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Saturday 18 August 2007
British Gas Business Southern League Premier
(match 1)
at Theobalds Road, Cheshunt.
BGB Southern League logo

Cheshunt badge



Gloucester City

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

HT (0-3)

Cheshunt kitCity Blues
M.Rose (13), A.Sykes (42pen), M.Richards (45)
L.Buttery Man of the Match


N.Mustoe ©
S. Peddie
© S.Obeng
(for 11, 65) D.Fenton
(for 7, 65) A Fenton
S.Griffin (for 10, 78)
J.Welsh (for 9, 83)
Cheshunt: D.Hicks (dangerous tackle 61), H.Hunt (foul tackle 70), D.Cox (foul tackle 84)
City: none
Dismissals: none

T-Ender City MotM: Luke Buttery - solid committed game at left-back and in the first half did a great job on the pacey Hunt.

grass trim rule

City will be delighted to see their season start with such a solid professional performance to record a convincing 3-0 win at Cheshunt. The team never looked as if it needed to hit top gear and with all the goals coming in the first half this was a display that bodes well for the rest of the campaign. City created a host of good chances and rarely seemed truly ruffled by a home side that included players with enough pace and power to have caused us problems in the past.

City actually started hesitantly and took a few minutes to get into our stride and get the confidence to pull the ball down and try to play. However it wasn't long before Alex Sykes was picking back up where he left off last season, latching on to a half cleared corner kept alive by Marc Richards to smash a half volley goalward and whistling narrowly wide of the post. That should have given Cheshunt some idea of the attacking threat but they didn't cope at all with City's next corner. This time Sykes swung in a high hanging ball to the far post where Pitcher emerged from a crop of City players to knock a header back across goal. With the defence static Matt Rose was the player to react and steal across goal to nod in City's first goal of the season - not a bad way to mark your return to City colours.

City kept up the pressure and as the game settled into a bit of shape it was our visiting Tigers who were the smarter, soaking up Cheshunt possession and counter-attacking with speed from midfield. Mustoe saw a 25 yard drive speed just over the bar after a Luke Buttery run and cross was half-cleared. The left-back was having an accomplished game and was getting forward well in addition to performing his defensive duties by shackling the impressive Harry Hunt drifting from wide in the Cheshunt attack. Another Buttery forward ball almost led to a Pitcher debut goal, his clever touch taking him inside past the defender but the ball just got away from him and his effort to lob the advancing keeper lacked enough power.

Cheshunt were finding it tricky to get much space in the City area, but came closest when Hamblin conceded a free kick near our left hand touchline and from the resulting deep ball Darrell Cox found space but planted his header well wide. That miss proved crucial as Gloucester were keeping things very tight and with the half drawing to a close we looked like extending our lead. Richards and Pitcher worked the ball well down the right and the City striker slipped beyond the full-back, his low cross just eluding Webb's out-stretched leg and then catching Syko out as he fluffed his shot with a mis-kick. The second goal was coming though, and it resulted from a strong Webb run down the left and a clever pass inside to Pitcher who turned and found his ankle swept from him by Adam Norman. Pitcher might have gone down like he'd been fed off the Morrisons cold meat counter, but the ref was right to point to the spot. Alex Sykes stepped up and took a cool confident penalty kick to drive low past debutant Ambers keeper Bobby Smith.

Things were already going far better than most City fans could imagine, but the best goal was still to come. Luke Buttery stepped up to take a seemingly routine free-kick near the halfway line, but when the ball came in to the Cheshunt box the defence stood off. The delay was fatal and Marc Richards powered in to fling himself at the ball and the resulting diving header flew past the keeper for a memorable strike. The home defence had a lot to answer for, but it was a cracking finish and the angle and flight of the ball in helped carve open the gap.

The second half was a hell of a lot quieter, after last season's defensive calamities there's little doubt City were wise to protect the lead. Cheshunt enjoyed more of the ball but still found themselves facing stern resistance if they threatened. The Cheshunt forward line couldn't get any chance to turn and this was looked a far more confident and solid defence than we saw last year. Kevin Sawyer had little need to exert himself, but he dealt very competently with the high balls that came his way and the one time he was called into action he made a fine stop. Hunt had been fouled by Buttery and the resulting free kick found a late run into the box from Cheshunt skipper Steve Obeng, but his header was well held by Sawyer despite coming through a crowd of players.

