PREVIEW: CITY v Woking - Blue Square South (30/11/09)

City have an immediate chance to bounce back from their disappointing FA Cup exit on Saturday when Woking visit Twerton Park tomorrow night. Having gone out of the FA Trophy and FA Cup in successive week’s City can now concentrate fully on their Blue Square South play-off ambitions as they currently sit just five points behind fifth place Basingstoke Town with three games in hand. They face a Woking side who have made a solid start in their attempt to return to the Blue Square Premier at the first time of asking after relegation last season.

Following their formation in 1889 Woking spent the majority of their existence in the Isthmian League, mainly in the top division until the early 1980’s when they slipped down to the competition’s third tier. However, under the leadership of Geoff Chapple they began to climb back up the pyramid, culminating in promotion the Conference in 1992. After an eighth place finish in their first season at this level they went on to record five successive top five finishes, including two runner-up spots in 1994-95 and 1995-96. During this time it was the club’s cup exploits that earned it national attention. In 1990-91 a 4th Qualifying Round win over City began a run to the 4th Round proper that on the way saw them win 4-2 at West Bromwich Albion in the 3rd Round thanks to a hat-trick from Tim Buzaglo. They were drawn at home to Everton in the next round but switched the tie to Goodison Park where they lost by a single goal. They made at least the 2nd Round proper in the next six seasons, with two further 3rd Round appearances along the way and wins over league sides Barnet, Millwall and Cambridge United, plus a draw with then Premier League Coventry City. They also enjoyed great success in the FA Trophy, winning it three times in 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1996-97 at Wembley.

Chapple left the club to join Kingstonian following this third Trophy win and this was the start of years of struggle for the club. The Cards became more accustomed to fighting near the foot of the Conference table and even the brief return of Chapple in 2001-02 did little to halt their slide as they only avoided relegation by four points that season. An even closer escape the following year came when they won their final game to keep their Conference place. The club was also struggling off the pitch as long-time fan Chris Ingrim came to the rescue, becoming Chairman in February 2002 and saving them from possible bankruptcy. The answer to return to their previous glories was turning full-time in 2003 which did herald a slight improvement with two top ten finishes plus another Trophy Final appearance; although this time they lost 2-0 to Grays Athletic at Upton Park. However, this turn around in fortunes was short-lived and they were soon struggling again with lower and lower finishes that finally saw them relegated to the Blue Square South in April 2009.

They began their 2009-10 campaign with a 2-1 win at Welling United but followed this up with a home defeat to Chelmsford City. This became the pattern to the early part of the campaign with their away form much more impressive than at home. Before last Saturday’s 3-1 win over managerless Dorchester Town at Kingsfield they had scored just four goals in their opening eight home games. By contrast they had netted 14 times on the road, winning six and drawing two of their nine away games. They also enjoyed a slight reminder of their FA Cup glory years, reaching the 1st Round before losing by a single goal to Swindon Town. In the FA Trophy they also found their scoring boots, putting six past Blue Square South rivals St Albans City to earn them a 1st Round meeting with City’s FA Cup conquerors Forest Green.


Complete record against Woking

City and Woking have met on 13 previous occasions although not since the 1996-97 season. Both matches that season ended in draws, the game in Surrey particularly eventful as, despite being reduced to ten men after just 20 minutes – Paul Tovey seeing red for a foul on Clive Walker, City lead two-nil thanks to goals from Stuart James and Mike Wyatt. The home side pulled a goal back with 15 minutes remaining but despite throwing everything at City after this it looked as if their 37-home game unbeaten run would come to an end. However, deep in stoppage time a punt into the box was not dealt with by keeper Dave Mogg to give Taylor a simple tap-in and deny City the win in the cruellest fashion. The return match at Twerton Park did not have such late drama but was memorable for the debut of Martin Paul in City colours, and he scored the first of his 115 goals for the club in the 1-1 draw. The first ever meetings between the clubs took place during the 1989-90 season in the last 16 of the FA Trophy. Both clubs were flying high in their respective leagues – Woking in the Vauxhall League Division 1 and City a level higher in the Beazer Home League. The first match at Kingsfield finished 1-1 so the sides met again at Twerton Park three days later. A gale force wind blowing toward the Bath End favoured City in the first half and they took full advantage as a deflected free-kick from Gary Smart put them ahead on ten minutes before the same player’s wind assisted cross deceived Woking keeper Gray to make it 2-0 ten minutes later. City failed to increase their lead and when Tony Ricketts bundled over Pratt in the area just past the hour mark Wye pulled a goal back from the spot. Woking pushed forward in search of an equaliser but City stood firm, the closest escape coming when Wye’s free-kick struck the outside of the post, to secure a place in the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-0 at home to Stafford Rangers


FA Cup dreams disappear as City are edged out by Forest Green (28/11/09)

