This was a clash of two unbeaten sides, but
while as City have been picking up points the Western Division
newcomers had been picking up wins. Although Cossham Street was new
territory for most City fans there were some familiar faces, with the
much maligned David Elsey in the home side and City striking legend
Shaun 'fossil' Penny as their assistant manager.
Cally chopped and
changed his side, with both Chenoweth and Bayliss having niggling
injuries which saw them put on the bench. At the back Steadman
replaced the struggling Richard Moore, while Griff made a welcome
return to action in the place of Marshall. The game itself kicked off
in front of a good sized crowd, but a strange atmosphere as the home
fans seem to watch their games in a silence more akin to a library
than a football ground. Not even the first chill of Autumn in the air
seemed to spur them in to life.
As so often seems the
case this season City started the match brightly, with Cox having a
good run and shot and Wayne Thorne sending in a long range tester. Our
fans quickly got on the back of the ever fragile Elsey, and within
minutes he gifted Kacey the ball on the right. Johnstone
got to the byline and sent over a deep cross well met by Rawlins, but
comfortably stopped by Weaver in the home team's goal.
The match then retreated into midfield,
with the flow of the game hindered by inexplicable interruptions as
players waited for a replacement ball when it had gone out of play.
Despite these irritations both sides put on a good display. United saw
a good spell of pressure, with Hines forced into action with a good
sprawling save at the feet of an attacker and City's keeper also
required to show good handling amidst a series of corners. City also
had chances though, with Johnstone's header from a corner perhaps the
As half-time neared though Mangotsfield
were looking stronger and stronger as City faded. Hines made a couple
more sharp stops, and was also thankful to see a long shot dip just
over the bar. A warning of what was to come came just before the
whistle with Seal crashing a header on the bar with City's defence
typically statuesque under the high ball.
After the break the
siege of City's goal continued with Hines again needed to make some
good saves. Elsey tried to respond to the ever more inventive abuse of
the City fans, but his long shot was tipped over by the busy Ally
Hines. Dicks managed to hack clear the resulting corner, but the
ball came straight back in and found Seal in space. The former Bristol
City and Northampton forward headed home without a challenge.
City responded by
throwing on Karl Bayliss, and immediately his
extra class at this level was apparent. His pass sent Cox free on the
right, but the referee somehow contrived to ignore Elsey's scything
assault on the forward and waved play on. City were piling on pressure
with Rawlins and Bayliss troubling Mangotsfield, and eventually it
told. Baylo fed Rawlins who seemed to have been grappled to the floor
inside the box. As the United defence looked sheepishly to the ref Griffiths
smacked the loose ball in, just to bypass any doubts in the official's
mind on the penalty.
City looked to be the stronger side for
this short spell, and the home team looked seriously stretched by the
variation in attacking problems City presented. Cox caused havoc down
both flanks, but once again was guilty of trying too often to beat too
many men without looking for support. Long balls were being well held
up by both Baylo and Rawlins, and several chances were spurned.
Bayliss had a good snap shot well held, while Rawlins was inches from
meeting a Tucker cross at the near post. The best move saw four
players put together passes that eventually released Meadows
in front of goal, but his shot was too tame to trouble the keeper.
While City were looking
likely to score, as always we looked far from comfortable at the back.
Last ditch tackling brought a spate of bookings and City were pushing
forward at every opportunity. Steadman made a superb tackle in the box
to frustrate one attack, but we've all seen the omens before. An inch
perfect cross from the United left hypnotised the City defence and
found a stooping David Seal at the far post where the Aussie put
Mangotsfield back in to the lead.
The last minutes of the
game saw Gloucester pile forward and go close to snatching a late,
late equaliser. Rawlins and Bayliss both smashed in full blooded
efforts, and Thorne and Chenoweth were driving forward at every
opportunity. The momentum almost saw City get caught on the sucker
punch again, but Hines did excellently well to save a shot and then
smother the follow up as the yellow shirts were all caught in the
other half. Rawlins had one last chance to
grab a point, but his header scraped over following a cross returned
from an uncleared corner.
The result ended City's
unbeaten start to the season, but put the still to be defeated
Bristolians top of the table. Mangotsfield were certainly an
accomplished outfit going forward, and in Seal they have a player of
real quality at this lowly level of the game. City will feel they did
enough to get a point though, and again Cally will be searching for
the answer to defensive lapses which are proving critical time and
time again. Frustrating for the City fans; but we can't deny we're
entertaining to watch - if not always for the right reasons.