Blue Square Conference South
Saturday 2 February 2008 - Ship Lane - kick off 3.00pm
||Evans, Simpson, Rollo (c), Coupe (Walsh 82), S Jones, Harris (McKay 69), Hogg, Rogers, Gilroy, Partridge (Edwards 75),
Prince. subs not used: Howells.
|man of the match:
||Rogers (50), Hogg (79)
||L Collins, R Albert, C Phillips
|league position: 5th
||next match: Braintree (H)
Report taken from
It is often said that the secret of good comedy is timing, so John Relish would be best advised to think twice about following in the career path of fellow
Liverpudlians Ken Dodd and Jimmy Tarbuck should he ever decide to turn his back on football. With a date under the spotlight in front of the Bath City fans
at Monday's Meet the Manager night in prospect, the last thing Relish and assistant boss Adie Britton needed was to follow a home loss at the hands of
Fisher with another setback at mid-table Thurrock. The omens suggested they would avoid such a fate, given that City had not suffered back-to-back league
defeats since December 2006, but former hurdler Fola Orilonishe punished an uncharacteristic mistake by Matt Coupe on the stroke of half-time to further
dent the visitors' play-off ambitions. And City's current form - five points from their last 15 - was no doubt of more concern to their manager on the long
trip home from Essex last Saturday night than any awkward questions he might face from the supporters two days later. Although none of the other sides in
the play-off zone managed victories, Eastleigh and Fisher - two sides City have failed to beat since the turn of the year - triumphed to draw level on
points with them, with the likes of Saturday's visitors Braintree, Bishop's Stortford and FA Cup heroes Havant & Waterlooville all having the games in hand
in which to mount a late surge up the table.
Three short weeks beforehand, City had returned from the outskirts of the capital with a 4-0 win over Sutton under their belts, together with a seemingly
iron grip on a top-five position. But things change quickly in football and they are now sixth and needing to turn the tide quickly if they are to remain
among the pack chasing top two Lewes and Eastbourne. After a week when the club announced that DVDs of the thrilling 4-4 draw with Eastleigh had sold out,
City and hosts Thurrock served up a contest that is unlikely to have fans queuing up to watch it again. The division's lowest attendance of the day - 227 -
turned out and, despite the best efforts of around 60 travelling City fans who had precious little to cheer, a low-key affair was played out in a soulless
atmosphere, more akin to the sort sampled at your average pre-season friendly. Relish was bold on the selection front, letting Scott Partridge off the leash
for his first league start in almost a year and adding width to his midfield by recalling Lewis Hogg and handing Luke Prince the first start of his loan
spell. Despite being booked for the 14th time this season, Hogg was City's outstanding performer by far with some direct running on the right flank, but
Prince failed to impress in a lacklustre display that Relish later put down to a shortage of match fitness. Partridge, meanwhile, clearly needs more matches
to regain the sharpness that is his trademark, but would have gained confidence from an outing that lasted longer than the hour expected of him.
He was starved of the chances that might have led to a morale-boosting goal, with City's best two opportunities falling to leading marksman Dave Gilroy.
But the 16-goal striker failed to reproduce the predatory finishing that had seen him notch two hat-tricks in City's previous two away games as he flicked
Hogg's right-wing cross wide of the near post eight minutes before the break and then failed to connect with a free header in front of goal after being set
up by the same player in the second half. Neither side created much in a scrappy first period, although Paul Evans had to tip a wind-assisted Bai Mas
Lettejallow corner onto his bar midway through it, and 0-0 would have been a fitting interval scoreline. But Thurrock had other ideas and their best player,
Craig Hughes, robbed a hesitant Coupe of the ball inside his own half before playing in Orilonishe - who as a teenager finished second in the 80m hurdles at
the English Schools' AAAs - and the winger coolly slotted home before further demonstrating his versatility with a double somersault in celebration.
Coupe redeemed himself slightly with a header off the line to deny Che Stadhart after the interval, while Sekani Simpson twice came to City's rescue with
some last-ditch defending. Referee Lee Collins set the tone for the half by booking Scott Rogers and Greg Lincoln for an innocuous incident and went on to
show yellow cards to five more players - four of them from the hosts - before sending off Thurrock centre-back Rob Swaine for kicking out at substitute
Darren Edwards with nine minutes to go. Relish immediately threw on Phillip Walsh for Coupe in a bid to stave off defeat, but City, who did not have a shot
on target until the 71st minute, never looked like equalising in the closing stages. Normally so adept at bouncing back from defeat in positive fashion,
the visitors failed to deliver the goods on this occasion. But the supporters who endured a cold and largely miserable afternoon in the South East can
console themselves with the thought that the last time their side suffered two league defeats on the trot, they won 15 and drew three of their next 18 games
en route to promotion. Repeating that sort of form will be somewhat tougher in a higher division, but a similar upturn in fortunes would give City every
chance of extending their season beyond the end of April.