hardly had the best preparation for this encounter, a fortnight's
enforced lay-off due to flooding at Meadow Park followed by the sudden
departure of top scorer Matt Rawlins. Just to make sure everyone was
in the festive spirit the gods had seen fit to also make sure it was
bitingly cold, and Weston's Woodspring Park isn't the best of
venues even in glorious sunshine.
As it was City trooped
out wearing the red away colours of tenants Gloucester United as our
own kit has perished in the bloated waters of the Severn. Odd how the
totally-unconnected-to-City United club enjoy the support and shirt
sponsorship of Severn Signs, owned by City's own vice-chairman. Odd
too how the United away kit looked rather smarter than ours, but such
is the rather odd twilight world of football politics in which we live
at the moment.
Our brave boys were undeterred by either kit or cold though, and
scored almost instantly with a goal which I have to confess I missed
due to a seasonal reluctance to leave the comforting warmth of the
bar. However, by all accounts it was a bit special, with Cox charging
down the right straight from the kick-off. His cross was met by a
stooping diving header at the far post by Gary Marshall who had been
left unmarked at the far post.
City's pressure continued despite a brief counter-attack by Weston
which left Ally Hines prone after he heroicly beat the onrushing
forward to a nodded on cross. City saw a good opportunity end with
Tucker being forced wide, but didn't have to wait overly long for our
second. A long clearance from Moore evaded the midfield and saw Cox
race clear from the halfway line. His pace beat the Weston cover and
he kept his cool to round the keeper as he came out.
City's players and fans
all seem to suffer from a crisis of confidence even when two goals to
the good. The lack of belief in our ability to defend a lead made the
missed opportunity for a third even more irritating. A good run from
Bayliss saw the Weston defence all over the place and their keeper
stranded well out of his penalty area. The half clearance fell to
Johnstone who squandered the chance by pushing the ball left instead
of trying the long distance lob into the unguarded net.
The fears of all were confirmed when on 22 minutes City failed to
clear their lines and Griffiths gave the ball away. Pritchard played
in Gloucester based forward Jody Bevan who had plenty of time to pick
his spot. It seemed as if City could be pulled back to level almost
straight afterwards when the hard working Gary Marshall had to race
back to hack a header off the line. Weston also saw a good drive
tipped over at full stretch by Hines. City had been rocked back by a
regalvanised Weston but we still looked capable of more goals
ourselves with Johnstone whistling a shot just wide and Cox especially
causing more problems for the home side.
The second half started
as if we would see some good open football to warm our frozen hands.
Weston forced Hines into a good early stop while Johnstone again got
forward well and drove a powerful shot straight at the keeper. However
that burst of end-to-end football was misleading and the game became a
scrappy affair with both midfields content to kick and chase on a
rough uneven pitch. With City lacking in ambition it was Weston who
made most of what little play there was and they grabbed the seemingly
inevitable equaliser after 65 minutes when a corner was headed back
across goal for Cooper to score.
Weston then piled on
the pressure with Hines making a string of fine saves in quick
succession to keep City in the contest. City looked sadly lacking in
players able to stamp themselves on the match, and with Matt Rawlins
off to Chippenham we had no attacking options on the bench. The match
did threaten to boil over briefly, with Tommy booked for a tackle that
smacked heavily of frustration. In another incident the players
briefly summoned up the energy for a scuffle, but given that this was
a game oddly lacking in any intensity the players could well have been
just huddling together for warmth.
City did manage a late
charge with several good efforts skimming past the post. A good Cox
run and cross resulted in the ball spilling loose, but Johnstone
couldn't dig it out from under his feet and Weston eventually managed
to bundle it clear before the final whistle allowed us to scuttle back
to the bar for some shelter. Given that City's problems seemed to be
at least partly their midfield inertia it was especially frustrating
later that afternoon to watch Jon Holloway put in a superb performance
in midfield for Bath against Clevedon. If we all clubbed together
perhaps we could get just the one of his legs back ?