Team Bath v City

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Team Bath v CITY

Saturday 3rd April 2004 at Bath Sports Village

Dr Martens Western Division

City's Team

City will have come away from this fixture hugely satisfied with three more crucial points at the home of another promotion rival, but along with Team Bath and the spectators they will have shared in a sense of bewilderment. The match was dominated by the antics of referee Martin Blatchford, certainly not afraid to put himself at the centre of attention as he sent off four players and dismissed the Team Bath coach from the dugout. 

Burnsie is out shoved as City take an early corner

The match had a slightly surreal air from the first, set in the other worldly surroundings of the Bath University 'sports village' complex. The facilities are sure to be impressive when completed, but the space age steel grey sports hall mingled with a building site does not lend itself to an intense football atmosphere. The presence of the running track, the lack of cover, and small crowd - virtually all from Gloucester, all added to a sense that this was not non-league football as we know it. How Team Bath will be able to take their place in the DML Premier with such lack of spectator facilities is at best a mystery and at worst the stuff of conspiracy theorists.

City stuck with the same defence that had kept Cirencester at bay the previous Saturday, but Wilkinson was restored to the midfield in place of Webb, with Chris Thompson making his 100th Tigers appearance in the centre of the park. The match was hampered from the start by the strong breeze, not quite the gales that led to the abandonment of the Evesham game but still a tricky factor for the players to take account of. City started playing into the wind and Wilkinson celebrated his recall with an early third minute strike. He had bustled into midfield and been unceremoniously tripped by student skipper Otto, giving City a free kick from 35 yards out. Mustoe's swinging free kick was headed down by Hoskins and Wilkinson was on hand to complete a text book dead ball move by knocking the ball in from six yards. The midfielder headed off to celebrate with his reflection in the mirrored glass of the University swimming pool whilst the student players pointed at each other for failing to mark their men from the set piece.

The strong wind was making it difficult for both teams and the action was largely compressed into a busy midfield where Mustoe and Wilkinson were working hard to keep space to the minimum. Team Bath enjoyed more of the ball but failed to create chances, too often lumping the ball forward in search of Beadle and Kamara-Taylor. Both were being closely watched and most of the balls failed to reach them, generally sailing out of play or safely to our keeper. The students proved slow to learn and didn't get the ball down on the pitch.

The ref made himself busy, harshly booking Chris Thompson for a harmless tackle and then entertaining the crowd by booking the wrong Team Bath player for a trip on Adie Harris as he threatened to escape on the half way line. Quite how the ref managed to confuse the black Kamara-Taylor for the actual offender, a pasty white centre-back, remains a mystery. City were finding it tricky to get forward against the breeze and some robust Team Bath defending. 

Suddenly Team Bath pulled level having looked little like scoring with their direct long balls proving easy for our defence and Bath confidently plucking the more accurate efforts out of the air. Caleb Kamara-Taylor had looked like a useful target man throughout and it was only poor service and the close attentions of Adam Howarth that had prevented him doing more damage. It was he that grabbed the equaliser on 27 minutes, allowed to fire in his shot unmarked after Howarth and Burns bundled into each other and leaving the tall forward to smash the ball in past Matt Bath and in off the post.

City had looked to be content to defend their lead rather than battle into the wind but the goal stirred some more attacking instincts. Lee Smith enjoyed a strong run down the right but having jinked past two players he took the wrong option and tried to beat a third when three white shirts were to his left in the penalty area. However City found the break through soon after down the other flank. A strong tackle by Mustoe regained possession and Adie Harris found some pace down the left. He beat his man and headed to the by-line, the students survived a good penalty shout when Harris seemed to have been tripped, but the veteran winger showed great presence of mind to get back to his feet and regain the ball. He was shepherded up field but still turned and sent over a low cross that was cut out by the hand of the home captain Ali Otto. The ref had no hesitation in giving the penalty and was equally swift to dish out a second yellow and then the red card that infuriated a Team Bath side that seemed to take naturally to the role of whingers. 

Number 33: Hosky slots the penalty past former City keeper Ally Hines  

Ciren didn't look like the side we expected to see None of the opposition protests unsettled Andy Hoskins who stayed clam to crash home his tenth spot kick of the season with the keeper going the wrong way. However the fun was only just starting. City players ran off to celebrate and most of the Team Bath side gathered their already depleted resources to re-start the game. However the former Bristol City and Bristol Rovers forward Peter Beadle used every ounce of his professional experience in deciding to have one further go at the referee. None of the fans watching from several miles away on the other side of the running track could hear what was said, but the Blatchford's reaction was as uncompromising as a Daily Mail editorial - instantly brandishing the red card and reducing Team Bath to nine men. The students were reeling, Beadle fuming and the City fans laughing their heads off. City tried to take advantage as Team Bath tried to reorganise, but generally the shock of the red card flurry seemed to shake us as much as them.

