This wasn't by any means the best football City have played this
season, but it was exactly the tough disciplined performance that
the fans have been crying out for. The concentration and commitment
levels didn't drop and the reward was a first home victory since
man discovered fire. It was a long time coming, and it wasn't spectacular
- but it was perhaps all the sweeter for it on a day that was all
about the result.
City opened looking every bit as rocky as you might expect a side
to look when our home defending has been so accident prone. Cliff-Brown
escaped from Reid and his cross was fortunately hooked high over
the T-End by Mike Booth. However we did well not to crumble and
managed to get forward ourselves with a long range bobbling drive
from Jamie Reid sending the Tivvy
keeper scuttling across his goalmouth as it whistled just wide.
Sam Hutchings was making a big step up from Bridgwater Town to
fill in between the sticks for Tiverton and he looked out of his
depth as City grabbed what was to prove the crucial goal early on
in the match. Griffin looks a real pest of a player and he hustled
his way into possession, turning his defender and playing a lovely
pass through to strike partner Jason
Welsh. City's top scorer unleashed a shot from 25 yards that
he hit well enough, but you have to expect most keepers to have
got across to it. However the Tivvy new boy seemed to react late
and be out of position, the ball flying past him. Welsh must like
playing Tivvy, now having scored a third of his 12 goals against
the Devon side, although this was also his first league goal at
The goal gave the side al lift and we tore into Tiverton in a good
spell of complete domination. Syko doesn't need much invitation
to shoot and sensing the keeper's fragility he saw two good fizzing
long distance efforts saved but spilled by Hutchings, who was fortunate
Griffin and Welsh couldn't quite reach the loose ball. City were
trying to put pressure on the vulnerable Tiverton defence but the
midfield area was highly competitive with neither side giving any
quarter with some solid blood and thunder challenges going in. On
occasions Tivvy threatened to cross the line with Cliff-Brown lucky
the ref missed a flying elbow on Reid just moments after the ref
caused consternation by booking Thommo after he'd himself been obstructed.
Griff too survived an elbow that left him with a bloody mouth, but
his seemed to have been caused by getting too close to Jason Welsh
as he leapt with a defender.
City didn't have many chances, but another frail punch by the Tivvy
keeper landed to Neil Mustoe who
looked to have found the net with a clever goalward lob but he was
thwarted as a defender managed to back pedal and head off the line.
City were further frustrated at the end of the half when Sykes free
kick caused complete chaos in the Tiverton goalmouth as they failed
to clear their lines, but despite several City players lashing the
ball towards the net the visitors managed to get enough bodies in
the way to scramble away.
Second half the tension started to show as Tivvy exerted more pressure
and at times you could almost see the City players thinking 'this
is normally where we throw it away'. However this time we never
really looked like crumbling, perhaps because Tiverton lacked their
usual cutting edge, but also because Lyndon
Tomkins was putting in his best game for us since returning
from injury. If he and Hamblin can stay fit and get used to playing
together they could yet develop in to a very solid paring at the
back. Johnston really had little chance to show what he can do in
goal and even when they did get through Tiverton didn't make the
best of their chances with Mason slicing wide when he did manage
to get a glimpse of goal.
As the game worse on we started to again pose a threat on the counter-attack,
with Welsh and Sykes linking up well. New arrival Alex
Allard was sent on to make his City debut and he impressed on
the left as he picked up a Sykes pass and in turn delivered a well
placed centre into the box where it was picked up by Wilkinson.
His shot didn't really have enough power to threaten and was hacked
away with ease. None the less City had done enough to take the vital
T-Ender Match Snaps
Sykes in pursuit
of Tivvy's Mike Booth.
Tiverton find a line
of City defenders ahead of them.
|Hamblin does enough to make
life tough for the Tivvy attack while Ray Johnston stands
The big surprise and lift for the side was the inclusion of skipper
Neil Mustoe who passed a late
fitness test having suffered back spasms at the end of last weekend's
win at Mongsotsfield. As expected Scott
Griffin made his home debut alongside Welsh in attack, while
the loss of Michael Noakes saw Stonehouse at left-back with Sykes
on the left of midfield.
The only fly in the ointment was the sudden disappearance of
Danny Hodnett recalled again
back to Worcester. So much for not being on loan - the poor player
must feel like a yo-yo, but his loss is a real blow after impressive
performances at Northwood and Mangotsfield.
A few odd goings on.
Having looked settled and solid Tom
Hamblin was withdrawn, suddenly forcing Thommo into the back
four and potentially rocking the boat. It turned out not to fatally
wound the cause, perhaps he had a knock, but otherwise hard to follow.
As everyone knows, we've
been rubbish at home this season. This was only our third home league
win of the campaign and our first since beating Chippenham in October.
Even more vitally it also ended a ten match losing sequence at home
in all competitions, our worst ever run at Meadow Park beating the
previous eight game record set between February and April 1993.
You can't labour the point too much, whatever the display this
was all about finally getting that home victory. We seem to have
developed a mental block on playing in front of our own fans,
and you need results at home to keep the turnstiles clicking as
well as to bolster the league table. Tiverton seem like a shadow
of many of their recent teams and can ill afford to miss key players,
but by the same measure our problems at home have been all about
our own psychological issues and we've certainly contrived to
lose to weaker opposition in recent weeks. At least we've hopefully
put a few demons to rest now, and with the midweek visit of lowly
Corby also have a great opportunity to complete our first 'double'
of the season and record back-to-back home wins.
Everything looks rosier on the back of a second win, and we're
now in the top half of the table. At the top Bath City continue
their title winning form although they needed a solitary penalty
to beat Banbury. Their tenants are improbably now their nearest
challengers with a 3-1 win at Corby.
At the bottom some sides are starting to show signs of possible
escape with others being sucked into the relegation battle. Cheshunt
grabbed a credible point against King’s Lynn and that was
enough to lift them above Merthyr who drop into the bottom four.
The Martyrs have games in hand and are surely to good to stay
in that position, but they must be nervous enough after a recent
slump continued with a 2-0 defeat at Rugby Town.