City have strengthened their squad with the loan signing of Bristol Rovers defender Charlie Clough. The 20-year old, who can also play in midfield, has initially joined for one month with the option to spend the rest of the season at Twerton Park. Having come up through the ranks at Rovers he has spent loan spells with Chippenham Town, Newport County and, most recently, Weymouth. He will go straight into the squad to face Rushden & Diamonds tomorrow evening.
City's long trip to face Gateshead has been rearrangaged for Monday 4 April (ko 7.45pm).
PREVIEW: Rushden & Diamonds v CITY - Blue Square Bet Premier (27/2/11)
Tuesday will see City make their second attempt to face Rushden & Diamonds in the space of ten days. The game is the rearrangement following the late and unexpected postponement of the original fixture after overnight rain left the Nene Park surface unplayable. City’s players and supporters had made it as far as Worcester when the 11am call came through from Northamptonshire with the bad news. Apparently the home side first enquired what time City would be leaving Bath, showing an ignorance of the relative location of the two clubs that would have been funny in other circumstances. No doubt this time City will make sure Rushden are aware of their departure time so that if the game is in doubt an inspection can be arranged before they begin travelling.
Complete record against Rushden & Diamonds
Since the postponement Rushden have only played one game, a laboured 2-0 home win over bottom club Eastbourne Borough. The Sports came into the game having finally ended their eleven game losing run with a 2-2 draw against fellow strugglers Histon, but Rushden would still have hoped to enjoy a fairly comfortable evening. And when Cowan-Hall lobbed them in front midway through the first-half it looked like that would be the case. However, a second goal would not come and Eastbourne gave the hosts a few nervous moments before a last minute strike by Oshodi finally made the game safe. Somewhat ironically their planned trip to Histon on Saturday was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch. By contrast to the City game though this decision was made well in advance of Rushden starting their (considerably shorter) journey, although given their grasp of geography that could have been about 2.45pm.
Lucky thirteen for Phillips as City grind out Southport win (26/2/11)
Lee Phillips scored his thirteenth goal of the season this afternoon to give a patched-up City side a battling win over Southport. He struck from Scott Murray's pinpoint cross early in the second half after the sides had reached the interval level at a goal apiece. It was a game that resembled some of City's less inspiring Blue Square South outings of last season, with a one-dimensional opponent and a difficult bumpy pitch, but that will not bother the team unduly as they moved to within one win of their pre-season target of 48 points. Both sides had huffed and puffed during the opening half-hour to little great effect but on 33 minutes a great low cross by Sekani Simpson was turned into his own net by Lever to give City the lead. The visitors thought they had levelled moments later only for a linesman's flag to halt the celebrations. However, four minutes before the break Lee rose highest from a Kissock corner to head Southport back on terms. The Sandgrounders started the second half brightly only for Phillips to restore City's lead in the 56th minute. They pressed forward after this looking for a vital third goal, Gethin Jones, Murray and Marley Watkins all going close before Phillips had an effort ruled out for offside. This meant City had to endure a few nervous moments in the last ten minutes but by the time the referee added a generous five minutes stoppage time Southport appeared to have run out of ideas and that period passed with no further alarms.
Sudden death of City devotee leaves football club stunned (25/2/11)
Everyone connected with Bath City FC was stunned to hear of the sudden death of Chris Stillman at the Bristol Royal Infirmary yesterday. The 59-year old was a lifelong City fan and carried out numerous roles within the club, including editing the matchday programme for years and running the Supporters Club teabar at Twerton Park. He had recently recovered from major heart surgery and was due to run the Bath Half Marathon next weekend in support of the race charity Golden-Oldies. From a personal perspective Chris was one of the friendliest, most genuine people I have ever had the good fortune to meet and my thoughts go out to Mark, Sally and Laura and all his family and friends. The club will hold a minutes silence for Chris before tomorrow's game against Southport.
Midfielder Mackie makes timely Twerton Park return (25/2/11)
Hector Mackie has returned to Twerton Park for a second spell with the club. The 22-year old midfielder originally joined City in February 2010 and although he only made a handful of substitute appearances was soon a fans favourite. His popularity was boosted by a vital goal in the play-off semi-final against Chelmsford City but finding his starting XI opportunities limited this season he rejoined his former club St Albans City in November 2010. He was soon on the move again to Gloucester City but budget cuts at the Blue Square North side saw him released earlier this month. He has signed on non-contract terms and goes straight into the squad to face Southport tomorrow.
