Cinderford v City

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Saturday 24th August 2002
The Causeway

Cinderford Town v CITY

Dr Martens League Western Division

City's Team

Fans going into this game would have been forgiven for expecting a tough and closely fought local derby after the Foresters good start to the season and City's victory at Taunton mid-week. For perhaps the first half an hour they were right, but then some woeful defending saw Cinderford disappear out of sight and City collapsed like a Jeffrey Archer appeal hearing. 

City started the stronger of the two sides with some clever and almost incisive passing around the Cinderford box. Even at this stage it was clear the home side were physically strong and not afraid to clear their lines uncompromisingly. However despite this it was City who created an opening first, a Thompson cross ricocheted around the box before falling to Neil Mustoe on the edge of the area. His rasping half volley flew narrowly past the post with the keeper standing.

Although Cinderford did manage to escape their half at this point they looked a simple long ball team and we were quickly returning the ball back to our forwards. The pace of Smith was obviously a worry for them and a full blooded charge up the left flank from Lee Burby gave them more to ponder. However the best crosses came from the left, first from Thompson after a smart one-two and then a whipped in curling Mustoe cross just evaded everyone. City then got the ball into the net when Smith nodded home Marshall's cross - but the City youngster had been caught a yard offside.

Cinderford head clear a City corner under pressure from Chris Burns

Steadman was then called into action as City finally saw the ball in their own half - the City defender doing well to shadow the ball away from the forwards as he found himself facing his own net six yards out. However the ease with which the home team had cut through should have been a warning. The opening goal when it came was simple and direct, a lobbed free kick was met unopposed by Tommy Callinan's head on 21 minutes. Woeful marking - and of course it had to be scored by City's unpopular ex-boss.  

Despite what were looking like defensive frailties it was difficult at this point to think City would fail to find a way back. Indeed for a further 15 minutes City pressurized the Foresters' goal and came close to scoring twice. Once a lofted ball from the back saw Lee Smith tear clear and he was unfortunate to see a 50-50 challenge with the keeper send the ball spinning out of his reach. Minutes later it was Smith's pace that again undid Cinderford, a Thompson pass was nipped off the toe of ponderous Cinderford boss Tony Hopkins. smith raced in and drove his shot into the near post netting, perhaps others in the box were better placed but it demonstrated a welcome display of striker's confidence after his two goals mid-week. 

Lee Burby beats Cinderford 
boss Tony Hopkins

City really needed an equaliser after this spell but instead they fell further behind on 39 minutes. City looked lost as Cinderford crossed into the box and former Ciren man Scott Griffin had far too much time to leap and choose where to put his header. Three minutes later Griffin put the game all but out of reach. Thompson, so effective going forward looked leaden footed as Clayton Hook tore past him and half the length of the pitch. His low cross was inch perfect for Griffin who finished smartly having cruised beyond all of City's defence.

City tried to come storming out of the blocks for the second half but never did so with any direction or purpose. It was a half best forgotten for City fans as what followed was little more than a spineless capitulation from too many of our players. The defence looked as shell shocked as you can be on a football pitch outside of the occupied territories. On several occasions Cinderford ghosted around our defence who appeared to have stopped talking entirely, it was as well Cinderford seemed to have lost a little venom as they put chances wide. Matt Taylor made one fine double save, but it was easy to speculate how much extra confidence Matt Bath may bring to the side on his return from suspension on Monday. 

City's discipline was beginning to get a little frayed. Howard was lucky to stay on the pitch for a challenge so late that most people, ref included, seemed to miss it. Marshall then repeated his old trick of needlessly running across the pitch to get involved in a nothing tussle between Griff and a Cinderford man. All this culminated in an unsurprising fourth for Cinderford on 71 minutes scored by sub Damian Edwards.

City's only real second half spark came from a burst of pace injected by Lee Smith. his swift turn for once wrong footed the home defence and he sent in a 30 yard effort that Cinderford's keeper did well to force over. His strike partner Bayliss looked jaded and tired, restricted to gentle efforts goalward that threatened little. Sadly too many of the other players looked content to be carried, or tried too hard attempting a defence splitting ball rather keep possession. Mustoe looked an increasingly frustrated figure as his attempts to spread play or send City forward all to often found colleagues determined to chase into a cul-de-sac.

This was a match that City's fans will desperately want to erase from their minds, not least as for once they will have felt the players showed little spirit. To watch your team perform like that must be galling to the chairman, directors and fans who are working so hard to get the club going forward. Manager Chris Burns was downcast after the game, but fans recognise he is making a good fist of a difficult job. However he deserves a little more effort and application from many of his players. A re-think about the team's shape may also prove helpful.

At least our players get an early chance to make amends with Monday's home game against Merthyr. Hopefully a result there and the start of a good run will make former Tigers manager Tommy Callinan choke on his words that City were a "crap club with a crap team."

(HT: 0-3)




Marshall Bookings
Burns Smith

(for 3; 57)


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