Rothwell v City

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Saturday 1st November 2003
Cecil Street 

Rothwell Town v CITY  

FA Trophy 1st Round

City's Team

City seemed to have taken one look at Rothwell's poor recent form and decided they simply needed to get off the coach to win at Cecil Street. However the Northants side showed enough to scare City in the first half and force City to up their game to earn a replay at Meadow Park on Tuesday.

City started brightly enough with City testing the home team down both flanks. Smith had an early foray down the left and pushed the ball in field for Knight to shoot from distance, although his shot threatened the children on the swings behind rather than the net. Hoskins also got an early chance to stretch his legs, rushing onto a Mustoe through ball and doing well to turn inside the box before sending over a low cross that eluded both defenders and fellow strikers.

Hoskins barges his way down the left

City had warnings that Rothwell could cause them problems when Matt Bath was forced to stretch to pick out a teasing cross. The next Rothwell attack saw them come even closer when some clever play allowed Haughton to chip the ball goalward. His effort looped over Bath but Lee Jeffries was on hand to head the ball out from under the crossbar.

Rothwell were starting to shows signs of self-belief and had another narrow miss when Webb, having a poor game out of position on the left, was comprehensively beaten down the wing. The pacey cross headed onto the City bar by Chris Goode. The close shave at least woke the visiting Tigers up, but the next few blustering attacks lacked any real venom. Mustoe worked a clever ball through the Rothwell defence but Wilkinson lost control just as he seemed set to bear down on goal. Minutes later captain Neil Griffiths spurned the best chance of the half as he leapt to meet a Knight corner, but his free header sailed inches over the bar.

The alarm bells were ringing, but even so it was a shock when the goal-shy Bones edged into the lead with a terrific strike. Some clever play down the wing again saw Webb beaten and stretched the City defence, but even so when the cross was headed down to Cornell Haughton on the edge of the box he still had plenty to do. However he hit a sweet swerving strike beyond Matt Bath to give the home side the lead. City tried to respond, but when a Smith cross fell to Webb on the edge of the area he screwed his half volley well wide.

Webb looks for the pass to unlock the Bones defence

Once again City seemed to find more momentum after the break and the game brightened up as both teams contrived to produce a lively entertaining second half. Hemming came on for the out of sorts Webb, and his presence did seem to slightly balance the side. Smith also upped his game and his charges down the flank gave both Mustoe and Knight opportunities to pick him out.

Knight had prompted some of City's best attacks and almost got on the score sheet himself by finishing a move he'd started in the centre circle. The ball came out to Hoskins and although he was forced wide he still beat his man and put over a dangerous cross. All the defenders followed Cox to the near post and Keith Knight stooped to meet the low ball, but his header went into the ground and lacked pace to trouble the keeper.

City try to take advantage of a first half corner

City were now getting close to some of their stylish best and began to put the Rothwell defence under real pressure. Smith made several strong runs and began to really worry the home team, to the neglect of other players. Cox benefited when he found space to meet a raking Mustoe pass and the striker carried the ball clear of several players before squaring to Lee Smith whose shot whistled past the post. A series of corners caused problems for Rothwell, one in particular met by Lee Jeffries' firm header was somewhat luckily deflected out of the goalmouth. It was not all easy for City though, and Mustoe was fortunate when his slip in midfield went unpunished, Rothwell wasting a three on two attack.

When the equaliser came it fell in fairly bizarre fashion after Rothwell failed to deal with another Knight corner. As they tried to clear their lines Wilkinson put in a strong block challenge and the ball fell to Cox who pushed it back into the path of Andy Hoskins. It looked as if the City striker had not put enough behind the shot, but the slightest touch was enough to tickle the ball past Hughes to level the scores.

Smith chases a long City pass

City now had the bit between their teeth and this was a game that they could clearly win. Hemming had one charge down the left and his low cross caused consternation in the Rothwell box, but Cox couldn't work himself free. Dave Wilkinson came close to winning the game after another Smith run ended with the ball being flicked back to Knight. His cross was met by Wilko's late run and his header looked destined for the net before Hughes got a fingertip to it to send it over the bar.

Smith may not always use the ball as well as he could but his sheer energy and willingness to get forward is breathtaking. One late surge carried him past four players and to the edge of the box before being stopped. as he became caught in a tangle of legs he pushed the ball to Hoskins, but this time the striker lifted his shot high and wide. City should have had another late chance to win the game when Jimmy Cox burst into the area, and although pushed wide his standing leg was taken from under him in a clear penalty. However the ref was unsighted, and the linesman was presumably just dumb, and the spot kick went begging. In truth a defeat would have been harsh on Rothwell, but you do get the feeling that if City can replicate their second half form at Meadow Park on Tuesday they should comfortably brush past Rothwell.

* Gloucestershire neighbours Cinderford Town pulled off one of the shocks of the round, defeating DML Premier Moor Green 3-2 away. Redditch took their league form into the Trophy crushing Cirencester 6-2, while Clevedon, City's opponents next Saturday, lost 3-0 at home to fellow DML Western side Taunton Town.

(HT: 0-1)





Wilkinson n/a




(for 3; 57)

not named

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