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Saturday 30 January 1999: The Grove

Halesowen Town v. CITY

Dr Martens League Premier Division


City's Team

The Tigers slim promotion hopes had a welcome boost with this gutsy performance at The Grove. Keeper Pat Mountain kept his place after a match winning display at Merthyr, whilst Tommy Callinan again played through a knee injury in the City midfield.

From the outset City had the beating of a Yeltz side that looked a shadow of their teams of recent years. The home side's shakey defence was stretched early on by a surging run from Jon Holloway, who provided a searching cross that just eluded the in rushing Chris Burns. Halesowen were proving their own worse enemy in the centre of the park, with City struggling to keep possession they were often aided by wayward passing creating openings for the lively Mings and Mainwaring.

Halesowen failed to create any clear openings in the first quarter, with Mountain only once stretched by a deep cross which he collected confidently. City soon found their feet and were visibly heartened by the frequent mistakes made by the Midlanders. Gloucester were soon putting the home side under concerted pressure on both flanks. The only method of defence was constant trips on City players, and the Brummie defence was fortunate to see only three bookings.

The main weapon for City was Tony Hemmings whose sheer pace down the left was causing all sorts of problems. Wolves veteran Paul Birch went in the book after a particularly crude scything challenge, but while the fouls were producing a series of corners and free kicks City couldn't seem to finish despite good chances falling to Mings and Kemp. However interplay from Wayne Thorne and Burns once again released Hemmo on the left wing, and with defenders mostly on yellow cards and reluctant to dive in he made swift progress. Hemmo then dummied his way past the right back and cut in direct on goal, when yet another clumsy challenge brought him down for the clearest of penalties. Defender Wayne Lloyd was grateful to lenient refereeing and escape a second booking, but Holloway was not so forgiving and crashed his spot kick into the top left corner of the net to give City a thoroughly deserved half-time lead.

Hemmings had obviously been the subject of some discussion in the home dressing room and he was closely pursued through out the second half. However as he drifted from wing to wing there were large gaps to be exploited by Mings and any supporting midfielders. Yeltz put some pressure on Gloucester but weren't quite able to break through the massed Tiger's ranks. Despite dominating possession the better chances fell to City, with Hemmings running through the defence once again only to see Callinan shoot high over a gaping goal. Mainwaring also sent a 20 yard screamer narrowly over the bar in an improved performance, although he faded near the end of the match and was replaced by Fergie.

Kemp starred for Gloucester as he seemed to be all over the box putting in blocks and crucial tackles. Halesowen did at one point hit the bar through Lloyd's header, but generally City defended well in depth and rarely allowed clear shots. Mountain marshaled his lines well, punching clear several times and pulling off one crucial diving save from Piearce. Wayne Thorne showed his growing maturity by resisting the temptation to dive in and instead closing down forwards and shepherding them safely from the danger area. Despite this both Kemp and Holloway had to clear from inside the six yard box.

The match ended with Tucker, Hemmings and Burns setting up camp at the left corner flag and frustrating Halesowen as the ref added an improbable seven minutes of injury time. The gutsy visitors held on though, and grabbed a crucial three points to capitalise on Bath and Nuneaton drawing. This was a stirring gritty display from all on the pitch, and one that almost lets you dare hope again - but the crucial question is if the players can show this same commitment at Meadow Park and put together a good consistent run of results.

Mountain W1-0
Holloway Half-time
W.Thorne 1-0
Callinan Att.
Kemp (c) 743
G.Thorne City Scorer
Tucker Holloway (42 pen)
Burns Bookings
Mainwaring Burns, W.Thorne
Mings Position
Hemmings 2nd

Fergusson (for Mainwaring, 78) WWLDWW
Bennett Report
Hoskins T.Towel

Match Reports
City Index