City's hopes of a dream 3rd Round FA Cup appearance disappeared at Twerton Park this afternoon as they were narrowly beaten by Forest Green Rovers. Despite outplaying their higher league oppenents for much of the 90 minutes they were left to rue a slice of misfortune in the first half and getting caught cold at the start of the second period. In front of a bumper 3325 crowd City started well without really testing Burton in the visitor's goal and slowly they began to let slip their early control. Rovers played the ball neatly at times but also appeared to lack a cutting edge to their approach play. However, on 24 minutes they got a stroke of luck that can so often turn cup ties. Smith was allowed to carry the ball toward the City area but his optimistic effort from 25 yards seemed to pose little threat to Ryan Robinson until a deflection off Chris Holland set it spinning into the opposite corner of the net. City repsonded well to this blow and Kaid Mohamed wasted a great chance to score against his former club, blasting over when Lewis Hogg's cross fell to him just six yards out. Three minutes before the break though City deservedly levelled when Sekani Simpson's centre was headed home by an unmarked Hogg. City were well on top now but they where then caught cold within four minutes of the restart when Preece was allowed a near post header from a Platt corner that Robinson narrowly failed to keep out. This goal did rock City back and Platt wasted a great chance soon afterwards to make it 3-1. The introduction of Florin Pelecaci reawoke City and his cross was headed narrowly wide by Darren Edwards. City were now committing numbers forward, nearly getting caught on the break several times, but Forest Green stood firm. The best chance fell to Pelecaci six minutes from time after a cross dropped to him at the far post. He had time and space to bring the ball down but choose to shoot and his volley only found the side-netting. Despite four minutes of stoppage time City couldn't find an equaliser their performance had warranted and it was the visitors who were celebrating at the final whistle and looking forward to tomorrow's 3rd Round draw.


PREVIEW: CITY v Forest Green Rovers - FA Cup 2nd Round (26/11/09)

City will look to reach the 3rd Round of the FA Cup for just the seventh time in their history – and the first occasion since the 1993-94 season – when they face Forest Green Rovers at Twerton Park on Saturday. The Gloucestershire side lie third from bottom of the Blue Square Premier but have saved some of their best form for the FA Cup this season. After squeezing past Southern League Division 1 Mangotsfield United by two goals to one in the 4th Qualifying Round they were drawn to face Mansfield Town in the 1st Round. Despite dominating the match at The New Lawn finished level, however two goals from Conal Platt gave them an impressive 2-1 win in the replay to set up the clash with City. Rovers have enjoyed considerable success in the FA Cup in recent seasons, including a first ever 3rd Round appearance last year. They have reached at least the 1st Round proper in eight of the last eleven seasons, with wins over league clubs Rotherham United and Rochdale. The latter of these set up a 3rd Round meeting with Derby County and when they raced into a two-goal lead within 20 minutes a major giant-killing act looked on the cards. The Rams fought back though and despite Rovers edging ahead again at 3-2 they finally lost 4-3 in front of a record crowd of 4836 at The New Lawn.

Forest Green were founded in 1890 and spent around the first 85 years of their existence in local Gloucestershire football. They joined the Hellenic League in 1975 and seven seasons later were crowned champions. They also won the FA Vase at Wembley that season with a 3-0 win over Rainworth Miners Welfare. These successes saw the club promoted to the Southern League for the 1982-83 season where they produced a series of mid to lower finishes over the next 12-13 years. With the club’s failure to kick on from their league and cup wins, and crowds still in the low hundreds, in 1989 they changed their name to Stroud FC. However, this move was never popular and after just three seasons they reverted back to Forest Green Rovers. In 1994 Frank Gregan took over as manager and he led the club to back to back league titles, first lifting the Southern League Southern Division in 1997 then a year later winning promotion to the Conference by landing the Premier Division title – clinching the crown with a 2-0 win over City at The Lawn. They were immediately installed as favourites for relegation but defied this view by not only finishing in 12th place but reaching the FA Trophy Final where they lost by a single goal to Kingstonian at Wembley.

Pre-season relegation favourites has since become a tag to which Forest Green have become more than accustomed. Relegation was avoided in the final game of the 2000-01 season and they had an even closer escape two seasons later when only Northwich Victoria’s expulsion from the Conference saved them after finishing in 20th place. In between the club made another FA Trophy Final appearance, this time at Villa Park, where they lost to Canvey Island. Since then the club has continually flirted with relegation but the 2009-10 season is their 12th at the pinnacle of non-league football which represents a remarkable achievement for a club of their size. They have twice finished in the top 10 with 8th during the 2007-08 season representing their best finish. During this time they also moved into a new Football League standard ground just 400 yards from their previous home of well over 100 years.

This season looks like another one of struggle for Rovers as they currently sit in 21st place in the Blue Square Premier, five points adrift of safety with just two league wins to their name. They began the campaign with six successive defeats, a run only halted with a 0-0 draw at title favourites Oxford United. If they hoped this would kick-start their season they were to severely disappointed as they lost their next match 7-0 at Cambridge United. This poor start to the season was not helped by problems off the pitch after manager Jim Harvey was relieved of his position on the eve of the campaign for reportedly applying for the manager’s job at Cambridge United without permission, before being officially sacked 23 days later. Player-assistant manager David Brown took up the managerial reins until former Cirencester Academy supremo Dave Hockaday was announced as Harvey’s permanent successor a few days after the Cambridge thrashing. He immediately steadied the ship with four successive draws before back to back wins over Grays Athletic and Chester City. Since then though they have only picked up another two points from seven league outings and suffered 1-0 defeats to Stevenage Borough and Oxford United since claiming their place in the FA Cup 2nd Round.


