Halesowen v City

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Saturday 22nd April 2000: The Grove

  Halesowen Town vs. CITY  

Dr Martens League Premier Division


City's Team

City rolled up the M5 in the pouring rain knowing that only their second away win of the league season could offer some hope of escape. The atmosphere at The Yeltz was somehow reminiscent of a funeral, not helped by the memories of some terrific past matches here. The crowd, both home and away, was subdued. It had a bad feeling about it.

City were forced to chop and change again as injuries left Callinan without Smart, Casey, Tucker and Abbott, plus the once again absent Talboys. The reshuffle saw Callinan back in midfield, with Wayne Thorne moved into midfield and Steadman back in at centre back.

City started with purpose, but it was clear from the point of Mike Wyatt's conversion free kick that we were due for a struggle. Dominic Gordon was causing all sorts of problems with his pace, but once again his touch let him down in crucial positions. Even so the referee bottled a decision when only booking Halesowen's Lloyd who had been the last man when he brought down Gordon. Perhaps the ref decided that for Gordon it was a long way from being a clear goal scoring opportunity. City had good pressure through Wyatt, Bayliss and Gordon, forcing several corners but only having a single fizzing Bayliss shot to show for the pressure.

It was far from being all City though. Clever midfield play from Birch and former Ch@#tenham man Neil Smith were stretching a fragile looking offside trap, and only a string of fine saves from Ryan Gannaway kept the match goalless. The Yeltz hit the post and then Steadman rode his luck with a scything late challenge. Hunt looked all over the place at left back, and Thorne was chasing back to such an extent that the left of midfield wasn't offering any support for the forwards. After another fine Gannaway double save you felt City were going to make it through to half time, but then a deep Birch cross caught us all at sea and Yeltz went in a goal up. 

Even after the half-time talk it looked like the goal had knocked the stuffing out of a disbelieving City team. The midfield had capitulated and the defence were chasing shadows. Shots screamed by, but unfortunately the home side's second came from a spectacular diving header past his own goalkeeper by Wayne Thorne. In fairness to him he'd been forced back out of position as Danny Hunt had once again totally lost his bearings. 

That bit of personal misfortune at least seemed to fire up Thorne, and he saw a curling free kick plucked from the top corner by McDonnell in the Yeltz goal. Indeed City were robbed of a penalty after Owen handled under pressure from Wyatt, and also suffered further heroic saves from both Bayliss and Niblett as City belatedly hit the throttle. At the other end though Gannas made another good save, and then Halesowen grabbed a cruel third on the break through Thomas. 

At 3-0 down even the most optimistic City fan was beginning to plan trips to Rocester, Weston and Hinckley next season. The visiting support began to fight amongst themselves as some reacted by carrying on singing, others too upset to keep their cool at all. The whole thing wasn't helped by the near presence of smiling City directors - do they appreciate what this all means to the fans?

Too late City got some luck in front of goal as Thorne headed a deep far post Wyatt cross back across the goal for Bayliss to tap in. Somewhat inevitably though Halesowen only needed another five minutes to slice back through a totally out of sorts Gloucester defence and Owen to grab a fourth. However young substitute Michael Devlin cheered up a thoroughly depressed traveling support with his first goal for the club. It was a real beauty too - a curling lob from a full thirty yards after Bayliss had seen his shot blocked by the keeper. It was a goal fit to win a cup final, but unfortunately it was scant consolation after a poor City side left themselves stranded in the bottom four. 

Gannaway L 2-4
Griffiths (c) Half-time
Hunt 0-1
Steadman Att.
Niblett 452
Cook  City Scorers
Wyatt Bayliss (83), Devlin (90)
Callinan Bookings
Bayliss -
Gordon Position
W.Thorne 20th

Wigg (for Callinan, 68)  LLDLDL
Jenkins (for Griffiths, 74) Report
Devlin (for Gordon, 79) T.Towel

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