all contributions to the T-Ender. Please send any material for the site
email to the address above.
The views expressed on these pages are not those of Gloucester City A.F.C.,
its directors or officials, or of any other company mentioned. Neither
do they represent the official views of the Gloucester City Supporters'
Club or its committee.
While we make every effort to ensure information placed here is accurate
we do not accept responsibility for errors that may occour. If you do
find a mistake please let us know.
All pictures and material unless otherwise stated are the site's own and
All material may be reproduced with permission and appropriately attributed.
4th March '06
League Premier Division
Bath, Miller, Stonehouse, Preece, Holland, Harris, C.Thompson,
Webb, Bevan (Corbett 79), Whittington (Addis 86),
Subs not used: Reid,
T-Ender Man of the Match: Chris
Holland; in a game of few chances his defensive presence proved crucial.
This may have been one of
the worst matches City have been involved in for many months, but
both of these clubs are locked in a dire and grim struggle for Southern
League survival and what the footballing purist made of it will
be of little interest to fans of either side. On a day where all
that mattered was the result City did just enough to edge out Northwood
and take the precious points that see the Tigers leap-frog the London
club and climb out of the bottom four. A solitary goal from new
striking hero Mike Whittington sealed the points, but all over the
pitch we showed just enough extra strength and quality to deserve
the result. The match might not live long in the memory, but in
terms of the 2005-06 City campaign this may just be the day that
we reflect on as being where we pulled our heads out of the water.
City were missing the suspended Lyndon Tomkins in defence, so stand-in
skipper Chris Thompson moved back into the centre of a back three,
still sporting an impressive black-eye courtesy of that stray elbow
in the Hitchin match the previous weekend. His place in midfield
was taken by Adie Harris, rapidly
moving into the super veteran category as he approaches his 42nd
birthday. Whittington and Bevan continued their partnership up front,
but with Addis and Corbett both approaching full fitness and on
the bench after recent injuries the City strike force is starting
to look to have some depth and give some tactical options for the
City coaching staff. Northwood featured the dangerous Peter Dean
up front but recent goalscorer Shayne Demetrious remained on the
subs bench. For the home team this match was every bit as important
as for City, for the winners lay the prize of 18th spot, crucially
a place above the relegation threatened bottom four in the SLP league
|Top: Adie Harris looks for
space on the left.
Bottom: Preece gets to the ball first as City defend.
The match was simply one
you couldn't miss and I'd dragged myself to the ground despite feeling
totally crap with a thumping brain-splitting headache. Imagine my
joy when the City travelling support trooped in with not one drum,
but two, for stereo effect banging. Oh, and an air horn, bloody
brilliant! As I slipped away to nurse my head and escape from the
low sun I at least had the opportunity to really enjoy the strange
pleasures of Chestnut Avenue. It's a strange ground, set in between
a public park and a cemetary, down a narrow access road carved through
allotments. You can tell you're in London though - the club can't
secure the ground and every stand, building and pitch barrier is
plastered in graffitti. Nice to see that the vandals had the decency
to make sure at least one bit reads NFC - good to see the spray
painters getting behind their local team.
Both teams had been in decent form over the last few weeks, City
picking up points at Hitchin
and beating Grantham,
while the London side had just recorded a fantastic win at Mangotsfield.
You'd expect both teams to have some confidence but instead the
two sets of players showed every sign of nerves and appreciation
of just how vital this match could be for their clubs' survival
prospects. The opening exchanges were scrappy and neither side could
keep the ball down for long on a rutted and bobbley playing surface.
The long balls from the back set the tone for the rest of the game
and it was clear this wasn't going to be a game to lighten the heart,
but it didn't stop it being a match that took an iron grip on your
gut and squeezed.
City were definitely the stronger side in the opening 15 minutes
but we couldn't keep the ball down long enough to really create
chances. Whittington looked lively but was struggling to get into
the box even when Jody Bevan once managed to beat the Northwood
left-back and get a cross over. For the most part though Bevan was
finding it difficult to hold on to the ball long enough to bring
others in to the game. Adie Harris was operating down the right
and trying to cut in on his left foot, but despite showing his usual
determination and enthusiasm he was also finding the crucial final
ball hard to come by.
