Hopes and Expectations
Pre-season Friendlies


The recent annual meeting of the Nationwide Conference discussed many and varied points. Among items agreed upon were as follows:-

* The format for the Conference's League Cup competition in 2004-05 will be finalised by 12 August. * From this season, players sent off in games will be
banned from the next game.
* Clubs will now be able to play up to two long-term and two short-term loan players at a time. Short-term is defined as up to three months.
* Sponsorship for the Conference includes £1.9 million from the Nationwide over three years and a minimum of El million from Sky TV over three years.
* A web site has been set up at www.conferencefootball.tv to relay Conference match action.
* The Conference will operate a press service and will employ someone for this purpose on a part-time basis.
* The BBC will pay for radio broadcasts of/from some Conference games.
* Umbro will be sponsoring the balls used in Conference matches.
* Kia Cars are providing all Conference National clubs with a car; in Conference North and South. clubs can obtain a Kia car at preferential rates.
* A national licence scheme will be introduced for photographers at Conference games.
* A new "Sports Interactive Conference Managers' Game" will be marketed. This computer game will include all Conference teams, including the North and South divisions, so you will be able to "manage" your club and guide them to the lofty heights of the English game. Each club will have 100 sets of the game to sell; it is likely to cost something less than £34.99.
* A "fixtures card" will be produced by the Conference, in conjunction with the Non-League Paper. This will list all Conference fixtures for all clubs rather than just the fixtures of each club individually. It is hoped that the cards will be distributed at the turnstiles of all grounds at the start of the season.


Tuesday 13th July 2004

Millbrook I Exeter City 9

City manager Eamonn Dolan unveiled a string of trialists, but it was his current crop who provided the ammunition in a nine goal demolition job. Sean Canham earned the plaudits with a four goal haul, while Les Afful and Steve Flack both bagged braces and former Yeovil Town striker Jake Edwards also got on the score sheet. Ex-Plymouth Argyle utility player Wayne O'Sullivan hammered home his claims for a permanent deal with an impressive display down the right hand side and current Pilgrims defender Gary Sawyer, who is seeking a year's loan, looked assured at the heart of the City defence. Meanwhile, French strikers Youssef Kante and Moussa Diabate showed flashes of brilliance and the midfield duo of Thomas Bonner and Adam Faux gave glimpses of what they can do in the engine room. And Edwards did enough to warrant another stab at clinching a contract.The Grecians ruthlessly dismantled the South Western League side with an explosive display of finishing. Canham's opener came before most had time to draw breath. In fact there was just one minute and 40 seconds on the watch when the impressive Glenn Cronin fed the 19-year-old whose first time shot squeezed beneath the despairing lunge of shell shocked Millbrook keeper Jason Chapman, whose first contribution was to pick the ball out of the net. Edwards came within a whisker of doubling the advantage straight from the re-start only to be foiled by Chapman. But the reprieve was short lived as O'Sullivan whipped over at sumptuous cross, Santos Gaia headed down and Canham caught the Millbrook defence napping, powering into the box and slotting home.A sublime piece of skill saw Sheldon flight an exquisite lob that crashed back off the crossbar before Canham duly completed his hat-trick with a decisive penalty after Kante was sent sprawling in the box Canham racked up another strike, this time from close range thanks to Edwards' inviting low cross. The provider then turned goalscorer with Edwards despatching an audacious looping header that ballooned over Chapman on the stroke of half-time to put the gloss on thoroughly convincing first half display.

Dolan rang the changes at the break, introducing Bonner, Faux and Moussa plus Scott Hiley, Martin Rice, Flack and Afful. And for all the flair and creativity of the French duo it was Flack who lit up the Cornish coast with a stunning volley from Kante's corner before Afful made it 7-0 with a cool finish. The hosts were rewarded for all their toil as Ryan Honey netted from the spot after Bonner was penalised for pulling down Anthony Westgarth, but late strikes from Flack and Afful completed the comprehensive rout.City boss Eamonn Dolan said: "I have been generally impressed with just about everything I have seen since we have returned to training. I thought all the trialists did very well and each and every player is buzzing already. There is a real hunger in the team and I was pleased with the performance."

Thursday 15th July 2004

Chippenham Town I Exeter City 4

City embraced the FIFA U-turn over the number of substitutes allowed to play in pre-season matches by using 23 players. They maintained their impressive start to pre-season with a comprehensive win. The team was given a complete facelift at half-time, allowing Eamonn Dolan to continue his policy of experimentation.

After Chippenham had a "goal" ruled out for a marginal offside after 15 minutes, captain Glenn Cronin got the opener on 20 minutes with a clinical finish following some great link up play from Alex Jeannin and Youssef Kante down the left. Then, after Dolan had rung the changes at the interval, Barry McConnell headed home a Gareth Sheldon cross to double the advantage. A stunning free kick from Sheldon made it 3-0 before the hosts hit back through Wayne Thorne who exploited defensive uncertainty to score direct from a free kick However, City's  French trialist Moussa Diabate crushed any hopes of an unlikely comeback by scoring from a breakaway 10 minutes from time. "It was a thoroughly competent and professional performance, said Dolan. Once again the players have represented the club well and I am delighted with their mentality. It was another positive night for us."


Paul F



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