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Saturday 16th January 1999: Meadow Park

CITY vs. Grantham Town

Dr Martens League Premier Division


City's Team

When West Ham crashed out of the Cup against Swansea midweek Hammers boss Harry Redknapp said he couldn't be too critical of his players as they had put in 100% effort - how Brian Hughes will wish his players had given him that satisfaction. City saw their run of form die in its infancy with this defeat against a poor Grantham side. The Gloucester bandwagon remained firmly in neutral as the players drifted aimlessly to another demoralising home defeat that kills off any lingering hopes of catching Nuneaton Borough.

Holloway came in for the injured Niblett while Webb replaced Callinan in the centre of midfield, but despite rattling Grantham in the early exchanges City seemed always to be operating at half pace. City won the toss and left Grantham staring into the low winter sun as they attacked the T-End. Recalled right-back Holloway swung over a deep cross in the first minute, but this was to be a false dawn and his only meaningful attacking contribution of the match. Gary Thorne wasted another early opportunity when he met a Webb free kick but headed over from eight yards.

First half City dominated possession without convincing up front, Wyatt constantly probing down the right and several times effectively linking with Hemmings and Tucker. Despite pressure City created few clear chances with the usually reliable Andy Mainwaring looking sluggish in attack even before a hefty Gingerbread's challenge left him nursing a dead leg. Tucker did see a chance smothered at his feet by Grantham keeper Germaine while Burns unpromising long distance effort became more awkward as it came out of the sunlight. With the Grantham fans quietened and bemused by having their chants interrupted by cries of "Leslie" at the appropriate moments Gloucester looked the likelier to break a very dead deadlock. However the visitors gave due warning of taking them too lightly when a corner came off the City post before being hacked clear by Wayne Thorne.

The second half was a more even affair with Grantham sending in a few stinging shots at Mokler. While Burns and Mainwaring came close to carving out an opportunity Grantham hit the bar when Pell beat Moks to a high cross. City tried to pile on the pressure with Fergusson replacing the anonymous Webb in midfield. Wyatt and Hemmings continued to plague Grantham's full backs, but even when crosses did come in Mainwaring was unable to capitalise and the midfield was too deep to provide support. Hemmings seemed the most promising hope of a goal, and surely our fans are wrong to abuse him for not passing more - even if he could do with looking up more often how can jeering our own players be justified?

It was Hemmings who inadvertently provided the breakthrough, although unfortunately it came at the wrong end. Hemmo's pass fell short of Fergusson and the highly rated Gary Twynham cleared with a long ball that dissected a fragile looking Tigers defence. With the City back line encouraged to push right up our centre-backs were exposed by the pace of Robert Pell. Moks charged out of his goal and met the on-rushing Pell, the outcome being City conceding a penalty for the third consecutive match. From the T-End it wasn't clear if the Ref made the right decision, the general quality of officials in the DML not exactly filling you with confidence that justice had been done. Certainly the decision to book Moks was curious - if he'd bought down Pell surely he should have seen red? As it was he was unable to repeat last week's heroics at Sheepy Road with Gilbert putting the full-time professionals ahead.

The increasingly witless and quiet T-End chorus tried to galvanise some action out of the team and themselves but failed as the expected all out City attack failed to materialise. Hoskins came on for the disappointing Andy Tucker but there seemed little extra in the Tiger's tank. Wyatt saw a hopeful shot sail wide while both Hemmings and Mainwaring tumbled in search of a penalty the referee would probably not have awarded even if fouls had been committed. Burns tried to crank up the atmosphere with a good hard fist fight but his troops couldn't even muster much interest in a punch up. The only real opportunity to snatch a late point came when Hoskins headed inches wide from a Hemmings cross. The final whistle allowed a veil to be drawn on a dreadful gutless City display, leaving only the exchange of unpleasantries with the Gingerbreads obnoxious keeper to cheer up a despondent T-End. If you want a reason for falling crowds don't blame other neighbouring clubs, or even the local media - perhaps its these strangely passionless performances. We've got good players but if they won't work hard then the team itself will never go anywhere.

Mokler L0-1
Holloway Half-time
W.Thorne 0-0
Webb Att.
Kemp (c) 593
G.Thorne City Scorers
Wyatt none
Burns Bookings
Mainwaring Mokler
Tucker Position
Hemmings 5th

Fergusson (for Webb,52) LDDWWL
Hoskins (for Tucker,73) Report
Bennett T.Towel

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