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Saturday 2 December 2006
British Gas Business Southern League Premier
(match 15)
at Meadow Park, Gloucester
BGB Southern League logo

New Tigers Badge: no-one knows why...

Gloucester City


Banbury United

Man in Funny Hat

HT (0-2)

A.Wilson (47)
City home kitBanbury Kit
J.Gardner (26, 76),
H.Forinton (27, 81))
C.Thompson ©
A.Fuller ©
N.Lazarus (for 11, 82)
(for 8, 72) T.Webb
D.Szczukiewicz (for 3, 87)
City: T.Hamblin (foul tackle 41), D.Wilkinson (dissent 49), N.Mustoe (persistent fouling 60), C.Thompson (foul tackle 85)
Banbury: D. Pond (elbow 57), O.Stanbridge (persistent fouling 77)
Dismissals: none

T-Ender City MotM: Aaron Wilson - on a bad day at least Aaron got a great goal and kept going forward. Not an easy choice this afternoon.

grass trim rule

City's form is starting to hit a real rut and letting in nine goals in two home matches is hard to shrug off as a blip. Banbury were a reasonable side and deserved their win today, but for all of that this was a team that we beat on the road two months ago. Whatever confidence sapping worm is rotting our back line it is eating very deep. Having fought their way back into the game with a classy Aaron Wilson strike City's lack of any defensive resistance was again our undoing as further mistakes and lack of cover allowed Banbury's forwards to slip in to complete what ended as a sorry result. How rarely does the T-End boo off their players? It might be a harsh judgment as the players aren't exactly not trying. It might not be a supportive, loyal or fair response - but you can understand that frustration and perhaps the players will benefit from a reminder of what standards are expected and what wearing that yellow and black shirt should be all about.

It looked as if it could all be so different and in the initial section of the game it looked as if City would benefit from the midfield reshuffle and some greater strength and disciplined shape to the 4-4-2. City were using the width well and Whitts flashed an early shot over the bar after Wilko did well to win a knock down in the box. Even better was to come down the right when a clever lob from Reid set Thommo clear and the skipper obliged with a wonderful swinging cross that whipped along the face of goal. That';s the kind of service a front line as good as Welsh and Whittington will thrive on, and Jason Welsh won a header that he was unfortunate to power on to the bar.

Even at the back the danger signs were easy to ignore. Early Banbury shots flew wide from distance and even when they did wriggle through and Sykes was caught out by a long ball Matt Bath was off his line smartly to close down the danger and save at close range from Andy Baird. That was really a good indication of what was to come, but with Hamblin winning some good aerial balls and Mustoe doing some tidy work alongside him most of us were happily deluding ourselves that we were in with a good shout of ending Banbury's unbeaten record away from home.

There seemed even greater cause for optimism as our strikers continued to make good runs, and then a wonderful run from Aaron Wilson saw him cut inside from the left wing and unleash a swerving drive from just outside the box. The ball dipped on to the cross bar, and having hit the woodwork twice you felt City were sure to take the lead soon. However this was just when we went to pieces. The defensive clearance saw us dozing, and Jon Gardner was given all the time in the world to carve through a gap between Thompson and Reid and arrive in the box with time to drive his slow shot across Matt Bath and into the far corner. Thommo and Reid promptly had a heated inquest, but both players should have been tighter on the player as soon as we lost possession, and there should have been cover behind far sooner. If that goal was bad there was worse to come. Whilst we were busy crying over one lot of spilt milk the whole dairy tanker was leaking behind our backs. We immediately surrendered possession from the re-start and within moments Howard Forinton was in space in our penalty area. He had time to step inside Sykes and with no-one else close enough to distract him he was able to crash the ball past a lonely looking Matt Bath.

Not for the first time we'd allowed a setback turn into disaster, and there were obvious questions about the defence and again about a lack of any leadership on the pitch. Our confidence is draining and players who a few weeks ago looked up for the fight suddenly look to be clinging on for the bell. Things could have got worse as City made a few rash challenges and lost all faith in their formation and shape, gaps appearing everywhere as Banbury sought to fill their boots. Matt Bath may have a case to answer in the general defensive woes, but his shot stopping is beyond criticism. He made two great saves to keep the game alive before the break, one a full length diving save as Forinton headed goalward from a corner, and a second from Redknap as he reached a deep cross at the far post only to meet a scrambling keeper doing enough to gather the ball at close range.

Whatever our problems you can't imagine a manager more likely to be able to get the players back on track than Tim Harris and he can hardly have been pleased with City's repeated defensive lapses. The effect of the half-time rethink was almost immediate as City went straight on the offensive and within moments had pulled a goal back with another fantastic strike from Aaron Wilson. Welsh had done well to win a high Sykes cross and his header fell into the path of the youngster who twisted his body to execute a perfect volley and crash the ball into the net. With City fans flooding back onto the T-End behind the goal we were attacking it looked as if the match was very much back on. Banbury have chucked away a few leads themselves this season and you could sense those doubting voices running through their players' heads.

City had to go for it and while you sense the attack has also yet to quite click into place we can work teams and clearly have some real ability in the side when we get forward. The chances did come and for 20 minutes the Banbury penalty area was far busier than ours. Fowler went close with a curling free kick but despite our pressure and greater possession there was a marked reluctance to put in the final cross or to shoot, despite the 'ahem' age of the Banbury keeper. It was only once Tom Webb came off the sub's bench that we found a little more penetration, his surging run from midfield setting up Aaron Wilson to run in on goal. His first touch took him wide but his shot still forced 46 year-old Alan Judge to make a smart stop, and then Banbury got lucky as the ball flew on to Whitts as he charged in on goal, but the rebound flew off him and just wide of the post.