PREVIEW: CITY v Southport - Blue Square Bet Premier (24/2/11)
Southport make the long trip south to play City on Saturday in the rearranged Blue Square Bet Premier game. City were originally due to face Gateshead but the Tynesiders’ continued involvement in the FA Trophy initially meant this was a free weekend before the clash with the Sandgrounders was brought forward. Given Gateshead’s remarkable current form – five successive league wins including eleven goals in their last two outings - this switch may be good timing for City but they will still need to be at their best to overcome a Southport side battling for the Premier Division lives.
Since the turn of the year Southport have begun to show improved form that has seen them climb out of the relegation zone, they currently sit in 18th spot, three points above 21st placed Barrow, but this has largely been down to their home form. Since City produced a remarkable second half fight-back to win 3-2 at Haig Avenue in November, Southport have lost just once in six home games. This run has included big wins over Gateshead and York City but by contrast their away form has been woeful. Since winning their opening trip of 2010-11 by four goals to three at Kidderminster Harriers they have failed to record another league victory and, even more astonishingly, have only scored another four goals on their travels. The Sandgrounders come into the game with City on the back of successive 1-0 defeats, a desperately disappointing one at fellow strugglers Hayes & Yeading United before a more encouraging loss against Crawley Town, although their exertions against Manchester United Reserves a couple of days before no doubt played a part in a below par performance from ‘Project Promotion’.
Manager Liam Watson strengthened his squad with the capture of striker Shaun Whalley during the January transfer window and he immediately netted three times in his first two games. He then rather blotted his copybook in the latter of these matches by getting himself sent off, but he will be back to face City after completing his three-game ban. However, Southport will be without captain Alan Moogan after he picked up his 10th booking of the season against Crawley in the week.
Complete record against Southport
Honours are even between the clubs at Twerton Park with two wins apiece. The first of these took place during the latter stages of the 1993-94 season when goals from Gary Smart and Paul Adcock gave City a 2-1 win. The following year it was a much more enjoyable trip from Merseyside for Southport as despite being reduced to nine men they won 2-1 thanks to a last gasp goal from Comstive. In 1995-96 Smart was once again on the scoresheet, netting twice from the penalty spot, as Adie Mings and Dean Birkby also scored in the biggest win for either side in these meetings. Once again though Southport bounced back the next season, winning 2-0 to complete the double over City that campaign.
City will go into the clash with their squad once stretched to its limit. Long-term injuries to Danny Webb (cheek) and Adie Harris (hamstring) will keep them sidelined and they have been joined by Luke Ruddick (hamstring) and Lewis Hogg (pelvis) after Tuesday 2-2 draw with Newport County. Kaid Mohamed (calf) and Joe Burnell (ribs) missed that game but may be available for the Southport match and manager Adie Britton is hopeful that a further loan deal may go through in time for the game.
Anglo-Welsh honours even after four-goal opening salvo (22/2/11)
City and Newport County shared four goals in a remarkable opening twenty two minutes of tonight's Twerton Park meeting and that was how the game finished. City were gifted the lead in comical style on nine minutes when Exiles keeper Thompson completely missed his attempted clearance to give Scott Murray a simple tap-in. However, within five minutes the visitors levelled in equally bizzare circumstances. City defence appeared to stop thinking the ball had gone out of play before Montgomery hooked it back into the six-yard box, but a whistle or flag never came and Odubade stabbed the ball home. What the opening two goals lacked in quality was soon made up for by the next two strikes. In the 21st minute Hartswell picked up the ball on the edge of the area before unleashing a stunning shot that flew past Ryan Robinson. Within 60 seconds the scores were tied once again as Lee Phillips ran onto a Marc Canham pass, held off his marker and fired across Thompson into the net. After this breathless opening the game settled down with neither side able to regain the upper hand. Newport began the second half strongly without creating much in the way of clear openings and as the half progressed City began to look more threatening. The closest they came to a third was when Gethin Jones' late run into the box wasn't picked up but his volley flicked off a defender to drop the wrong side of the post. The last chance of the game saw Miller head a Rose cross narrowly wide meaning the points were shared which was the fair result.
Tonight's game saw striker Jonathan Brown make his debut as a second half substitute after his international clearance finally came through.
FA Cup nemesis Leigh Henry makes Twerton Park return (22/2/11)
Leigh Henry has joined City on non-contract terms from Swindon Supermarine. The 24-year old defender played a vital part in Marine's shock FA Cup win over City earlier this season but budget cuts in Wiltshire hastened his departure. It will be his second spell at Twerton Park have made seven appearances toward the end of the 2004-05 season whilst on loan from Swindon Town. He will go straight into tonight's squad to face another of his former clubs, Newport County.
