City v Rocester

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Saturday 29th September 2001
Meadow Park  

  CITY v. Rocester  

Dr Martens League Western Division

City's Team

City will be disappointed to have left the field with only a point having led this game against fellow strugglers Rocester 2-0 at half-time. The match was overshadowed by a serious injury to Rocester's forward Russ De Matteo, and perhaps the players will just be thankful to put the afternoon behind them. 

It was a new look City side that took the pitch with Burns playing himself at the heart of a four man midfield. Delves made way and Hardcastle dropped to the bench as youngster Lee Smith returned to the forward line alongside Hoskins.

City looked nervous from the kick-off and the game took a few minutes to settle into any sort of shape. Neither side had any confidence and were not looking to dwell on the ball. However Burns was doing his utmost to influence the midfield and City did look better for the 4-4-2 line-up. City had the best of the early exchanges with Hosky nimbly cutting down the right and earning a corner. The Rocester keeper looked arthritic and got nowhere near the cross which traveled right through to Smith at the far post. His shot was parried and both Griff and Steadman tried to poke it in before Rocester finally hacked clear.   

City were beginning to put a few moves together and Burns put Jenks free on the right with a cross field pass that left Rocester standing. Marshall met the cross but the keeper managed to get in the way. He was not able to cope with the next City attack though. Jenks and Burns again worked the ball on the right and Burns sent over the cross. Hoskins flicked it on and Gary Marshall showed great poise to volley in from just outside the area.

City looked suitably nervous for a side whose last two home goals have been followed by five and seven from the visitors. We seemed more than happy to allow Rocester to run at us, but were defending a line about thirty yards out in some numbers. This left Hosky and Smith with a lot of work to do up front and it seemed a high risk strategy on the occasions when Rocester almost breached the yellow line. Despite being given plenty of room Rocester did not look a good side and only once did they really get a shot on target. When it came Taylor dealt with it well, diving low to his left to push the shot around the post. City then put a gloss on the half-time score line with a thunderbolt just before the whistle. Right-back Dominic Dunton put every ounce of weight behind a real pile driver of a free kick that screamed low inside the right post from thirty yards. 

It's difficult to know what's being put into our lads' halftime tea but yet again we got hit by a double blow immediately from the re-start. Within minutes Rocester had halved the deficit when City totally failed to deal with an innocuous looking ball floated over to the far post. Steadman and Griff were both asleep and De Matteo tapped in at the far post. 

City then had a crucial chance to seal the game. Lee Smith did fantastically well to beat the defender to a loose Rocester pass and accelerated into the yards of clear space between him and the goal. He simply had too long to think about the chance and lost his composure as he bore in on the stranded keeper. The ball ballooned high over the bar and within a minute City were pegged level.

Marshall sends over a cross
 from the left

It was the sort of classic cock-up that's top entertainment unless it happens to your side. A hopeful ball was clearly called for by Taylor in the City goal, a shout heard by everyone apart from Craig Temple who had found himself on the wrong side of the back four. Temple allowed the ball to brush off his forehead and deflected it past the onrushing Taylor. The ball crawled towards the goal line and Temple almost got back to clear, but only got close enough to get the best view of his own goal. 

City then seemed determined to batten down the hatches and were concentrating on not allowing Rocester to get forward. This was probably more respect than the visitors deserved. Even with this rearguard action City almost scored when Steadman got his head to Jenks' corner. The ball ricocheted around the area but Rocester cleared.

The match then came to a jarring halt on 70 minutes when Lee Smith went to close down De Matteo on the right touchline in front of the main stand. His lunge was late and caught the Rocester forward full on the shin as he turned. A stomach churning crack was clearly audible and De Matteo was left writhing and howling in agony. 

The Rocester players and management were understandably furious, but Andy Somerville had little excuse for trying to run past the referee to attack the ashen faced Lee Smith. Steadman ran over to put himself in between the Rocester player's attack and his team-mate, only to get involved in a heated pushing contest. The ref got everyone calmed down but then red carded Will Steadman while forgetting Somerville. Sadly the ref had called corners and free kicks wrong all game, so perhaps accurate justice was too much to expect. Lee Smith was booked but immediately subbed by Burns, the youngster was visibly shocked and upset. It was a bad challenge, but totally without malice or intent. You just hope someone will find the time to put an arm around him and have a few words to help him move on. 

The referee prepares to
 play his cards wrong

The players were taken off the pitch for twenty minutes as the extent of the injury was such that extensive attention was provided before the paramedics felt confident on moving him to the ambulance. Initial reports suggest the unfortunate De Matteo has broken both the tibia and fibula and will be at the GRH for some time. An ad hoc whip round by the Supporter's Club raised over 100, but that sort of injury is a sobering reminder for all part-time players.  

When the match did re-start it was a half-hearted affair, no-one seemed to really have the stomach for carrying the battle. Tom Webb did have an encouraging twenty minutes though, and at one point he made an excellent jinking run past several Rocester defenders before losing the ball just as he was poised to shoot. Both Marshall and Hoskins also had sight of goal, but neither could finish.

City will be concerned that we again failed to finish a game that should have been won comfortably. Some of City's fluent passing of earlier weeks is in danger of giving way to the longer ball. However there are still things to be positive about, the possible return of Parnell gives hope of a necessary added presence at the back. If we keep our nerve and Burns works hard in the two evenings training he has available this week we can be confident we are good enough to get a result at Evesham.

(HT: 2-0)



Wilkinson Bookings

Steadman (Red)
Jenkins Referee

(for 9; 70)
(for 6; 77)


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