounth and then recovering exceptionally
to block the effort from the rebound.
When the final whistle came it was greeted with huge
relief by players and fans alike. The terrible run has come to an
end and hopefully the goals and the points will inject the self-belief
which we have lacked in recent months. A delighted Burns ran on
to the pitch punching the air in triumph, the victory is timely
for a man who has had a lot on his shoulders and after some unfair
criticism can only have seen Hoskins' departure as a further slap
in the face. On this performance that setback is not the end of
the world, this team can still deliver.
* City's long awaited victory lifted us from the
bottom of the table and up four places to 18th, out of the relgation
places on goal difference. The win ends a run of 12 games without
a win, 10 of them in the league. We can now point to a prouder record
having not conceeded a league goal for 357 minutes - a defensive
record we need to build on to continue climbing the table.
Elsewhere the SL Premier continued its slightly contrary pattern.
The wet and windy conditions may have played a part as managerless
Aylsebury nicked a surprise 1-0 win at leaders Chippenham, while
Halesowen were thumped 3-0 at Bedford who scored all their goals
in a ten minute blitz early in the second half. Histon gained ground
at the top of the table with a comprehensive 5-1 win over Bath City,
while City's next opponents Banbury continued their good home form
with a 3-1 win over King's Lynn which leaves the pre-season favourites
are now one place off the bottom. Hemel Hempstead continued to move
away from the relegation spots with an exciting 4-3 home win over
Rugby United who lost despite a first half hatrick from Robbie Beard.
In the Western Division Hosky made his debut for Cinderford in a
0-0 draw at Swindon Supermarine in front of 73 people. Repent, repent,
and save your soul.
||A Field (Chesham)
|| 18th (+4)
| by t-towel
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