Complete record against Forest Green Rovers/Stroud

Whilst the clubs were regular pre-season opponents during the 1980’s there first competitive meeting took place slightly bizarrely in the Welsh Cup in 1988. They have met on two previous occasions in the FA Cup, the first during the 1991-92 season during the latter’s brief spell as Stroud FC. At the time City were in the Conference, with Stroud still a Southern League Midland side, so went into the game considerable favourites despite just one win in their opening six league matches. City’s then record signing striker Chris Townsend was on loan to Stroud having netted just four goals – all in a single game – in fourteen games for the club. He had already almost netted double that total in just eight games for Stroud but unsurprisingly was not allowed to play against City in the tie. City started the game strongly and after just eight minutes Chris Banks crossed for Graham Withey to head home from ten yards. And when ten minutes later Darlaston was adjudged to have handled in the area, allowing Paul Randall to fire home from the spot, City looked comfortably in control of the match. However, two minutes before the interval an unmarked header from Shrimpton reawakened the contest. City endured a few nervous moments early in the second half but just past the hour mark Keith Brown bundled the ball home after keeper Martyn could only parry Bank’s low cross to give them breathing space and they held onto this advantage to claim a 2nd Qualifying Round place. When they met again in the competition nine years later it was City who were the lower league side but once again there was no giant-killing act, although City only had themselves to blame for failing to win the 4th Qualifying Round tie. They were gifted the lead thanks to an own goal by ex-City player Rob Cousins after 23 minutes and although Rovers levelled five minutes later through Frankie Bennett (who would go on to play for City) by half-time the home side had been reduced to ten men after Billy Clark (now City’s Academy boss) was dismissed for kicking out at Mark Harrington. Even when Bennett netted his and Forest Green’s second straight after the interval City were still in the game. On 71 minutes they were gifted the chance to equaliser when referee Mr Baker saw a push in the box on Kevin Lloyd and pointed to the spot. However, Martin Paul saw his penalty kick saved by Steve Perrin and then blasted the rebound high over the unguarded goal. Still the referee seemed determined to help City back into the match – he booked seven Rovers players in addition to the sending-off – awarding City another penalty 15 minutes later, this time for a clearer looking trip on Paul. Player-manager Paul Bodin took over the spot-kick duties but with exactly the same result as Perrin once again blocked the effort. Not surprisingly this miss extinguished City’s hopes and Bennett completed his hat-trick five minutes from time to cap a frustrating day for the Romans.

The game will have extra resonance for six of City’s squad having spent time at Forest Green with varying degrees of success. Keeper Ryan Robinson and striker Kaid Mohamed were both there last season before being released in the summer. Robinson had spent two seasons at The New Lawn having followed manager Jim Harvey from Morecambe in July 2007. He soon established himself as no.1 and went on to make 69 games but was dropped before an FA Cup tie against City’s former tenant’s Team Bath at Twerton Park last season which was the beginning of the end of his time there. Mohamed netted the only goal of that game against the gone and largely forgotten University of Bath based side, which was one of three goals he scored for Rovers in 27 appearances having joined them from Swindon Town in the summer of 2008. Sekani Simpson initially joined Forest Green on loan from Bristol City in 2003 before joining permanently in June 2005. He was the club’s first choice right-back for much of the 2005-06 season but was released at the end of the campaign. City captain Jim Rollo also spent a single season with Rovers in 1998-99 without ever becoming a first team regular. The final two players with Forest Green connections are Matt Coupe – who spent two years in the Cotswolds before a falling out with manager Colin Addison heralded his departure – and reserve keeper Steve Perrin. He made well over 200 appearances for the club during seven seasons there, including an FA Trophy Final at Wembley. As mentioned above he was also instrumental in their FA Cup win over City in 2000 with two penalty saves. And it was while on loan from them that he helped City to their last FA Cup 2nd Round appearance in 2004.

City's record in the FA Cup 2nd Round

That run to the 2nd Round five years ago ended in a 2-0 defeat at Peterborough United. Prior to that game City had not lost a 2nd Round match at the first time of asking since 1985 when the same opposition won 1-0. Draws against Bristol City (1986), Welling United (1988) and Northampton Town (1992) had all been followed by replay defeats but City also beat the Wings in 1987 and Hereford United in 1993 in front of the Sky cameras at this stage of the competition.

City go into the game with just one player unavailable, Matt Coupe who is serving the first game of a three-match ban picked up for his red card two weeks ago against Chelmsford City. He is likely to be replaced by Gethin Jones, having overcome his groin injury, and Stuart Douglas will also return to the squad after missing the FA Trophy exit at Maidenhead United with a stomach upset. Forest Green will be without cup-tied Craig Rocastle but welcome back defender Curtis McDonald who missed the defeat to Oxford United after being called up for the Wales Under-23 squad. They will also be without striker Sean Rigg whose loan spell from Bristol Rovers ended a week ago. The rumoured City summer target had been a major reason for Rovers’ improved form last month with seven goals in 16 appearances. Hockaday moved quickly to replace Rigg with the capture of Torquay United youngster Ben Joyce on loan. Joyce had spent the last month or so with Blue Square South strugglers Weston Super Mare, netting once in seven games for the Seasiders.


