Wednesday 30 July - Winterfield Road - kick off 7.30pm
||Evans (Perrin 45), G Jones, Rollo (c) (Slocombe 45), Coupe (Simpson 45), Holland, Badman (Collier 60), Hogg, Rogers, Edwards (Paul 60), Douglas, Gosling. subs not used: none
|man of the match:
||G Jones (42)
|league position: n/a
||next match: Salisbury City (H)
City’s penultimate pre-season outing ended in another narrow victory, with a fluke Gethin Jones goal just before half-time enough to beat Paulton Rovers at Winterfield Road. Although it was another useful run-out, and a welcome victory, the lack of goals may be becoming a worry for City manager John Relish, with Jones’ rare strike making it just four goals in five games. And with last year’s top scorer Dave Gilroy struggling with a mystery knee complaint, this area must be a cause for concern. In contrast the defence looks as strong as last season, keeping its third clean sheet of the summer. In addition to Gilroy, City were missing Steve Jones, Paul Cochlin (both holiday), Jason Wood (knee) and Ali Gibb (ankle) but welcomed back Paul Evans, Sekani Simpson and Martin Slocombe to the squad, after they overcame minor knocks.
The home side started the game brightly and could have taken an early lead when ex-City striker Ricky Hulbert reached a Ben Cleverley pass ahead of Evans. He was forced wide but lifted the ball into the box where Chris Holland had to head it over the bar to safety. City responded with a Darren Edwards shot into the side netting, after Mark Badman’s pass had sent him clear. Jamie Gosling shot weakly at keeper Kyle Phillips then volleyed narrowly over the bar as City looked to get the upper hand. Paulton were still a threat though and Holland had to be alert to block Claridge’s effort and then Evans was called into action to deny the same player when Matt Coupe’s back header almost caught him out. When the opening goal finally arrived four minutes before the interval it was from an unusual source and in an unusual manner. Gethin Jones had only scored three times in his 126 appearances, so when he collected the ball wide on the right, ten yards in the Paulton half there looked to be little danger. However, he lifted the ball into the box and the poorly positioned Phillips could do nothing to stop it flying into the net.
City made three changes at the interval with Steve Perrin, Slocombe and Simpson replacing Evans, Jim Rollo and Coupe. This did little to affect the balance of the game as City dominated but their failure to create many clear-cut openings was apparent. Edwards and Scott Rogers both headed chances over the bar, but for all City’s possession Phillips was not being tested in the Paulton goal. As the game reached its closing spell City did create a couple of openings to increase the margin of victory. Great work from Stuart Douglas on 79 minutes gave Martin Paul a shooting chance but he failed to find the target, before the roles were reversed three minutes later – Paul crossing for Douglas to force an excellent point-blank save out of Phillips.