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30th October 2004
League Premier Division
(9), Davis (39), Tomkins (43, 56)
L.Smith (Rimmer 82), M.Thompson, Griffiths, Tomkins, C.Thompson,
Mustoe (Reid 74), Webb, Addis, Davis (Cox 62), Wilkinson.
Subs not used: Harris,
T-Ender Man of the Match: Neil
Griffiths; an immaculate defensive display that silenced a dangerous
Poor Banbury ran into a
City side that is suddenly in danger of finding some form and found
themselves on the wrong side of a surprise hammering as the Tigers
finally seemed to find a groove and went on to cruise to our first
home win since August. The win came straight on the tail of our
first away win of the campaign at Dunstable the previous weekend,
and suddenly the gloomy talk of relegation that followed the departure
of Andy Hoskins, last season's top scorer, does seem unduly pessemistic.
Burns didn't mess about too much with a winning formula, so Cox
remained on the bench as he recovers from his bruised ribs, leaving
Addis and Davis to continue what looks a very promising partnership
up front. Neither have the strength or height of Hosky to win the
high balls, but both bustle and dart around to good effect and can
still wreak their own brand of havoc on opposition defences as the
Puritans can now testify. The travelling fans took great pleasure
in telling us we "were going down with King's Lynn". That'll
be four (count 'em) goals to just one. Never one to gloat in the
discomfort of visiting fans far be it for me to point out that the
singing pretty much stopped after, ooh, ten minutes.
|Top: Tomkins goes close but finds his
Bottom: Tricker makes a fine stop from Smith's shot
Before the Dunstable match City had gone more than six hours without
a goal, so the City faithful were stunned when it took us a mere
9 minutes in to the match. It had been a scrappy start with a long
range shot apiece to get the game going, so there was little sign
of the incisive move that brought our opener. It was Wilkinson again
who got the vital goal with a clever run from midfield. The goal
stemmed from some quick thinking distribution by Matt Bath who found
Marvin Thompson down the left. Tomkins then played a good cross
field pass to Smith and the winger surged down the right wing before
sending in an inch perfect cross into the six yard box. Wilko's
run left the visitors standing and by the time he reached the cross
the hard work was done and he had time to pick his spot.
Football is a match all about confidence and we now
had it, and the same players that a few weeks ago looked unable
to pass wind suddenly began playing like the world beaters we know
they actually are. However the Banbury keeper was in fine form and
he managed to frustrate the City attack until just before half-time.
The T-End couldn't resist his rather 'full' build, but he seemed
to relish the stick and certainly earnt some respect of the home
fans. Mind you, when he made himself big our strikers can hardly
have seen the goal at all. City did go close on several occasions
though, and with sharper finishing we could have really buried them.
Another good move involving Webb and Smith could have
seen Wilko find the net again but his shot was a bit weak and dragged
wide, while Addis set up a good opportunity for Davis with another
sharp turn. The new signing was in sparkling form and was full of
clever tricks which terrified the defenders around him. One good
pass set Marvin free down the left and he did well to cut the ball
back into the penalty area where we were unfortunate the ref didn't
see the handball from the stumbling defender.
Lee Smith was looking back to his best
and another strong run down the right carried him past a left-back
who looked like he would take some persuading to re-join the game
for the second half. Smith's cross was again cut behind the flat
defence and it looked like Wilko would chalk up a second with an
almost identical strike. His shot was blocked by the determined
keeper, but he could only push it into the path of Lee Davis who
covered ground quickly to be in position to tap in his second in
as many games.
City weren't yet done with the shell shocked Banbury
side, and with supremacy now confirmed it was time to bring in the
heavy bombers. Simon Tricker at times looked like the only visiting
player opposing the Tigers onslaught and he conceded a corner when
Addis showed some good skill to turn past his marker and send in
a cross towards Smith. The youngster's strike was firm and drew
another good save. The corner was taken by Mustoe, and it was one
of his better corners that found the rumbling powerful run of Tomkins
from the far post. His jump saw him clear the Banbury defence and
an emphatic header planted the ball downward and soundly into the
net. When it's done like that, you wonder why he doesn't get a goal
a game as few defences could have stopped that charge towards goal.
With the City running back in three goals to the good at the break
it was the first time in a long time the T-End faithful could sup
their swift half-time pints with any degree of comfort and satisfaction.
Left: Mustoe gets
stuck in. Right:Wilko finds Tricker still in the way.
Bottom: Tomkins uses the persuasive headlock to ensure Banbury
get no funny ideas.
The warmed City fans lined
up eagerly for the second half expecting a further mauling of the
hapless and rather weary looking Puritans. Banbury continued to
creak but some how managed to hold out until just after the hour
when deperate defending made the mistake of conceding a free kick.
