Simon Clark – Vauxhall Motors 3-2 Gloucester City
A late, heartbreaking free-kick from Karl Clair condemned Gloucester City to a demoralising defeat away to Vauxhall Motors, and pushed them to the bottom of the Skrill North table.
Chances kept passing by as City bossed the second half at Rivacre Park, but as Clair’s sumptuous shot nestled into the back of Mike Green’s net, City’s relegation threatened campaign became all too real.
Darren Edwards and Darren Mullings had levelled the game after a frenetic 16-minute first-half spell produced four goals, cancelling out Stephen Tames and Louis Barnes’ goals for the hosts, although Vauxhall could bemoan two attempts off the woodwork too.
Loan signing’s Conor Waldon and Kyrtis MacKenzie, as well as Mullings and Jack Harris all had decent attempts in a promising second period display from Dave Mehew’s men, only for Clair’s late body blow to knock the Tigers for the count.
It had started with the Tigers warming up a bitterly cold afternoon as Waldon forced a smart save from Zac Jones after 43 seconds.
Lloyd Ellams saw his strong effort smash off the woodwork minutes later as Vauxhall looked for an opener.
The breakthrough was made soon after as Matt Kosylo breezed down the left side of the Tigers backline, cut back to Tames who calmly caressed past Green to break the deadlock.
Ellams, who was enjoying a lot of freedom in the early goings, saw a second attempt smash off the woodwork after a delicious effort from outside of the box.
With City riding their luck, they strided forward and a searching ball found Edwards who nonchalantly tucked home for an equaliser.
Immediately after the restart, Tames played in Barnes who shot fiercely past Green into the bottom corner for re-established their advantage.
The crazy ebb-and-flow continued three minutes later as Mullings unleashed a sublime half-volley past the hapless Jones for a fourth strike in the game.
The game was all to play for as the second period began in earnest, loanee MacKenzie registering the first shot with a dipping effort just sailing over the Vauxhall crossbar.
The Tigers ramped up the pressure as Mullings struck a true shot a foot wide of Jones’ goal as neat interplay from Jordan Goddard and Matt Groves.
City kept on coming as Waldon was immensely unlucky as a dodgy bounce of the ball saw the Swindon Town youth star miss-hit in the six-yard box.
Although City were dominating possession and having the better opportunities, Vauxhall had two superb efforts saved by Green as Clair and Barnes were denied by the City goalkeeper in quick succession.
The Tigers continued their assault with Harris shooting from distance followed by a flying Mullings header that was saved well by Jones after Groves had knocked in a perfect cross.
With City on top, Vauxhall pushed forward and Ellams was felled on the edge of the Tigers penalty area; and as the theme seems to be going recently, Clair produced a stunning late free kick.
Mehew pushed on Scott Wilson, Matt Liddiard and Will Morford in vain, but time had run out for the Tigers.
Vauxhall Motors: Z. Jones, D. Fearnehough, L. Barnes, T. Hannigan, A. Nicholas, C. Noone, T. Rutter, K. Clair, S. Tames, L. Ellams, M. Kosylo
Subs not used: A. Stott, A. Hughes, K. Noon, S. Wainwright, C. Ellison
Goals: Tames 13, Barnes 26, Clair 86
Gloucester City: M. Green, M. Green, K. MacKenzie, M. Coupe, J. Harris, T. Webb (Liddiard 86), J. Goddard, D. Mullings, D. Edwards (Wilson 86), C. Waldon (Morford 86), M. Groves
Subs not used: J. Parker, D. Haile
Goals: Edwards 25, Mullings 29