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Saturday 11 November 2006
British Gas Business Southern League Premier
(match 13)
at Vauxhall Road,
Hemel Hempstead.
BGB Southern League logo

Old Fat King

Hemel Hempstead


Gloucester City

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

HT (2-3)

G.Sippetts (11,45),
J.Lawford (62pen)
Hemel kit
M.Fowler (4pen), L.Tomkins (41),
A.Sykes (44)
C.Thompson ©
P.Edgeworth ©
(for 10, 76) A.Thomas
J.Miller (for 6, 89)
(for 7, 76) A.Yoki
J.Tustain (for 10, 83)
J.Welsh (for 11, 88)


City: M.Whittington (dissent 53)
Hemel: L.Hibbert (foul 35), S.Sinclair (foul 61)
Dismissals: none

T-Ender City MotM: Neil Mustoe - at times was the main block in the wall against the Hemel tide, filling holes when others were caught out.

grass trim rule

This match lived up to all the pre-match expectation that there would be plenty of goals. A 3-3 scoreline tells at least part of the story with both sides looking likely to score every time defenders were put under pressure. A point away from home is rarely a disaster, and there are plenty of positive things for City to take from the match. Hemel created chances and could have scored more, but had City shown just a little more discipline in defence and a bit more composure around the opposition penalty box then the sizeable traveling Gloucester support could easily have been celebrating more than three away goals and a point.

The match had barely got under way when City were gifted a chance to open the scoring, a low Fowler cross judged to have been handled by Hemel winger Steve Sinclair on the edge of the penalty area. Fans may have been surprised that Whittington didn't pick up the ball after scoring from the spot against Margate last saturday, but Mike Fowler's penalty was just as confident and left the Hemel keeper wrong footed. Hemel came straight back into the game and enjoyed some immediate pressure and Mustoe did well to block a turn and shot by Leon Hibbert. A similar move a few minutes later caught us out again, Mustoe managed to block a Robbie Kean drive, but this time the ball spun off the City player and found Gary Sippetts hovering in front of the City goal where he drove home an equaliser.

City came close to taking back the lead when the impressive Mustoe won possession and Sykes sent over a great pass over the top of the Hemel defence and into the path of Michael Whittington. He slipped beyond the defender and lifted the ball over the keeper as he rushed out, it looked the kind of effortless finish of a confident striker but the ball bounced off the top of the crossbar. Whilst Kean fired in another fierce shot from the edge of the box and Tomkins again did well with a strong tackle, City were looking the more menacing side. Hemel's Leon Hibbert was booked for tripping Whittington and Mike Fowler's free kick beat the wall, but lacked enough pace to get beyond the Hemel keeper who saved comfortably.

City lived dangerously when Matt Bath seemed to drop a corner and escape after a goalmouth scramble, but City soon had the lead with the best goal of the game. Whittington had won a corner and the Hemel defence made a mess of clearing it, leaving the ball to skid out to the opposite wing. Whittington was first to react and brought the ball back in from the left, cutting inside and delivering a perfect low cross towards the penalty spot. Lyndon Tomkins should always be a threat in the air but he showed a forward's instinct to get across the defender and stoop down to deliver a perfectly executed flicked header that sent the ball flying into the far corner of the net.

If that goal was high quality City's third a few minutes later had a good bit of luck about it. Alex Sykes made a good run down the left to pick up the ball in space after some good movement from Mustoe and Noakes, but faced with few passing options his 20 yard shot seemed more speculative than threatening. However, it was too much for Smith in the Hemel goal who made a complete mess of picking up the flight of the ball and rather tamely allowed the ball to bounce from him and behind into the net.

With just a few minutes until the break City would have done well just to close up and leave Hemel glumly contemplating a two goal deficit over their half-time cuppa. Instead we seemed to decide t defend from on our own goal line and when the cross came in from our left it was left to bounce in the goalmouth and despite plenty of yellow shirts in the area we couldn't get it clear. Instead it was Sippetts who again got hold of it first and somehow was allowed to turn in our six yard box before crashing the ball high into the roof of the net from close range for his second of the game.

The second half was always going to struggle to match a goal laden first 45 minutes, but there was actually no reduction in chances or attacking play from either team - just a little less fortune in finishing. By low recent standards today's ref did OK - he at least seemed to be trying to let the game flow - but he did City a great disservice early on in the second half by failing to give a free kick after an advantage failed to emerge. City broke out of defence with a wonderful Fowler pass picking out Michael Noakes in full flight. The youngster charged down the centre of the pitch with a defender trailing behind him, the tackle took out his legs but Noakes stumbled on but was off balance as he poked a weakened effort at the keeper. The ref may have let the initial foul go to see if Noakes recovered, but City should have been given the free kick and the Hemel's Rob Gould should have been left very worried about what colour card the ref pulled out.

City's lead finally disappeared when Hemel were given a rather soft penalty as Alex Sykes handled a deep cross as it dropped over his shoulder beyond the far post. The ball seemed to have gone beyond the danger area and Sykes protested his innocence vehemently to the linesman but it was too late for that. From the other end Sykes certainly had lifted his arm, but it was hard to tell if his protests were because the ref had got it wrong or because he couldn't believe he'd done something that daft. It made no odds though as John Lawford made no mistake with his spot kick to pull the home team level.

