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16th August '05
League Premier Division
(19), G.Thorne (41), M.Thompson og (44)
Reid (Rimmer, 78), Mansell, Griffiths, M.Thompson, C.Thompson,
Mustoe, Webb, Addis (Harris 55), Kear (Lewis 55),
Subs not used: Randall.
(off ball kick)
T-Ender Man of the Match: Daryl
Addis: On a difficult day for City's strikers he looked sharp and
lively again after a disappointing end to last season.
This was always going to be a tricky
match for City and only the most hopeful punter would have backed
us to escape with a win against one of the promotion favourites.
The bookies rarely call things wrong too often and we were at 3-1
for this, pretty generous for our level of football where none of
the odds compilers feel confident enough to really chance their
arm. Sadly, they weren't wrong either - Chippenham looked a strong
well organised side with plenty of pace and muscle. Even at full
strength we'd be lucky to turn them over and we looked a little
off the pace throughout most of the match.
As it was City were far from full strength, with the
defence especially vulnerable. With Burns suspended we could have
done without Tomkins once again reporting crocked with another groin
strain, and Marvin Thompson is showing commendable guts soldiering
on with a hamstring injury. It seems young Dan Avery is out of favour
or out of the picture for the time being so the defence involved
keeping a few fingers crossed and hoping the Thompson twins and
Griff could work miracles. They were always going to have their
work cut out against what is now one of the most formidable proven
strike forces at SLP level. A change of manager has done little
to blunt the power of Dave Gilroy and Jamie Constable, with Sam
Allison on the wing and the promise of Josh Jeffries in reserve
on the bench. It was one of those matches that you went in to hoping
for the best but not really daring to hope - but then remember that
win at Histon last season...!
At least Hardenhuish is always an interesting place
to go and watch football and gives you the sense of actually being
at a football club rather than a Sunday pitch with a fence around
it. We were also impressed by the officious announcements about
not standing in the "yellow marked areas" because of health
and safety pedantry. I'm sure our own officials would have listened
in helpless admiration at the tannoy announcements but when you
look at the ground that isn't yellow hatching in proper safety paint
- that's a child's hopscotch grid in yellow chalk. I'm sorry - piss
poor, someone call a white coated safety pedant right now I'm in
All of this was far more entertaining than watching
our brave boys keep the blue hordes at bay on the pitch. As the
sun began to redden and drop our players were also going funny shades
trying to keep up with the home side. Allison's pace was an immediate
concern and he zipped past Marvin Thompson and Richard Mansell with
concerning ease. Fortunately when he did it again a minute later
Dave Gilroy planted his header clear of the bar.
|It's a shot on goal, but it's a good bit
City were not
about to wave the white flag though and up front Davis and Addis
were both trying their best to pull the Bluebirds' defence out of
shape. Addis did well to hold up the ball and wait for help, but
when it did Webb's cross was wasteful and not good enough to beat
the familiar stocky figure of Gary Thorne marshalling the Chippenham
One foray forward does not an even match make and
while we were managing the odd attack we were clearly under the
cosh almost from the first kick. There were signs of some spirited
defending and Chris Thompson lifted the spirits with a wonderfully
timed sliding tackle to rob Dave Gilroy as he looked to shoot. That
showed we can defend, but being in the right place all the time
for a whole 90 minutes is a tricky task under this kind of pressure.
Matt Bath may be the club's top goalscorer, but his King's Lynn
opening day celebrations were spoilt by knowing he was culpable
for their equaliser. He showed no nerves here though, forced to
make a smart stop and recover quickly to gather up a close range
header after Chippenham had again got behind the City full-backs.
We had our own moments on the counter attack though, and Mustoe
was enjoying a hell of a keenly contested tussle in midfield with
Iain Harvey, a recent arrival at Hardenhuish from Tiverton. We were
doing alright in the middle of the park, but just seemed to frustratingly
lack that final punching power to get us through the defence. Addis
did well again, holding on to a Mustoe pass and feeding Mansell
as he got forward but his control let him down as he tried to bring
the ball down on his chest and the opening closed as fleetingly
as it had appeared. City were moving the ball well and Mustoe and
webb exchanged several passes with Davis involved as we kept possession
looking for an opening. This was impressive until Webb lost concentration
and gave the ball to Allison of all people. The winger looked to
be away, although Webb did well to get back and cause him enough
problems that he ran the ball out of play.
