City v Chippenham

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Saturday 11th October 2003
Meadow Park 

CITY v Chippenham Town  

FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round

City's Team

Some games remind you why you go through those dull lifeless and goalless encounters on dreary winter days - this was a cup classic and a game to live long in the memory of City fans.

City are on a roll at the moment and Burns had the luxury of being able to pick from a nearly full strength squad with several options at his disposal. Keeper Matt Bath returned from suspension while Lee Jeffries shook off an ankle problem to take his place at the heart of the defence. Chippenham have not been in the richest of form and City were at home, but their higher status and wealth of experienced players made the Wiltshire side slight favourites.

Gloucester took the game to the visitors in the opening period and swarmed across the defence without quite finding any gaps to exploit. Thompson had a good run before being halted at the edge of the box, and Mustoe played in Knight whose curling shot from distance gave Hervin chance to warm his gloves. Bath also had to be alert when Griffin threatened to get sight of goal but the City keeper was smartly off his line and blocked the shot.

Knight looks a lot more comfortable in the centre of midfield than out on the wing where he started this campaign and often looked out of sorts. Able to prompt proceedings down the right he can influence the game, and City took the lead when Hervin had difficulty getting hold of his high ball across the area. The keeper fell to the ground under the challenge of Hoskins and Jimmy Cox was on hand to bundle the ball in for City to take an early lead.  

At that point City looked in the ascendancy but Chippenham battled back into the game. The referee made it obvious that he was going to flash his cards at every opportunity, and punished every mistimed tackle with a yellow card. By the end of the match City had picked up six and an automatic 500 FA fine, all in a game that was not bad tempered or dirty. Lee Jeffries was the first to suffer, picking up a card for a challenge in which he also turned his troublesome ankle. City were quickly forced to reshuffle with Wilkinson coming on as a makeshift centre back.

With one his first touches Wilkinson made a supurb saving challenge as Chippenham pushed forward. Sadly the referee was unsighted and awarded a free kick, the inevitable yellow card adding insult to injury. The free kick was more than 30 yards out, but Scott Walker's free kick was breathtaking. The ball curled past Bath and dipped under the bar, nestling in the net just by the stantion to level the scores.

City were rocked by the equaliser and still had their minds elsewhere as Chippenham edged ahead. Griffin suddenly had the defence open up ahead of him as Jenkins was left trailing and Griffiths was caught out of position. Griffin played in Walker who had a clear run on goal, pushing the ball beyond Bath and within minutes City had seen their lead reversed. Matters could have worsened further if Matt Bath had not pulled out two more top notch saves to thwart dangerous efforts from distance. City seemed to be struggling and the midfield were too far forward to offer any effective cover for the defence.

City were now under the cosh and the Wiltshire side played the ball around with some confidence. When City did manage an attack down the right through Smith he was brutally cut down by a crunching block tackle from former City player of the year Wayne Thorne. The ref's fondness for his cards did not seem to be entirely equal, and City quickly found five players in the book by the break. Knight curled in accurate free kicks but while both found the head of Chris Burns neither troubled Hervin.

Burns tried to rally his troops at half-time and City came out with a greater sense of purpose, attacking from the kick off and having claims for handball in the area rejected. However the momentum they had started to build was quickly punctured on 52 minutes. City failed to defend a corner and with marking slack Wilmot headed home to give the DML Premier outfit a solid 3-1 lead. City seemed down and out. 

This young City side are good going forward and didn't let their heads drop. Two blockbusting tackles, one from Mustoe in midfield and one from Griffiths on the edge of his box, set the tone for a City fightback. Lee Smith had been kept out of the game in the first half, but suddenly he had the bit between his teeth. His first charge down the right flank carried him past two defenders and his cross just eluded Cox. His second charge was more effective. A clever one-two with Mustoe on the edge of the area saw the youngster burst into the area and slide a near post shot past Hervin.

With the lead cut to one City upped the tempo and they started to play that exciting attacking passing game that saw us make so much progress last season. With Smith, Thompson, Cox and Hoskins all buzzing around the edge of the area Chippenham couldn't clear their lines. Pulse after pulse off attacking play was asking questions of the visitors, and they didn't seem at all confident they had the answers. Smith was rampaging down the right and it was another one of his runs that helped pull City level. He beat his man before sending over a high cross. Andy Hoskins leapt and seemed to hang in the air for an age before powering his header into the net to send a vocal T-End into raptures.

There was an lamost inevitable momentum about City now and subs Adie Harris and Tom Webb were adding to the problems faced by the visitors. The ball was moving from wing to wing as City looked for another opportunity. Webb's shot had to be scrambled off the line by Wayne Thorne and Hervin was forced to push a Cox shot past the post. However the final goal once again came through another turn of speed by Smith. He moved goalward along the touchline before arrowing his pass towards Webb at the near post. His outstretched leg couldn't push the ball goalward, but behind him Jimmy Cox was in space and he made no mistake from close range. As the ball slammed into the net the City fans wildly celebrated a fantastic comeback, and I chucked my camera down the T-End, hence the lack of pictures to accompany this match report. 

The drama was not over yet as Chippenham tried to use the remaining seven minutes to rescue their cup dreams. City had a further chance on the break as Wilkinson set Webb on a long run, but the final few minutes were frantic and open. It looked for a moment as if Chippenham had snatched a last gasp equaliser, but as the Wiltshire fans celebrated the T-End had spotted the linesman's flag. Griffin had controlled the ball with his hand as he brought down the ball for his shot. City retained their lead and held on to celebrate a famous victory.

City go on to face Bishop's Stortford of the Ryman Premier in the 4th Qualifying Round, just one step from the 1st Round proper. Already the Cup has netted City a most welcome 12,000 boost for the club's fragile finances.

(HT: 1-2)


(18, 83)

Smith (60)



Jeffries (foul)

Mustoe n/a

(for 5; 20)
(for 7;76)
(for 9;70)




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