City have rearranged their trip to Rushden & Diamonds for Tuesday 1 March (ko 7.45pm).
PREVIEW: CITY v Newport County - Blue Square Bet Premier (20/2/11)
In a season that has already had more than its fair share of highlights City can add another one on Tuesday evening by completing a double over Severnside rival’s Newport County. If they can repeat their New Year’s Day success in Wales City will move to within just a single point of the Exiles and with a real chance of finishing above them, an outcome few, if any, supporters of either side would have predicted back in August. Although both clubs were playing their maiden Blue Square Bet Premier seasons they had reached the top flight of non-league football in contrasting manners. Whilst City were battling through the play-offs, Newport were coasting serenely to the Blue Square South title with a record total of 103 points – 31 points ahead of City – and the pre-season expectations of both camps reflected this difference. Newport harboured genuine play-off ambitions, whereas City main aim was simply retaining their league place.
For the first half of the season it looked as if they were capable of living up to this billing. Five successive victories in September put them firmly amongst the play-off contenders and even though the title looked step too far, as 2010 turned into 2011 they sat in 2nd place. However, the aforementioned loss to City began an eight match winless league run which has seen them slip to seventh, currently nine points off the play-off places. During this spell they suffered two further blows as first manager Dean Holdsworth quit to join Aldershot Town, then star player and top scorer Craig Reid was snapped up by Stevenage Borough. Holdsworth’s success in guiding Newport to the Blue Square Bet Premier had seen him linked with higher level posts on several occasions but he had always claimed he was only interested in helping the club regain their Football League place. It was therefore a surprise when he choose to join the Shots in mid-January, particularly when there was effectively only a handful of league places between the sides. At the time it was not beyond the realms of possibility that they could be swapping places at the end of the season but since the switch he has lost just one league game with his new club, lifting them away from the League 2 danger zone. Combined with Newport’s loss of form this does now look to be a correct decision.
He was replaced in a caretaker capacity by former City assistant manager Tim Harris until the end of this season. Harris had enjoyed a very successful five year period with the club between 1997 and 2002, leading them back to the Southern League Premier Division, but has yet to enjoy a win during this second spell in charge. His cause was not helped when the club accepted an undisclosed six-figure bid from Stevenage for Reid on transfer deadline day. In just over 100 appearances the former Coventry City trainee had scored more then a goal every two games. As part of the deal Newport also received two strikers, Yemi Odubade and the returning Charlie Griffin, a former favourite with the Exiles faithful, but his loss will still felt greatly at Spytty Park.
Complete record against Newport AFC/Newport County
Newport have yet to record a league win at Twerton Park with their only success coming in an FA Trophy tie back in 2001-02. Last season the sides met in December with Newport already exerting a supremacy over the division that they would never relinquish but City came into the game on the back of a 5-0 mauling of future play-off final opponents Woking. And they took the lead on 14 minutes when Sido Jombati headed home his first goal for the club. This advantage lasted just seven minutes though as Reid netted from the spot following a foul by Chris Holland on ex-City midfielder Sam Foley. The rest of the game was a disappointment as Newport rarely looked the league’s dominant force and City seemed increasingly content to settle for a point. By contrast the meeting in Wales earlier this season saw City stun the home side with an injury-time winner. Newport had controlled the game for long spells but fell behind on 57 minutes when Kaid Mohamed fired past Thompson. Once again it was Reid who was City’s nemesis, netting an equaliser eight minutes from time. The Exiles threw everything they could at City to grab a winner but instead it was City who secured the three points, Gethin Jones heading home after Danny Webb’s initial effort had been cleared off the line.
City’s unexpected free weekend, following the postponement of the meeting with Rushden & Diamonds, will have given a number of the squad an extra few days to recover from knocks. Joe Burnell (ribs), Jim Rollo (ankle), Lee Phillips (groin) and Lewis Hogg (pelvis) will all have benefitted from the break but Adie Harris (hamstring) is very unlikely to face his former club and Danny Webb (cheek) is out for the rest of the season. With Ben Watson returning to Exeter City at the end of his month’s loan deal City have brought Leon Jeanne back into the squad following his stint with Cinderford Town and hope to dip into the loan market again this week.
