City v Redditch

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CITY v Redditch United

at Meadow Park Saturday 6th March 2004

Dr Martens Western Division

City's Team

City fans may be distracted by the off field boardroom exits but Chris Burns' team showed they have every intention on delivering their pre-season aim of a top seven promotion finish. This was an entertaining game full of graft from two committed teams, and if Redditch are the best in the division then City have little to be scared of as they gained a well deserved point.

Burns went for a team full of experience and took no risks with his selection, both Harris and Knight only making the bench as they recover from slight strains. The only surprise was Chris Thompson, thrown into a left back slot where he rarely looked entirely comfortable. However the City side showed early on they had no intention of letting Redditch settle and they set about the visitors in frenetic fashion.

Both sides had early chances, first Redditch found some room and having cleverly switched play across the flanks they found room to play in a forward whose effort forced a good early save from Matt Bath who blocked well with his feet. At the other end City were finding the Redditch defence tricky to unlock, but after seeing several opportunities quickly closed down a clever diagonal run from Cox gave Mustoe someone to pick out and Cox rattled a cross shot into the advertising hoardings.

The match began to set into an early rhythm. Redditch looked the more assured side but their fortunes were neatly summed up when Cowley produced an impressive turn to put Smith on his backside but then wasted the crossing opportunity with a wasteful punt into the T-End. Generally City were working very hard, especially in midfield where Mustoe and Wilkinson seemed everywhere. Griff and Howarth also played their part and Griff was unlucky to be booked for a nothing challenge, but generally the ref missed little and didn't over react by flourishing his cards.  Both Mustoe and Burns were having problems finding any accuracy with their passing, but neither could be faulted for their positioning or determination to win the ball. Frustratingly though City's inability to keep hold of the ball meant they continually had to break up attacks and found few chances to get forward.

Webb looks for a way through

The result of this was too gradually compress the game into the midfield and Redditch began to get a little frustrated themselves. City then managed to create a good chance after some clever play by Hoskins and Webb sent Cox through the centre of the defence and clear on goal. He controlled it well but as he closed in the keeper rushed out and the striker could only lift it into his body.

Redditch had started to lose some belief and their fans had become considerably quieter as City began to throttle their attacks at source. However Redditch did show flashes of genuine quality and it was one sudden bit of inspiration that allowed them to open the scoring. A clever pass inside Howarth forced the defender to slip and Richard Softley picked up the ball in space as he closed in on goal. With Bath running out the midfielder did well to keep his composure and lifted the ball over the keeper to give the league leaders a 1-0 lead.

The half-time break steadied the ship and doubtless Burns would have been telling his players to keep going as the first half had suggested the visitor's were far invincible. The City side came out with even more passion in the second half and forced the Redditch players into defence. They started the half pushing the defence up to compress the midfield but were forced to re-think their tactics as they realised the wide open spaces behind them were an open invitation to pacey City players like Cox and Smith. The City fans were frustrated by their side who continually seemed to be on the verge of unlocking Redditch but let themselves down with the final pass. Lee Smith was continually finding room down the right and was a willing runner, but he found it difficult to beat his man with any regularity. On one occasion he opted instead to cut in field, but having found sight of goal his shot was soft and skewed wide.

Ouch ! Hoskins gets that sandwich 
filling feeling 

Redditch were a strong side and did well to marshal Hoskins, crowding the City striker with at least two players each time the ball was smacked forward for him to  hold up. this encouraged more long balls into the channels for Jimmy Cox who was working as hard as he has done on any occasion this season. City were suffering a bit as despite his effort Chris Thompson could not get forward down the left, Adie Harris coming on to give us more natural balance on the wing a day after his 40th birthday. Smith and Webb were playing with plenty of zest on the other flank, and while Redditch often stopped one of them they often found the other on hand to zip to the by-line. Unfortunately the quality of crossing was not good and few clear chances were being created in a crowded area. Redditch were becoming more restricted to counter attacks and Burns was on hand to break up one dangerous looking attack as the impressive Softley galloped past Smith and came close to finding space. Minutes later Redditch fluffed a good chance they would later regret, their forward skying a good chance with just Bath to beat.

As the clock ticked down City were getting closer and closer to grabbing an equaliser. Mustoe's passing had been poor again, but he showed some of his real talent when he broke up an attack on the left and looked up to send a fifty yard pass across into the feet of Lee Smith on the opposite flank. Smith was again well handled and was thwarted by a great cover tackle, but a few minutes later he got closer still. Webb was firmly tackled but the loose ball fell to Smith who made the byline before sending over a cross shot that grazed the Redditch cross bar. Redditch manager Rod Brown, dressed for the occasion as a giant red condom, danced with anxiety on the touchline.