Just at the point where you began to think we could
frustrate the home team the goal came when Jamie Constable suddenly
slipped Chris Thompson to pick up on a half clearance by Reid, and
he rifled in a clinical finish from the edge of the box. That kind
of finishing is exactly what we need to find and unsurprisingly
the goal galvanised Chippenham whilst our hopes were already ebbing.
bath kept the match alive with a smart save low by his near post,
and again also did well to get to the loose ball first. City also
went further behind as Ross Adams glanced a header across the face
of the goal that fortunately managed to escape everyone.
After resisting the temptation to collapse like an
Aussie bowling attack (C'mon!) we even managed a few more efforts
of our own. Mustoe looks fitter and hungrier than at the end of
last season and he motored clear of the midfield pack with players
breaking on either side of him. This was more like it, and things
still looked good as Mustoe picked out a Mansell run inside the
right-back. He closed in on the Chippenham penalty area and produced
a low drive, but it lacked enough about it to trouble Steve Perrin
in the Chippenham goal.
City were even looking the more dangerous team for
a few minutes, and could have scored as we benefited from some dubious
officiating by getting a corner that plainly should have been a
goal kick. When you're Gloucester City it doesn't do to throw away
the few bits of fortune that come our way so we tried our best to
take advantage. Unfortunately we lack the aerial strength to trouble
teams at the moment, but we managed to keep the ball well with Mustoe
again a central figure. The two Thorne brothers were difficult to
get past, but even Gary looked a little flustered as young Jamie
Reid stole in at the far post to meet a deep Mansell cross. His
header seemed to slap him on the side of the head though and didn't
quite reach Lee Davis as he tried to find space in the six yard
Top: City pump a hopeful corner into
Btm Left: Addis twists and turns to good effect.
Btm Right: Reid contemplates the meaning of loneliness.
The game then threatened to flair up as players piled in from
both sides to confront each other. It all seemed a total over reaction
to a Webb challenge on the half-way line that was certainly clumsy
but hardly vicious or especially late. It was enough to over excite
the famously short-fused Iain Harvey who charged in to Webb with
his elbow looking suspiciously high. That was more than enough for
our own pocket head case and in came Mustoe, not even waiting to
reach the melee proper before kicking out at a passing opponent.
Steve 'big boy' Perrin then got his own one piece of exercise of
the evening as he raced from his goal mouth to join in the scrap.
After a suitable exchange of pushing and handbag waving the players
backed off and waited for the ref to do his worst. Had the ref done
as they're meant then there would have been a veritable flurry of
yellow cards on both sides and Mustoe would have been on his way
to the changing rooms, perhaps joined by Harvey. As it was the ref
can hardly have seen much at all, Mustoe the only player held to
account and him only booked. This is our best player, our midfield
engine and one of the most experienced players in the SLP - for
God's sake get a grip now! We don't have a side that can readily
afford to be without him.
While we were still breathing deep sighs of relief
and sorting a whip round for the ref Chippenham exacted far better
revenge. It seemed to come out of nowhere as Chippenham tossed in
a massive long throw that seemed to catch our defence by surprise
and Gary Thorne stole in to thump a header into the net. At two
down we were in real trouble and our shell shocked defence then
conceded a real sickener to finish the match before the break. Chris
Thompson looked to have plenty of time to tidy up an aimless attack
but his clearance was then charged down by Gilroy who saw his effort
deflected off Marvin Thompson and past a wrong footed Matt Bath
for their third. The whistle couldn't come quick enough.
