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Saturday 6 October 2007
BGB Southern League Premier Division
(match 10)
at The New Lawn, Forest Green.
BGB Southern League logo

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

Gloucester City


Hemel Hempstead Town

Hemel - fat king

HT (0-0)

Hemel kit
Man of the Match A.Allard
© N.Mustoe
P.Edgeworth ©
G.Sippetts (for 8, 83)
(for 11, 57) T.Webb
(for 7, 86) J.Reid
J.Kearns (for 11, 85)
(for 9, 89) J.Bevan
R.Kean (for 7, 88)
City: M.Rose (foul tackle 32), L.Tomkins (foul tackle 74)
Hemel: Y.Yeboah (foul trip 57), R.Kean (foul tackle 88)
Dismissals: City: J.Price (dangerous tackle 82)

T-Ender City MotM: Alex Allard - unfussy but steadily reliable at full-back, tackled well and kept close to the opponent

grass trim rule

A tactical reshuffle reaped rewards as a much improved City performance saw the Tigers shut out the divisions top scorers and hold Hemel Hempstead to a hard fought goalless draw, only our second point at our rented Forest Green 'home'. At times City rode their luck with the tudors spurning some good first half opportunities, but having shown some improved defensive resolve City went on to test the promotion hopefuls as the game wore on. Only some suspect refereeing decisions denied City an advantage and despite being reduced to ten men near the end we ended the game in much better spirit than at kick-off.

City started as hesitantly as you might expect from a side coming off three defeats and a couple of disappointing home performances, but each successful minute seemed to add to our belief. The first came when skipper Neil Mustoe tackled well to steal the ball in midfield before executing a sharp turn and accelerating away before sliding in Pitcher. He in turn fed Smith whose cross shot rasped into the side netting. It was a sign of hope, but almost immediately we knew not to get too excited. Matt Rose sloppily gave away possession and Sawyer did well to save from Chris Dillon before Allard and Richards scrambled away the danger.

City were looking more solid but having trouble getting the ball to stick up front where poor Pitcher was hopelessly outgunned in the air by the commanding Yeboah. City were defending better but even when doing well we can do without Lyndon Tomkins being left alone to deal with a run of pace and Dillon beat him only to see Sawyer produce a fantastic save, but City were fortunate Hemel skipper Paul Edgeworth fired the rebound wide with the goal gaping. The Tudors' skipper also saw a header loop onto the bar, but despite the odd slip we were looking like we were defending well as a team and at least players were running back to support each other.

Having managed to shut out a team at the New Lawn for the opening stages of the game for the first time since our opening fixture we were even starting to look a little more confident, especially down the right where Smith and Mustoe were managing to get forward a little to provide some help for Pitcher. A clever neat chipped pass from Chris Thompson even got Pitcher away, cutting in from the right and forcing Brown to save with his feet. A few minutes later some quick feet by Sykes helped him find Pitcher who turned well but couldn't get any power into his shot. For all of our improvements though you also got the sense that for once we may even get some luck, Hemel's Drew Roberts looked absolutely dumbfounded when Sawyer leapt high to palm his shot onto the top of the bar. It was a miraculous save, just to reach it was impressive, but to have enough wrist strength to push it away was top class.

City were even better in the second half and managed to rattle the promotion chasers, and only some controversial refereeing prevented this being a more uncomfortable time for the Tudors. The turning point of the game came early in the second half when Jack Pitcher was played in by Price, and the Bristol striker had a first chance to run at Hemel's Yeboah. Faced with pace the big number six suddenly looked clumsy and he hacked the forwards feet from under him, sending Pitcher flying. There was a strong case that the foul was just inside the box, but the injustice of the free kick on the edge of the area was nothing to that of the yellow card. Yeboah had been the last defender between Pitcher and goal, it was clearly a foul denying a goal scoring opportunity and ted Reds should have seen red.

City threw away the free kick but more chances came, Tomkins heading down a corner across goal but again Pitcher couldn't get any power to his shot. Tom Webb came off the bench and was soon involved, picking the ball up off Price who had won the ball well, and playing in Lee Smith who dragged his shot wide of the post from the edge of the box. Another good move saw Pitcher turn and play Thompson in down the right, his run ending in a low cross that just eluded Smith and Price stretching into the goalmouth. Hemel were still finding space up front though, but our extra attacks didn't entirely compromise the defence - when Sawyer was finally beaten Marc Richards got back to clear off the line.

The ref hadn't done very well throughout the game and things were starting to get niggly in the centre of the park. Allard was off for a while after being on the end of a late lunge, and Edgeworth was lucky to escape unpunished after flying in on Mustoe in the centre circle. Often those kind of incidents leave players more willing to fly in themselves, and Edgeworth was tangled with Webb and Rose when Jamie Price jumped in at the ball with both feet. It was probably a tackle born more of naivety and lack of experience than anything malicious, but the ref had little choice and with the Hemel skipper writhing on the grass the Welsh youth teamer was soon trooping off with a red card.