Live coverage of Forest Green FA Cup tie on BBC Radio Bristol (25/11/09)

There will be live coverage of City's FA Cup 2nd Round meeting with Forest Green Rovers on BBC Radio Bristol and BBC Radio Somerset. Commentary will be provided by Ed Hadwin and former City forward Jason Eaton on 104.6FM in Bath, 1548 medium wave in the Bristol area, and 1566 medium wave in Somerset. The game will also be available on the BBC sport website. Saturday Sport is on air from 2pm and before kick off City midfielder Lewis Hogg will be the latest contestant in their "Saturday Sport Mastermind" series.


City offer deal on half-season ticket to watch BSS play-off hunt (23/11/09)

While understandably much of the attention recently has been focused on City's giant-killing FA Cup exploits an unbeaten run of five league matches has moved them to within just four points of the Blue Square South play-off places and supporters can buy a season ticket for the remaining 12 league games at Twerton Park for just £99. The equates to just over £8 per game, a saving of nearly £2 on the normal matchday admission price. Concessions and stand seats are similar bargains. Please click here to download an application form and return it to the club before the Woking game on Tuesday 1 December.


City pay the penalty with first hurdle trophy exit at Maidenhead (21/11/09)

Maidenhead United recorded their first ever win over City at the ninth time of asking this afternoon with a single goal FA Trophy success. City were left to rue a first half penalty miss from Darren Edwards and Kaid Mohamed spuring an open goal after the interval in a game of which they always looked in control. City's top scorer put a weak effort against the post in the 23rd minute after Mark Badman had been tripped in the area. Then ten minutes into the second half they should have gone ahead only for Mohamed to shoot wide after Badman's flick dropped to him just six yards out. The home side had posed little threat with long balls forward looking their only mode of attack but from one such punt on 69 minutes their took an undeserved lead. Keeper Ryan Robinson could only weakly push Behzadi's looping centre to St Aimie who had a simple tap in. Although City could understandably have begun to focus on next week's huge FA Cup meeting with Forest Green Rovers after this blow they continued to press forward to try to grab an equaliser that would have lead to a replay they would have wished to avoid before the match. However, when Mohamed's close range effort was blocked on the line in stoppage time it was clear that it would not be their day and interest in the FA Trophy was over for another season.


PREVIEW: Maidenhead United v CITY - FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round (19/11/09)

City turn their attention to the FA Trophy on Saturday as they head up the M4 to face Blue Square South rivals Maidenhead United in a 3rd Qualifying Round tie. If ever the omens were stacked in City’s favour to win a game this is it as not only do they have an almost perfect record against the Magpies there is also the odd fact that they have never lost an FA Trophy whilst still in the FA Cup. If for no other reasons than these City should be confident of winning a place in the 1st Round proper and picking up another £4000 in FA prize money on top of the £42,500 they have already earned for their FA Cup exploits.

Maidenhead come into the game on the back of a 3-2 win over Basingstoke Town last weekend that brought a spell of four games without a win to a welcome end. It had looked as if this poor run would continue when a brace of Basingstoke goals in the last five minutes of the game wiped out United’s two goal lead. However, in stoppage time substitute Wall popped up just moments after coming on to net the winner. After failing to win any of their opening eight league games, which left them rooted to the foot of the Blue Square South, they then won five and drew two of their next seven games to lift them to mid-table. Although during this run they did suffer an embarrassing 5-2 FA Cup exit to big-spending Southern League side Truro City at York Road. The star of this turnaround in league form was ex-Millwall midfielder Will Hendry, whose five goals in six games earned him the Blue Square South player of the month award. United manager Johnson Hippolyte signed a two-year extension to his contract late in October but, ironically, this coincided with another dip in form for his young side which only ended against Basingstoke.

In common with City, Maidenhead do not have a great record in the FA Trophy with a run to the quarter-final in the 2003-04 season their best effort. The highlight of that run was a 2-0 win at then Conference side Halifax Town before losing 4-0 to eventual runners-up Canvey Island in the following round. Since that campaign they have crashed out of the competition at the first hurdle three times including a 4-2 home defeat against Southern League Midland Division club Chesham United last season.


Complete record against Maidenhead United

The clubs have already met during the first week of this season at Twerton Park. A Darren Edwards goal midway through the second half was enough to give City the victory and extend their impressive run against the Magpies. Only once in the eight meetings between the sides have Maidenhead avoided defeat – a goalless draw during the 2008-09 season – and, although City have never scored more than two goals in a game against them, they have not needed to as only once in these eight games have Maidenhead managed to score at all. This single strike coming from the penalty spot during the Twerton Park clash near the end of the 2006-07 season.

City will be without defender Gethin Jones due to his groin strain picked up in the recent draw at Staines Town but hope top scorer Darren Edwards is available again after recovering from the rib injury that sidelined him for the last two matches. Centre-back – and nominated FA Cup player of the round - Chris Holland faces a fitness test on a knee injury he suffered against Chelmsford City last week but Matt Coupe will be available ahead of his three-match ban for his red card in the same game. Maidenhead will be without Pat Sappleton and Jamal Fyfield who are both suspended for the match.


