City v Gresley

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Saturday 19th August 2000: Meadow Park

CITY vs. Gresley Rovers 

Dr Martens League Western Division


City's Team

After much anticipation the long awaited new season has begun with City beginning their Western division campaign against Gresley Rovers, renewing a somewhat less than congenial relationship with the Derbyshire side. Cally had hinted his new line-up would contain surprises, but the main ones were the inclusion of Rawlins after flu and Cox after back trouble. As well as Rawlins debuts were also made by Grantley Dicks, Richard Moore and John Meadows. City also lined up with a back three (or five, depending on your thoughts) with Dicks, Hunt and Moore supported by wing-backs Kacey Johnstone on the right and seemingly Neil Griffiths on the left. 

City started very positively as you might expect after a good pre-season. Cox and Rawlins both looked lively and Chenoweth was quick into the tackles as he snapped away in the midfield. The game was a stop-start affair though, with many passes going astray and too many free-kicks for niggling challenges which a more lenient referee could have let go.

City possibly had the better of the first exchanges, Chenoweth came through midfield and saw his snap shot from a half-cleared loose ball skim wide. Rawlins also exchanged passes with Cox but could not dig the ball out from under his feet to get a shot in. 

After the first ten minutes Gresley became more settled and began to take control of the match, with their Mark Peters in the seven shirt the best player on the pitch. he created one opportunity for  their whiney right-back, but thankfully his shot trickled towards Ganners. However City's defence was coming under increasing pressure, with Richard Moore twice caught in possession trying to play his way out when a defensive hoof up the pitch would have served better. Moore almost came to blows with both Thorne and Dicks as they pointed out the error of his ways.

Finally the pressure told on the 23rd minute when Ganners came for a corner and missed it. Warren knocked it back across goal from the far post leaving Dave King to touch it home from a yard out. City looked shell shocked and could have gone further behind, but in fairness showed character to equalise against the run of play. A long ball to Rawlins resulted in a corner, which Meadows headed on for Rawlins to crash a shot against the bar. The rebound fell fortuitously to Jimmy Cox who netted from close in. 

City then grabbed an unlikely first half lead when another long ball saw Cox scamper into the penalty box down the left. As he cut in towards goal he appeared to be tripped, and the referee duly awarded a penalty. Matt Rawlins stepped up and thumped his kick straight past the Gresley keeper to mark his debut with a goal. City fans immediately started what I hope was a semi-ironic chant of 'Champions' - we may be good enough but is it fair to heap those expectations on the team straight away?

The second half seemed almost anti-climatic with the fans on the T-End barely seeing a City attack as both Cox and Rawlins appeared to tire. Gresley almost snatched a weak goal when Ganners fluffed a clearance and Peters almost chipped it back over the keeper from distance.  Gresley were pouring forward and a defence well directed by Dicks was at full stretch keeping them out. 

City launched a flurry of substitutions as Callinan tried to stem the flow of Gresley attacks. Andy Tucker made a very welcome return to action in place of Meadows, and almost immediately had an impact with a well weighted pass to Cox whose shot needed a good stop from the keeper. Mark Abbott, resplendent with new blonde hair, replaced the disappointing Richard Moore, but still Gresley were coming forward.

Eventually though City cracked, just when it seemed they would hold on for what would have been a rather flattering victory.  Once again Ganners looked vulnerable as he faced a series of corners, and in the 86th minute he flapped at a cross leaving Gresley to again win the first header. In the resulting chaos Adie Doughty bundled the ball in for the equaliser despite claims of both offside and handball. 

Although the goal was dubious the result was fair and left City with plenty to think about. The defence looked weak with Richard Moore looking much more uncertain than he had during an impressive pre-season. Ganners continues to be a worry, while Neil Griffiths looked thoroughly uncomfortable and out-of-sorts as a right footed left-wing back. Surely Wayne Thorne would do well as an attacking left-back, for all his wishes to be in midfield. On the bright side Kacey Johnstone had a good first-half, and both Cox and Rawlins looked exciting, although Rawlins tired badly at the end, perhaps due to his bout of flu. Early days though, and a point is better than nowt, and both Cally and Godfrey have the experience to tinker with the side to good effect over the coming weeks.

Gannaway D2-2
Johnstone Half-time
Thorne (c)  City Scorers
Meadows Cox(40), Rawlins(42 pen)
Chenoweth Bookings
Griffiths Position

(for 7; 60) 
(for 5; 69)
(for 2; 81)

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