Rushden postponement gives City chance to rest walking wounded (19/2/11)
Today's match against Rushden & Diamonds has been postponed due to a waterlogged Nene Park pitch. Although City had been given no prior warning that the game was in doubt they received the bad news that a local referee had declared the pitch unplayable following overnight rain in Northamptonshire at just before 11am, forcing the players and supporters to turn around at Worcester and head back south. Although disappointing, in particular the timing and lack of prior contact from Rushden, the postponement will give City the chance to rest a number of their squad carrying knocks ahead of Tuesday night's meeting with Newport County. A new date for this game will be announced in due course with Tuesday 1 March the most likely timing.
Striker Ben Watson has returned to Exeter City following his one month loan spell with City. He scored once in seven appearances for the club, although this was a stunning strike against Tamworth last weekend.
Final matches of the season kick-off time switched for TV coverage (18/2/11)
City's April 30 home game with Mansfield Town will now kick-off at 5.15pm in line with all the other matches on the final day of the 2010-11 Blue Square Bet Premier season. The switch, which has been agreed by the Football Conference, is to allow Premier Sports TV to show live coverage of one of the games. With both City and the Stags currently in mid-table it would seem unlikely at this stage that their meeting will be selected and the decision will no doubt cause much controversy over the influence of the TV company.
PREVIEW: Rushden & Diamonds v CITY - Blue Square Bet Premier (17/2/11)
After Tuesday night’s bruising 2-1 loss at Kettering Town, City will hope for a more successful trip to Northamptonshire on Saturday when then face Rushden & Diamonds. This will be particularly true of those City supporters who missed the start of the game after their coach suffered a puncture on the M42, forcing them into a 90 minute wait at Hopwood Services before witnessing their team’s narrow defeat. The result saw City slip back two places to 13th in the Blue Square Bet Premier table but a win over Rushden could seem them climb in the top ten and, potentially, within seven points of the play-off positions.
The Diamonds own play-off ambitions looked to be fading following an eight match winless run either side of the New Year. The last of those games, though, saw them come from three goals down to draw 3-3 with Hayes & Yeading United and they followed this up with a 3-1 win at Newport County then, after drawing 1-1 with Tamworth, back to back victories over Cambridge United. This lifted them back into the top ten but the inconsistency that has dogged their season so far returned in a desperately disappointing 2-0 home defeat to Gateshead. The result saw manager Justin Edinburgh – who had reached the milestone of two years in charge at Nene Park that week – questioning the commitment of his players and saying that he felt ‘let down’ by them. They will no doubt be keen to prove him wrong against City and their numbers were boosted in the week by the addition of striker Paris Conwan-Hall, on loan from npower Championship side Scunthorpe United.
Wherever Rushden finish the season will always be overshadowed by the tragic death of goalkeeper Dale Roberts back in December. The 24-year old was widely regarded as one of the best keepers in non-league football, winning Rushden’s player of the season in 2008-09 and becoming first choice for the England C team the following season. It was whilst playing for his country that he picked up a leg injury that sidelined him for several months. He was set to regain his place between the posts for a FA Trophy match against Eastwood Town when it was announced he had died. It was later confirmed that he had hanged himself with rumours of events in his private life making the national newspapers. The Diamonds retired the no.1 shirt in his honour and fittingly his replacement, Joe Day, recently made his debut for the England C team.
Complete record against Rushden & Diamonds
City can boost a 100% record in their visits to Nene Park, unfortunately this is two defeats in two attempts. Both these matches took place in the second half of the 1990s as Rushden’s rapid rise up the football pyramid took them from the Southern League Midland Division in 1992 (following the merger of Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds) to the Football League in 2001. They were briefly league rivals in 1996-97 but City’s trip to Northamptonshire ended in a 4-1 defeat that was only memorable for Martin Paul’s strike which was the second of the 115 goals he would go on to score for the club. Although City were relegated at the end of that campaign they were back at Nene Park two years later in a FA Trophy 2nd Round tie. Against a side rumoured to have cost over £1/4million to assemble City were always facing an uphill task but when Paul Bodin flicked a Brady corner into his own net after just 7 minutes it became an awful lot harder. Despite considerable pressure from the home side City reached the interval with no more disasters and early in the second half Paul came within inches of grabbing a shock leveller. This seemed to wake Rushden up and seven minutes later Brady fired past Mark Hervin from ten yards to make it 2-0. After this City enjoyed more possession, as their opponents sat back, but they couldn’t convert any of the several decent openings they created, allowing the Diamonds to progress to the next round.
