Careless City crash out to lower-division United
As Oscar Wilde's Lady Bracknell might have said, 'To lose one cup match against a lower-league side may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness'.
Just like earlier in the season, when City threw away valuable prize money and the opportunity to progress in the FA Cup in losing to lowly Gosport, they repeated the trick at Chesham United on Saturday.
The chance to bank £5,000 and progress in the FA Trophy – a potentially winnable competition despite City's dismal record in it – were squandered with consummate ease at The Meadow.
Indeed, so woeful was City's performance that frankly the good Lady could probably have been usefully deployed as a centre-half. At least withering scorn might have been a more effective weapon than anything the City midfield and back-line had to offer.
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Post-match, the coaching staff and players alike were agreed on one thing – the poverty of their side's performance.
"Our managers are fed up and rightly so," said midfielder Chris Allen.
"This was a bad result and a bad performance. The way we started the game was poor. We gave away two very poor goals and it was backs to the wall from then on. We were just not good enough all round.
"We did have spells when we did okay but we never really threatened their goal enough and we looked as if we lacked belief and confidence. Even after we scored they ran the clock down and did the ugly things well but, from our point of view, it was a very poor day."
Despite being played in conditions that would have had Noah reaching for his carpentry set, the pitch was, as Chesham amply demonstrated, still one on which you could play football.
While City dithered and slithered in the opening stages, their opponents three times went within a whisker of scoring.
Chris Watters saw a header sail narrowly wide, Simon Thomas brought out a great diving save from keeper Jason Mellor and the impressive Watford loanee Matt Bevans had a shot that Mellor managed to touch onto his crossbar and behind for a corner.
City briefly flickered to life with an Allen shot and an attempt from new Exeter loan signing Tom Nichols but it was no more than a moment of calm before the storm.
Within the space of seven minutes Chesham scored two goals and, despite City pulling one back towards the end, they never really looked like getting back into contention.
United's first goal came on 18 minutes when Watters raced past Danny Ball on the right before producing a low shot which bounced in front of Mellor before settling in the corner of the net.
The hosts' second saw Josh Low left for dead on the other side of the pitch before a penetrative cross found Thomas, who easily slotted home.
From then on City huffed and puffed but never looked like getting back into the game until they made two substitutions in rapid succession, with Kerry Morgan and then Charlie Griffin entering the fray.
Morgan started like an angry Jack Russell released from a cage, earning a yellow card more for over-exuberance in the tackle than downright malicious intent.
With just over 15 minutes to go a Griffin shot was deflected out to Morgan, who made no mistake with a thundering low drive. Just minutes later, Nichols hit an upright from a corner.
Would this signal an unlikely, and possibly undeserved, comeback? Sadly for the bedraggled City fans it was only a flicker of life.
Chesham rapidly and skilfully re-seized control, having chances themselves in the closing stages and, through pressing up on the City defence, giving their opponents few opportunities to get forward.