Play-offs look unlikely – but you never know

TAKING AIM: Tom Thorley scores from the penalty spot against Hyde in December.

TAKING AIM: Tom Thorley scores from the penalty spot against Hyde in December.

First published in Steve Carley Worcester News: Photograph of the Author by

SO, Worcester City’s play-off bid comes down to this – win their last three games and hope it’s enough.

Following Easter Monday’s disappointing 3-0 defeat at Nuneaton Town, City’s fate is no longer in their own hands.

Even with Nuneaton’s six-point deduction, seventh-placed City are four points adrift of the top five with just three games left to play – against Hinckley United (home), Gainsborough Trin-ity (away) and Workington (home).

Nine points might be enough to squeeze them into the Blue Square Bet North play-offs come April 28 but they would need a few favourable results elsewhere.

Not beyond the realms of possibility, but anything less would make their task extremely tough.

I am certainly not writing City off because had you offered them four wins and a defeat at Nuneaton from the last five games, they would have gladly taken it.

The Liberty Way clash looked the toughest of the quintet on paper and, so far, that has proved to be the case.

Nuneaton showed just why they were in the mix for the title for much of the season, being clinical in front of goal.

City were distinctly second best on Monday and few would argue with that. The game had an air of anti-climax about it. After all, Wor-cester were in irresistible form, having lost just once in 12 league games, including seven victories.

But, when it came to the crunch, they couldn’t quite deliver.

That is not a criticism, simply a fact.

Nobody is denying Carl Heeley’s team have performed wonders this season and reaching mid-April with the scent of success still in their nostrils is testament to that.

Being virtually guaranteed to finish no lower than seventh is a remarkable achievement, given Worcester’s woes of the recent past, and the team deserves immense credit.

Yet, challenging for the play-offs brings an inevitable rise in expectation from fans and media alike, and one telling statistic has caught my eye.

City’s record against their fellow promotion rivals follows a definite pattern – draw at home, lose away – and it could prove decisive.

They lost 2-1 at leaders Hyde on the opening day of the campaign before hitting back twice through two Tom Thorley penalties to draw 2-2 in December.

Against Guiseley, they were humbled 4-1 in Yorkshire in September before conceding an agonising late equaliser in November’s 2-2 draw, a game they led 2-0.

It was a similar tale at Halifax in January, conceding twice late on to lose 2-1, having held the Yorkshire-men 1-1 at home in August.

In the same month, Nuneaton left the Lane with a point after Michael Taylor struck an injury-time equal-iser, while a 2-0 October defeat at sixth-placed Staly-bridge was followed up with last month’s goalless stalemate against 10 men.

To date, City’s thrilling 2-1 triumph against Gainsbor-ough at the Lane last month is the only time they have beaten one of the current top five.

They might just need to repeat that feat when they travel to Lincolnshire on Saturday week if they want to join that group.

Comments (15)

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12:12pm Wed 11 Apr 12

Ex-Worcester boy says...

"cityblueboy" will be upset on hearing this. Where theres hope and all that
"cityblueboy" will be upset on hearing this. Where theres hope and all that Ex-Worcester boy
  • Score: 0

12:26pm Wed 11 Apr 12

CityBlueBoy says...

Ex-Worcester Boy will like this, another chance to criticise the local sporting teams !!
Ex-Worcester Boy will like this, another chance to criticise the local sporting teams !! CityBlueBoy
  • Score: 0

12:58pm Wed 11 Apr 12

Ex-Worcester boy says...

Your support of city is to be recommended, you and the other 800 odd.
I want to feel proud of my teams' I have watched and suffered more than most in the last 10/15 years and because i state the obvious i get criticised, at least I accept that we can not attract the class of player to change things.
Your support of city is to be recommended, you and the other 800 odd. I want to feel proud of my teams' I have watched and suffered more than most in the last 10/15 years and because i state the obvious i get criticised, at least I accept that we can not attract the class of player to change things. Ex-Worcester boy
  • Score: 0

1:14pm Wed 11 Apr 12

Andy (Ledbury) says...

I am sure that the Club's focus will be on trying to secure the win against Hinckley on Saturday. Win and we will still be in the chase.

For interest, the results of the reverse fixtures earlier in the season show Gainsborough, Nuneaton and Halifax all having lost at home to their upcoming Saturday's opponents (they are now having to play them away of course), and Stalybridge drawing. Some more of that would be good, please.