City's left-back Paul Stonehouse
found himself in the book as early as the 11th minute after a flying
crunching challenge down the flank. It was a reckless challenge
that didn't need to be risked so far up the pitch and got him a
booking for his third consecutive match. The Forest Green youngster
has done well in his time with City but he does need to watch this
tendency to fly in wildly before he becomes a player refs look out
When City did create chances they were only half glimpses of goal.
Defender Chris Holland had a good chance at the far post but snatched
at it to send it high over the bar, while both Whittington and Bevan
tried to turn on snap-shots at close range but both put their efforts
well wide under close scrutiny from the home defence. Whittington
has been in such great form in recent games we must be careful not
to now expect too much of him. He showed some good touches but it
was a bit of a shock to see him spurn a chance as he snatched at
a shot when the ball suddenly fell to him in the box only for him
tp prod it straight at Northwood keeper Liam Watson.
Northwood had little to cheer them but as the first half began
to draw to its conclusion the London outfit were beginning to
stretch the City defence a little more. Part of this was down
to some frustration in the City midfield who were finding their
inability to carve out a gap in the opposition penalty area frustrating
and both Webb and Harris were guilty of giving away possession
as they attempted near impossible passes through to the forwards.
In the City back-line the impressive Chris
Holland was more than capable of dealing with most of Northwood's
high balls, with Preece also acquitting himself well under the
physical test presented by Peter Dean and Darren Grieves. However
City did survive one scare when a hooked Miller clearance fell
to Grieves who smashed his effort well over the bar and into the
cemetery behind the goal. There were Northwood locals on the other
side of that wall who could have finished better... and Grieves
was to spurn an even better chance before the half was out. Dean
Clark managed a strong run from the centre circle that left both
Wilko and Thompson floundering. He cut the ball out wide to Peter
Dean whose cross fell beyond Preece and to Grieves who found himself
in front of goal with Matt Bath looking pretty exposed in front
of the City net. Fortunately for the Tigers the Northwood forward
still seemed to think he was aiming at the tombstones and again
put his shot well over the cross bar.
Where it lands no-one
knows. Wilko waits for a City corner to come to earth.
Northwood chucked on a sub at half-time,
presumably looking to get some forward momentum of their own, but
instead Tim Harris' half-time talk seemed to give City a little
more shape and confidence to get forward. City began to press the
Northwood defence and were now trying to commit extra players forward
into the box when we won possession. This made all the difference
as Michael Whittington hit
the crucial goal in the 50th minute, and while it lacked the sheer
beauty of some of his recent strikes it was every bit as important
as any of them.
The on-loan Cheltenham reserve striker simply reacted first to
a good low cross from Webb on the City right that Northwood failed
to clear as it zipped low across their goalmouth 10 yards out. Bevan
reached it first but he couldn't control it, allowing the ball to
bobble through to Whittington. The striker didn't get a clean strike
on it but managed to scuff it in exactly the right direction to
edge just inside the post. Recently Whittington's been good, now
he's managing to get lucky too and his fifth goal in four league
games are proving invaluable to the City survival cause. This was
hardly a goal to remember, but it was more than enough to set off
the traveling City fans in a good few minutes of relieved jumping
around. The battle was far from over though - could City hold on
to such a slender lead for 40 minutes away from home? Having twice
lost a lead at Hitchin the previous Saturday the fans' nerves were
jangling even more now than when the match had been level.
That goal gave the City players the confidence to string together
a few much better passing moves that really emphasised that we just
about deserved our lead. In fact we created the best chance of the
game just a couple of minutes later when Jody Bevan again did well
to steal across the Northwood right-back and meet a low Wilkinson
ball to the far post. Having done the difficult bit in reaching
the ball Bevan just seemed to lose his concentration and he flicked
his effort the wrong side of the post with the goal gaping.
|Top: Stonehouse scraps for
the ball as Northwood close ranks.
Btm: Bevan wins a header as City press for a second.
The match was beginning to get a little more lively with Northwood
pressing forward a little more as they tried to get back into the
game. The impressive Holland provided another solid block on the
edge of the area but the next attack saw the home team finally make
Matt Bath warm his gloves as the City keeper had to come to beat
out a in swinging corner from under his cross bar.
Northwood threw on a couple more attacking players with midfielder
Shayne Demetrious entering the fray and soon joined by Alistair
Heselton who replaced the wayward Grieves in the London side's attack.
