Monday, March 13, 2006

WORCESTER City face an uphill battle to reach the Nationwide North's play-offs after crashing to their first home league defeat in five months.

Late goals from Dave Morrison and Phil Trainer secured Moor Green's victory in a poor Midlands derby at St George's Lane.

City would have snatched sixth position with back-to-back wins, but instead it is the plucky Moors who find themselves just three points behind Droylsden and possessing a more realistic chance of a play-off place.

Aside from the FA Cup defeat to Huddersfield, City were last beaten on home soil by Nuneaton Borough on October 17.

Their recent form at headquarters, however, is becoming a cause for concern, having gained just two points from nine and previously held by struggling sides Redditch and Vauxhall Motors.

"It's disappointing because we had 80 per cent of the game," admitted City player-manager Andy Preece. "We didn't create many great chances, but we had some good opportunites.

"We weren't clinical to finish the game off. We got mugged at the end and that was frustrating.

"The lads tried their hardest but it's difficult at home. We felt a point was no good to us, so we tried to change things to win.

"It's a blow for us, but at least we are still talking about the play-offs. Not long ago, we were talking about relegation."

Preece was forced into one change from the side that beat Barrow, with Leon Kelly replacing ill Adam Webster to partner Mark Danks in attack.

Despite the game's importance, there was precious little spark or urgency, particularly in a dreadful first-half that seemed more like a training ground session.

It was safety-first football as both sides felt reluctant to take a risky option or show adventure. It took 21 minutes to register a shot, Trainer blazing hopelessly over.

Out of nowhere, the home crowd celebrated Leon Kelly heading into Moors' net, but it was ruled out with Danks ruled off-side.

Hopes that the contest would explode into life in the second-half never materialised, although City suffered another disallowed goal, this time Chris Smith having an effort chalked off.

City switched to a 4-3-3 formation, but it was Moors that found gaps to score twice late on.

On 83 minutes, Chris Nurse sped clear of City's defence and teed up Morrison for an easy close range finish. Then in a three-on-two counter-attack, ex-Worcester stri-ker Darren Middleton thrashed a 20-yard drive against the bar and Trainer buried the rebound.

City's anguish was compounded when the crossbar denied Justin Thompson a consolation.

Worcester: McDonnell, Warner, Burley, Smith, Thompson, Lyttle (Preece 65), Clegg (Hines 75), Colley, Danks, Kelly, Warmer. Subs (not used): Hodnett, Walker, Khan.

Attendance: 969.