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Saturday 30 September 2006
FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Rnd.
at Silverlake Stadium, Ten Acres

Eastleigh badge



Gloucester City

New Tigers Badge: no-one knows why...

HT (0-1)

A.Forbes (72,78)
J.Brown (73)
Easteligh kitCity kit
J.Bevan (19pen)
A.Wilson (70)
C.Thompson ©
D.Smith ©
J.Tustain (for 9, 76)
J.Reid (for 4, 87)
City: none
Eastleigh: A.James (late tackle 30), F.Benali (use of elbow 41)
Dismissals: none

T-Ender City MotM: Jody Bevan - led the line well and showed some great touches to unsettle a clumsy looking Eastleigh defence.

grass trim rule

City's Cup dreams ended in tatters on the south coast after an incredible barrage of goals late in the second half saw the players chuck away a comfortable two goal lead to find themselves trailing a matter of minutes later. Even by our fans' long suffering experiences of disappointment it was a jaw dropping demonstration of capitulation that will have Tim Harris clutching his hair at his sides apparent twin demons of self-doubt and inability to concentrate. Having worked so hard to take a controlling position in the game we failed to show any leadership or tactical sense on the pitch, and were soon overrun by an Eastleigh side that found ourselves all too willing to help in our own destruction.

The match started brightly enough for City and although Eastleigh managed a few early range finders there was little sign that the home team were from a higher division as some early pacey attacks from City through Whittington and Aaron Wilson seemed enough to unsettle surprisingly static defenders. City's early encouragement saw us take the game to Eastleigh and when the City supporters' coach finally arrived the sudden doubling of the away following behind the goal can only have helped boost our players. The first goal came from the spot - but it was a well worked move that led to the penalty. Bevan did hugely well to latch on to a long ball down the right, winning the ball in the air and then charging down the wing to beat the ageing legs of former Southampton left-back Frances Benali. His cut back from the dead ball line was right into the path of Whittington and the young striker's turn was far too sharp for the defender. Whitt made sure his fall was spotted by the ref but the give away trailing leg of the defender was still hanging in the air as the man in black pointed to the spot. Fittingly it was Bevan who stepped up to take the kick, and given the vast bulk of the Eastleigh keeper Wayne Shaw the forward did well to see much of the net to aim at. None the less Jody's kick was high into the top right corner and would have left even a goalie tempted to jump clutching at air.

With City looking increasingly dangerous the Eastleigh defenders were becoming ever more nervey and their defending less cultured. Wilson was floored with a late challenge as he surged down the home team's right and full-back Adam James had little to argue against the booking that followed. Benali had real reason to be grateful for the leniency of the ref as the former top flight player exacted some revenge of Whittington who was causing his team real problems with his sharp runs. The veteran started off by thumping Whitt in the back as they challenged for a high ball, but once the pair had landed he then really went over the top with a carefully aimed elbow swung back at the City forward. Whitt looked too surprised to over react, but with the City forward on the floor rubbing his face the ref faced a problem. He basically solved it by bottling the decision, booking the Eastleigh defender. If the ref saw the elbow Benali had to go; if - as I think - the ref simply booked Benali due to the reaction to what happened but hadn't seen it himself, that's hardly good either.

City survived a scare just as the first half ended when Eastleigh looked to have equalised only for the ref and linesman to fail to award the goal. City were defending well but being kept under pressure with Chris Thompson producing a great tackle and Tomkins heading clear under pressure. From the resulting corner City found themselves in trouble as the ball crashed down off the bar. The reactions suggested the ball had gone in but City hacked it away and the ref continued. He'd have done well to have given us a free kick as Matt Bath had been bundled over in the melee, but having not given the free kick he probably should have given the goal.

Eastleigh came at us in the second half but by and large we weathered the storm without allowing the home side too many clear cut chances. Matt Bath was called into action when Ryan Ashford cut in well but the keeper made a good two handed stop at a comfortable height. Later, a dangerous cross looked to have us in trouble but Mustoe was in the right place to hook the ball off the line at the far post. For all our lack of possession we still caused Eastleigh difficulties with every attack and on loan striker Mike Whittington had a great opportunity to extend our lead. Sykes burst down the left and his clever pass set Wilson away down the left. He needed just a touch to send over a swift cross that picked out Whitt charging for the near post where his header glanced just side.

With City managing attacks less frequently in the second half we had to make the most of our chances in front of goal and our second was a decisive finish. The goal came simply as City pushed out of defence and Alex Sykes long pass was inch perfect for Jody Bevan. The City forward took some fearful stick from the centre-halves during the match and here he was brave again, standing his ground under a heavy challenge to plant a perfect header down into the path of Aaron Wilson on the edge of the box. As Bevan was clattered to the floor Wilson kept his concentration to drive a perfect half-volley that flew just inside the far post to give City a two goal lead and 20 minutes to close off the match.

It all seemed to be heading in the right direction for us and minutes later it looked like it would get even better as Benali seemed to lose all his sense of direction, prodding a ball back towards the keeper that sold the Fatty Foulkes tribute act well short. Whittington was on to it and closed in on goal, but the keeper did well to show some surprising speed to come off his line and rescue his team with Whitt unable to lift the ball over him and into the goal. That missed chance was to become a pivotal point in the match as within moments City's sky fell in, and with it our lead.