City announce admission prices for Forest Green FA Cup clash (18/11/09)

City have announced admission prices for their FA Cup 2nd Round tie with Blue Square Premier side Forest Green Rovers. An adult stand seat will cost £15 with concessions £10 and under-16s £6. Terrace prices are £13, £9 and £5 respectively. Advance tickets sales will be available for stand seats but terrace tickets will be pay on the day. In the event of the match being a draw, the replay at Forest Green Rovers will be on Wednesday 9 December 2009.


Injury-time winner earns Forest Green Rovers FA Cup Twerton trip (17/11/09)

City will face Forest Green Rovers in the FA Cup 2nd Round after they surprisingly beat Blue Square Premier rivals Mansfield 2-1 in a 1st Round replay this evening. The hero for the Gloucestershire side was striker Conal Platt, netting both goals including the winner a minute into stoppage time. The meeting will have extra spice with a number of City's squad having previously played for Rovers, amongst them captain Jim Rollo, Sekani Simpson and, most recently, goalkeeper Ryan Robinson. The match will take place on Saturday 28 November (ko 3pm).


Ten man City dig deep to hang on for narrow Chelmsford victory (14/11/09)

Stuart Douglas' first goal of the season was enough to give City the three points against Chelmsford City at Twerton Park this afternoon but the visitors can feel aggrieved not to have got at least a point from the game after dominating following Matt Coupe's 58th minute red card. With the gusty wind behind them in the first-half City enjoyed the majority of possession but both sides struggled to cope with the conditions. Hockton headed an early chance over for the visitors before Kaid Mohamed forced a good block from Holloway in the Clarets goal. What turned out to be the decisive goal arrived on 32 minutes - ironically while City were down to ten men with Adam Connolly off the pitch receiving treatment to a facial injury - when Douglas beat the offside trap to race clear. He first touch appeared to be too heavy but the Popular Side's groans turned to cheers when he stretched to lift the ball over Holloway from a narrow angle. Mohamed almost made it 2-0 before the interval with a stunning 25-yard effort that Holloway superbly turned over the bar. The opening exchanges after the break suggested that City were capable of keeping this narrow advantage intact but when Coupe slid into a challenge with Martin and the previously lenient referee showed him a straight red the balance of play swung toward the Essex side. Lewis Hogg produced a great last-ditch tackle to deny Modeste before Douglas spurned a chance to give City breathing space with 12 minutes remaining. In the 89th minute it looked as if Chelmsford's pressure had finally paid off when Berquez rounded Robinson only for Jombati to clear his shot off the line. Hockton then fired a low shot against the inside of a post and Cook blasted the rebound against the other post from just a couple of yards out. There was still time for Robinson to save shots from Hockton and Holmes as City's luck held to extend their unbeaten run to eight games.


Holland shortlisted for E.ON FA Cup Player of the Round (13/11/09)

Chris Holland has become the second City player to be nominated for the E.ON FA Cup Player of the Round this season. He has been shortlisted for his performance against Grimsby Town last Saturday, where he netted City's first goal and played a large part in keeping a clean sheet against the Coca-Cola League 2 side. Dutch joins City's Romanian midfielder Florin Pelecaci in earning this recognition after his performance in the 2nd Qualifying Round match at Willand Rovers last month. To vote visit the FA website here.


PREVIEW: CITY v Chelmsford City - Blue Square South (12/11/09)

City will look to take their unbeaten run to eight matches when they entertain Chelmsford City at Twerton Park on Saturday. A win over the Clarets could lift them into the Blue Square South top ten ahead of another break from league action due to their continuing involvement in the FA Cup and maiden appearance in the FA Trophy this season, with their next league outing scheduled for December 1 when Woking visit Twerton. They will face a side coming into some form following an indifferent start to the season that left them as low as 15th place at the end of August. However, a run of three wins and two draws in their last five games has lifted them back to the fringes of the play-offs.

This would have been the least the club expected this campaign having made the play-offs last season only to lose to Hampton & Richmond Borough in the semi-finals. Despite a number of changes on the playing front plus head coach Glenn Pennyfather taking over from manager Jeff King, who moved upstairs into a Director of Football role, Chelmsford started the season well, winning their opening two matches against City and Woking. A defeat at Basingstoke Town heralded a run of five games without a win, including a heavy defeat at title favourites Newport County. They bounced back with wins over St Albans City, Lewes and Staines Town before losses against Eastleigh and Woking saw them slide back again. Now, with a number of players returning from injury they seem to be back on track. Last time out, with influential midfielder Dave Rainford back in the side, they recorded a narrow 2-1 win at struggling Worcester City.


Complete record against Chelmsford City

The aforementioned meeting between the sides on the opening day of the season was a remarkable game in which City found themselves four goals down with just 25 minutes gone. And when moment’s later City conceded a penalty it looked as if things were going to get even worse. However, young keeper Will Puddy redeemed himself slightly for being at fault for a couple of the goals, saving Hockton’s spot-kick and this started a fight-back by City. Richard Evans and a Darren Edwards penalty made it 4-2 before the break and even after City were reduced to ten men with the harsh dismissal of Mark Badman they gave the home side a nervous last eight minutes thanks to Mike Perrott’s header. Badman’s red card meant that all three games between the clubs since they resumed league rivalry following a five-year break have seen City finish a man short, with Paul Evans and Lewis Hogg the guilty parties in the two matches last season.

