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30th April '05
League Premier Division
C.Thompson, Avery, Griffiths, M.Thompson (Harris 63), Burns,
Webb, Cox, Varnam (D.Addis 34), Reid (Smith 62),
Subs not used: Knight.
T-Ender Man of the Match: Chris
Burns: His 300th game marked with a virtuoso display of trademark
inch perfect crossfield passing.
The season slipped away into memory
with a fairly pleasent but inconsequential afternoon in the sunshine
at Banbury. City will have been pleased to have controlled the game
for long spells and mildly frustrated not to have managed to grab
a goal to end the season in winning style, but this always looked
like a match that mattered little to either team. A few flashes
across goal and a couple of good saves by the portly Banbury keeper
were the highlights for the travelling fans. With both teams looking
tired this was hardly a classic, but at least another season passes
with our club still holding grimly on at a respectable level of
I'd love to tell you all about the first half, but
for the intrepid T-Ender reporting party the match began at 3:50
when we eventually rolled in courtesy of a very helpful AA patrolman
(they get the business cos of the colours). Having survived a scarey
moment on the M40 en route from our secret bunker hideout in south
London we were somewhat alarmed to be quizzed at the gate on our
allegiance, and having been told we were City fans the nice but
slow man on guard duty told us we couldn't come in. That's always
going to cause upset of course, but having survived a moment where
the car accelerator turned to sponge and we flew behind a large
truck we rather felt we deserved to at least see the second half.
Fortunately the Banbury chairman turned up just as
we were about to chain ourselves to the turnstiles. His white hair
glinted happily in the sunlight and fortunately he was mollified
by the sight of a City Trust pin-badge and a crisp bank note, and
we were in. Rather sadly it seems that a few typically over-stated
soundings off from our wannabe CDB crew had been enough to cause
all sorts of excitement at Banbury, hence the turn out from Thames
Valley plod and a few over-dressed goons looking for some like-minded
numbskulls to trade Burberry fashion tips with. As it was of course
the CDB were nowhere to be seen, and the City fans are left looking
over their shoulders at some gurning idiots who get upset when people
laugh at them and their fat goalkeeper.
|Smith comes on to liven things up.
the presence of a few knuckle draggers didn't seem to have made
too much difference to the travelling T-Enders who were mostly enjoying
the 'sunshine' (liquid version) far too much to worry about anything
else. Banbury also seemed to have all sorts of assorted strange
things going on, involving the kind of wonderful entertainment that
can only mean local commercial radio. Or acid.
It also seems that as a half of football it wasn't
a bad one to miss, certainly no goals had gone in and by all accounts
there hadn't been too much to get excited about. In fact, Banbury
hadn't even mustered a shot on goal in the first half - and they
didn't look in much danger of changing that in the second half either.
best chance of the first half had seen the noticeably rotund Simon
Tricker defy gravity with a weight defying save from Jimmy Cox's
header. How he managed to get his hand to it with so little time
to react seemed to be beyond the travelling support. That goal would
have given us a deserved lead as we had enjoyed more of the ball
and put the home side under some pressure, despite seeing the side
disrupted when Andy Varnam limped off to be replaced by Darryl
Addis. His departure was a shame as the popular youngster is plainly
being given every chance to show he can deliver at this level, but
to date he's not managed to convince.
The second half was equally a tale of City pressure but without
any real suggestion of a cutting edge. At times the cows on the
grass behind the pitch provided as much entertainment as anything
on it. Webb was all over the pitch, but as so often this season
he impressed with stamina and effort rather than any tactical application.
Addis too is a player who will be looking forward to the summer
and the chance to begin again. He looks jaded and low at the moment,
a shadow of the player who arrived in the aurumn. He still has a
touch of the devil in him though, his turns and ability to shake
off opponents will see him become a good player once he can also
read the play of those around him a little better. One of those
turns landed a Banbury player on his backside, but as too often
seems to happen Addis was quickly surrounded and unable to find
support from his team mates. Cox and Addis combined and could easily
have been awarded a penalty after the latter was tripped, but the
ref was sunning himself on the other side of the box and couldn't
Marvin Thompson is one player who seems to actually
be getting better as the season ended and his speed at the back
was one of the main reasons that Banbury seemed so short of a cutting
edge. Much of their play seems to rely on the pace and power of
Howard Forinton up front, but Marvin stuck at him with dogged resilience
and somehow managed to always get in his way. The one time Forinton
escaped for any length of time he instantly tried to unleash a fierce
drive from some way out, only to see Marvin once again race into
the gap to block the shot. It's not pretty defending, but it does
look like his confidence is returning and he looks a better player
The other player to catch the eye was Burns himself,
all be it partly because of the startling colour of red his face
is guaranteed to be by the second half of any game. His performances
are perhaps not as consistent as they used to be, and he certainly
now has to pace himself with great care to get through the whole
of a game. Watching this match, his 300th in City colours, it was
hard not to be impressed by what a class act Burns still is. His
professional career was built largely on pace and energy, and neither
are qualities on which he can still rely. None the less though some
of the passes he sprayed about the pitch this afternoon were as
good as any to be seen anywhere. On occasions he threatened to break
down the Banbury defence with just one well placed ball and a fully
fit Cox firing at optimum speed would have made more of a couple
of the passes. The boss also still makes a difference at the back,
and while he is certainly vulnerable to pace he still provides an
uncompromsing physical presence at the back and wins nearly everything
in the air. Not bad for someone who has seemed perpetually on the
verge of slipping gracefully into retirement and at points has been
hardly able to walk because of sciatica. At some point his hardest
task as manager will be finding his own replacement.