There was almost a fairytale finish as Jody Bevan came off the bench in the final minutes, making his first appearance in nearly a year after his dreadful knee injury. City were taking a free kick after the impressive Allard had been scythed down on the left touchline, and when Mustoe's free kick came into the box Bevan came close to scoring with his first touch, only for Hemel's keeper to just punch it off his head. City may feel they'd done enough to nick the game, but with both sides having chances a draw was about right -and a much better performance that gives the City fans some hope for the next few games on the road.


grass trim rule
T-Ender Match Snaps
Smith jumps vs Hemel Tomkins holds on vs Hemel
Lee Smith tries to get airborne down the City right. Tomkins gets to grips with the dangerous Hemel attack.
Syko can tackle
Allard on the ball
Syko goes in on Hemel's Matt Gearing. Allard surveys his options as City attack in the second half.

Team Selection:

In terms of personnel Tim Harris made just one change to his starting XI from midweek, with Jamie Price recalled in place of the departed Scott Griffin. Transfer listed Tom Webb stepped up to the bench, together with Jody Bevan returning after a lengthy injury spell and a place amongst the subs for veteran player-coach Adie Harris. Hemel gave debuts to two recent loan signings from Blue Square Premier outfit Histon, with former Bedford striker Chris Dillon partnering SLP top scorer Drew Roberts and Mark Coulson slotting in at left-back.

TBBM Said:

"Does Jamie Price know where he's meant to be playing, or is he just lost?"

Tactics Board:

After our recent record of managing to go behind within 20 minutes during our last four home matches Tim Harris shouldn't need to apologise for a more defensive line-up. It seemed as if Pitcher was a lone striker ahead of a Sykes-Mustoe-Rose three man midfield, Smith and Price providing some width and support down each flank. It started off looking very much 4-5-1, and despite Matt Rose trying to get forward to compete for the odd high ball too often we didn't adapt and left Pitcher hopelessly fighting to win the bal after another high hopeful punt from defence. By the second half we looked a lot more composed and as we tried to pass the ball on the ground to Pitcher's feet and use the wings a lot more we started to trouble the Hemel defence. The system worked even better once Webb came on, his running and energy providing more of a natural link from midfield to the attacking players as it looked more like a Mourinho style 4-3-3. It's clearly a formation that could work for us at times, but will Jack Pitcher prove strong enough to be the focal point for that kind of attack?

Anorak Corner:

City's attacking prowess and defensive frailties haven't made for too many goalless draws in recent years. However this was our second of the season after a blank day at Bashley, and that total of two already beats last season when only the home game with Cirencester ended 0-0.

T-Ender Verdict

There was probably not a City fan or player who wouldn't have taken a draw from this match before kick-off, and the fact we ended it having cause to feel we could have had something more is testament to the improvement we showed today. Hemel are a strong attacking side and as top scorers in the division the fact we ended the match without our defence being breached has to be cause for some satisfaction. Sure we rode our luck at times and Sawyer was again in good form with a couple of top notch saves, but even so we looked a lot more solid than we have in recent games against much weaker forward lines.

The side visibly grew with confidence as the match drew on and they must have left the park feeling a lot more satisfied than in recent weeks. It would be easy to gripe at defensive tactics at home, but the fact is they worked and having kept it tight in the first half we had more about us going forward in the second half. There were still some sloppy passes going astray and our finishing was still far from accurate, but at least by the final whistle we were putting moves together and keeping the ball a little better. You still sense the side can improve a lot more, but this was a huge leap on from the previous weekend and hopefully gives the players a real achievement to build upon. We may just have bottomed out and started to fight back.

Highlights Elsewhere:

The division is still very tight, just a point today saw City bounce up four places to 15th. Behind us though the table got even squeakier as first wins for both Cheshunt and Cirencester leave no SLP side without a victory. A late goal from young sub Dan Hilder gave Ciren a 1-0 win over Rugby at Butlin Road, while the Ambers too full advantage of fellow strugglers Supermarine to win 3-0 at Theobalds Lane. A last minute Alan Griffin strike earned Mangotsfield a 2-2 draw at home to Banbury United, whilst former Tiger Paul Chenoweth was on the score sheet to round off a 3-0 home win for Yate over Hitchin.

At the top of the table Brackley clung on to top spot thanks to a last gasp Danny Spencer goal to edge out Merthyr 1-0, While Team Bath kept in touch with the top as two second half goals beat Bedford 2-0. The big game of the SLP day was at King's Lynn where another four figure crowd saw Lynn go level with Hemel in second spot thanks to a 2-0 win over Chippenham, Michael Frew and Joe Turner scoring five minutes either side of the break. In the FA Trophy preliminary round Cinderford seem unruffled by the departure of boss Keith Knight, thumping Stourport Swifts 4-0 thanks to a Richard Kear hatrick and a Jimmy Cox strike.

Other Match Reports:

Neil Phelps' Tiger Images picture gallery vs Hemel
Tim Harris post-match Hemel interview with Neil Phelps
Paul Clark's YouTube footage vs Hemel
Gloucester Citizen match report

Further Reading:

BGB Southern League Premier Results & Website
BGB Southern League Table
Hemel Hempstead Town website

Referee: M.Howes City League Pos: 15th (+4) City Form: DLLLWL

Ref Watch:

4 - got the big decisions wrong for the red and yellow cards. Attendance: 242    
Conditions: overcast but dry
Lorry Score:
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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