Both sides could have taken all the points but between improved defending and some wayward shooting from both teams neither could find a seventh and crucial goal. Fowler and Mustoe were combining well in the City midfield while both Webb and Whittington produced rasping low shots from the edge of the box that were saved and just wide respectively. For Hemel winger Steve Sinclair looked particularly dangerous down the right and he was supplemented by top scorer Anthony Thomas who came off the bench and almost immediately drew a fine save from Matt Bath who was forced to rush off his line and save at the striker's feet. City's best chance came when Fowler and Webb exchanged passes before an excellent cross shot split the Hemel defence, only to just elude Sykes rushing in at the far post.

The last few moments saw City desperately pressure the Hemel goal. Jason Welsh came on, his troublesome shoulder well strapped, but he only had a few minutes to make an impact and couldn't get close to either of the late Gloucester corners. City could have been given a penalty as Troy Wood was shoved as he tried to reach Fowler's corner, but the Worcester forward did still manage a near post flick that fell to Lyndon Tomkins who stretched to reach it but could only hammer a shot high and wide. However the big centre-back was left in a heap on the floor and City fans will have been concerned to see Lyndon being helped off the pitch holding his knee. After all his injury problems seemed behind him it would be dreadful if he was to be back on the injured list.

If that was bad it could have got worse as danger man Anthony Thomas cut in from the right and shot from the edge of the area. Matt Bath looked confident but if he still was as it clanged onto the bar only he will know. As it was the final whistle finally came and ended a real end to end contest with what was probably a deserved result on an afternoon neither team deserved to lose.


grass trim rule
T-Ender Match Snaps
Sykes against Hemel.
Lyndon goal celebrations.
Sykes gets down on the left.
Lyndon gets Welshied after scoring City's second.
City on atack vs. Hemel.
City chase another cross into the Hemel penalty area.
Fowler free kick at Hemel.
Hemel keeper Steve Smith gets down to meet a Mike Fowler free kick.

Team Selection:
Harris was forced to reshuffle after Aaron Wilson reported a muscle strain from midweek training, bringing Michael Noakes back into the team on the left. As expected Wood and Whittington formed an on loan little and littler double act up front, while crocked striker Jason Welsh made it to the sub's bench after his dislocated shoulder.
TBBM Said:

"I've seen better keepers than you in the Sunday League."
"I've seen better keepers than you dropped in the Sunday League."
Hemel keeper Stave 'can't catch, can't kick' Smith establishes a Gloucester branch of his fan club.

Tactics Board:
If Tim Harris was worried about how deep the City defence fell into their own penalty area at Eastleigh in September then the Tigers boss but being doing his nut tonight that those lessons don't seem to have been learnt. This was not a comparable collective surrender, but you could make an argument that all of the Hemel goals came because we were too deep and too slow to push our defensive line back out. That was certainly true of their second, and you can't help but feel taking a two goal lead in to the half-time break could have been crucial.
Anorak Corner:
One for real fact fans out there: this was Tom Webb's 200th start in a City shirt.
T-Ender Verdict

Defeat would have been harsh on either side and sometimes you just have to begrudgingly accept that this was a fair result and just a good entertaining football match. For all of that 'football was the winner' tree-hugging we need to find a way to close out matches and make draws into wins, stuff the entertainment we want victory!

We did well going forward but perhaps not well enough. Hemel were a good attacking side and you could argue we did quite well to limit their shooting chances as much as we diid. But Hemel's defensive frailties left them looking vulnerable every time we went forward. We just lacked a bit of composure in the final third where despite all the high octane commitment we didn't quite pick out the right pass, get our heads up or find the corner of the net when a little more quality would have been enough to get a fourth vital goal.

Highlights Elsewhere:

Managerless King's Lynn are the toast of the Southern League as the Linnets progressed to the 2nd Round of the FA Cup having enjoyed the better of a high scoring game at Conference South side Bishop's Stortford. Both Adam Smith and Michael Frew scored a brace each with Matt O`Halloran also on target in a remarkable 5-3 win. Maidenhead United also go into the draw after forcing a replay with a 1-1 draw at Conference North side Stafford Rangers. Recently signed goalkeeper Francisco Ramos saved a penalty as the Magpies held on despite being reduced to nine men with Dwane Lee equlaising after Craig O'Connor had been dismissed. Clevedon Town's Cup dreams ended with League Two side Chester City scoring three second-half goals in a 4-1 win, although an injury time Jack Pitcher consolation at least gave the home fans in an impressive 2,261 crowd at The Hand Stadium something to cheer.

Both Bath City and Merthyr Tydfil took advantage of King's Lynn's absence from league action to move within ap oint of the Norfolk side at the top of the British Gas Business Southern League Premier Division table. Merthyr needed a last-minute winner from Craig Lima to take all the points at home to bottom club Cheshunt, while Bath City also won at home beating Wealdstone 2-1 with former City loan defender Chris Holland opening the scoring. Rugby Town could have gone top had Billy Jeffery's side won at home against his former club Stamford - so he must have been pretty gutted as the visitors thumped his current side 6-2 at Butlin Road with Gareth Pritchard grabbing a hatrick in just four second-half minutes. Ciren ensured Tiverton's poor start to the campaign continues with a 4-1 win which saw Scott Griffin claim two goals.

Other Match Reports:

Gloucester Citizen match report
Hemel Hemsptead FC website match report
Tiger Roar Tim Harris audio interview

Further Reading:

BGB Southern League Premier Results & Website
BGB Southern League Table

Referee: P.Kirkup (Northampton) City League Pos: 8th (-3) City Form: DWLDDD

Ref Watch:

6 - Tried to let play run and did OK, but when we most deserved to have play pulled back he let us down.

Attendance: 245    
Conditions: overcast but dry
Lorry Score:


Match Report:
by t-towel

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