Rocester v City

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Saturday 24th March 2001: Hillsfield  

  Rocester vs. CITY  

Dr Martens League Western Division


City's Team

The one comfort for the handful of City fans who made this trip to deepest Staffordshire was the friendliness of Rocester's few fans and the charm of the rural setting. That apart this was another bleak afternoon of calamitous defending with little to cheer except Gary Marshall's good luck.

The occasion didn't start promisingly as City's minibus arrived at ten to three following a traffic jam on the M6. City piled out and went almost straight into the game, kicking off only about ten minutes late. Despite the lack of preparation it was City who looked more alert and they took advantage straight away.

City pushed down the right and won a throw in which Griff hurled toward the penalty area. Callinan, playing up front, got his head to the ball and his flick wrong footed the defence who allowed the ball to trickle to the far post. Marshall duly tapped into the empty goal from close range. Easy. 

It looked like it was going to stay easy too, at least for the first twenty minutes as city had every chance to create a commanding lead. First Marshall won a free kick and Rocester again failed to clear, and Griff almost scored from a narrow angle, only for the shot to crash off the post and almost decapitate me in the process. By this point the cold wind was biting, and given what was to come I almost wish it had. There was more attacking City play to enjoy though, as Callinan spurned a free header from a corner and Abbo saw a long shot clear the angle. The best chance though fell to Jimmy Cox who did well to retrieve a ball near the by-line, beat a defender and head in towards the goal. With only the keeper to beat though he was defeated by the narrow angle and pulled his shot into the side netting.

As always though you didn't feel you could entirely relax, and with City seeming to ease off the pedal we were having to defend more and more. Parnell and Dicks both made fine tackles, and Ally made two good saves tipping over the bar as the home side found their range. Sure enough City gave away the lead on 35 minutes when a free kick led to a deep cross that was nodded back across goal for the forward to tap in. Bish, bash, bosh - as simple as that.

The match seemed to be nicely petering out into a midfield stalemate, with the whole of our central four working hard and none more so than the improving Mark Abbott. However all that came undone in the last half hour of the match when both defences and the ref seemed to lose it. 

First Steadman blew a promisingly steady performance with another characteristic lapse of concentration. The Rocester attack seemed to have been broken up when Steadman got his feet to a low cross. Having steadied himself Will then slid the ball straight to Ejiofor, and the forward bore straight in on goal and scored. 

Marshall's corner heads past the clutching clown in goal

At least Will didn't have too long to feel sorry for himself as Marshall completed what must have been one of the oddest hatricks ever to restore the City lead. First his in swinging corner evaded everyone and crept straight in at the far post. The keeper looked a real soft touch, it wasn't a fast ball and was at a nice height.

Within a minute the Rocester keeper's day got even worse. Having committed the cardinal sin of biting back at the opposition fans he then compounded his problems by having an awful match. Even the ref couldn't resist taking the mick out of him, awarding a dubious penalty and booking him too. Cox had raced through onto a Marshall ball, but seemed to just tread on the ball and fall. In fairness to the ref the keeper was within a few miles of the incident, but even Cox looked a little surprised when the spot kick was awarded. Marshall won the fight to take the kick, and planted it past their sorry looking keeper to double his tally for the season in one game.

Marshall's penalty heads goalward

Guess what happens next? That's right, we chuck away the lead through poor defending. First the Rocester left-back ghosted past Griff, Tucks, Abbott and Parnell before getting into the area and putting his drive beyond Hines. Fair play, it was a good goal - but it might have been better had he met some opposition on the way. Then, to make the capitulation complete we completed the self-destruction job by failing to deal with yet another high cross. The defence watched as the ball sailed over, and Hines flapped at the near post, leaving Ejiofor to complete the simplest hatrick he'll ever get by nodding into the unguarded goal. 

Bish, bash, bosh - City concede a fourth

It's all very well to thank Rocester for their hospitality, but do we have to always do it on the pitch? 

Yet again we dropped points against a side that didn't look anything special. If we could tighten up just a little and work on defending as a unit I'm sure we'd quickly pick up far more points. Even with the loss of yet more key players we rarely look out of touch against sides in this division. It's frustrating that with the games now coming thick and fast before the season ends Tommy and Brian will have little chance to spend giving the coaching that is desperately needed to improve some of our young defenders. 

Hinckley next, God help us.

Griffiths Half-Time

Dicks (c)


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