City could make a number of changes to their starting line-up, some enforced and some in attempt to freshen the side up after their FA Cup exploits last weekend. Top scorer Darren Edwards missed Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Staines Town and he could be sidelined again with sore ribs picked up against Grimsby Town. The Staines games also saw captain Jim Rollo suffer a rib injury and Gethin Jones a groin strain, making them both a doubt. Kaid Mohamed and Sekani Simpson are also suffering from sore hamstrings but should be okay for the game. Manager Adie Britton may also give several players who missed out on the Grimsby game, Richard Evans, Florin Pelecaci and Marcus Browning a starting place.


Honours even in the battle of the Blue Square South giant-killers (10/11/09)

City stretched their unbeaten run to seven games with a 1-1 draw at fellow FA Cup giant-killers Staines Town this evening. It took both sides 45 minutes to get over their FA Cup exertions from three days earlier but after a forgettable first half the game livened up after the interval. Sekani Simpson and Kaid Mohamed had both gone close for City before the latter scored following a goalmouth scramble on 65 minutes. However, City could not maintain this lead as ten minutes later Scarlett fired in a free-kick from 20 yards. Neither side could find a winner after this and the draw sees City slip one place to 14th in the Blue Square South.


PREVIEW: Staines Town v CITY - Blue Square South (9/11/09)

In a quirky twist of fixture list fate City face fellow Blue Square South FA Cup giant-killers Staines Town tomorrow night at Wheatsheaf Park. Whilst City were dumping Grimsby Town out of the FA Cup through goals from Chris Holland and Darren Edwards the Swans were causing an upset of their own beating another Coca-Cola League 2 side Shrewsbury Town thanks to a single strike from Ali Chaaban. Their reward for the victory is a home tie against the winners of this evenings meeting between Millwall and AFC Wimbledon. This is not the first time the Middlesex club have enjoyed FA Cup success in recent years as during the 2007-08 season they also reached the 1st Round where they faced Stockport County. After drawing 1-1 at Edgeley Park they faced the Hatters in front of the Sky Sports cameras at Wheatsheaf Park. They took the lead after just eight minutes before Stockport levelled and with no more goals the game went to a penalty shoot-out. Swans goalkeeper Shaun Allaway was the hero as he twice saved kicks to help his side to a 4-3 win. In the next round they played Peterborough United but couldn’t repeat their heroics crashing out 5-0.

In the league Staines are playing their first season in the Blue Square South having won promotion from the Ryman League via the play-offs last year. They had finished as runners-up to Dover Athletic (although a distant 22 points behind) to meet Sutton United in the play-off semi-final. A comfortable 3-0 win saw them play Carshalton Athletic in the final and it looked like they would face another season in the Ryman League when they conceded a penalty five minutes from time with the score still goalless. However, keeper Wells saved the spot kick and then in extra-time Taylor netted to earn their place in the Blue Square South. This win exorcised the disappointment of missing out on promotion twelve months earlier when they lost the play-off final to AFC Wimbledon despite leading 1-0 going into final seven minutes. Masterminding this progression is manager Steve Cordery who joined the club in May 2003. On the final day of his first season in charge they secured a place in the reorganised Ryman Premier League and after three mid-table finishes he led them to the back-to-back runners-up spots.

For the club’s first season at this level, in common with City’s approach following their promotion in 2007, Cordery resisted the urge to make wholesale changes in his squad, trusting that the side he already had would be competitive in the higher echelon. He brought in defender David Woozley from Farnborough, Sutton United right-back Simon Jackson and Dominic Sterling, another defender from Maidenhead United. One player who initially left the Swans during the close season was striker Chaaban who, after an unsuccessful trial at Gillingham, signed for Blue Square South rivals Bromley. This move did not work out and the 27-year old, who was jailed for several months in 2007 for drug offences, returned to the Swans. He came off the bench to net a 90th minute equaliser from the penalty spot again his former club in his first game back and since then helped the side to victories over previously unbeaten Newport County and surprise early season package Thurrock, with all three goals in the 1-0 and 2-1 wins respectively, before becoming the club’s FA Cup star on Saturday. Staines have immediately settled in the Blue Square South with just three defeats so far this season and currently lie two points and three place ahead of City.


Complete record against Staines Town

Although this season is the first in which the club’s have been league rivals they have met on one previous occasion in an FA Trophy 3rd Round tie during the 2003-04 season. At the time City were struggling near the foot of the Southern League and, having already crashed out of the FA Cup to a Ryman League Division 1 side, Thame United, it came as no real surprise that a single goal in the 11th minute by Pye was enough to end their interest in the Trophy as well. The home side could even afford to miss a stoppage time penalty after Mike Trought had been red carded for pulling Ibe as he set himself to score. The guilty Staines player was Craig Maskell, the former Swindon Town striker who is still with the club in a player-coach role.


