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25th November 2000: Common Road
City once again demonstrated their infuriating habit of chucking away leads having set themselves up for victory against high flying Evesham. It seemed the match would be sure to be called off, but although the pitch was very heavy after torrential downpours the referee passed it fit for playing. It wasn't his last questionable decision of the day.
The pitch was so sodden that even in the first few minutes it was obvious this was no time for pretty passing football. City began the stronger, perhaps less hampered by the conditions and certainly quickly cottoned on that the best place for swift progress was down the slightly greener flanks. Almost straight from kick-off we had a free kick which was only partially cleared by Evesham. Chenoweth shot from the edge of the area and Bayliss almost profited when Evesham's keeper let the wet ball slide out of his grip.
a few minutes later Tommy almost scored when he headed goalward from a long Griffiths throw but the keeper did well to hold the ball under pressure from Bayliss. City's pressure was mainly coming from Johnstone and Cox down the wings, but cheeringly our midfield was also winning the battles when the ball got literally stuck around the halfway line. On the whole we deserved our lead when Chenoweth was on hand to poke the ball gently over the line after Callinan's shot had ricocheted off a defender and left their keeper stranded.
For the next few minutes City looked comfortable and piled on pressure with the pitch helping defenders make errors. Cox got an excellent cross over from the left and Bayliss was unfortunate to shoot high. An even better chance followed minutes later, this time Bayliss used his strength to turn the defence and play in Johnstone who shot over at the far post. Evesham rallied a little near the end of the half and saw one header saved well by Gannas before Steve Taylor had a goal disallowed for being half a mile offside.
Into the second half and with the pitch churning up nicely the best prospect of moving the ball was to keep it in the air. City were doing this quite nicely and seemed to be cruising with Bayliss, Cox and Johnstone causing untold problems for Evesham's rickety looking defence. Eventually a second came when Tucks smashed in a fierce drive from just outside the box which the keeper obligingly dropped in front of Cox who bundled it in from close range. The way the match was going it didn't seem too foolish to be optimistic for once.
But suddenly within minutes the game imploded courtesy of our kamikaze defence and calamitous keeper. It may have been coincidence but the collapse coincided with the departure of Callinan who had one of his best games in recent months, perhaps as it was largely played at a slow pace because of the mud. The first Evesham goal on 65 minutes came when Griffiths slipped on the right, allowing the cross to come in for Taylor who was inexplicably left totally alone to nod in. Before you had time to swear we'd thrown away another. This time the deep cross from the right didn't even need the presence of an Evesham player as Gannas reached up under the bar and smacked it in all by himself. Words fail...
Gannas did partly redeem himself a short while later with a fine save after Evesham cut in past the labouring Grantley Dicks and smacked a shot low to the left post. City did have reason to feel bitter about the winner when it came, although by this time Evesham were all over our defence, appropriately much like flies on crap. Dicks had been caught offside down the left by a linesman who could only have had mud in his eye. From that free-kick Evesham smacked in a long ball which despite two scrambles on the line we were never able to clear. Eventually Taylor headed in his second.
City pressed forward and threw on Rawlins for the tiring Karl Bayliss, but despite lots of belated attacking play the break through never quite materialised. The Evesham defence was definitely rattled, but we were never quite able to capitalise on it. The closest City came was when Dicks whipped a ball back across goal and the keeper narrowly palmed the ball off the head of the stooping Johnstone. The final whistle left us feeling robbed, and spirits were not much improved by the rude behaviour of their bar staff nor the prospect of getting the car out of the swamp that Evesham provide for parking.
|Jenkins (for 11;64)||Report|