Blue Square Conference South
Saturday 5 April 2008 - Twerton Park - kick off 4.30pm
||Evans, Simpson, Rollo (c), Coupe, G Jones, S Jones, Wood (Foley 45), Harris, Walsh (Paul 84), Gilroy, Ledgister.
subs not used: Edwards, Howells.
|man of the match:
||Walsh (3), Gilroy (pen 57)
||Harris (56), S Jones (73)
||I Crouch (New Eltham), S Oakley (Cheltenham), S Wales (Tewkesbury)
|league position: 7th
||next match: Eastbourne (A)
Report taken from
Bath City proved that good things do come to those who wait as they re-ignited their Blue Square South play-off bid with a comfortable victory over
Cambridge City in a fixture delayed by an hour and a half due to the visitors' late arrival. The Cambridge team coach was held up in traffic following to a
morning accident between Junction 12 (Reading) and 13 (Newbury) on the westbound M4 and they finally arrived at Twerton Park at 4.10pm, some six-and-a-half
hours after they had set out. The home club kept the turnstiles closed until well after the scheduled 3pm kick-off time due to the uncertainty over when the
away team would arrive and a match City viewed as a 'must-win' affair was in some danger of being postponed as the minutes ticked away. The visitors, whose
manager Gary Roberts was at the ground without his squad having travelled ahead of the rest of his party, were keen to fulfil the fixture to avoid the
prospect of a Tuesday night trip, but must have wondered what more could go wrong when Phillip Walsh fired City ahead inside three minutes of the 4.30pm
kick-off time. And their luck was well and truly out when City loanee Sam Foley won a dubious penalty early in the second half and Dave Gilroy converted it
to send the hosts up to seventh place in the table, two points off the play-off places.
Knee injuries ruled out centre-back Chris Holland and midfielder Justyn McKay for City, while Darren Edwards was only deemed fit enough for the bench due to
a continuing hamstring problem. Walsh started a league game for the since January alongside top-scorer Gilroy, while Aaron Ledgister, on loan from
Cheltenham, kept his place on the left flank after impressing at Yeovil in midweek. Foley was named on a threadbare bench that included only three other men
- Edwards, coach Lee Howells and veteran marksman Martin Paul. Cambridge's squad included a famous name in substitute Charlie Sheringham, the teenage son of
former Manchester United forward Teddy. By the time the game finally started, some of City's players had been at the ground for four hours, but any fears
the late start would affect them adversely were banished quickly as they caught Cambridge cold. Cambridge defender Lee Chaffey made a hash of dealing with
Gethin Jones' long ball from the back and allowed Walsh to nick possession before driving a shot across an out-of-position Shane Herbert and into the far
corner of the net. The goal was a rich reward for the fans who had waited patiently both outside the ground and in the bar before the gates opened, but if
any of them thought it was a sign of things to come then they were mistaken. A scrappy period followed, with neither team really asserting themselves on
proceedings and penalty box action virtually non-existent. Stephen Smith had a shot deflected behind for the visitors' first corner on 20 minutes, from
which Scott Neilson sent a free header wide. City's best moments going forward came through Walsh as he first headed a left-wing Ledgister cross wide before
getting to the byline himself on the opposite flank and sending the ball towards Gilroy on the penalty spot. Herbert got his hand to the ball just before
the striker could get there and succeeded only in palming it to Ledgister on the edge of the box, but recovered in time to gather the winger's low shot.
A bumpy surface was making life tricky for both sets of players but Cambridge looked lively going forward, with leading scorer Michael Gash a particularly
threat. Three minutes before the break, Ledgister lost the ball on the left and Cambridge swiftly switched play to the right, the move ending with Ashley
Fuller's rising shot whistling just past the angle of Paul Evans' left post and bar.
Bizarrely, the half-time break saw City fans learn how their side's play-off rivals had fared earlier in the afternoon and the pressure on their side to win increased, with victories elsewhere for Havant & Waterlooville, Fisher Athletic and Newport County, leaving them 10th in the live Blue Square South table.
Both sides made changes for the start of the second period, with Foley replacing hamstring injury victim Jason Wood on the right flank for City and Matt Hanniver coming on for Craig Radcliff for the away team.
And, after a scrappy opening to the second period, Foley made his mark, winning the 57th-minute penalty from which Gilroy put City 2-0 up.
The Cheltenham youngster was brought down by centre-back Dave Theobald as he prepared to pull the trigger after seizing on a loose ball 18 yards out.
Referee Ian Crouch pointed to the spot to the horror of the visiting players and, after a delay while Theobald and City's Adie Harris were booked for their part in the ensuing melee, Gilroy calmly rolled the ball into the bottom-right corner to beat Herbert, who dived the right way.
Cambridge immediately threw on Sheringham for Drew Roberts, but the substitute was unable to lift his side as City held on to their lead in customary fashion.
Ledgister was having a mixed afternoon, but went close to opening his City account when he burst onto the ball 30 yards out and blasted a long-range shot wide of Herbert's right post.
Midfield warhorses Harris and Steve Jones by now had a firm grip on the midfield battle, although the latter joined his teammate in the book after clashing with Joe Bruce.
Foley had a shout for another penalty turned down after tangling with Bruce in the box before manager John Relish sent on Paul for the hard-working Walsh with seven minutes left.
And the striker almost grabbed that elusive 113rd goal for the club to take him past Paul Randall's tally with his first touch, volleying a great cross from Steve Jones straight at Herbert within a minute of his introduction.
Cambridge committed men forward as the game wore on and finally started to create chances as the game entered stoppage time.
Gash dragged a shot from the edge of the box well wide before he and Josh Simpson produced efforts on target to wake Evans from his second-half slumber.
But City comfortably held on for yet another home clean sheet and a win which ensures they enter the final four games of the season with their hopes of a top-five finish very much alive.