Blue Square Premier opposition stand in the way of 3rd Round place (8/11/09)

City will have to overcome Blue Square Premier opposition if they are to reach the FA Cup 3rd Round after they were paired with either Forest Green Rovers or Mansfield Town at Twerton Park in today's 2nd Round draw. The clubs, who lie 22nd and 4th respectively in their division, drew 1-1 yesterday with the Stags grabbing a late equaliser and will meet again on Tuesday 17 November. City have recent FA Cup history with both teams, having lost 3-1 to Forest Green in a 4th Qualifying Round during the 2000-01 season, a match that saw City miss two penalties, and a 4-0 reversal against Mansfield, when they were still a league side, at the 3rd Round stage of the 1987-88 season.


City dump Mariners out of FA Cup in stunning giant-killing act (7/11/09)

City added another league scalp to their FA Cup collection this afternoon at Blundell Park as they defeated Coca-Cola League 2 side Grimsby Town by two goals to nil. A first half header from Chris Holland and a looping Darren Edwards shot shortly after the restart saw City record the giant-killing act that their performance fully deserved. The Mariners started the game well and had Conlon found the net with an unmarked header on 11 minutes it could have been a different game. And just past the half-hour mark Holland showed him how it was done rising above the same player to head home Lewis Hogg's free-kick. The confidence appeared to drain from the struggling Lincolnshire side and City took a firm grip on the game. Within seven minutes of half-time City doubled their lead when neat build-up play finished with Edwards' slightly deflected shot looping over static keeper Coglan. Kaid Mohamed wasted a good opening to make it 3-0 but City rarely looked like letting their advantage slip. Only in the closing minutes, with the home fans already making their unhappiness clear, did they threaten to pull a goal back, Ryan Robinson making a great double save in stoppage time. At the final whistle the 200+ City fans who had made the 480 mile round trip celebrated ecstatically with the players as they looked forward to continuing their FA Cup adventure, with the 3rd Round potentially just 90 minutes away.

The draw for the FA Cup 2nd Round is live on ITV1 tomorrow at 3.35pm following the live coverage of Northwich Victoria v Charlton Athletic. And the draw will be shown in Charlie's following a complete re-run of the Grimsby Town match on the big-screen starting at 12.30pm.


Minute silence before Grimsby game for local fallen heros (6/11/09)

There will be a minutes silence before tomorrow's FA Cup 1st Round match between City and Grimsby Town at Blundell Park as a mark of respect for the local fallen heros ahead of Rememberance Sunday. Guardsman Jimmy Major from Cleethorpes and Sgt Matthew Telford from Grimsby were amongst five soliders killed earlier this week in Helmand Province in an attack by an Afghan police officer.


PREVIEW: Grimsby Town v CITY - FA Cup 1st Round (5/11/09)

City make their 32nd appearance in the FA Cup 1st Round on Saturday as they embark on the long journey to Lincolnshire to face Coca-Cola League 2 strugglers Grimsby Town. Wins over Willand Rovers, Bishop’s Cleeve and AFC Totton saw them move beyond the qualifying rounds for the first time since the 2004-05 season when they beat then Conference leaders Barnet at Underhill thanks to a Scott Partridge double before going out to Peterborough United in the next round. The game against the managerless Mariners will be City’s 36th clash with a league club and they will be looking to add another name to the list of scalps that includes Crystal Palace, Millwall, Notts County and Cardiff City.

City's record in the FA Cup 1st Round

They face a Grimsby side that, but for the misfortunate of another club last season, would be plying their trade in the Blue Square Premier this year. They finished the 2008-09 season in 22nd place but were it not for Luton Town’s 30 point deduction for various financial irregularities they would have been relegated along with Chester City. This season there is no such safety-net and they currently sit in 23rd place with just three wins from their opening 15 league matches. The club has been in steady decline for the last six or seven seasons, having been playing in the Championship as recently as the 2002-03 season. Against the backdrop of the collapse of ITV Digital that hit Grimsby, amongst many other Football League clubs, hard they finished the season bottom of the Championship to end a five-year stint at that level. With debts now exceeding £2million the club suffered a second successive relegation to end up back in the basement division of the league. After another disappointing season in 2004-05 the club’s slide looked to have been halted when they spent the vast majority of the following campaign in the promotion places. However, a last minute goal against Northampton Town in the final match of the season condemned them to the play-offs and, after beating local rivals Lincoln City in the semi-final, they missed out on promotion, losing 1-0 to Cheltenham Town at The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The club had enjoyed some cup success during this time, including wins over Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, and these exploits allowed them to begin clearing their debts but on the pitch they failed to build on the promise the play-off appearance and after two mid-table finishes it was only Luton’s even greater troubles that kept them in the League.

