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Saturday 3 October 1998: Meadow Park

CITY v. Paulton Rovers

F.A. Cup 2nd Qualifying Round


City's Team
Kemp (c)

Bennett (for Hoskins, 89)
Hoskins (for Mings, 56)
Wyatt (for Tucker, 78)

City stuttered their way into the 3rd qualifying round with an entirely unconvincing display against Western League Paulton Rovers. The home team were without new signing Tommy Callinan who was ineligible, so Webb regained a spot in midfield while Keeling and Mings kept their places up front. City had been warned Paulton were no mugs, but still seemed to be unable to shake the idea they would coast to an easy victory.

City seemed set to knock the stuffing out of Paulton in the early exchanges, the Tigers making their now characteristic early charge. A series of corners stretched the visitors but neither Mings or keeling were quite able to force the ball home. A few minutes later both Keeling and Tucker were close to getting on the end of a Hemmings cross, the former's pace once again causing the opposition all sort of problems.

However City were to quickly regret their early wastefulness. The nippy Paulton strike duo of Perret and Boyle were moving the City defence out of position with ease and with the Tigers pressing forward they got caught by a classic break-away goal. Evans charged down the left and found himself alone with only Hemmings for company. Evans' pass found Boyle unmarked and the former Ch@#tenham striker put the underdogs into the lead.

In fairness to City they responded positively and Kemp should have scored from a free header which was palmed away by the Paulton keeper. however the Gloucester pressure was taxing the Somerset team's defence and after a few minutes of relentless charges their concentration lapsed. Webb took possession from Burns in midfield and his pass caught the Paulton defence flat footed, allowing Keeling to charge through for a simple finish.

In the second half the Paulton defence seemed better organised, with plenty of men behind the ball they were still a threat on the break. The City midfield and forwards seemed to struggle for ideas as they were unable to translate the possession into scoring chances. Too often the Tigers relied on the forward charges of Holloway and Thorne to add some penetration to their play. As the home fans came increasingly jittery the ineffective Mings was replaced by Hoskins, followed soon after by Wyatt coming on for the off-form Tucker.

The substitutions seemed to breathe some new urgency into the City attack with Wyatt and Holloway overlapping effectively down the right. A deep Holloway cross was well controlled by Hemmings, the winger almost turned the Paulton defence but the visitors got a vital toe in. City then had an alarm in their own penalty area as Mokler needed treatment following a heavy fall having collected a dangerous Paulton cross. The Paulton bench then had a more serious problem as the excellent Taylor was stretchered off having been knocked out cold in the scrum following a City corner. City sensed the Rovers defence had lost a vital player, but were unable to take advantage despite the bustling effectiveness of Hoskins. Webb had the best chance, shooting just over from the edge of the area, while Holloway also sent Keeling charging along the by-line, but the driven cross evaded everyone.

As City became increasingly frustrated they almost got caught out at the back, but fortunately Perrett fired wide when he could have earnt his side a famous win. That seemed to be the bit of luck City needed as the game went into a long period of injury time. Hoskins limped off to be replaced by young Steve Bennett, and he grabbed a sensational last minute winner. Burns was sent away down the left by Hemmings, and Burns' curling cross was met by Bennett who stooped low to flick the ball past Paulton's keeper.

While City's win was cruel on battling Paulton it would be fair to say the Western Leaguers task was made easier by a poor City performance. Only Thorne and Holloway can really escape criticism for a half-hearted performance. However, looking on the bright side City have all to often lost Cup games of this sort against the likes of Thatcham, Clevedon and Cinderford - and this time they showed a little more courage and persistence to at least scrape the victory.

City Scorers
Bennett (89)

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