Of all their 12 games remaining (4x3), there were just two wins in the reverse fixtures, five draws and five defeats.

Looks like the Gainsborough skipper Learey - who was red-carded on Saturday - will be out for the City game.
I am sure that the Club's focus will be on trying to secure the win against Hinckley on Saturday. Win and we will still be in the chase. For interest, the results of the reverse fixtures earlier in the season show Gainsborough, Nuneaton and Halifax all having lost at home to their upcoming Saturday's opponents (they are now having to play them away of course), and Stalybridge drawing. Some more of that would be good, please. Of all their 12 games remaining (4x3), there were just two wins in the reverse fixtures, five draws and five defeats. Looks like the Gainsborough skipper Learey - who was red-carded on Saturday - will be out for the City game. Andy (Ledbury)
  • Score: 0

1:22pm Wed 11 Apr 12

Ex-Worcester boy says...

I can assure you I live in Nuneaton/Hinckley area and these two teams are far ahead of City, I do not see the upsets for these two or Halifax that City will.
I can assure you I live in Nuneaton/Hinckley area and these two teams are far ahead of City, I do not see the upsets for these two or Halifax that City will. Ex-Worcester boy
  • Score: 0

2:26pm Wed 11 Apr 12

Doogie 46 says...

I must say that I thought Nuneaton were much the better side when City played them at SGL early in the season. We got a draw thanks to the opportunism of Michael Taylor (yes, I know I keep on about him but look how important he has become to City now). Nuneaton have been in the play-off positions virtually all season and would be my favourites to go up.
City have made miraculous progress this season but will probably not quite make the top five - only Gainsborough look realistically catchable.
It would be great if we could unearth another Barry Williams (my all-time favourite) John Barton, Kenny Lawrence and Kevin Tudor from the lower leagues - or is that too much of a fantasy?
The statistic Steve Carley mentions regarding City`s record against top teams is a very valid one - I think it has been relevant for quite a few seasons - I once found we had gained three points from a possible twenty four against the top four teams at that time. This has been a very good season but we still have a long way to go.
I must say that I thought Nuneaton were much the better side when City played them at SGL early in the season. We got a draw thanks to the opportunism of Michael Taylor (yes, I know I keep on about him but look how important he has become to City now). Nuneaton have been in the play-off positions virtually all season and would be my favourites to go up. City have made miraculous progress this season but will probably not quite make the top five - only Gainsborough look realistically catchable. It would be great if we could unearth another Barry Williams (my all-time favourite) John Barton, Kenny Lawrence and Kevin Tudor from the lower leagues - or is that too much of a fantasy? The statistic Steve Carley mentions regarding City`s record against top teams is a very valid one - I think it has been relevant for quite a few seasons - I once found we had gained three points from a possible twenty four against the top four teams at that time. This has been a very good season but we still have a long way to go. Doogie 46
  • Score: 0

2:45pm Wed 11 Apr 12

Andy (Ledbury) says...

Correction - Leary's suspension begins after the Worcester game.
Correction - Leary's suspension begins after the Worcester game. Andy (Ledbury)
  • Score: 0

2:46pm Wed 11 Apr 12

Ex-Worcester boy says...

Kenny Lawrence the best non-league player of all time.
If cityboyblue saw that team he should understand my current feelings on City FC and the dross they play. When you have had it you do not want to lose it
Kenny Lawrence the best non-league player of all time. If cityboyblue saw that team he should understand my current feelings on City FC and the dross they play. When you have had it you do not want to lose it Ex-Worcester boy
  • Score: 0

3:22pm Wed 11 Apr 12

CityBlueBoy says...

Just shows your clueless mate. Hinckley United are far ahead of City.

Where are Hinckley in the league ?? Fighting Relegation. We outplayed them at their place this season.

Cant wait for Saturday to come and we beat them with our dross as you call it.
Just shows your clueless mate. Hinckley United are far ahead of City. Where are Hinckley in the league ?? Fighting Relegation. We outplayed them at their place this season. Cant wait for Saturday to come and we beat them with our dross as you call it. CityBlueBoy
  • Score: 0

4:00pm Wed 11 Apr 12

Doogie 46 says...

