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Saturday 26 December 2006
British Gas Business Southern League Premier
(match 20)
at Meadow Park, Gloucester
BGB Southern League logo

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

Gloucester City


Merthyr Tydfil


Martyred Merthyr

HT (3-0)

J.Reid (6), M.Fowler (27),
T.Webb (41)
City home kit
G.Shephard (54),
R.Carpenter (68,76)
C.Thompson ©
G.Sheppard ©
(for 9, 83) A.Wilson
D.Davies (for 7, 85)
R.Carpenter (for 8, 66)
(for 11, 70) D.Wilkinson
(for 7, 70) J.Cox
City: N.Mustoe (obstruction 73)
Merthyr: S.Williams (violent play 34)
Dismissals: none

T-Ender City MotM: Neil Mustoe - a few flying tackles and more than a bit of grit, all too little to rouse his team mates as the roof fell in.

grass trim rule

This match report may be slightly more impressionistic than normal, brought to you as it is through the marvel of beer-a-vision. Sadly there was nowhere near enough festive spirit to disguise the return of our home demons as City first destroyed Merthyr's much-vaunted defence and then self-destructed our own. Never has the threadbare phrase of a game of two halves been better illustrated than here.

City looked lively from the first kick and a few early exchanges of passes showed plenty of attacking flair. City fans didn't have long to wait for a goal. Merthyr's keeper Ashley Morris is highly rated by many including City boss Tim Harris, and has earned a place in the Wales under-21 squad and an extended trial spell with Coventry City. You have to wonder why - the young keeper played a good part in City's fantastic first half showing. Having ventured off his line into no-man's land he was caught out by Jamie Reid. His dipping cross shot lobbed over the stranded keeper to find the corner of the net from only a yard in off the right touchline. Many thought it a fluke, but it looked deliberate to me and if we have one player who'd back himself to score from that point of the pitch it would be Jamie 'swagger' Reid.

If that suggested Merthyr's defence may have been a little lucky to concede just ten league goals all season the next City goal suggested they'd been lucky not to concede that in each game. Tom Webb was having a blistering match and his run was halted by a crude trip that earned a free kick on the edge of the box. Mike Fowler, playing against his former club, stepped up and curled a low shot inside the post for City's second. Fowler hasn't always had the best of times since joining us so it was great to see him claim a goal that obviously meant a lot to him. That doesn't detract from the fact that the Merthyr wall was a shambles and Morris the great keeper fell in a way that suggested a gut still full of Christmas pud.

Things got better still for the break with Merthyr comprehensively outplayed in the middle of the park by Mustoe and Webb, and the Valleys side were reduced to a string of persistent fouls to try and keep City at bay. They had no chance minutes before half-time when City broke quickly after a Merthyr attack. Reid's clever pass found Tom Webb in full flight as he cut through the ragged defence. Webb is often criticised for not getting the goals his talent should create, but this time he made no mistake and kept his poise to drive past the keeper as he entered the penalty box.

With City three up at the break there was a lot of foolhardy optimism at the bar of how many a rampant City might run in during a second half attacking the T-End. We should have seen enough City games to reign ourselves in, but even the most experienced City pessimist can rarely have seen such a complete second half turn around and capitulation from our frustratingly inconsistent side. Merthyr had obviously had a well deserved rollicking and came out full of determination whilst our lot seemed a bit surprised by the newly reinvigorated opposition.

As so often recently it was a high ball that was our undoing, with Barnes and Hamblin both caught ball watching as a deep cross sailed over and found Steins in space in the box. He cushioned the ball for strike partner Gary Sheppard and the skipper drove the ball past a lonely looking Matt Bath. The worst of it was that as soon as the single goal went in no-one in yellow and black, fan or player, truly still believed we could hold on. Confidence is a fragile thing and the worst fears of the fans seemed to be picked up like a virus by those out on the pitch.

You couldn't criticise us for a lack of commitment, Mustoe leading the way with some charging tackles, but our players had lost all shape and discipline. There was none of the control or passing ambition which had helped us tear the visitors apart in the first half. Merthyr sent on young striker Rhys Carpenter and within a minute his extra pace had already made a difference as he latched on to a clever reverse pass to nip into the box and drive the ball past Bath at his near post.

The equaliser seemed all too predictable and came when Ollie Barnes fluffed his clearance and presented the ball straight to the Merthyr attack. They took full advantage with another deep cross which was headed back across goal where Carpenter claimed his second with an acrobatic twisting volley. It was a good strike, but it was simply sickening for the T-End. Another bout of hapless defending had cost us dear. You couldn't have been surprised if we'd completed the job, and indeed we very nearly did present all the points to Merthyr. Steins twisted clear of Hamblin a little too easily for comfort, but having got free and with time to pick his spot the striker slotted his shot the wrong side of the post to the mighty relief of the home support.


grass trim rule
T-Ender Match Snaps
Welsh in action vs Merthyr
Martyrs clear a City attack
Welsh tries to make things fair by playing on his knees.
Merthyr's Wharton hammers the ball clear.

Team Selection:
Harris kept faith with the side that had performed so well in three good unbeaten away performances, with Welsh returning to a lone striker role and Sykes playing just off him in a roaming attacking role.
TBBM Said:

"If you're the best young keeper in Wales I guess the others must be missing an arm?"
Merthyr stopper Ashley Morris fails to live up to his billing.

Tactics Board:
We still look vulnerable in defence when placed under pressure. Ollie Barnes doesn't have the physical presence of Tomkins when placed under pressure, and we still look too easy to get past on the flanks, especially down the right. When we needed to get a grip on the midfield Harris tried to revert to a more orthodox 4-4-2 with Wilko's graft replacing Folwer's guile, but the switch failed to damn the gaps.
Anorak Corner:
T-Ender Verdict

This was the classic half-full or half-empty glass performance. To smack in three goals against the side with the tightest defence in the league was a huge boost, but after such a spectacular collapse this was a draw that felt like a defeat. We do need to keep things in perspective after some fantastic away perofrmances, but this game did demonstrate that we have yet to exorcise our defensive demons. The home match against Yate on Saturday will be a good opportunity to show we can close down games and get ugly if we need to.

Highlights Elsewhere:

Bath City fired themsleves back to the top with a 5-0 demolition of tenants Team Bath at Twerton Park, former City loan star Mark McKeever amongst the scorers for the Romans. Stamford cemented their place in the play-offs with a 1-0 win over fellow hopefuls King's Lynn. Cirencester's miserable spell continues with a 3-1 home defeat to Chippenham, a Griffin scoring for each side and Paul Milsom netting the opener for the visitors. We're looking down the table at the moment and there the results all went well, Corby and Cheshunt both losing 3-0 and Northwood fighting out a 1-1 draw with their tenants Wealdstone.

Other Match Reports:

Gloucester Citizen match report

Further Reading:

BGB Southern League Premier Results & Website
BGB Southern League Table

Referee: A.Sheffield (Walsall) City League Pos: 13th (-1) City Form: DWDWLL

Ref Watch:

6 - missed a couple of heavy fouls in first half but we can't hide behind those.

Attendance: 531    
Conditions: sunny spells, chilly
Lorry Score:


Match Report:
by t-towel

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