RC Warwick v City

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Saturday 30th December 2001
Hampton Road  

 Racing Club Warwick v CITY 

Dr Martens League Western Division

City's Team

City headed to perennial league strugglers Warwick with high expectations having earned four straight victories, the most recent an impressive dismissal of Clevedon Town on Boxing Day. However this match was to prove frustrating for the travelling City faithful who formed the bulk of the frozen fans.

City had been talking much of guarding against complacency and they did indeed start with great promise by pushing forward from the kick-off. City were unchanged and are starting to play with the fluency of a confident side who know where to find their team mates on the pitch. Warwick didn't wilt under the pressure though, causing a scare with a volley that flew over our crossbar. Warwick tried to grab a goal with some long balls that McCluskey and Burns dealt with well against the low winter sun. The much traveled Kim Green tried to out-trick the City back-line and pick up free kicks, but Darren McCluskey knew when to go close and when to drop back.

City never quite took the match by the scruff of the neck, but it was Steve Jenkins who was emerging as the key to our best forward moves. Despite pressure our passing game was struggling on a lumpy well ploughed pitch and it took the hefty boot of Steadman from the back to create a chance for Bayliss. The in-form forward slammed the ball unerringly into the net only to see the linesman's flag rule his strike out.

City pressure from the first of many corners fro Warwick to defend.

City's next near miss again involved Will Steadman, this time his pass was more cultured as he made the most of having stayed up after a corner was only half-cleared by the home team. Will's cross found Bayliss in space and his first time shot whistled past the post before the keeper had chance to move. City were beginning to find their rhythm and in the last minutes of the first-half they peppered the Warwick goal. Good play by Jenks and Marshall set up a shot for Hoskins who rattled his shot into the hoardings. Moments later another long ball from the back, this time from Burns, saw Hosky head down for Wilkinson. He flicked the ball through to Prince and his shot flew goalward only to be well gathered by the Warwick keeper.

With the half-time whistle came the strange entertainment that was the Warwick tea-hut, little known to be twinned with Royston Vasey's local shop. The queue grew and grew as the solitary man pottered happily with his onions, adding further unrecognisable items to the sinister looking soup that was unsettlingly satisfying. Even more terrifying was the watery curry sauce that so many Warwick regulars proudly sported down their fronts as they threw it over themselves with wild abandon. Despite the perishing cold it was almost a disappointment to see the second half start and have to turn attention back towards the pitch.  

The second half was far more one-sided with City more determined and quite possibly having had a good ear-bashing off Godfrey and Burns. City forced a string of corners and free-kicks. Bayliss did well to bring down a high ball and turn past two defenders to set up Steadman who lashed a vicious volley goalward only to see it charged down by a brave, or foolish, defender.  

Griffith's goal-bound header is scraped from the line.

City were heaping the pressure on Warwick who couldn't escape from their own half but were putting up determined resistance. Marshall's leg must have been sore from swinging over so many corner kicks, and it was from one of these that City came closest to scoring. Neil Griffiths leapt highest to send his header downward only to see it smashed off the line by Warwick. City's fans claimed it crossed the line, but from my view I wasn't convinced - although we certainly deserved the goal. 

The match continued in much the same agonising way for City fans as chance after chance was spurned. Karl Bayliss had two good efforts, the first after a Burns ball was chested down, the second after Steadman and Marshall linked well to put him clear. In both cases though the shot seemed destined to be placed in the grateful arms of the Warwick keeper.

City played some attractive football and Prince, Marshall and then sub Tom Webb were beating the full-backs every minute. Despite dominating possession and playing so much of the game around the opposition penalty area we could not get past the back-line or find the net. Lee Smith came on to try and out-run the burly centre-backs but he wasn't the right key for this particular lock. He had one chance to chase a ricochet down but Smith gives the impression of only running flat-out when he has little hope of reaching the ball. He did better a few minutes later when he picked up the ball and charged into the area before being brought to ground, the penalty appeals falling on deaf ears.

This was a disappointing result given Warwick's lowly league position and our recent form, but we played well and can still take a lot out of the game. it was probably the first time this season our players were confronted by a side who really respected them, and invited us to try and break them down. The side is still largely young and may of our players will have learnt a little. For the fans it was an entertaining game, and despite not seeing a goal and losing half a finger to frostbite where else this season will you see One Man and His Dog on the big screen in the club bar after the match? 

(HT: 0-0)
Marshall City




McCluskey Bookings
Burns none
Wilkinson 11th

(for 2; 78)
L. Smith
(for 10; 69)


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