It looked perilously close to a corner after Smith had been tripped
making for the by-line. Again Tomkins headed towards the opposition
box and again Mustoe lined up to take the fierce inswinging back-post
corner. Everyone knew what was coming, including the poor Banbury
defenders. That didn't help them stop it though, the ball came over
and Tomkins charged in and again leapt, headed the ball, and found
Addis impressed the City fans on his home debut and
after a slightly nervous start he seemed to grow into his role,
his clever touches and turns were instrumental in the troubled collective
nervous breakdown being suffered by the visitors. He richly deserved
a goal and a few minutes later came so close when he got his head
to a low Smith cross only to see his header brush the post. A few
minutes later he was even more unlucky as a sliderule pass in from
Mustoe gave him an opportunity to slip away from Mark Essex and
find the space to stroll umolested into the penalty area. Addis
had time to pick his spot and his sidefooted effort looked destined
for the corner of the net, but Tricker was a keeper having plenty
of practice and opportunity to get hie eye in. He managed another
fine save to push the shot onto the post and off to safety.
At the other end the desperate Banbury side's frustration
was typified as the cutely named Wayne Blossom resorted to trying
to punch the ball into the City net. The ref obviously felt sorry
for them and just laughed. With the game now looking beyond the
point where even City could throw it away we began to make some
changes. Cox got a chance to continue his return from the string
of minor injuries which have hampered his return from knee ligament
injuries. He certainly still looks a few yards off his pacey best,
but at least Cox looked hungry for goals - the form of the Davis
and Addis partnership must certainly have given him reason to fear
for his place in the side. Much like a shark sensing blood in the
water Cox was all over the pitch trying to hare onto some clever
passes, but for all his work his teeth are still a little blunt
to be ready to tear into even this already bruised Banbury flesh.
|Marvin gets space
to bring the ball out of defence.
The Puritans had given up all pretence
of trying to win the midfield battle and having been convicingly
outgunned in that department simply tried to by-pass it with some
long ball stuff. It didn't really suit the dangerous Forinton though,
and although he managed to hook his foot on to one long cross it
was destined for the car park rather than the net.
City were still creating chances and Wilko could have
added another as another Mustoe corner caused problems and was this
time met by Griff. The header was stopped on the line and Wilko
nearly managed to force in the loose ball before it was hacked clear.
Webb then received a fantastic Addis pass and should have finished
with more conviction but his shooting let him down. Cox was nipping
here and there and a few moments later he too tested Tricker, but
the big goalie again blocked the shot. Without his fine form between
the posts the Oxfordshire side could have been humiliated as City
vent the frustrations of the previous months on the reeling visitors.
Burns then removed Mustoe from the fray, perhaps partly
to protect the skipper from unecessary exertion, but also to ensure
he got the applause his efforts deserved. Some of the less thoughtful
City fans have given Mustoe stick this season and on occasions his
form has certainly been below its best. However this performance
was that of a midfielder lynchpin at the top of his game, pulling
the strings in attack and defusing and frustrating the opposition
with every stride. Reid came on to take his place, and whilst the
youngster doesn't yet have Mustoe's subtler skills his work rate
matches that of the skipper. He has an uncompromising reputation
from his youth team performances and hear he certainly put himself
with a toughness that made adults wince. Reid is no mere enforcer
though, he rarely loses the ball and seems to have a sharp footballing
brain and is one to watch for the future.
Before the match City's rather fragile
defence had been given little chance of keeping out an experienced
striker like Banbury's Howard Forinton, but it said much for the
strength of this revived City performance that Griffiths managed
to keep the former Yeovil hitman until the game was beyond doubt.
A clean sheet would have been another nice prize to take from this
match, but the visiting fans deserved a goal to compensate for their
wasted journey. Forinton found more space with Mustoe off the pitch
and he was allowed room to run at the defence and was strong enough
to hold off Chris Thompson and fire into the net.
It was too little too late for Banbury though, and
Wilko still had time to see another effort bounce along the goal
line before the final whistle. The victory was well deserved, both
for players and fans. All we need to do now is keep ourselves together
and hold on to some self-belief and the league table could soon
look very different from the distressing picture it has presented
over the last few months.
* Having been bottom of the table a fortnight ago
we now find two wins has lifted us into a slightly healthier 16th
spot, all be it still only two points from the relegation zone.
We were helped by the results of some of the sides around us in
the table. Stamford and Team Bath shared a 1-1 draw while Solihull
Borough's concerns deepened with a 4-0 thumping by Bedford. King's
Lynn came close to gaining a vital win against leaders Chippenham
but the visitors sealed a 3-2 win to keep them top of the pile.
Merthyr remain hot on their heels with an impressive 3-1 win over
Chesham. The only team at the bottom to do well was Dunstable who
bounced straight back from their home defeat against us last weekend.
The topsy-turvey league was well illustrated as they handed a 5-1
local derby drubbing to Hitchin, with Grant Carney smashing a hatrick.
||S Snart (Ch#*tenham)
|| 16th (+2)
| by t-towel
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