Following two tough games in the last week City will go into the game with a number of their squad carrying knocks. Definitely out it defender Danny Webb (broken cheek) whilst midfielder Adie Harris is struggling to shake off a hamstring strain, Lewis Hogg is playing through the pain barrier with a pelvic problem and striker Lee Phillips sat out the Kettering defeat with a groin injury. Joe Burnell also picked up a rib injury in that game while captain Jim Rollo will hope to have recovered from the head and ankle knocks he suffered against Tamworth. City could also be without striker Ben Watson after his loan spell from Exeter City came to end, with manager Adie Britton undecided whether to extend it or look to strengthen other areas of his squad.
Late goal leaves City empty-handed in tough Poppies outing (15/2/11)
City's long trip to Kettering Town this evening ended in a 2-1 defeat with the decisive strike coming in the final minute. A rare Sido Jombati goal had cancelled out an early Marna penalty but just when it looked like City had withstood considerable second half pressure substitute Mills, who had only joined the Poppies on loan earlier in the day, struck a stunning winner. The home side started the strongly, going close on several occasions before Gethin Jones handled a 10th minute corner and Marna sent Ryan Robinson the wrong way from the spot. It took City another 18 minutes to record their first effort on goal and this signalled a spell of pressure that lasted until the interval. And three minutes later they were level when Adam Connolly battled to win the ball and knocked it forward to Jombati. His looping shot was pushed onto the bar by Gueret but the ball dropped into the net despite Kelly's attempt to clear. Kaid Mohamed, Marley Watkins, twice, and Marc Canham all went close to giving City the lead at half-time, but on a heavy pitch their attacking threat began to fade after the break. Wilson headed narrowly wide early on, though for all their possession they were finding clear opening hard to come by. This was forgotten with one minute left on the clock, as Mills cut in from the left and, with Sekani Simpson down injured, had the space to curl a shot beyond the despairing dive of Robinson.
PREVIEW: Kettering Town v CITY - Blue Square Bet Premier (13/2/11)
City make the first of their two trips to Northamptonshire in the space of five days on Tuesday when they face Kettering Town for a rearranged Blue Square Bet Premier fixture. The match was originally scheduled for early December but in common with virtually all the games at that time the weather forced its postponement. On the back of Saturday’s 2-0 win over Tamworth, City will no doubt travel east in confident mood although they will meet a Poppies side whose form has improved in recent weeks after a shaky start to 2011.
They began the year with a single goal defeat to Tamworth but followed this up with a 2-1 win over local rivals (and City’s opponent on Saturday) Rushden & Diamonds. However, three successive losses to Kidderminster Harriers, Crawley Town and Grimsby Town had them once again looking nervously over their shoulders at the relegation places. A win over fast sinking Eastbourne Borough halted this losing streak and they then recorded an excellent victory against play-off hopefuls Fleetwood Town before holding ‘Project Promotion’ to a goalless draw in front of the Premier Sports TV cameras. On Saturday they drew 1-1 with Barrow at Rockingham Road, a result which leave them in 16th place, five points behind City, albeit with two games in hand, and eight points clear of the drop zone.
Given the financial problems, coupled with uncertainly over their Rockingham Road home, it was no surprise that a number of players headed to pastures new once the transfer window opened last month. John Dempster joined Crawley Town whilst Greg Taylor switched to Darlington. Highly rated midfielder James Dance then looked set to be moving to York City only for a last minute offer from Crawley to lure him to West Sussex instead. The final departure saw Serge Makofo complete a move to Grimsby Town. Manager Marcus Law was equally busy in replacing these players, 18-year old striker Callum Wilson joining on loan from Coventry City, widely-travelled Jon Challinor signing on non-contract terms after a short spell with Newport County and keeper Mark Halstead on loan from Blackpool. Transfer deadline day also saw a number of further comings and goings with Luke Graham joining Luton Town and Halstead returning to the Seasiders after picking up an injury in training. He was replaced by Wily Gueret from MK Dons and striker Adam Cunnington signed from Solihull Moors. One further loan deal was arranged, full-back Luke O’Neill arriving from Leicester City for a month.
During this time the club also announced it was putting up its admission prices. Having previously set them at a league low of £10 this failed to have the desired effect on attendances (although they did rise by around 10%) and they increased by 50%, meaning City’s fans will pay £5 more for the pleasure of watching the game than if it had gone ahead back in December. A statement was also made concerning the on-going saga of Rockingham Road, although this appeared to give few answers on whether they will remain there when their lease expires in 2013. It did also confirm that the Poppies would remain full-time as they believed any change would make them uncompetitive at this level of football, which may come as something of a surprise to part-time City.
