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Tuesday 20th March 2001: Meadow Park
CITY vs. Blakenall
Dr Martens League Western Division
was a disappointing evening. Everything about it smacked of something
having gone wrong with the world at a very fundamental level. From
disappointingly unseasonably cold wind and snow in late March, to the
disappointingly low attendance, to the disappointment of seeing a
miserable City side get brushed aside by a very ordinary Blakenall
team. I was disappointed by our lack of passion, and I was
disappointed by the burger I bought. At some level I was disappointed
with myself too, perhaps just for being so disappointed by it all.
City were unchanged
with the exception of the departed Billy Davis, replaced on the bench
by teenage striker Lee Smith. The match kicked off with a swirling
blustery wind carrying clouds of sleet and snow across the
floodlights. It was a shame more people weren't there to enjoy the
view, with a quick headcount suggesting barely 130 lost souls outside.
From the start it was
Blakenall who coped better with the conditions and seemed to relish
the opportunity to play. Throughout they were content to play the high
ball and chase it, but then with our defence so obviously troubled by
it why would anyone change? In the first few minutes one Hunt header
fell to a forward, but his shot went skyward. However it wasn't long
before Blakenall opened the scoring on 7 minutes. A cross eluded the
absent defenders and left Ally Hines hopelessly clutching thin air as
Quilt jumped above him to head the ball into the net.
Chenoweth and Jenks busied themselves in midfield and were having some
effect on Blakenall, but then the visitors didn't need their midfield
to cause us problems. City dominated the play and had one good
opportunity when Chennas saw his long shot saved, but the rebound
pushed Cox to wide to make his shot count. Shortly after City wasted
another good chance when they ploughed a corner straight off the
pitch, but then saw a great chance go begging. Chennas pushed the ball
forward to Baylo whose pass took out the whole defence and left Jenks
racing clear, but his shot was too tame to trouble the keeper.
miss may have proved decisive as moments later City were two down.
Another long ball from the back immediately had us under pressure, and
as City dithered Quilt had all the time in the world to smack a
screamer past Hines from around 25 yards. City even then had a chance
to get back into it, but luck was against us. Chennas latched onto a
diagonal ball from Grantley Dicks and took the ball to the edge of the
area before slamming his shot across goal. The ball crashed back off
the post and typically fell to a defender rather than any of the
several yellow shirts closing in.
City looked like they'd had a few ideas at half-time and at last came
out with a bit more direction. Cox and Marshall both had good chances
blocked by defenders or the keeper before another defensive calamity
finished us off. The back line saw another cross come over, but this
time Hines managed to block the initial header only to see the
Blakenall player react quickest and poke the ball in.
To give City credit they did at least
manage some attempt at a rally. Bayliss turned sharply on one Chennas
cross only to see his shot blocked, while Marshall again saw his shot
come back of a defender. Abbott achieved a little more when his long
distance drive at least forced the keeper to warm his hands and
concede a corner. City could have scored from the corner, but despite
Bayliss, Cox and Jenkins all having sight of goal none could connect
Callinan threw on young Lee Smith to try and bolster the attack, and
although he looked a little lightweight at times he certainly added a
spark to the proceedings. Not long afterwards Gloucester pulled a goal
back when Bayliss flicked on a City long clearance that would have
made Blakenall proud. Cox got to the ball first and was able to nip
ahead of the Blakenall defenders and roll the ball to the keepers
right as he fell to the left.
That gave City a real
lift, but despite a whole host of opportunities never really
convinced. Lee Smith was unlucky with two efforts, one perhaps fluffed
but the other unluckily flew just wide of the far post. Bayliss and
Cox were also in the thick of it, but shots were crashing back of
defenders all over the goalmouth in a series of scrambles. It may have
looked like pure luck, but Blakenall were defending well and in
numbers City never manage to get behind the ball. Of course they were
defending a lead by this point, and barely tried to get out of their
Things did threaten to get out of hand when Blakenall's winger went in
high and collected a well swung punch off Steadman for his troubles.
However I wasn't convinced that the melee that followed was about
overheated tempers, probably more to do with underheated footballers
looking for a cuddle. The match shivered and chattered itself to an
end, with only a few more shots and scrambles to keep the sparsely
populated stands hoping for a miracle.
This was an off key
performance, which seemed a little half-hearted and strangely
passionless for a Callinan and Godfrey creation. You can't imagine
they were too impressed and will be working hard to lift the players
and put some smiles on their faces. With the background difficulties
at the club you feel grateful to the players just for being there, but
it would be nice to see a bit more fire and desire too. There are so
many good things going on off the pitch and there are plenty of people
who deserve some reward on it. This may just be a hiccup as we look to
level out of our current decline. I hope so, I don't like being
(for 3; HT)
(for 7; 64)