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Tuesday 9th March 1999: Meadow Park

CITY vs. Merthyr Tydfil

Dr Martens League Premier Division


City's Team

City kept up the happy knack of winning without hitting top form with another vital victory. While City still trail Nuneaton by 12 points, that's a huge psychological leap from the 20 points that separated the sides before the Tiger's current run of just one defeat out of thirteen. Borough boss Brendan Phillips watching this match must have realised his table-toppers can't afford to dismiss a side who can scrap solidly for ninety minutes and seem to be blessed by the fates.

Merthyr arrived at Meadow Park on the crest of a slump, dragged down by the news that their latest financial rescue package has collapsed. The early exchanges certainly didn't seem to suggest Gloucester would have too much trouble. Burns and Hemmings returned to the side and they looked as if they could tear through a paper thin Merthyr defence at will. City created chances regularly, but profligate finishing and a mixture of fortune and reflexes from Neil Thomas just about kept the Merthyr goal intact. Gary Thorne was having an excellent game, seeming more and more comfortable in his new midfield berth. Twice he came near to breaking the deadlock, once from a close range header which Thomas kept out with his trailing foot, the second time stinging the keeper's hands with a rasping drive after Webb had run down another cul-de-sac on the edge of the area.

For all the good chances, City were actually finding Merthyr a handful in attack. Twice the pace of Chiverton and Griffiths saw Mountain forced into excellent one on one saves, while the Martyrs seemed sure to score from a quick break after Holloway got caught out deep in the opposition half. Merthyr saw one shot come back off the post, with Mountain and Kemp also having to block follow-up efforts. City still looked the more likely to score, with Hemmo twice through on the wing, but on both occasions his crosses were too high and deep for a visibly exasperated Adie Mings. Webb seemed to have tied his boots together, and too often had to be rescued by Holloway on the right. One surging Holloway run bought a corner, from which Niblett headed just over.

An entertaining game threatened to be spoilt by some crass refereeing decisions. The ref had obviously decided who the usual suspects were, and booked Burns and Mings for nothing tackles, while he booked Hemmings for only slight bodily contact inside Merthyr's own penalty area. He then refused Hemmo a definite penalty when he cut in from the right and was tripped while running across the Merthyr back four. However it was a free kick that brought the crucial breakthrough just before half-time. City won a free kick just outside the area after Burns had been tripped. Webb rolled the ball to Burns whose swerving piledriver of a shot sneaked around the wall and left the Martyr's keeper rooted helplessly to the spot.

Half-time saw a fired up Merthyr begin to dominate the midfield, but City grabbed a crucial second. Burns' corner was met at the near post with a header from Hemmo, he was robbed by the crossbar but Mings was on hand to bundle the ball over the line in typical fashion. City continued to stretch Merthyr, who resorted to a risky offside system against the pace of substitute Smith and Hemmo.

The midfield area seemed to at times be totally overrun by the Welsh side, but despite having the most of the ball they only once broke through, when Williams shot crept past Mountain on 76 minutes. While City seemed unable to catch breath long enough to show true quality, they scrapped for everything and did enough to outwork Merthyr. One outstanding bit of interplay between Burns and Smith saw the City captain almost grab his second, but once again the keepers legs kept City out. It just remained for last gasp substitute Andy Mainwaring to get himself booked with an over enthusiastic lunge in the opposition area, but City ran out worthy victors with another precious three points that will keep Borough looking nervously over their shoulders.

Mountain W2-1
Holloway Half-time
W.Thorne 1-0
G.Thorne Att.
Kemp (c) 576
Niblett City Scorers
Webb Burns(45), Mings(62)
Burns Bookings
Tucker Burns, 
Mings Position
Hemmings 2nd

Smith (for Tucker,64) DWWWWW
Mainwaring (for Mings,88) Report
Callinan T.Towel

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