City v Mangotsfield

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Friday 26th December 2003
Meadow Park 

CITY v Mangotsfield United  

Dr Martens Western Division

City's Team

City were once again left ruing their missed opportunities after another strong home performance saw the team fail to convert their dominance into points at the final whistle. Perhaps fittingly for the final game of the year their were plenty of glimpses of the best our side has to offer, as well as the frustrating lapses which we will need to bin to get any of the prizes on offer.

Recent history has seen a number of entertaining and high scoring matches between Mangotsfield and City, and with the amount of attacking talent in the two teams this encounter was no different. The Bristol side seem rejuvenated after a change of manager, with a disastrous run of defeats ended spectacularly in their last match - a four goal demolition of high flying Halesowen. We have been on a bit of a run ourselves of course, and there were plenty of reasons to be optimistic with most of the squad now available and now bolstered by the addition of another promising crop of signings from our own youth team, plus a couple of Cheltenham youngsters on loan to us for a bit of experience in the rough and tumble of the DML. Burnsie gave several of the youngsters places on the bench for today's game, retaining himself in the back three after Chris Thompson's eye injury continued to look sore.  

Hosky steps up to - roll the ball gently to
 the keeper. 

City started in typically lively fashion and it was the yellow shirts that poured forward in the opening minutes, with Smith getting an early opportunity to get past Danny Haines and slide over a cross that Greaves did well to hold in the United goal. We then went close to an early lead when a good run by Cox created plenty of space for Mustoe to play in Wilkinson with a deft reverse ball. Wilko fired goalward as he entered the box but Greaves again did well to get down and turn the ball past his post. 

It was something of a shock when the Bristol outfit took an eight minute lead. They had already been perhaps a little unlucky to see one good cross spooned away by Burnsie, but the goal came from their first meaningful attack. A strong run from midfield seemed to have been halted by a sharp Griffiths tackle but the ball ran down the City left and the low cross dissected the City defence who seemed to be the only people in the ground to have failed to spot Darren Edwards' run into the box. He collected the ball and had time to take a touch before hammering it into the net from a couple of yards out.

 Having seen how easily the defence could be split City had to find their own cutting edge and it seemed they had when Mangotsfield's defence was made to look as cumbersome as our own had a few minutes before. Mustoe and Knight combined to open up the defence and when the ball found Cox his sharp spinning turn was too much for United's Mark Summers who left his leg trailing out for Cox to tumble over. The ref, who had already demonstrated how much he liked his new Christmas whistle, had little option but to point to the spot. However any hopes the home fans entertained of a quick equaliser were thwarted when Andy Hoskins stepped up to stroke the tamest of penalty kicks into the grateful arms of Danny Greaves who would have had time to nip to the sales and back and still make the save. Hosky has already scored four penalties in this prolific start to the season, but he won't need to be told how vital converting these chances could become as the season wears on.

In fairness to Hosky he didn't let his head drop and he played a crucial role in the equaliser which came just four minutes later. Mangotsfield looked sharp enough up front, but had little response in midfield where the industry and craft of Mustoe were causing them all sorts of problems. Another clever turn and check seemed to throw the entire Mangotsfield side as he switched play to meet Webb's galloping run down the wing. His low ball found Hoskins who held the ball long enough to be able to slide it under his foot into the path of Dave Wilkinson who had time to crash the ball into the net from close range. And long may his new found goal scoring continue ! 

City press forward in search of that elusive clinching goal

City were now clearly in the ascendancy and spent much of the rest of the half trying to get the goals that their greater share of possession clearly deserved. Mustoe and Knight had far greater control of the game than the United midfield could dream of, and they were constantly threatened by the runs of Webb and Smith down the flanks. The United side had clearly not forgotten Smith's performance against them in the game in August and they set out to stop him in pretty uncompromising fashion, at one point the ref showing uncharacteristic leniency in not giving a free kick when Smith was charged off the pitch despite not actually being in possession. However the attempted hatchet job was incomplete, and Smith managed to get clear to deliver one dangerous low cross which frustratingly eluded everyone in the box as it whistled along the open face of the goal. 

The referee had already shown some fascination with his yellow cards, booking Hoskins for apparent retaliation but not being overly concerned with either the initial foul or the subsequent punch which had caused the forward to react. Jeffries was booked for a foul in the centre circle and then a Mangotsfield defender was booked for a foul on Smith that was followed by a corner. There were further mysteries later - but first the ref turned down strong shouts for a second City penalty. Webb played in Cox who sprinted clear of the United defence only to have his trailing leg hacked from under him by Scott Hendy. The only question seemed to be if Cox had reached the box at the time of the foul - but the referee wasn't interested at all. Perhaps he couldn't bear the prospect of another Hosky spot kick.  

Knight clears under pressure 
from Haines

The second half opened with the visitors looking more lively after the break. A strong run down our left only stopped when Griffiths managed to muscle his way to a short pass ahead of Edwards as play entered the box. A minute later Danny Haines skipped past Smith on the right and slotted a clever pass into the path of a midfield runner, his shot bravely and luckily blocked by Lee Jeffries hurling himself in the right direction. City had their own chance to take the lead a few minutes later when a Knight corner found Burns, but his header looped high over the bar.

