City v Bilston

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Saturday 16th February 2002
Meadow Park 

  CITY v Bilston Town  

Dr Martens League Western Division

City's Team

Bilston are a shadow of the side that thrashed City 5-1 at Queen Street in November, but none the less this was an impressive second half display that comprehensively dismantled the Midlanders. 

However the 5-1 score line only tells half the story as this was a dramatic game with plenty of incident that was some how remained goalless at half-time. The final result was also a little harsh on a Bilston team that despite all their defensive frailties looked capable of scoring goals and briefly seemed capable of producing a shock result. City had gone in to the game having decided to experiment with Lee Smith and Ken Howard in the full back positions. City also welcomed back Andy Hoskins after a 3 match suspension, and how Bilston were to regret his return.  

City did not start well and took a good twenty minutes to get in to any sort of rhythm. Bilston looked quick up front and pressured the City defence without creating any sort of clear chances. Despite Bilston enjoying the bulk of the play the best chances still fell to City early on. Lee Smith scampered clear only to produce a weak shot at the keeper. Having managed to break out once City seemed galvanised into action and a trademark Burns lofted pass found Bayliss who clipped his shot on the turn onto the crossbar. 

Although the first half was without any fluency from either side it was certainly not without drama. Shortly before the half hour mark the game livened up when Luke Prince charged into the area to latch onto a Jenkins pass. As he tried to pass the keeper his legs were taken from under him and the ref had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Nicholson in the Bilston goal could consider himself lucky to stay on but escaped with a booking despite being the last man. As it was it wouldn't have mattered who faced the penalty as Baylo scuffed his kick past the post.

Further controversy followed in front of City's goal as we defended a free kick. Neil Griffiths became involved in a spot of pulling which ended with Bilston's Jordan Lee pushing his head into Griff's face. The linesman flagged having seen the incident but the ref bottled the situation with both players booked despite his assistant obviously having seen a retaliatory head butt with it's mandatory red card. As it was a sending off would have marred an entertaining game, but then we've been on the end of so many of those decisions this season it would be good to see some consistency. 

The first half had more to come though with City now more fired up and ending the half strongly. Several good chances to cross fell to Smith who was not looking strong on the right flank. However he was instrumental in getting City's second penalty when he headed down a Burns cross into the path of Steve Jenkins. A clumsy Bilston challenge in the crowded penalty area saw Jenkins standing leg taken from under him and presented City with a second chance from the spot. This time Baylo gave way to give the kick to Luke Prince, but although the City starlet's kick was on target it lacked conviction and presented Nicholson with a comfortable save.  

City went in to the dressing room cursing having spurned the two penalties, and their mood cannot have improved much when Bilston took the lead on 50 minutes. City had come out with greater determination but got caught up field with Lee Smith again showing his lack of familiarity with the right-back role. With Burns having pushed into midfield City were caught short and as the ball came across our area no-one closed down Gareth Day who tucked the ball past Matt Bath.

That goal seemed to give City the spur they needed and the most amazing turn around followed. City began to play with some greater metal with both Wilkinson and Burns putting their foot in and exerting some real control over a midfield that had drifted a little. Luke Prince had another good run that led to a Bayliss header and a Hoskins shot go narrowly past the post. However within seconds City broke quickly from the back with Ken Howard pushing the ball through to Hosky who barreled his way towards goal. The keeper did well to rush out and parry his initial effort but had no chance as Hoskins drilled the rebound under him and into the net. Hoskins was excited enough to have scored one, little did he know better was to come for him. 

Even with the game now level and City looking by far the better side Bilston still threatened down the wings and looked quick in attack, if thankfully some what lacking in direction. Even so City had reason again to be grateful for a crucial interception by Darren McCluskey after Smith had lost possession and Griff had unusually missed a tackle. Prince was now free to run down either flank and Bilston had given up trying to mark him, Jenkins providing sharp little passes and Burns sweeping the ball across the pitch. With City now showing plenty of movement a second goal seemed inevitable. Prince's cross was only half cleared and Wilkinson made space for himself just inside the box. Wilky's shot was parried by the keeper but only into the path of the stretching Andy Hoskins who bundled in his and City's second. 

City were now rampant and minutes later Luke Prince was played in by Smith and Burns. He cut inside from the right and beat two men before being spectacularly tripped in the box by a despairing lunge. This time the manager took the responsibility of the penalty kick and Chris Burns smashed it into the net to make it third time lucky for City from the spot. City seemed then to his cruise control with a rash of substitutions from both teams disrupting the game, although it did give City youngster Nick Stockley a second chance to impress from the bench. Bilston appealed for a penalty of their own as their forward tumbled over Matt Bath, but it was clear that the keeper had actually pulled himself out of the challenge and not touched the player.  

The last few minutes belonged to Andy Hoskins as City put a fine gloss on their second half efforts. Chris Burns had sent over a curling, dipping shot that produced a save of equally high quality by the agile Nicholson. However as the game entered the last minute the keeper punched weakly at the corner, and the ball fell to Andy Hoskins who pushed through the crowd to blast his shot into the net to complete his first ever Gloucester hatrick. Bilston protested that Burns had blocked the keeper, but City were too busy enjoying Hosky's goal celebrations to care much for that. The burly forward then made the afternoon truely memorable moments later as almost straight from the re-start City won back possession and Burns sent Prince on a run. He ran out of space and passed square to Hoskins who steadied himself before chipping Nicholson from 25 yards, the ball clipping the underside of the bar and nestling in the net. It was a goal that would have beaten most teams, and was a fitting end to his day. 

For City the result maintained a very healthy 8th position in the table and followed up hard earnt points against top teams Chippenham and Solihull. However the match was really all about Hoskins, a popular figure who deserves a moment of personal glory after the tireless and whole hearted displays he's put in throughout the season. His four goals doubled his season's tally, and despite his protestations that he's a forward rather than a goalscorer a display of finishing like this may have to lead to a rethink. Andy Hoskins has long been highly rated by many local managers and having been plucked back from the County League hopefully these goals will give him the confidence he can do this regularly at this level. For the anoraks amongst you, Hosky's four goals was the first hatrick scored by a City player since Karl Bayliss's three against Atherstone last April and the first four goal haul since the same player hit four against the same side in September 1992. City's five goals was the most scored by City in a match this season and our biggest win of the campaign to date.

(HT: 0-0)
L.Smith City


Hoskins(56, 66, 89,90)
Burns (70pen)


McCluskey Bookings


Prince 8th

(for 3; 64)
(for 5; 82)
(for 9; 70)


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