However, all our attacking is still built on a defensive platform barely built of sand. Within moments of that attack we were further behind, courtesy of a wonderful attacking run and shot by Jon Gardner. It was a great bit of decisive individual skill and counter-attacking football, but not only did we not get a proper tackle in our lack of numbers meant he had to really just beat one man to run clean through. That goal seemed to really kill off the match, but Ollie Stanbridge did his best to pull us back into the game, first conceding a free kick and then fluffing his attempt to get rid of the resulting ball into the box. His keeper may have a few words for him on the way home as he was forced to tip a steepling vertical mishit clearance over his own bar with Welsh and Wilko closing. Hamblin then went close at the far post from the corner, seeing his header crowded out and forced just wide.

Any lingering hopes of getting anything out of the match finally evaporated with a Banbury fourth that simply emphasised all of our frailties at the back. An experienced forward like Howard Forinton senses gaps, and he simply rolled off Chris Thompson to leave the right-back yards away and out of the game by the time he charged onto a long ball. Neil Mustoe is a fine defensive midfielder, but he's no centre-back. Under pressure he was outmuscled by Forinton who seized on his weak back header to get clear and finish with an imperious lob that left Bath with no chance. That just left Alex Sykes time to shout at Wilson for trying a shot - well no Syko, our problem is exactly we spend too much time fiddling around and not enough time getting the ball across the face of goal and working the goalkeeper.

4-1 and well beaten at home by a side that may just scrape into the play-offs but really should have been put under a great deal more pressure than this. City look a little like a side lost. When Tim Harris first arrived at City in the midst of a relegation scrap his first act was to bring in new defenders and try to first make us hard to beat. It may be time to go back to basics, because we're proving anything but hard to beat on this showing.


grass trim rule
T-Ender Match Snaps
City attack a corner
Welsh vs Banbury
Wilko and Welsh attack a first half Sykes corner.
Welsh makes some progress down the banbury right flank.

Team Selection:
The big news was Tom Webb dropped to the bench, apparently for lack of tactical discipline and not carrying out managerial instructions. His absence left Thommo reverting to right-back and Mustoe dropping in to centre-back. That left Wilkinson restored to midfield, and Sykes coming in for Noakes. New signing Jimmy Cox is still recovering from a virus and didn't make the sub's bench.
TBBM Said:

Magic moments as conversation at the Meadow Park burger hut slips into the Banburian triangle.
"Two cheeseburgers and a tea - .... I meant a hot dog."
"Sausage and chips, please" - "Cup of tea?"

Tactics Board:
We're a way short of anything as dramatic as tactics at the moment. Our back four included only one recognised defender, and Tom Hamblin is a 19 year-old making the step up two divisions to this level. We can't go on with players who's instint is to attack filling in at full-back, or with a midfield that doesn't track back to reinforce the defence. With Mustoe overwhelmed as one of a pair of centre-backs we also missed out on the one midfielder who can be relied upon to get back into the box and provide extra cover in the box. There is a lot of work to be done.
Anorak Corner:
These recent games see us setting all sorts of unwanted records. This 4-1 home defeat is our worst league result at Meadow Park this season, our worst under Tim Harris, and our worst since a 5-2 defeat to Redditch United back in the dark old days of September 2002. No wonder the vultures appear to be circling again (hiya Tracy! - an extra £8 through the gate though no doubt..?).
T-Ender Verdict

Where to start, after three home defeats - two of them drubbings - we're in a slump teetering on the edge of a full blown crisis. Tim Harris will not be happy - and the fans certainly aren't. We have a string of tricky away fixtures ahead but we can't greatly look forward to visiting Merthyr and King's Lynn, and next Saturday's home game against Cheshunt is now looking a very important game. What really begins to wrry the supporters is not that we're not playing well, but that a few of the players are too ready to let their heads drop and not show the full blooded passionate commitment demanded from the T-End.

The fans will understand we're having something of a defensive wobble, and it would be too easy to panic when we had two good spells in this match when we easily matched Banbury. However, against a good Banbury attack we folded with a defence that is suddenly paper thin and all too easily hits self-destruct when put under pressure. There are rumours of an imminent defensive signing which can't come soon enough, but you get the impression some brutal reshaping may be needed to get in some more defensively minded full-backs. We may not like the fact that we may need to lose a few popular players to create room in the squad, but Tim Harris needs our support if he feels the need to prune savagely in order to see flowers in the future.

Highlights Elsewhere:

After a match like this you can barely care what's happening anywhere else but while Banbury are up to 5th and a play-off spot we're now down to 16th and looking anxiously at the wrong end of the division.

We're even now below Cirencester after they beat Hemel 4-2, Lee Smith amongst their scorers. The shock result of the day saw struggling Northwood make the most of inconsistent Chippenham's form with a 2-1 home win, while Merthyr Tydfil's unbeaten run is now well in the past after a last minute Clevedon Town winner at the Hand Stadium consigned them to a second defeat. Bath City stay top of the table with a comprehensive 3-0 win at home against Halesowen, Darren Edwards scoring on his Romans' debut as the division's top scorer marked his transfer from Yate Town.

Other Match Reports:

Tiger Roar Tim Harris audio interview
Gloucester Citizen match report
Banbury United website match report

Further Reading:

BGB Southern League Premier Results & Website
BGB Southern League Table


D.Gratton (Solihull)

City League Pos: 16th (-4) City Form: LLLDWL

Ref Watch:

6 - No excuses. This wasn't his fault today!

Attendance: 323    
Conditions: dry but blustery
Lorry Score:


Match Report:
by t-towel

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