City gradually made the game theirs again as Wilkinson found the pace of the game and put himself about for a good ten minute spell. Sometimes its difficult to see what Wilko does for the team, but he is adept at breaking up attacks and the art of simply getting in the way of the opposition is often under rated. Mustoe and Knight again profited from the scraps and were able to get some rhythm back into the City attacks. Cox got a good chance to stretch his legs and only a good block by Hendy stopped him closing in on goal. A few minutes later Webb was able to pull the defence down the left and his sweeping cross almost found his counterpart Lee Smith cutting in on the right. A corner then saw Hoskins nod the ball forward only for Mangotsfield to hack the ball off the line. A few minutes later another corner saw Greaves for once miss the high ball, but although Griff put the ball in the net the referee had already blown for a foul on the keeper.

Hosky is dispossessed in 

City were now at their best, and when they are going for the jugular it is hard to see many sides at this standard coping with them as the attacks can come from any direction. A clever bit of play between Mustoe and Smith saw the right-winger elude another hospital challenge and square the ball inside for Wilkinson. he closed in on goal but saw the opportunity smothered by the on-rushing Greaves. However City were not to be denied long in this kind of mood and Cox was sent chasing on to a pass down the left touchline by Webb. Cox picked up the ball and beat his man before cutting in by the by-line. His cut back picked out the charging run of Lee Smith who had out paced the defence to find plenty of room to crash the ball into the net and wake the T-End from their post Turkey slumbers.

At this point in the game it was hard to see how Mangotsfield could come back into the match, but they have plenty of quality in their side. City seemed unsure as to whether they should be continuing to push forward in search of a killer goal or if to sit back and defend. Mustoe was definitely dropping back to try and offer some extra cover to the defence but seemed to bring most of his team mates back with him. Knight was then penalised for a late challenge just as he was about to be subbed, an unfortunate end to what had been one of his best displays since returning to the club in the summer. His replacement was loan signing Lee Davis, and it was perhaps unfortunate that the City bench didn't wait until the free kick had been defended before sending on the diminutive forward. As it was his much taller defensive colleagues should have dealt much better than they did with a pretty routine high cross from the free kick, but it found Summers totally unmarked to nod in the equaliser for the visitors.

Mustoe chases back 

The goal sparked a lively end to the game. Mangotsfield pushed on to try and get a further goal but Griffiths and Jeffries both did well to withstand the attack and Mustoe emerged with the ball to send Cox on another dangerous run. However the same player had to be on hand as a high looping cross left Matt Bath stranded and Mustoe was forced to head clear from under the bar. Wilkinson then got caught by a heavy challenge and went down in the box, his plight ignored again by the gormless referee who waited until the Mangotsfield attack was over before deciding the player needed treatment. Wilko then limped off with a back injury, the equally hapless ref's assistant demanding City withdraw a player before finally allowing Marvin Thompson to join his fellow loan signing on the pitch. And that's how closely he'd been watching the game! It was all too much for Mustoe who minutes later finally exploded at the ref and was promptly booked for dissent. The City players must learn to accept the decisions and get on with the game, but in mitigation it must be hard for a player like Mustoe who knows the game reasonably well to see the rules and common sense treated with such disdain. It's not something to be dealt with on the pitch, but the standard of DML Western referee's is getting worse and will have to be addressed by the clubs soon. Perhaps Colin could send them some of his quizzes as a starter?

Cox's shin pushes the ball out of reach. 


City pressed the game and ended it camped around the Mangotsfield box, but could not find the breakthrough. Youngster Lee Davis showed some promising touches, one flick and charge earning a free kick as the United defender was left playing thin air. A few minutes later the young forward borrowed from Whaddon Road almost marked his debut with a goal, a snap shot from the edge of the area stinging Greaves' fingertips after his initial free kick had been charged down by the wall - positioned all of five yards from the foul. (Did I mention the ref ?). Marvin Thompson's first touch had been a worryingly aimless hoof across the width of the pitch, but he made amends with a ball winning tackle and a few clever touches. In the final moments City's worries increased after 90 minutes of effort were finally rewarded when Smith was crunched and forced to limp off nursing his ankle. his replacement Karl Palmer showed a useful string to his bow with a long throw which caught Mangotsfield unaware, but although Thompson did well to get his head to the ball he could not get any power on his effort. 

Not content with having made the match as much of a lottery as he could manage the ref then managed the final insult to the fans by ending the match early, not even allowing for any possible injury time. If only he'd had a new watch instead of a new whistle. Mustoe made his feelings clear, shaking the hands of both assistants before marching quickly away from the referee. City must concentrate on the things that are more easily changed by us though, and start converting more chances into goals. The defence is being widely criticised, but is actually not allowing too many chances for the opposition. As always, if the lapses in concentration can be limited then the results will follow.

* DML Western leaders Redditch continue what seems like invincible progress towards the title with a crushing 4-0 win over rivals Bromsgrove Rovers in front of a division's best 1384 attendance. City have cause to regret those dropped two points on Boxing Day after they fell two places, overtaken by Solihull who won 2-0 against Rugby and Team Bath who thumped Yate 3-0. Halesowen's stuttering form continued as they were forced to come back from two goals down at home by Stourport Swifts. Cirencester continue to move onto our shoulder, now just  after a 3-1 win over Supermarine. Cinderford's new boss Phil Mullen took his current charges back to the club that sacked him, but watched the Foresters lose 2-1 at Evesham United.

Drew 2-2
(HT: 1-1)






(- 2)


(for 2; 89)
(for 9; 74)



(for 11; 80)

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