The Ant Moxey Report
So on a surprisingly mild, and surprisingly foggy night at the Park, City secure an invaluable 1-0 win over Westcountry rivals Bristol Rovers in front of a fine voiced 5269 supporters. City lined up: Jones; Friend, Edwards, Taylor, Duffy, Tully; Harley, Dunne, Sercombe; Stewart, Stansfield.
After a lively yet fruitless opening, it was City who had the first opportunity when from deep Sercombe played the most delicious defence splitter for Stansfield to run onto. However, the keeper was sharp and raced out the edge of his box beating Stans by the merest fraction in the race to the ball.
Two minutes later a needless foul on Stewart saw City awarded a free kick some 25 yards out, but Harley's good looking drive curled a little too much and it fizzed harmlessly past the near post.
Dunne then played a neat pass out to the rampaging Friend down the left flank who in turn curled in the ball of the season that just evaded the rushing Stansfield when he had the goal at his mercy eight yards out. But it wasn't all City, and after some patient build up in the 20th minute the superbly named Bryon Anthony strode forward with the ball from just inside his own half. There didn't seem much on when he got to about 40 yards from the City goal, so with no-one to pass to instead let fly with an outrageous dipping smash that hit the underside of the cross bar before bouncing down onto the line and away to safety. What a goal that would have been!
But not to be outdone, Dunne tried the same, albeit from 10 yards closer. However, his smash from a Harley lay off wasn't quite so close and flew narrowly wide of the angle of post and bar. The remaining 20 minutes of an entertaining and industrious first half were played out with plenty of work and effort, but little in the way of goal mouth action as by now both defences were well on top.
But come the second half City came out in purposeful mood, and once again had the first meaningful effort of the half, although Sercombe's bobbling shot from distance was easy meat for the Rovers keeper. Rovers fashioned a good chance as City failed to clear in the eighth minute, but Duffy made a superb block as the striker shaped to shoot and the chance was gone. Or so we thought as Rovers worked the ball back into the box where it was drilled across the goal from a tight angle missing the far post by not very much at all.
Two minutes later Sercombe showed great strength outmuscling a Rovers midfielder to then break goalwards, but unfortunately instead of playing the ball right to the charging Stansfield, he took it left into a gaggle of defenders and the chance was gone.
Another loomed two minutes later though, this time a poor defensive clearance from near the corner flag only reaching Duffy 25 yards out past the corner of the box. Duffy looked up and launched a searing drive that was swinging away from the keeper and towards the far top corner, but the keeper managed to tip it away for a corner. The corner duly arrived, and Duffy found himself with the ball deep at the far post. He hoisted in a hanging cross that Stansfield and a defender met at the same time, forcing Stans to blast over from close range.
Up the other end Jones found himself scrambling across his box to clear at the near post after yet another short free kick was closed down forcing City players into playing rushed and wasteful balls, and with Rovers getting the upper hand in the game midway through the half Tis saw fit to make his first substitution of the day bringing Logan on at the expense of Stewart.
Just before the half hour a Tully cross from the right was worked across the box to Friend steaming in from the left, but his thunderous shot screamed past the post and high onto the Bank. A minute later a poor clearance that went only as far as Harley the same distance out but on the other side of the goal had the same result as his effort too flew high onto the Bank.
With legs tiring Tis went for one big push with first Tully being replaced by Burnell, then Haber replacing Stansfield. The big push came with City forcing a late, late corner as stoppage time approached. Harley drilled the ball across from the right where Dunne sneaked across his man to bullet a near post header just inside the post from six yards out to send three sides of the ground delirious amidst a cacophony of noise as players and fans celebrated a sensational winner right at the death.
And what a relief too, after what seems an age since our last win. Although if truth be told, it is an age since our last win, that 2-0 defeat of Leeds back in January nine games ago. We've come close a couple of times since, most notably last Saturday at Southend, but in the end it was a fine victory borne out of sheer hard work and determination.
The players, to a man, deserve all the accolades for a fighting performance against a big strong opposition, but in particular Matt Taylor at the heart of the defence stood out, along with the lightning quick forays down the right from Tully, the industry of goalscorer James Dunne in the middle and the relentless chasing of Stansfield up front.
Today was a good day to be a City fan - can't beat those last minute winners, eh - and let's hope Saturday is too when we travel to Wycombe before welcoming Walsall and Colchester to the Park for back to back home matches. We could be nine points better off by then and well away from the relegation zone, or maybe we won't be, but today we gave ourselves a real opportunity to build on. We're now only a point from safety so it's all still to play for with some truly titanic matches coming up.
You know we never do it the easy way, so can you afford to miss a single second of this epic run in? Nah, didn't think so.Share