Hesleton had been struggling with an injury but even half-fit he
looked more of a threat than his predecessor, immediately forcing
Chris Thompson into a stretching
tackle in the box that needed to be as well timed as it was.
City were now finding some extra space being left behind by the
Northwood midfield and the home team were plainly not good enough
to have fewer numbers at the back. The lively Mike Whittington again
saw a much better effort blocked after he'd raced clear of the Northwood
defence only to seem to check back and allow the defenders to catch
back up with him as he tried to get a shot away.
Jonny Miller, Bevan and Dave Wilkinson all also went close with
headers. Northwood sub Courtnage went into the ref's book after
charging down Whittington as the striker raced through for a high
ball. The striker is doing well to learn how to also be the target
of some rather physical targeting by some Southern League defenders.
The Northwood attack was largely predictable and they seemed to
have little in the way of plan B as the City defence simply booted
clear all their hopeful punts towards the City goalmouth. Our latest
loan signing Chris Holland certainly provided a comforting figure
in the back-line this afternoon. It is refreshing to have a City
defender who knows that sometimes less is more, and you don't need
to dwell on the ball in your own penalty area. His solid blocks
and uncompromising willingness to stick the ball into the allotments
frustrated Northwood and relieved the tension at the away end on
The last few minutes saw Tim Harris try and spin out a few minutes
and freshen up his attack with two very slow substitutions. Corbett
came on for a quick run out, replacing Bevan who'd looked out of
sorts all through the game. He did play a blinder on leaving the
pitch though, in one of the slowest exits ever recorded in modern
football. Whittington also stopped off with a few minutes left,
being replaced by Addis in another remarkable feat of slow movement
for a player who'd looked so full of running just moments earlier.
Despite our determined defending it seems an unwritten footballing
law that any side holding on to a one goal advantage should suffer
a late scare. Northwood came horribly close to grabbing a largely
undeserved equaliser as a clever trick created space for a dangerous
cross that fell into the City six yard box. Dean Clark's late run
hadn't been picked up and he had chance to head for goal from close
range but fortunately he placed it straight at Matt
Bath and the City keeper clutched it gratefully to his chest.
That was enough for City to hold out for all three points and how
important they might be we'll only know at the end of April. Right
now, they feel like a lifeline. Some of the Northwood fans seem
to be hoping for the drop so they can play more sides local to them,
but in fairness their players didn't show the same lack of spirit
and for all their efforts they must have had a bad day today when
you look at some of the results they've achieved in recent months.
It was good to see some delirious smiles on our impressively sizeable
and loud away support. The players also seem to understand what
this is all about, and you have to applaud their commitment - and
especially that of the several loan players who seem to have quickly
bought in to the City cause. It was also good to see Tim
Harris enjoying his victory, with what is now becoming a trademark
air guitar sweep into a triumphant punch into the air to show the
fans just how pleased he is. The new boss certainly seems to have
lit a spark under the club, and you can feel the enthusiasm and
hope starting to surge around the camp. We might not be playing
the prettiest football but the necessary grit is there, and we all
know this is about short-term survival so the club still has SLP
status on which to build over the summer. If you're a bit of a part-time
fan this is a cause that does deserve and need your support.
* As mentioned above theis vital win means City leap-forg
Northwood to move up to 18th and out of the bottom four. Our own
record is improving and our unbeaten league run now extends to five
games, but unfortunately other sides around us are also picking
up points to keep the pressure on. Of the clubs we're still taking
an interest in only Chesham lost, their 2-0 defeat at King's Lynn
helped Aylesbury to move off the bottom at Chesham's cost, the Ducks
managing a 2-0 home win over Banbury United. Cirencester continue
to finally find some form with a Gareth Hopkins brace helping them
to a 3-1 win at Hitchin that will provide some revenge for Ciren's
seven goal mauling from Hitchin in the league cup a few weeks ago.
Cheshunt's incredible run ground to a halt with a 2-1 defeat at
Mangotsfield. At the top of the table things are getting interesting
as Salisbury stumbled again with a 1-0 home defeat to Halesowen
with Bath City going top with a win at Tiverton, and Chippenham
slipped up with Bedford coming beck after conceeding an early goal
to win 2-1 at the New Eyrie.
|| 18th (+1)
||clear, cold &
| 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.