At least half-time allowed a chance for Burns to settle
his troops back down and the second half saw a much more disciplined
performance from the City defence, although in fairness Chippenham
had probably decided to save their exertions for another day. The
second half was largely scrappy with nowhere near as much meaningful
action, both midfields canceling each other out and neither side
seeming to risk much by committing too many players out wide. Burns
didn't take too long to decide to go for broke and try and inject
some pace into a tidy but uninspiring attack. The largely anonymous
Richard Kear and unfortunate Lee Davis made way for diminutive speed
merchants Adie Harris and Lance Lewis. We hoped for sparks, and
at least we did now have something to keep the Chippenham defence
on their toes.
The new arrivals created extra space for others in
the middle and Webb could have benefited when he popped up just
outside the box to crack a shot goalward, but from being well set
his effort was wild and wayward. The Bluebirds were finding our
own defence a little more determined this half, Marvin Thompson
making an important header and Chris Thompson winning a great tackle,
before losing it and then winning it back in a bizarre exchange
down the right. The mood had calmed from the first half but came
to the boil again briefly when Sam Allison blotted an impressive
performance by trying to help out his defence. His clumsy chop at
Mansell fully merited the yellow card. The free kick was wasted,
but did also give keeper Steve Perrin opportunity to endear himself
to the City fans with a volley of abuse. He's another player who
should know better, and it spoilt the banter that had been exchanged
in the first half.
at least we'll always have the sunset to remember...
The rest of the match provided little real excitement with Chippenham
happy to see out the last 15 minutes without further incident, The
most dangerous moment being well dealt with by a firm Matt Bath
punch clear. City could easily have grabbed a consolation goal as
Lance Lewis carried a real threat, even though his control let him
down a little. One run was ended but the loose ball was pushed into
the path of Mustoe and he was a little unlucky not to get something
when he was tugged off balance as he shot. A free kick did come
our way when Webb was fouled, but City tried a bizarre routine involving
all sorts of dummies and curving runs. Chippenham were as confused
as the City players seemed to be, but after much pretence the final
shot from Addis still crashed into the wall.
Allison must be a player with a death wish as he risked
life and limb in scything down Mustoe as he picked up an Adie Harris
ball down the left. The player was lucky not to pick up a second
booking for that and his manager had seen enough and took him off
before he was either sent off or carried off. You certainly don't
want Mustoe after you. The dead ball didn't do much but Mustoe's
energy is impressive and in the last few minutes he got forward
as much as he had in the whole of the previous season. His exchange
of passes around the edge of the box with Webb and Mansell would
break down a weaker defence than Chippenham's, while a few moments
later a good bit of play by Addis saw Mustoe charge in to the box
and make Perrin scramble across his goalmouth.
It was all a bit too late for any real hope and the
final whistle probably came as a relief to all concerned. Chippenham
will be delighted with a comfortable win and look like promotion
contenders again. With Steve White gone the side seems more willing
to play proper football rather than simply bully their way to the
points. For City two defeats isn't the ideal start to the season,
but the matches against King's Lynn and Chippenham were never going
to prove easy and any points would have been a bonus. However we
must improve to take points on Saturday when we visit Cheshunt,
we need to beat sides likely to struggle to keep ourselves out of
trouble. The new players will take time to settle, and there are
positives to take from the match - Mustoe and Addis both look much
sharper than last season. Burns will still worry where the goals
are coming from though, and be angry with his defence for surrendering
sloppy goals. The squad is still short of a commanding centre-back
to partner Griff, but with money tight that will have to wait.
* Elsewhere in the division the two big games of
the evening saw some surprising results. Bath City took on Tiverton
in a west country derby against tow of the pre-season title favourites.
Bath made the most of home advantage to win the battle of the big-spenders,
a solitary strike from talented young midfielder Andy Sandell on
his home debut was enough to settle the game. The other game between
two sides expected to challenge for promotion saw Cirencester underline
their credentials with a 2-1 win over Halesowen, the Cotswold side
coming back after going behind to a third minute goal. City's second
defeat leaves us down in 20th spot, but there's plenty of time left
|| 20th (-7)
| by t-towel
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