The Mariners approached the 2009-10 season in optimistic mood with manager Mike Newell strengthening his squad and season tickets sales in excess of 2500 showing that local public was hopeful of improved fortunes. However, an opening day defeat against Cheltenham Town was then followed up with back to back 4-0 reversals against Tranmere Rovers in the Carling Cup and Crewe Alexandra in the league. Another home defeat to Rotherham Town then left them rock bottom of League 2. They finally opened their account for the season with a one goal win over Bury but they then suffered two defeats against Aldershot Town and Port Vale. Their up and down start to the season continued with two wins over fellow strugglers Hereford United and Torquay United but they then failed to beat rock bottom Darlington at Blundell Park in a 1-1 draw and proceeded to lose their next five league matches in row, with just a surprise Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win over League 1 Hartlepool to lift the gloom. The fourth of these five defeats saw manager Newell sacked, although Chairman John Fenty claimed it was not the poor results that had lead to this decision, and he was replaced in a caretaker capacity by youth team manager Neil Woods. Grimsby finally ended their losing run with an injury-time equaliser last Friday against Accrington Stanley and they are expected to announce a permanent successor to Newell next week.


Complete record against Grimsby Town

The match will be the second time City have faced the Mariners in the FA Cup having met in a 2nd Round tie back in December 1952. City, managed at the time by former Arsenal and England full-back Eddie Hapgood, had dispatched Paulton Rovers (7-2), Wells City (3-0), Glastonbury (3-0) and Trowbridge Town (3-0) to reach the 1st Round where they drew 3rd Division South side Southend United. In front of nearly 10,000 fans at Twerton Park two goals from Ray Snook helped City to a 3-1 win to earn the trip to Grimsby. Over 300 City supporters travelled up in a specially chartered train to cheer on their team but they couldn’t repeat the Southend heroics. It had looked promising in the opening minutes when a Newman shot hit both posts and appeared to cross the line only for the officals not to award the goal. Fog descended on Blundell Park for the final 20 minutes and just as it looked like City would earn a draw to bring the Mariners back to Twerton Park a low 83rd minute shot by Johnstone beat Liley in the City goal, which turned out to be the only goal of the game. City’s team that day was Harry Liley, Lew Bradford, Maurice Lockier, Ken Onslow, Ralph Jones, Wilf Whitfield, Jimmy Newman, Peter Smyth, Ray Snook, Jackie Boyd and Wally Ellison.

In common with the 1952 team, who stayed overnight in Sheffield, City will travel up to Lincolnshire on Friday and manager Adie Britton will have a full squad to choose from, including striker Kaid Mohamed who should have overcome the leg injury he picked up three weeks ago. In contrast Grimsby will definitely be without the suspended duo of Peter Sweeney and Oliver Lancashire and have doubts over John Mullin (ankle), Leam Richardson (groin) and Chris King (knee). Top scorer and dangerman Barry Conlon is likely to start the game though, having netted the Mariners stoppage time equaliser against Accrington after coming off the bench having missed the previous four matches suspended for picking up two red cards in three games.


BBC Radio Bristol to provide extended coverage of Grimsby Town Cup tie (4/11/09)

For City fans unable to make the long trip to Grimsby on Saturday for the FA Cup 1st Round tie, BBC Radio Bristol will be providing increased coverage of the game. Although unable to give full match commentary they will be providing regular updates, breaking into their commentary game of Nottingham Forest v Bristol City. The station can be picked up on frequencies of 94.9FM, 104.6FM, 1566AM and DAB. They will also provide their usual pre match and post match interviews.


Ticket deal aimed at encouraging Rugby fans along to Twerton Park (3/11/09)

City are inviting all Bath Rugby fans who attend the early kick-off game v Ospreys on Saturday 14 November to come along to Twerton Park for a 3.15pm kick-off versus Chelmsford City. Anyone showing a ticket from the Ospreys game can get in for half price, just £5 (this includes students and concessions). Bath’s MP Don Foster said “A lot of Bath people like watching football and rugby, and this gives them a perfect chance to do both on the same day. Full marks to City for re-arranging the kick-off time to 3.15pm. Rugby fans can easily get along to Twerton on the no 5 bus – it even has “Bath City FC” on its information board and I shall be there to support both Bath teams.”

In another initiative to swell the growing ranks of children at City games, the club has decided to offer all accompanied under-12’s entry to league games for just £1. Director Phil Weaver said “City are making their first appearance for five years in the First Round of the FA Cup, away to Grimsby this Saturday, and have also had a recent good run of 2 wins and 2 draws in the last 4 league games. We already get a good number of youngsters at the games, but would like to encourage more. £11 for an adult + child u-12 is very good value. We continue with the Junior Stripe ticket which is £30 for the whole season, up to age 16.”

City have confirmed they will be running a third coach to Grimsby Town on Saturday. For details on how to book a seat click here.


FA Trophy draw pairs City with Blue Square South rivals (2/11/09)

Today's draw for the FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round has given City a trip to Blue Square South rivals Maidenhead United. City have won seven and drawn one of the previous eight meetings between the clubs - only conceding one goal in those games - so will be optimistic of progressing to the 1st Round and picking up £4000 in prize money. The tie is scheduled to take place at York Road on Saturday 21 November (ko 3pm).


Braintree and Staines Blue Square South trips rearranged (1/11/09)

City have announced dates for the two Blue Square South games that had to be rearranged due to their continuing FA Cup exploits. The trip to Middlesex to face Staines Town will now be on Tuesday 10 November and the long journey to play Braintree Town is now on Tuesday 8 Decmber. Both games will kick off at 7.45pm. Tomorrow City will also find out their opponents for the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy when the draw is made around lunchtime.