Blue Square Conference South
Saturday 1 March - Church Road - kick off 3.00pm
half-time: 0-2 result: L0-3 attendance: 345

team: Evans, Simpson, Rollo (c), Coupe, Holland, McKay, Hogg (Harris 45), Rogers (Edwards 63), Gilroy, Partridge (Wood 67), Prince. subs not used: S Jones, G Jones.
man of the match: Matt Coupe
scorers: none
bookings: Rogers (30), Harris (66)
officials: I Crouch, K Norris, A Hyne

league position: 6th form: LLdWWL next match: Shepton Mallet (A)

City crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season against an impressive Hayes & Yeading United side at a sunny Church Road. In the corresponding game at Twerton Park back in November City had come back from two goals down to claim an undeserved point through two Lewis Hogg penalties, but there was no such turnaround this time as the home side led 2-0 at the interval before adding a third goal in the second half. City can have few complaints about the final scoreline and, even though they can look to two excellent openings and a clear penalty appeal missed by the officials, had United taken their chances they could have suffered an even heavier defeat.

Although they went into the game with an unchanged line-up from last week’s win at St Albans City several players were still suffering the after effects of a sickness bug that had swept through the camp during the week. The tone of the game was set early on, with the newly formed side showing cohesion that their still divided supporter-base could learn a thing or two from. A 4th minute overhead kick from Palmer clipped the top of the bar, although Paul Evans looked to have it covered, before another shot from the same player, after Sekani Simpson’s poor clearance, suffered the same fate, with Evans well beaten this time. In between, Justyn McKay shot wide from Scott Partridge’s pass and briefly City did look like they might make a game of the clash. They should have been awarded a penalty on eight minutes when a defender clearly blocked Partridge’s shot with a hand and then Simpson and Luke Prince combined to cross for Hogg only for the midfielder to volley high over the bar. The game was switching from end to end now but it was the home side creating the clearer chances. On 22 minutes Evans could only parry a low Knight shot and it took a timely interception from Simpson to clear the danger and then Matt Coupe had to block a Knight effort before Scott hit the loose ball wide. The opening goal finally arrived on 29 minutes when Scott Rogers committed a foul on the edge of the box and Scott’s skidding effort seemed to go underneath Evans at his near post. This was a deserved lead but straight from the kick-off City should have levelled. Hogg lifted a pass forward to send Dave Gilroy racing away but he could only stab a shot into the ground which keeper Preddie easily collected on the bounce. Partridge almost took advantage of a poor pass moments later, only for Thompson to deny him with a well-timed tackle. A deep cross by Mulley then evaded Simpson allowing Collins a shot that Evans did well to hold and Maples then hit a dipping shot that just cleared the goal. It appeared that City would reach the interval just one goal down until, three minutes before the break, they conceded a penalty. Not only did the decision appear very harsh, Palmer leaning back into Rogers before tumbling to the ground, there was clearly a handball from Perkins in the build-up but it meant nothing as Scott confidently stroked the spot kick past Evans.

At the interval illness forced Hogg from the game, to be replaced by Adie Harris, and the early stages of the second half passed with little incident – the home side happy to sit on their lead and City looking bereft of ideas to find a way back into the match. On 59 minutes a sweeping move from United saw Simpson cut out Knight’s cross when he might have been better off shooting. McKay scuffed a shot well wide at the other end but, despite the introduction of Darren Edwards and Jason Wood, City still looked like a beaten side with over 25 minutes remaining. Mulley volleyed wide before Wood’s tenacity almost created a goal from nothing for City only for Preddie to claim his low cross. From this stop he launched a long clearance which seemed to catch on the wind to deceive Chris Holland and Jim Rollo allowing Palmer to volley past an out of position Evans and make the game safe. City should have grabbed a consolation goal with 13 minutes left when Edwards ran clear on goal from Harris pass. He seemed certain to score having committed Preddie only to then shoot against the grounded keeper and watch as the ball looped wide of the goal. A trademark Holland header then cleared the ball and Wood’s low shot was comfortably held by Preddie as City managed to finish the game with a small flourish but it was United who should have increased the scoring in the closing minutes. Scott managed to evade last man Coupe but rather than completing his hat-trick he could only drag a shot wide of the far post. The final rites of the game saw Gilroy loop a header onto the roof of the net and Scott fire a shot wildly over the bar.