City v Blakenall

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Tuesday 20th March 2001: Meadow Park  

  CITY vs. Blakenall  

Dr Martens League Western Division


City's Team

This 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.

Sadly that 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 properly.

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 own half. 

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 disappointed.



Dicks (c)



City Scorers


Marshall 14th

(for 3; HT)
(for 7; 64)
Griffiths t-towel

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