Top: Crazy headgear, crazy people
as City go festive.
Left: Adie shows his pace is still there. Right: Not all
the spectators are impressed.
Finally reason overcame pride and Lee Smith was beckoned from the
bench to add some speed and power to the City attack. It seems as
if today was intended as a dress rehearsal for next season when
City are very likely to have to cope without their youthful player
of the year to help unlock stubborn defences. Smith has reportedly
rejected a new contract at Meadow Park and is rumoured to be considering
offers from Forest Green, Cirencester and Weston. If Smith does
go then on this showing he will be sorely missed. We look accomplished
and solid enough without him in the side, but just seem to lack
that extra bit of invention, pace or devilment to cause mistakes
and uncertainty in an opposition defence. Whatever our problems
for next season, leaving Smith on the bench in a fit of pique seemed
a little beneath both the manager and a player who has given loyal
service and constant effort since breaking into the side.
Smith's presence certainly injected a little extra
zest into the game, and this was complimented by the introduction
of Adie Harris on the other flank a few minutes later. We suddenly
were able to pull Banbury out of position on both wings. Within
minutes of coming on Smith had woken a few people up with a rasping
shot that Tricker saved. A good run by Smith saw him create space
for Addis who was unlucky to see a shooting opportunity closed down.
A few moments later another good ball from Burns saw Harris scamper
down the flank and cut the ball back in field for Chris Thompson
who was unlucky to see his drive again well saved by Tricker. Thommo
has had a steady season but hasn't found the net all season, an
extraordinary statistic for a player of his class and ability. Smith
should have earned City a penalty when he was clattered by an elbow
when jumping for a corner, but again the ref seemed more interested
in making sure the corner he'd already given was taken from the
right place. Far be it for me to suggest some of these people are
more interested in being pedantic than protecting players from injury....
Smith enjoyed a few more good runs and managed to
produce one deep cross that only just eluded Webb at the far post,
but by and large not even he could drag more life out of what was
largely a pretty flat game that seemed more like an early start
to pre-season knockabouts than the end of the league season. Addis
managed to get on to a late chance and seemed to be through on the
keeper, but by now he was limping heavily and faced with Trickers
cosniderable bulk decided to beat a hasty retreat and surrendered
the ball. Griff survived a late scare when he tried his best to
break the deadlock with a flying header across the face of our goal,
but we weren't even going to manage an own goal today. With neither
side having anything much at stake and both sides looking anxious
to put their feet up the ref finally decided he'd also had enough
and blew his whistle.
that's all folks. City's players sign off for the summer.
And so another season ends, and while it may not be as memorable
as last season's promotion campaign the achievement of staying in
the Southern League's Premier division is no less worth celebrating.
At the start of the season we perhaps had reason to hope for more,
but ever decreasing money and a startling loss of form made it look
as if we were in serious danger of relegation. The revival of our
fortunes and some startling results show real character and strength
within the side. If the division was decided on cash available,
we'd have been comfortably in the relegation places so to survive
with a little to spare is some feat. With the players we are somehow
retaining though we can manage better than just survivial - so next
season could yet see further logic defying glory for our club.
* With all the relegation issues decided last weekend
there was nothing to distract from a final day SLP title decider
with the top two clubs going head to head in a winner takes all
meeting of Histon and Chippenham at Bridge Road. As was to be expected
the game turned out to be a nervous and hard fought affair, with
the nerves unravelling all the way to the end as the game was decided
in Histon's favour by Neil Kennedy's 80th minute goal.
That consigned Chippenham to the play-offs where a host of clubs
still had hopes of also managing to keep their promotion hopes alive.
One time leaders Halesowen were the surprise casualties, losing
out after a Matt Warner header gave Team Bath a shock win at The
Grove, a result that also pushed City down to 15th spot in the final
divisional standings. Bedford were able to take advantage with a
2-1 win over Grantham, while Tiverton's late charge finally came
off the rails as they were held 1-1 by King's Lynn. Merthyr Tydfil
sneaked back into third place by beating relegated Solihull 2-0
at Penydarren Park, holding a slender one goal lead until the final
minute when former Tigers' star Jon Holloway made the result safe.
Hednesford have been the form team of the last few weeks and looked
good for a play-off place as they faced Dunstable, another side
already reflecting on relegation. However the Blues had little to
fear and took a surprise lead on 51 minutes to send the Keys Park
crowd into dark places. A red card reduced Dunstable to ten men
and shortly afterwards Hednesford equalised, with ther dramatic
winner coming with only a few minutes remaining through Rcihard
|| 15th (-1)
| by t-towel
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