Complete record against Kettering Town
Rockingham Road has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for City. It took until their eleventh visit to record a maiden victory and they have failed to score in their last four outings there. However, they did enjoy back to back wins during the early 1990s, both during the month of February. The first took place during the 1992-93 season with both teams sitting mid-table and looking to avoid being dragged back toward the relegation places. And it was thanks to Richard Crowley’s 10th goal of the season – bundling home from close range after Chris Banks had flicked on Grantley Dicks’ corner kick – that ensured they could take more interest in the top half of the table than the bottom. Twelve months later City were back in Northants to face a Kettering side no challenging for the title with a rookie keeper making his debut. Regular no.1 Dave Mogg was sidelined after an x-ray discovered that he’d been playing with a broken bone in his wrist for three games which forced manager Tony Ricketts to hand the gloves to Spanish shot-stopper Rafael Torres. He had recently moved to Bath after studying at Leeds University but became an immediate cult hero with City fans as he produced a wonderful performance to keep the Poppies at bay. And with ten minutes remaining it got even better for City when Paul Adcock fired home a winning goal after Gary Smart sent him racing clear. Unfortunately a week later it all went rather wrong for Torres as he conceded six goals at Sutton United in the FA Trophy, but he still retains a fond place in the hearts of those City fans who made that midweek trip to Kettering (and for kicking the ball away as a non-playing substitute to time-waste in the FA Cup game with Hereford United earlier that season).
Woeful Tamworth sunk by City's super subs (12/2/11)
In an otherwise disappointing game a rare moment of quality from Ben Watson plus an injury-time strike by Scott Murray was enough to give City a 2-0 win over Tamworth at Twerton Park this afternoon. City struggled to recapture their recent form but came up against an opponent who were even more woeful and in the end fully deserved the three points. The first half rarely rose above the turgid with the Lambs best chance arriving on three minutes, an unmarked Perry heading straight at Ryan Robinson, before Lee Phillips wasted a great opening to score after 40 minutes, heading Marley Watkins' cross wide. Apart from that it was largely forgettable fare. In their last home game following a similarly poor first half City broke the deadlock two minutes after the interval before going on to rout Cambridge United but this time little changed as the game went into the second 45 minutes. With time running out the game looked destined to end goalless but in the 80th minute a moment of class finally lit up proceedings. Watson had only been on the pitch for 90 seconds when he collected Sido Jombati's flick before unleashing a dipping volley from 25 yards that gave Atkins no chance in the Tamworth goal. This finally meant the visitors had to show some attacking intent but this just left more space for City to take advantage of and deep into stoppage time Marc Canham broke forward to send Murray clear. He looked to have taken the ball too wide but his shot somehow beat Atkins and the defender on the line to secure the victory.
PREVIEW: CITY v Tamworth - Blue Square Bet Premier (10/2/11)
Having finally ended their remarkable run of Saturday Twerton Park draws with the 4-0 win over Cambridge United two weeks ago, City will look for a repeat of that performance (and hopefully scoreline) when Tamworth head south to Bath this weekend. They will also be keen to avoid defeat against the Lambs to maintain their proud achievement of not suffering back to back league losses this season. This latter record has played such an important part in City’s current 12th place Blue Square Bet Premier position however, as the season heads into its final third, they know that there is still work to be done to guarantee a second season in the top flight of non-league football.
A win over Tamworth would be another step in that direction but they will face a side who have steadied their campaign since the turn of the year after a run of eleven league games without a win saw them slip from the play-off positions to the fringes of the drop zone. Five wins and three draws in their opening nine games saw the Lambs sitting proudly in 3rd place midway through September but a draw with City started the winless run and their cause was not helped when manager Gary Mills quit to join league rivals York City in October to be replaced by first team coach Des Lyttle. The former Nottingham Forest defender lost his first three league games in charge but did lead the club to a famous FA Cup win over Crewe Alexandra. He began to steady the ship with draws against Gateshead and Cambridge United before suffering FA Cup heartbreak at Carlisle United when the Cumbrian side struck twice in the closing minutes to edge out his side by three goals to two. Following the weather enforced break they returned to action with a 1-0 win over Kettering Town on New Year’s Day and since then have steadily climbed the table to now sit ten points clear of the relegation places. They did suffer a setback in their last outing though when a single goal was enough to condemn them to defeat against then bottom club Histon.