The first Eastleigh goal couldn't have been simpler as were caught with our minds elsewhere. A long raking clearance from the back by-passed our midfield and defence, neither Thompson or Mustoe could reach the winger whose deep cross fell precisely to the dangerous Andy Forbes who showed his class as he crashed his volley into the net. This was time for cool heads and concentration but instead City's players' heads seemed to be full of white noise. From the kick-off we lamely lost possession and with a few strides our defence parted for former Southampton midfielder David Hughes to slide the ball into the path of James Brown who smacked the ball low past Matt Bath without a defender getting near him.

Unsurprisingly our players were now looking like people living out a nightmare and with the City fans muttering and hand-wringing you hardly expected us to keep things together to grind out a draw and a replay that before the game would have been considered a good result. The pressure was all one way now and Eastleigh debutant Bertie Brayley played havoc with a run that carried him past a now hapless and helpless City defence, eventually pushing the ball right for a high cross to the far post. Alex Sykes was floundering and Brayley towered over him to get his head on the end of it, his looping header cutting out both Bath and Tomkins and leaving Forbes to finish from close range.

Things could have got even worse as only smart saves from Matt Bath kept City's dying hopes alive and the scoreline from taking on an even less fair reflection on the whole 90 minutes. Bath did well to rush out and save at the feet of Forbes and deny the striker his hatrick, while a flying tip over from a fierce drive by sub Martin Thomas was the kind of save that deserved to change a game. When City got a free kick for a cynical foul on Tom Webb the City keeper tried to produce a fairytale ending as he came into the Eastleigh box to add to the attacking numbers in the box, but it all came to nothing.

The final whistle saw the City players collapse to the floor while the home side celebrated their incredible escape with their jubilant fans. Rarely have even we been so comprehensively mugged, but despite the hurried inquests there don't seem to be any simple answers as to why we seem to have this terrible habit of choking on leads. This was a complete, dismal throwing away of 70 minutes of hard work. Tim Harris will need to use every moment of his managerial experience to lift his players out of the confidence crisis that could all too easily follow this kind of shambolic surrender. Good players don't become poor ones in a matter of weeks, but something isn't well in a team that switches off with such alarming frequency. Perhaps a new defender would help, but how often can you stretch our budget to find defenders of the quality of Chris Holland or Mark Preece? Perhaps the return of Dave Wilkinson will add some cover and grit in midfield, and perhaps ending Sykes' discomfort in defensive duties would also help. Perhaps we just need to get lucky.


grass trim rule
T-Ender Match Snaps
Bevan salutes penalty
Wilson gets crunched.
Bevan salutes the City fans after slotting home his first half pen
Wilson feels the pain after another late Eastleigh challenge
Eastleighs keeper looms large.
Sykes drills a low free kick towards the impressive bulk of Eatleigh keeper Wayne Shaw.
Bevan sets up Wilson goal. Bath goes looking for goals.
Bevan knocks the ball down for Wilson's super strike. The ominous sight of Matt Bath in attack as we get desperate.

Team Selection:
Harris opted for experience with captain Chris Thompson at right-back and Alex Sykes at left-back. mike Fowler returning from injury to slot into the midfield.
TBBM Said:
"Why can't we just manage to stand in the way?".
Tactics Board:
This was a real case of old problems coming back to haunt us. With Eastleigh pushing players up we sat to deep and failed to hold our defensive shape with players quickly forced to resort to individual heroics before being overun. Under pressure the defence lacked organisation and leadership, and that left wing-back spot isn't best filled by an aging attacking ball player.
Anorak Corner:
City have not knocked a higher division side out of the FA Cup since our memorable 4-3 home win over Chippenham Town in October 2003. At the time the Wiltshire outfit were in the Southern League Premier while we were in the Southern League Western Division. I was so excited I chucked my digital camera down the T-End and this site's not been the same since.
T-Ender Verdict
It's really hard to take much positive from this result. We looked good going forward and caused Eastleigh problems all through the match, but that's precious little comfort when we look so mentally fragile and when put under pressure to protect a lead just self-destruct to such horrendous effect. After this and last Saturday's Northwood debacle Tim Harris can have little option but to look to strengthen his options in both central defence and the defensive midfield positions. Tusday's match against Chippenham will now be a stern test of character and resolve, especially if we find ourselves defending a lead late in the match.
Highlights Elsewhere:

At least that match against Chippenham will see our opponents as shell-shocked as us. Slimbridge will be the toast of Gloucestershire football after a hatrick from former Tigers triallist Robbie Colwell helped the Swans to a historic 3-1 win over the Wiltshire side from two divisions above them. Former Tigers forward Luke Corbett opened the scoring on his Bishop's Cleeve debut as his new side cruised into the next round with a 3-1 win over Oxford City. Cinderford Town also exited the FA Cup with a 3-0 defeat at Conference South side Dorchester Town.

Other Match Reports:

Eastleigh Website Match Report

Further Reading:

BGB Southern League Premier Results & Website
FA Cup tournament website

Referee: C.Lymer (Mayford) City League Pos: n/a City Form: LDWDLD

Ref Watch:

5- failed to clamp down on fouls and off ball elbows

Attendance: 418    
Conditions: dry but autumnal and overcast
Lorry Score:


Match Report:
by t-towel

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