City still managed to break forward with Cheshunt's increasing frustration leading to some of the dirtiest tackles this side of the Heathrow climate camp, but there was little damage done beyond three yellow cards. City's best second half shot came from Rose picking up another half-cleared Sykes cross, thumping in a smart volley that was well saved. Jack Pitcher's speed and touch impressed all game and he also produced a smart turn before accelerating down the wing and crossing into the path of a Richards run. This time the cross was looping and Rico couldn't get enough power on his stooping header to beat the keeper. With the clock running down both Griffin and Welsh got run-outs from the bench, but Tim Harris must be delighted to have earnt all the points without his side having to be overstretched or indeed even throwing Whittington into the fray.


grass trim rule
T-Ender Match Snaps
Pitcher gets ahead Pitcher hits the ground at Cheshunt
City's back post corner routine sets up Rose for City's opener. Pitcher goes sprawling as Norman gets too close. It's a penalty!
Rico flies goalward
Pitcher crunched at Cheshunt
Marc Richards flies through the air to thump in the third. Pitcher feels the pain as a second half tackle flies in.

Team Selection:

With Tim Harris suddenly overwhelmed with selection options this was always going to be a fascinating first team selection. Kevin Sawyer was one figure sure to start as he made his debut in goal, while Jack Pitcher also made his bow up front. The surprise was perhaps Sykes getting the nod up front, Webb filling in on the left to allow Marc Richards to play at right midfield. At right-back Reid got the go ahead, with Thommo joining Allard, Whitts, Griffin and Welsh on the bench.

TBBM Said:

" I don't think he got tripped."
"I don't think I care."
Football morality in a nutshell as Pitcher's penalty award is debated amongst the traveling support.

Tactics Board:
Tim Harris obviously isn't the kind of guy to have his head turned by an array of attacking options, and he went with a side that seemed built to deliver an away result. The tactics worked impressively, and although City looked a little narrow in midfield it was Pitcher's pace and work rate that enabled us to still carry a threat. The defence looked comfortable even when threatened and the midfield was industrious and combative. To win so convincingly whilst keeping many of your attacking options up your sleeve is all very heartening.
Anorak Corner:

City had not won an away game on the opening day of the season since beating Ashford Town 3-0 back in August 1996. And if your looking for omens that season we finished third.... this time we'd get a play-off spot for it.

T-Ender Verdict
The opening game of the season is always crunch time, and all too often we've seen pre-season promise frustrated when it comes to delivering once the points are up for grabs. This time around we put in a commanding performance that the players can be very proud of. Whilst it was good to see us chalk up early goals it was perhaps in keeping a clean sheet and defending our lead that we can be happiest. Cheshunt have lively forwards and won't lack for goals this season, so to limit them to scraps in our penalty area suggests a certain strength throughout the side. After last season when even a 3-0 half-time lead wouldn't lead to over-optimism from the fans this was a significant improvement and we never looked like losing concentration or allowing our grip on the game to slip.
Highlights Elsewhere:

City's victory was enough to take us second - and when we're that high up the division I don't buy this 'meaningless league table, marathon not a sprint' rubbish. The side above us are newly promoted Bromsgrove Rovers who produced the real shock of the day to destroy newly demoted Bedford 4-0 at their own place, courtesy of a first half brace from Gary Hay and two late goals giving the table-topping gloss.

Both of the pre-match big games ended in draws. Reigning Southern Division champions Bashley will be delighted to see Richard Gillespie picking up from last season's free-scoring form to put the New Forest side ahead before a late equaliser from Michael Frew rescued a point for pre-season title favourites King's Lynn in a 1-1 draw. Hemel seem set to score by the bucket load again with Drew Roberts getting a brace, but a 3-3 home draw with another fancied side Halesowen suggests those defensive issues haven't been solved. Veteran Scots international forward Paul Devlin also picked up a brace for the Yeltz.

Another shock at Top Field where Hitchin beat Adie Ming's Chippenham 1-0, and Clevedon will be boosted by winning what even on the opening day could be a relegation six-pointer with a 3-2 win against Rugby United - Scott Hendy's goal proving the winner. Frank Gregan's first fixture as Mangotsfield boss ended with a late Scott Brice goal causing a 1-0 defeat at Yate, while Cirencester will be lifted by a highly credible point in a 0-0 home draw with big-spending Corby Town.

Other Match Reports:

Tiger Roar Neil Phelps interview with Tim Harris
Tiger Images Neil Phelps pics from Cheshunt
Gloucester Citizen match report

Further Reading:

BGB Southern League Premier Results & Website
BGB Southern League Table

Referee: A.Coggins (Oxford) City League Pos: 2nd (+8!) City Form: W-WLLWW

Ref Watch:

8 - did well and let the game flow. There is hope. Attendance: 241    
Conditions: overcast with showers
Lorry Score:
Match Report:
by t-towel

Work commitments mean that we are keen to obtain other match reporters willing to provide details on some City matches. All text can be supplied by email, with no need to worry about web design or formatting. If you are interested please contact the T-Ender.

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