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Sat. 10th September '05

Gloucester City

city home kit

at Meadow Park

FA Cup
1st Qualifying Round





Christchurch kit Christchurch badge

Gloucester City


Scorers: -



Scorers: -
City Side: Bath, Kear (Lewis 81), Harris (Griffiths 55), C.Thompson, Mansell, Burns, Mustoe, Webb, Addis, Davis, Knight (Reid 71).
Subs not used: Randall, Cook.
City Bookings: Burns (foul 10), Knight (dissent 26), Mustoe (foul 88)
T-Ender Man of the Match: Tom Webb; time and again his twists and turns seemed to create space for others.


This was another game full of frustration for City who never regained their spark after seeing the first half of the game all but overwhelmed by a fierce deluge that made any meaningful moves impossible for either side. Despite dominating possession for long periods some determined defending from Christchurch stopped us from finding the breakthrough and leave us facing a tricky trip to the south coast on Tuesday night.

The financial problems that followed last season's debacle at Street when we exited the FA Cup at the first opportunity have been well documented and fear of a repeat hung heavy over a match described in the local press as "the match City cannot afford to lose." The romance of the Cup is perhaps not what it was. With the sad demise of Tuffley Rovers fresh in the memory there is little room for anything other than hard-nosed business reality with our current hand-to-mouth existence. Lose this tie and the resulting prize money and we knew that in effect our budget is already £2,250 down, and the hope of a decent Cup run and a big pay day is also dead for another year.

Our start to the season had already done much to dampen expectation but any optimism or cheer that could have risen with the prospect of the Cup was spectacularly dismissed as the heavens opened and both sides struggled to cope with monsoon conditions. At times in the first half the rain was so heavy the players were struggling to see through the water lashing across the pitch and pouring into their eyes. It made for a strange spectacle where nature really outclassed anything the drenched players could offer.

Davis & Mustoe hunt in the rain

Davis checks for support

Top: Davis and Mustoe push on through the rain.
Bottom: Davis checks back for support on a City attack.

By rights even after our difficult start to the season our status two divisions higher in the non-league pyramid should have made City firm favourites over Wessex League side Christchurch. However the Dorset side have had some good results and sit 5th in their division, all in all they had more wind in their sails than us. At our level of football little things can signify much, and the Christchurch team bus suggested that this was no two-bit outfit, and depressingly they are in all probability operating in better financial circumstances than us. None the less we had home advantage and should still have had enough to see them off.

The horrendous weather had caused chaos all across the City and our arrival was delayed as the Gloucester outer ring road ground to a halt, a smash on the A40 closing the last link to the ground. By the time we dashed across to the turnstiles the pitch and players were already soaked and the match was degenerating into a soggy midfield scrap. This was the footballing equivalent of a wet towel fight. Christchurch could have taken the lead twice early on as they went close with drives from distance. Our players always seem to struggle to adapt to difficult weather conditions, it was all a bit like the Cirencester game last year where our players seemed slow to realise that there was little point in pumping high balls into the face of a gale force wind. In the same way we took a while to realise that the best thing to do was to fire in shots to cause problems for the semi-blinded goalkeepers who would also struggle as the slippy ball skidded off the pitch.

The match was a bit of a side show to the incredible brute force of the rain. There was no atmosphere as you could hardly hear yourself over the rain drumming off the tin rooves of the stands. Just when you thought it couldn't get heavier it some how did as it went through the gears from heavy, to torrential, to dleuge, to oh my God did you see those pictures of New Orleans where are my car keys.

Late arrival and the weather has precluded much of the stuff you try and manage in match reports. There are no notes, no player names to refer to, and the camera struggled to cope with the blinding rain. This is all a little impressionist rather than factual.

You had to admire both sets of players for managing to do naything of any purpose at all. We had a little more polish than Christchurch, as perhaps you'd expect. We were not able to put many moves together though, players were all over the place and just when a couple of passes seemed to open something up you could guarantee someone would slip or lose track of the ball. Christchurch were packing lots of people into the midfield and making things tricky for us, and they managed to threaten on a couple of occasions. Their number 7 looked impressive when he ran from midfield, put fortunately when he did get away from Mansell and Harris he found Matt Bath sailing through the tempest to clutch the ball out of the rain.


Webb competes with the elements

Meadow Park soggy

Top: Webb battles Christchurch and the downpour as the deluge goes up another gear.
Bottom: Meadow Park at half-time - the terraces flood but the pitch holds out.

With the rain slacening off to a steady downpur in the second half the poor players trudged reluctantly back on to the pitch. Alarmingly for us it was Christchurch who started the half looking the better side and also the hungrier side. They managed to get into us and everyone thought they had scored when they got in between Adie and Mansell down the left and sent over a deep cross that found their striker unmarked in the six yard box. Fortunately he headed just wide when it seemed easier to score. Perhaps he was distracted by the horrible noises being made by the pump and drains at that end of the pitch. It was a let off for City and there was another to come as City surrendered possession cheaply in midfield and could only watch in hope as another fierce drive from distance crashed just wide of Matt Bath's near post. It was getting nervey.

This was always a match where the subs were going to play an important part (Geddit?). The problems at the back were too much and captain Neil Griffiths was thrown on to add some steel and defensive nous to the side, everyone hoping his ankle would hold out on the slippy pitch.



Griff gets sandwichedBurns eyeballs the ref

Left: Griff comes back to add a little steel.
Right: Burns looks for help from a disinterested tubster Referee.

Referee: League Position: n/a Attendance: 280
Conditions: torrential rain City Form: DWLLDD
Match Report:
by t-towel

Work commitments mean that we are keen to obtain other match reporters willing to provide details on some City matches. All text can be supplied by email, with no need to worry about web design or formatting. If you are interested please contact the T-Ender.

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