Hinckley have had some unbelievably good results and also some unbelievably bad ones - inconsistent would be an understatement - could be a hammering either way. Should be an interesting afternoon.
I think Ex-Worcester boy has got it partly right - non-league football as a whole does not seem to bear comparison with the Nobby Clarke era. At that time there were some very good footballing teams in the Southern league premier division and we saw some brilliant games at SGL - going home we couldn`t wait for the next match - probably not the case these days.
The modern day light bouncy ball which flies around all over the place (mostly out of the ground) probably doesn`t help - if City ever get to Nunnery Way keep off the M5 at match-time!!!
Hinckley have had some unbelievably good results and also some unbelievably bad ones - inconsistent would be an understatement - could be a hammering either way. Should be an interesting afternoon. I think Ex-Worcester boy has got it partly right - non-league football as a whole does not seem to bear comparison with the Nobby Clarke era. At that time there were some very good footballing teams in the Southern league premier division and we saw some brilliant games at SGL - going home we couldn`t wait for the next match - probably not the case these days. The modern day light bouncy ball which flies around all over the place (mostly out of the ground) probably doesn`t help - if City ever get to Nunnery Way keep off the M5 at match-time!!! Doogie 46
  • Score: 0

4:04pm Wed 11 Apr 12

Andy (Ledbury) says...

I would suggest that many of us who watched City in the late 1970s - and before and since - would reckon that this year's squad is the closest we've had in any of the intervening 35 years.
I would suggest that many of us who watched City in the late 1970s - and before and since - would reckon that this year's squad is the closest we've had in any of the intervening 35 years. Andy (Ledbury)
  • Score: 0

6:01pm Wed 11 Apr 12

fred titmus says...

City have certainly boxed above their weight and it's been a great season for us fans. Our playing budget cannot be anywhere near some of the sides in this league so to be still in with a shout of the play offs is honourable. Carl,Matt and the lads should be applauded for their efforts this term whatever the outcome of the next three games.
City have certainly boxed above their weight and it's been a great season for us fans. Our playing budget cannot be anywhere near some of the sides in this league so to be still in with a shout of the play offs is honourable. Carl,Matt and the lads should be applauded for their efforts this term whatever the outcome of the next three games. fred titmus
  • Score: 0

8:57pm Wed 11 Apr 12

worcesterbloke says...

Andy (Ledbury) wrote:
I would suggest that many of us who watched City in the late 1970s - and before and since - would reckon that this year's squad is the closest we've had in any of the intervening 35 years.
Quite right Andy! TS :-;
[quote][p][bold]Andy (Ledbury)[/bold] wrote: I would suggest that many of us who watched City in the late 1970s - and before and since - would reckon that this year's squad is the closest we've had in any of the intervening 35 years.[/p][/quote]Quite right Andy! TS :-; worcesterbloke
  • Score: 0

8:24am Thu 12 Apr 12

fairly sober says...

Concerning the play off position it will not be resolved until the corpulent lass has taken her turn on the karaoke !
Concerning the play off position it will not be resolved until the corpulent lass has taken her turn on the karaoke ! fairly sober
  • Score: 0

12:51pm Thu 12 Apr 12

toofaraway says...

The style of football has changed since Nobby's days too, the fitness levels now are much higher and i think the speed of the game is quicker too. Wonder how his team would rate today??? #

I follow City home and away but I don't think that even if we make the play off's we will win them or are ready for the Conference yet. However, Carl and Matt have put together a good side, but more important to me is that we keep the nucleus of this side together and then they make the small improvements that will be needed to finish the job next year.
The likes of Lee Smith and DCB will make way for the equivalents of the Weir, Deeney and Mills of this world and hopefully we can be the Hyde and Nuneaton of 2012/13 season.
The style of football has changed since Nobby's days too, the fitness levels now are much higher and i think the speed of the game is quicker too. Wonder how his team would rate today??? # I follow City home and away but I don't think that even if we make the play off's we will win them or are ready for the Conference yet. However, Carl and Matt have put together a good side, but more important to me is that we keep the nucleus of this side together and then they make the small improvements that will be needed to finish the job next year. The likes of Lee Smith and DCB will make way for the equivalents of the Weir, Deeney and Mills of this world and hopefully we can be the Hyde and Nuneaton of 2012/13 season. toofaraway
  • Score: 0

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