City began their preparations for the 2008-09 Blue Square South season with the short trip to Southern League side Mangotsfield United, and were given a good work-out in the 2-1 victory. With the exception of Steve Jones (whole game), Chris Holland (60 minutes) and trialist Callum Stewart (30 minutes), every City player got 45 minutes under their belt. The starting XI was a familiar line-up containing players all who were with City last season, including Paul Evans and Sekani Simpson, both back from the trips to South Africa and Canada respectively.
Both sides knocked the ball around well on the excellent Cossham Street pitch, although City always looked more incisive than their lower league opponents. The home side did create the first opening though, an unmarked Page firing over from close range. City were looking threatening down both flanks, Jason Wood producing one excellent run down the left and Simpson getting forward dangerously on the opposite wing. A Dave Gilroy header forced a scrambling stop from Mangoes keeper Westlake and he produced another good save from a Lewis Hogg shot. At the other end Evans comfortable dealt with a couple of long range shots. City also won a number of corners and had shots from Scott Rogers and Hogg that failed to test Westlake. Three minutes before the break City grabbed the lead. Westlake handled a back pass and from the resultant free-kick Gilroy’s shot was deflected into the roof of the net.
The half-time break saw City make nine changes, introducing their four summer signings plus trialists Mark Badman and Martin Slocombe. This more unfamiliar line-up understandably struggled to match the coherence of the first half side and Steve Perrin was called into action early on to block Rawlins shot. Martin Paul almost made it 2-0 from Jim Rollo’s low cross before with 18 minutes left City did double their lead – Badman’s pass putting Stuart Douglas clear and he produced a neat finish past Clapham. Mangotsfield then grabbed a consolation goal five minutes from time, Simpson’s cross finding the corner of the net, with Rawlins claiming the final touch.
As an opening pre-season friendly it was a solid work-out for City, with 21 players getting a game and no injuries picked up, plus the bonus of goals for two of their strikers and a welcome victory.