City then came even closer to leveling when we forced a string of corners and free kicks around the Redditch penalty area. With Knight and Harris now on the pitch there was a marked improvement in the delivery. One cross was headed down by Hoskins and Cox wriggled free to make himself first to the ball. From only three yards out he seemed certain to score but he was falling backwards and some how his volley flew high over the bar to the anguish of the striker and fans alike. Minutes later another corner saw some clever movement in the area and for once the Redditch defence missed a player, with Howarth's header well met but lacking enough pace to make it anything other than a routine save for the plastic Brummie's keeper.

Even the Swan Lake approach 
can't distract Redditch 

You had the feeling City may have missed their chance and the sight of Chris Burns taking up a place in a three man attack rather smacked of the last throw of the dice. However, eventually the pressure told on the creaking Redditch defence. Frequently their defenders had cynically, but cleverly, tripped or handballed on the edge of the area - presumably having seen our wasteful use of free kicks in recent games. That kind of instinctive fouling can become a dangerous habit though, and so it proved from another corner. The cross was headed out and fell to Adam Howarth on the edge of the box and the centre back unleashed a fierce volley that Hosky would have been proud of. With the strike looking destined for the net Matt Gardiner through himself at the ball and produced a diving block that would have satisfied a keeper. Problem was he was the left back and it was the most blatant of handball's and the penalty was inevitable. The controversy came when the defender was just yellow carded, a rather odd decision for denying an obvious goal, never mind a goalscoring opportunity. 

Burnsie headed for the half way line and looked into the turf as Hoskins stepped up to take the crucial spot kick. Staring into the T-End the City forward would have seen the fans also looking at their feet, the wall, the roof - anywhere but the pitch. Which Hosky would take the penalty, the division's top scorer or the inconsistent forward who gently prodded the ball to the keeper against Mangotsfield on Boxing Day ? This time it was a firm strike low into the right hand corner and the power of the shot beat the keeper who went the right way. City had got the deserved equaliser and players and fans celebrated, Hosky notching his 30th of the season. 

Redditch had heard all 
about Hosky... 

The match only had minutes left and both sides tried to muster further significant attacks but found their way to goal blocked by increasingly desperate tackles. The match had seen plenty of niggly fouls by both sides who had tried their utmost to get the win and it boiled over after an incident by the far touchline. Mustoe was already battle scarred with blood from a cut on the head when he slid through Redditch captain Mark Taylor to put the ball into touch. He stamped on the prone City player who reacted angrily, pulling him to the ground and landing a couple of punches on him before the fighting players were surrounded by squabbling team mates. The referee eventually calmed the situation, and both players were very fortunate to escape with yellow cards when neither could have argued with seeing red.

The fighting on the pitch obviously stoked the interest of a section of the Redditch support, a dozen or so of the travelling fans mincing their way round the ground to attack the City fans on the T-End. Fortunately the City fans did not react to the provocation and the situation was well handled by the brave and timely intervention of the stewards. It was difficult to understand what the handful of aggressors were saying, being either stuffed full of horse tranquiliser or simply retarded. However they seemed to be asking after the CDB and the incident did seem to once again highlight the dangers of these cowardly muppets talking big on the internet when they know full well they're not at matches to reap the benefits of their stirring. The Redditch 'fans' were patently not regular United followers, but a couple of their trouble makers seemed to know their manager - which asks questions of its own.

The threatening presence of the Redditch 'fans' did not stop the City support showing their appreciation for what had been a brave display by the players at the final whistle. This had been a tough battling performance ground out through some hard work in the opening stages which subdued the Redditch side and as the match wore on the increasing City pressure began to tell. Redditch do not seem to be in the form that saw them take such a convincing lead at the top of the table and on this showing do not look as if they will find it easy to hang on to the title as other teams close the gap. None the less the City players deserve credit for their effort and not letting their heads drop as it seemed as if time could be running out on them. At a time when the club needed a lift, the commitment of the team provided it. By next season it could just be the players and the fans left at Meadow Park - if their work rate can be replicated on and off the pitch in the coming months that could still be enough to keep the club on the right track. 

* This draw was very much a point gained for City but it's immediate effect was still to drop us down to seventh, clinging by a point onto the promotion spots in a league table still tight and congested. Gresley may yet close the gap to come into the equation after stunning Halesowen with a 1-0 win at the Moat Ground. Sutton Coldfield seem to be wobbling and dropped more points at home after allowing Bedworth to twice equalise in a 2-2 draw. Bromsgrove stumbled in the same place as we have, losing 2-1 to Yate. Not all the promotion chasing sides did badly, both Rugby and Cirencester took advantage of Redditch dropping points with convincing 5-1 wins at Cinderford and Mangotsfield respectively. Both Solihull and Team Bath also picked up wins to keep a mere two points separating third and ninth.  

Drew 1-1
(HT: 0-1)



Griffiths (c)




Wilkinson 7th

(for 11; 78)

(for 3; 64)



not named

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