Lyttle has brought in a number of new players to strengthen his squad during the transfer window, including much travelled midfielder Malvin Kamara, former York City utility player Duane Courtney, 18 year old striker Jevaise Christie from Arnold Town and ex-Sheffield Wednesday forward Jason Bradley. The latter will miss the match with City after getting sent off during a 1-1 draw with Rushden & Diamonds two week ago. Tamworth appealed against this red card but this just lead to Bradley’s ban being increased from three games to four by the FA’s disciplinary panel. This may leave the Lambs short up front having lost striker Alex Rodman to Aldershot Town for an undisclosed fee last month. The move appeared to stem from the England C striker’s hat-trick against Newport County which turned out to be Dean Holdsworth’s last game in charge of the Welsh club before he switched to the Shots.
Complete record against Tamworth
The 2-2 draw at the Lamb Ground back in September ended a run of three successive wins for the Staffordshire side over City. The last of these was a comfortable 2-0 victory in the final game of the 2002-03 season for the already crowned Dr Martens Premier Division champions. The first ever game between the clubs at Twerton Park took place during the 1997-98 campaign at the end of City’s re-launch week. The preceding seven days had seen the club unveil a new badge, feature in a Ken Loach directed documentary (now available as a DVD extra on Loach’s recent film ‘Looking For Eric’) plus a host of other events designed to restore Bath City FC’s flagging fortunes. A 1-1 draw with Forest Green Rovers had preceded this so City would have hoped to end the week with a victory. And it all looked to be going to plan despite Tamworth taking a 7th minute lead through Piggott’s 20-yard half-volley. Within four minutes Mulholland handled in the box and Mike Davis levelled from the penalty spot. Two goals in as many minutes toward the end of the half – Ian Hedges heading home a Mike Wyatt free-kick and Davis netting his second from a Mark Harrington pass – put City in control of the game but just before the interval Smith made it 3-2. The second half saw City have several close escapes before, with seven minutes remaining, a second handball offence gave Davis the chance to complete his hat-trick and secure the win. This time though he saw his penalty saved by Rowe and City were punished for this miss when in stoppage time Bennett lobbed Mark Hervin to grab a point for the visitors.
City will definitely be without defender Danny Webb after he underwent an operation on Monday to insert a plate in his fractured cheekbone and repair his eye socket following the clash of heads against Cambridge United. Also likely to be missing is midfielder Adie Harris as he continues his recovery from a hamstring strain but apart from those two players manager Adie Britton should have the rest of his squad from which to choose.
City begin 2011-12 planning with the signature of midfielder Canham (9/2/11)
Marc Canham has become the first of the current squad to sign a contract for the 2011-12 season. The former Team Bath midfielder joined the club from Hayes & Yeading United last summer and his free-kicks have increasingly become a highlight of City's maiden Blue Square Bet Premier season. With recent arrival Marley Watkins already under contract for next year, manager Adie Britton will continue discussions with further members of the squad over the coming weeks.
City have brought foward their home game against Southport from Tuesday 8 March to Saturday 26 February (ko 3pm). They had previously been scheduled to play Gateshead on that date but the North East club will play a FA Trophy quarter-final then instead. A new date for that game will be announced in due course.
City's power of recovery fails in narrow Kidderminster defeat (5/2/11)
Despite a second half rally City fell to a single goal defeat at Kidderminster Harriers this afternoon. After the home side had adapted better to the difficult conditions during the first half it was City who got stronger as the game progressed and, with Adam Connolly and Kaid Mohamed striking the bar, can feel unlucky not to have headed back south with a least a point. A bumpy pitch and strong wind saw both teams struggle during the early exchanges but it was City who almost opened the scoring on 18 minutes when Mohamed set up Connolly only for his shot to crash against the bar. This was a rare scare for the hosts and they deservedly went ahead in the 33rd minute, Shaw breaking into the area before firing past the recalled Ryan Robinson. Byrne's wind-assisted cross hit the inside of the post with Robinson beaten before the break but after the interval it was nearly all City. When they rattled the woodwork for the second time, this time from Mohamed's shot just before the hour mark, it looked as it wasn't going to be their day. And this turned out to be the case as Lee Phillips and Joe Burnell both went close and Ben Watson saw his effort well saved by Lewis. City kept the pressue on right to the end, Marley Watkins' shooting narrowly over with the last kick of the game, but it was Harriers who could celebrate at the final whistle, although they will face greater battles off the pitch during the coming weeks.
