City v Atherstone

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Saturday 20th April 2002
Meadow Park 

  CITY v Atherstone United  

Dr Martens League Western Division

City's Team

A match that promised little in the way of goals or excitement ended being a day of quiet satisfaction for City and a pleasing home finish to what has been a demanding season for everyone at the club.

City faced the same side that had beaten them 1-0 in a scrappy encounter at Sheepy Road the previous Monday night, and City had plenty to prove. The Adders had variously branded City as a pub team, and as the dirtiest team in the league after a match that saw keeper Matt Bath sent off for a doubtful elbow on one of their forwards. Ironically the visitors first sight at Meadow Park was Matt Bath picking up a trophy. As it was it was actually the Supporters Player of the Year award, but you have to wonder if the Adders thought City are so dirty we actually give players trophies every time they wallop the opposition!

However this was a much needed morale boosting demonstration from City that we can play a bit as well as scrap for our survival. Burns continued to tinker with his side as he gave Will Steadman a run out at centre-back, and the burly defender was given plenty of chance to shine as Atherstone's forwards alarmed City with some strong early runs. However City kept them out with some assured tackling and were soon beginning to build strong foundations as they took a stranglehold on midfield.

In this sort of form Thompson and Jenkins look as good as any midfielders in the division and Wilkinson was in the way every time the Adders stole possession. City worked a good move with Thompson and Prince creating a chance for Jenkins, and the spurned another good chance when Jenkins created space and played Tom Webb in from the right flank. Having cut in past a defender the youngster screwed his shot across goal.

Having lost out in midfield Atherstone quickly adjusted and caused City new problems as the pace of their forwards allowed them to latch onto some hopeful long balls from the back. Both Charles and Chammock showed good pace and went on some decent runs, both blocked by the masterful presence of Burns at the back. However one late run entirely split the City defence and Matt Bath got a chance to demonstrate what his award was really for, sprinting smartly from his line to close the gap and block the striker's shot from close range. Moments later we looked in trouble again as a cross shot whizzed past the goal frame, Steadman not as confident it was missing the goal as Bath who nonchalantly called him to leave it as it screamed beyond both post and onrushing striker.

Many City fans were as exercised by events at Plymouth and Mansfield as those in front of them, with the wrong scorelines seeing Ch@#tenham crawl even further up the league system. However the omens were looking good as first Plymouth and then Mansfield scored, and perhaps the football gods were for once having a day to take out their wrath on those in red and white stripes. Back at Meadow Park City managed to grab attention away from the radios as they took apart the red and white enemy in front of them in a spectacular second part of the first half.

City took the lead on 22 minutes through Steve Jenkins, who deserved his goal for his efforts throughout the match. City had been moving the ball around with some finesse for a mere pub outfit, with Burns and Prince leaving the visitors trailing in their wake. As the ball was squared across goal it almost got lost in a mass of bodies, but Tom Webb had the presence of mind to toe it back to Jenkins who drilled it into the net from 12 yards. It was City's first goal in over 400 minutes of football and Jenks' first since August, so the celebrations were well justified.

City goals seem to be much like buses, because within a minute City had a two goal lead. City won the ball back in midfield and Wilkinson suddenly saw the opposition open up ahead of him. He chipped the ball through to Andy Hoskins who took one touch to get in range before smashing the ball past a stranded keeper. How easy the game can look at times. City threatened to run riot as the Meadow Park faithful reeled in shock, further goals at Mansfield and Plymouth made the day look yet better. City could have really taken the Adders apart during this period as the home team rarely caught sight of the ball. Thompson waltzed past two before teeing up Hosky to smash a shot wide, then the burly forward saw another header form a corner bounce off the bar.

Atherstone's world really did cave in on 33 minutes when Hoskins got his second, all be it with some good fortune and some help from the keeper. City picked up a free kick after Webb was felled, and Jenkins flighted a quick ball toward Burns. The manager's touch fooled the Adders and allowed Hoskins to prod the ball goalward, his touch enough to loop the ball beyond the statuesque keeper.

Atherstone did their best to rally and scored from a quick counter attack on 40 minutes. City's defence was by now keen to join the party in the Adders penalty area, and when the ball was hacked clear Chammock had a clear run in towards Matt Bath, and this time was able to round him and roll the ball in. It was kind of him to run into the net and take the ball back to the centre circle, as it almost certainly helped us regain our 3 goal cushion within the minute. 

Wilkinson got stood on in the centre of the park and Steadman sent in a deep booming free kick straight down the right side of the pitch. Neil Griffiths hooked it on and the ball took a comedy bounce as it left the flailing keeper staring woefully at the ball as it dropped behind him into the net. 4-1 at half-time and you wouldn't have got good odds on double figures at the final whistle.

Atherstone will have been mightily relieved to have steadied the boat in the second half, although City continued to dominate and could have added to their scoreline with a little more conviction in their finishing. Luke Prince was having a torrid time as he was held and pushed all over the pitch, but still managed to break away to stand up a great cross for Hosky, his header sailing narrowly wide. 

However this was by and large a half of party pieces with City moving the ball around pleasantly without quite having the final thrust to add to the score. Prince twinkled when allowed, and Jenks showed off his range of passing without ever finding the final ball he was looking for. The Adders keeper Dale Belford tried to keep everyone entertained by pulling his shorts up his buttocks, but the match was struggling to keep the standards set by that end to the first half.

City then made a series of substitutions that gave city fans the opportunity to show their appreciation to manager Chris Burns who received a warm ovation as he left the field. As well as restoring McCluskey to the defence City also added Lee Smith and Kenny Howard to the side, and both added something to our attacking potency with good runs that troubled the visitors. However the last action saw Hosky unlucky not to complete a second hatrick of the season, Prince again the provider down the left. His cross was headed down from close range by Hoskins, but Belford had now hoisted his shorts from his backside and made a great one handed save to flick the ball around the post.

The City players saluted the fans at the end of the game, a convincing performance that can only increase the hope that after such a troubled season better things could be around the corner. The news that Gloucester MP Parmjit Dhanda is to join the board can only be a sign things are strengthening off the pitch, and if we play like this we should have plenty more smiles as wide as those at Meadow Park at the final whistle today.   

(HT: 4-1)
Webb City




Steadman Bookings
Wilkinson 15th

(for 5; 78)
(for 3; 80)
(for 11; 86)


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