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30th September 2000: Meadow Park
City were ultimately satisfied to have escaped from this match to face a tricky looking replay in this Cup tie after an off colour display against a gritty and determined Chippenham team.
City had to make several enforced changes, with Kacey Johnstone not coming through a fitness test and Tucker moving to right back. Callinan took a risk and played Rawlins, Bayliss and Cox from the start for the first time. The match kicked-off in a good Cup atmosphere despite the rumblings of a thunderstorm in the background. Chippenham had also brought a good away following whose drums added to the noise, and escaped after what could have been misread as a provocative attempt to take over the T-End.
Having started with three forwards City would have expected to take the game to the visitors, but instead all the attacking play came from Chippenham. The early wave of attacks seemed to unsettle the Gloucester defence ho responded with a series of niggly fouls. With Thorne and Griffiths flying in it was no surprise that several of the Wiltshire side needed early treatment. There were early bookings following an exchange of handbag blows between Shane Andrews and Jimmy Cox, but that was about the only threat City were capable of at this point.
City's plight worsened after 14 minutes. Neil Griffiths flew in again and was booked for the late challenge which also conceded a free-kick on the edge of the area. Ken Hughes stood up to take the kick which he curled around the wall and past Hines to give the Western Leaguers a deserved lead. The brave gamble of playing three forwards seemed to have left City's midfield swamped, and the City side looked a little jaded.
City did rally a little as the half progressed but it was Chippenham who dominated the first period, and only poor finishing prevented them adding to their lead. Bright headed over from close range after City missed a corner, and then missed a second more difficult chance minutes later after city failed to clear another cross. Simon Charity was causing problems, as was striker Steve Tweedle. City did have chances on the break, with Thorne and Rawlins put Cox through, but the ball was cleared before he could get the vital touch. Both Rawlins and Bayliss had longe range efforts, and Rawlins almost scored after a Baylo strike had been fumbled by the keeper.
The match turned on one moment early in the second half. City had started brightly after the interval in response to terrific vocal encouragement from the T-End. Meadows forced a corner having linked up a good midfield move and put Cox through. Moments later Bayliss met Tucker's cross and headed past the keeper, only to see John Woods palm the ball off the Chippenham line. The inevitable red card followed for Woods, and Matt Rawlins stepped up to calmly equalise with a low shot to the left from the penalty spot.
Before the match had settled City almost added a second with Danny Hunt heading just over from another Tucker corner. Chippenham responded by pulling players behind the ball as they seemed resolved to hold out for the replay. Although a man short they fought a gritty rearguard battle, and although City had plenty of possession they found it difficult to get past Chippenham's defence.
Griffiths saw a long range effort fly over, and both Tucker and Thorne also sent through speculative efforts. The pace and strength of Cox or Rawlins seemed the most likely source of a City goal, but despite some good passing play the visitors always had enough players to crowd out attacks. Several balls went in across the penalty area, but often Chippenham had their keeper to thank as he was alert and smart off his line to collect the probing through balls.
Chippenham were able to mount a couple of attacks, but they were largely now fighting a rearguard action. Although their fans had little to cheer they could have snatched a victory towards the end when they ran clear of a dozing City defence, but their player shot woefully wide having ignored the spare man who could have scored with ease.
With all three forwards already on the pitch City had few options to add to their attacking options. Cairns came on and added some impetus, but despite a few efforts from distance he never looked likely to unlock the stubborn Chippenham defence. Manager Tommy Callinan threw himself on for his first appearance of the season, and he almost grabbed a sensational late winner. Tommy rose highest to meet Danny Hunt's cross but his header smacked on to the bar, seemingly stopped by a fingertip from Jones in the Chippenham goal.
Given the shock of the first-half City will be happy enough to go to a replay, but will have to raise their game to nearer top form to get past an impressive Chippenham side. How many City fans will make the replay on Wednesday is questionable, given the lack of replay information or directions in Saturday's programme! I'm sure enough will find their way to Wiltshire to provide more of the excellent T-End support which seemed to really life the side today.
|Thorne (c)||City Scorers|
|16. Cairns (for 7, 73)|
|17. Callinan (for 8, 79)|