Facial injuries could see defender Webb out for rest of season (3/2/11)
Danny Webb may miss the rest of the 2010-11 season after suffering a broken cheekbone in the 4-0 win over Cambridge United last Saturday. The damage was caused following a clash of heads during the opening quarter of an hour of the the match and the defender, who joined City from Salisbury City last summer, will discover whether an operation will be required next week when he undergoes further x-rays that the swelling prevented immediately after the incident. Although City do have adequate cover in the centre of defence it is still a blow to lose Webb who has played an important part in the team's much improved rearguard over the last couple of months.
PREVIEW: Kidderminster Harriers v CITY - Blue Square Bet Premier (3/2/11)
City will look to take another step toward ‘Project Staying Up’ when they travel up the M5 on Saturday to face troubled Kidderminster Harriers. City’s season was kick-started by the 2-0 home win over Harriers back in September and they are now well on target to exceed their pre-season target of 50 points they would almost certainly ensure them of another year in the Blue Square Bet Premier. Standing in the way of a fifth away league win in their last six outings is a Kidderminster side who currently sit in sixth place but could see any play-offs hopes derailed by off the pitch financial problems.
These troubles have already seen a five point deduction, without which they would be above Fleetwood Town in fifth position, after being found guilty over a breach of rule 18, with regards to financial reporting for the periods from October to December 2009, January to March 2010 and April to June 2010. This punishment comes against the backdrop of unpaid wages, a potential takeover that looks on the brink of collapse and a winding-up order by HM Revenue and Customs for outstanding debts, thought to be in the region of £75,000, which will be heard on Wednesday, February 23 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London (having narrowly avoided a similar order back in November 2010). After the club’s board of directors failed to raise the required investment to plug a reported £150,000 hole in their finances it appeared that Stratford-based businessman Chris Swan was on the verge of a take over at Aggborough. However, the latest reports are that Swan has described his chances of buying the club as ‘less than 50 per cent’, citing in-fighting and Harriers’ dire financial situation as causes for concern. Should this deal fall through the club would almost certainly face going into administration with the statutory 10 point deduction that would without doubt end any play-off dreams.
That these dreams are still currently alive is a great testament to manager Steve Burr and his players. Since following up the 2-0 defeat to City with a similar reversal to Crawley, Harriers have only lost two of their 17 league games, although this has largely been against teams in the lower reaches of the Blue Square Bet Premier. Understandably given their financial predicament there was little movement during recent transfer window. Winger Kyle Hadley was released by mutual consent and although top scorer (and allegedly top earner) Chris McPhee was placed on the transfer list in an attempt to raise much needed funds he remains a Harrier after turning down a move to Hereford United. His importance to the playing side was highlighted by the brace he scored in last weeks 4-0 win at Hayes & Yeading United, making it four goals in the last three games.
Complete record against Kidderminster Harriers/Kidderminster FC
City will hope for an improvement on the result of their last visit to Aggborough during the 1996-97 season. They came into the game rock bottom of the Vauxhall Conference, and on the back of a 4-1 defeat at Farnborough Town two days earlier, but title-chasing Kidderminster just heaped further misery on Steve Millard’s side with a six-goal hammering that was as one-sided as the scoreline suggests. However, City have enjoyed visits to Kidderminster in the past, not least during the 1986-87 when the recorded their biggest win there. Although the meeting took place in mid-September City had already beaten Harriers 3-2 at home and they got off to the perfect start in the return game when Dave Payne headed home from a Jeff Sherwood cross after just two minutes. Kidderminster striker Kim Casey soon levelled the scores but Paul Bodin restored City’s advantage, finishing a great move involving Gary Fulbrook and Dave Palmer. Once again it was Casey on target – his 13th goal in ten games - before the break to ensure the game reached half-time with honours even. However, the second half saw City take control and Alan Crawford’s 30-yard short put them back on course for a fourth successive league win. Bodin then increased City’s lead with a neat finish before City were spared a nervous last five minutes when Dave Mogg denied Casey a hat-trick by saving his 85th minute penalty kick.
City will go into the game without defender Danny Webb and midfielder Adie Harris. The latter has yet to recover from the thigh problem that sidelined him for last week’s win over Cambridge United. Webb picked up his injury in that game following a clash of heads after just 19 minutes that has left him with a broken cheekbone and, possibly, damaged eye socket that could put him out of action for the remainder of the season. On the plus side, Marley Watkins will return to the squad after his move from Cheltenham Town and there may also be a place on the City bench for new arrival Jonathan Brown. One further change will be in goal where Ryan Robinson will reclaim his place after Carl Pentney returned to Colchester United at the end of his three-month loan spell at Twerton Park.