Knighter tries to unlock the depleted student defence

The half-time break obviously had not improved the referee's temper at all. Barely a few minutes had passed before the student's coach Ged Roddy was sent from the dugout as another odd refereeing decision proved one too many. Roddy stomped off to reappear on the scaffolded roof of the sports centre, a dangerous place to be given the temptation he must have had to throw himself off. City now had the advantage of both the wind and two extra players and the travelling fans hoped a mauling was looming.  

The City players must have had the same ideas but the extra two man advantage was often hard to spot. We also found it hard to adapt to playing with the strong breeze and despite our best efforts to adjust only Burns really seemed to make any allowance for it when judging his passes from the back. Jimmy Cox was tireless in his running and on several occasions he chased balls right to the by-line in an effort to keep them in play. City decided the accurate passing of Keith Knight would help matters and he replaced Smith, but despite a few good crosses he seemed helpless to capitalise on our advantage. Hoskins had a good chance as he was played in by Cox, but with the goal at his mercy he blazed wide. Adie Harris was guilty of trying to walk the ball into the net at one point, while Cox also prodded the ball back into the penalty area rather than chance a shot from a good angle. Chris Thompson at least showed some desire to get on the score sheet, but his sharp fizzing effort was well gathered by former City keeper Ally Hines in the Team Bath goal.

As City spurned more chances and struggled to get the goal that would seal the game Team Bath began to believe they could yet get something from the game. With City still sitting very deep the student players were able to put moves together and twice Adam Howarth was called upon to make important blocks. The alarm bells were ringing now as the embarrassment of throwing away a game we had dominated against nine men started to look a real possibility. We almost got the vital goal as Wilkinson sliced a high cross that almost caught Hines off his line, the keeper just getting back to fumble the ball around his post for a corner. A clever Mustoe pass sent Cox clear but his run took him away from goal and his eventual shot again lacked conviction. 

Finally City found their finishing touch in the 83rd minute. Another well paced ball from Burns split the sparse student defence and Hoskins was able to slip clear of his tired marker. He raced towards the penalty box and kept his nerve as the keeper approached to knock the ball past him and at last confirm the points. Hosky suddenly looked every inch the division's top scorer again, after previous efforts had made him seem anything but.

With the match won City should have been able to coast through the final few minutes and see out the game without problem. The hard working Jimmy Cox got a chance to gain a few minutes rest as he was replaced by young Adam Hemming. However the match took an unwelcome twist as the linesman on the far side flagged to the referee. After consultation the ref called over Neil Mustoe and brandished a straight red. No one seemed to know what is was for, least of all an incredulous Mustoe, but given the way the match had been officiated even a word out of place was stupid so close to the end. The engine room of the City midfield is now set to miss the matches against Sutton Coldfield and Evesham.

That red card took some of the gloss off the win and City's forward impetus was lost. There was still time for former City favourite Luke Prince to entertain his former fans, going past several players with pomp before typically running into a cul-de-sac and having the ball taken off him with some ease by Wilko. Even this ref wasn't taken in by his claims for a foul. And he now has really silly long hair. As the match ended the ref seemed oddly reluctant to head back to the changing rooms, and when he did get there he was roundly abused by the Team Bath players and officials and Lee Jeffries intervened to stop Mustoe joining in as well. However the ref still had one last trick to play, sending Team Bath keeper Ally Hines the short remaining distance back to the changing rooms with another red card, even though the match had ended. And that is what they call zero tolerance kids !  

More frustration for City as Howarth leaps for a corner 

You certainly couldn't fault this one for entertainment, as it was full of incident if not full of great football. This wasn't a great performance and we showed little of the shape, skill or composure that beat Cirencester. Few will be too bothered about that though. This stage of the season is all about results and Burns will be more than happy with the outcome of his 150th game at the helm. Other results helped lift us to third, with second spot ours if we can take advantage of one of our games in hand when we face Clevedon at Meadow Park on Tuesday night.  

* City's victory has also opened up a seven point gap between us and Sutton Coldfield in the last of the promotion spots. Redditch United continue to edge closer to the title, but they were made to work hard to scrape a 1-0 win at lowly Shepshed with an Alex Cowley header all that split the sides. Dynamo are now bottom as the Cinderford revival continued courtesy of a 4-3 win over Supermarine with goals from Chris and Darryl Addis. Cirencester got back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Bromsgrove, Hopkins again on the score sheet. Halesowen recovered from conceding an early goal at Common Road to grab a 2-1 win over Evesham, but Sutton Coldfield had to settle for a point after a goalless game at Mangotsfield. With Bromsgrove stuttering Solihull kept their promotion hopes alive with a late Adam Cooper winner defeating Clevedon 2-1.

Won 3-1
(HT: 2-1)


Hoskins (31pen, 83)

Griffiths (c)






(for 8; 84)

(for 2; 61)



not named

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