Saturday, August 20, 2005

CHRIS Smith and Graham Hyde joined the St George's Lane family to help deliver clean sheets to Worcester City.

They couldn't quite manage that on Saturday -- but both summer new boys grabbed their first goals in City colours to give Andy Preece's men a crucial three points.

Defender Smith and midfield marshall Hyde fired Worcester to a two-goal interval lead before Gainsborough substitute Jon Rowan chested home to provide an anxious finale.

However close for comfort it became in the dying minutes, the final result will come as a huge relief to City supporters after a scratchy start to the Nationwide North campaign.

But the attendance for Worcester's first home Saturday fixture, a disappointing 738, is concerning after more than a thousand flocked to last Monday's draw with Hinckley United.

City thoroughly deserved their victory, but sterner tests are around the corner for Andy Preece's side.

Trinity were fairly average, offering little of the cut-and-thrust aggression that tore Worcester to pieces in the final game of last season.

Instead, it was Preece's men that looked hungrier to get that first win on the board.

And Smith, a close-season signing from Stafford Rangers, was delighted to open his City account.

"It was nice to get an early goal," admitted Smith. "Personally, it was nice to get it. I travelled down to the game with Barry Woolley and we talked about it.

"Against Kettering, he said he fancied scoring and he did. And I felt I would score against Gainsborough. Maybe we should think like that every week!

"We are joking to Leon and Webby (Adam Webster) that we are top goalscorers. We have a little bit of banter between a few of us. Hydey popped up to score as well and that was a good goal. I don't think until the last 10 minutes did Gainsborough trouble us.

"They had a lot of free-kicks, but we looked solid. Their goal knocked us back a bit because we believed it was off-side. To be honest, I don't think the linesman knew what he was doing!

"We deserved the three points. We had a lot of chances, but we should really have wrapped it up before they scored."

Smith led the way on nine minutes following Les Hines' corner.

Des Lyttle headed goalwards first before Danny Steadman cleared off the line, but Smith showed great awareness to loop the ball back over goalkeeper Jamie Holmshaw into the net.

Trinity quickly hunted down an equaliser and were not too far away.

David Reeves looked set to pounce from six yards before nimble-footed Lyttle crashed the ball clear from the striker's head.

Danny McDonnell then smothered a 20-yard rasper from Steadman.

But as the Blues pressed, the home side swooped to double their lead through skipper Hyde on 32 minutes, although there was a quizzical delay over the goal's validity.

Reeves hacked the ball skywards inside the Trinity box and, under pressure, Holmshaw punched the ball straight to Hyde.

The former Hereford United man controlled the ball and scuffed it home through a crowd of players.

But City fans faced an anxious wait as referee Carl Dunn consulted his assistant Martin Swinscoe, who raised his flag for offside, for over a minute.

It was like watching The Ashes to wait for a third umpire verdict. There was relief for Hyde as Dunn signalled: Not Out.

The second-half was just as lively. Rowan struck an upright on 68 minutes, Webster looped a shot over Holmshaw but marginally wide of goal and sub Jai Stanley missed from six yards out.

Trinity pinched their consolation on 85 minutes. Another sub, Matt Caudwell, thumped a 30-yarder which Rowan chested into the net.

Despite loud protestations from City that Rowan was off-side, the goal stood to ensure a nervy finish.

CITY: McDonnell, Warner, Hines, Smith, Woolley (Thompson 65), Lyttle, Colley, McDonald (Stanley 80), Kelly (Preece 68), Webster, Hyde. Subs not used: Jones, Warmer.