Super subs Neil Mustoe and Adam Mann helped Gloucester City fight back from two goals down in the Tigers’ final home game of the season against promotion chasing AFC Telford.
The Bucks were made to pay with two fine goals after taking a bizarre lead early on in the first half.
After fielding a young side against Stalybridge Celtic, Tigers boss Dave Mehew brought back his experienced players to face AFC Telford United.
Back to the favoured 4-4-2 City felt the pressure from the Bucks from the off. Matt Rose gave away a free kick on the edge of the box on 9 minutes, fouling Andy Brown and Brown almost put the visitors ahead a minute later with a thunderous shot which beat the City wall, but hit the post.
Carl Rodgers should’ve done better on 18 minutes, beating Matt Coupe but firing the ball over the bar into the Telford travelling supporters.
Coupe, voted this year’s Supporters’ Player of the Season, was unlucky to concede an own goal on 21 minutes, a miscommunication in the City box saw him nod the ball past Sawyer as the Telford players appealed for an earlier handball against Parrinello and the City players stopped still after confusing a whistle in the crowd for referee Neil Radford.
A goal up Telford turned up the pressure, with Phil Trainer and Greg Mills containing Gloucester’s midfield. City’s nearest effort, a shot from Symons on 26 minutes was easily blocked by Will Salmon as the home side struggled with the onslaught of Telford attacks.
Mills shot over the bar on 29 minutes after a fine run into the box by Adam Proudfoot, and minutes later Carl Rodgers’ shot was saved a close range by Sawyer before Mills’ effort from the rebound was blocked.
Sawyer was forced into a low dive to save from Trainer on 35 minutes, before blocking another effort from Mills on 41 minutes.
After the break Telford pushed on and Gloucester looked out of the game on 64 minutes when Sean Newton fired in a free kick from the right of the box with a tight angled shot. But at two goals down City stepped up a gear and fought back.
The introduction of Neil Mustoe for Sam Malsom and teenager Adam Mann for Mike Symons marked a turning point in the game. It was the experienced player-coach Mustoe who took the City corner on 69 minutes, cleared out the box by a Telford was caught on the volley by Mann 35 yards out, his rocket shot hitting the back of the net, easily beating Ryan Young in the Telford goal.
With renewed energy Gloucester pushed forward and on 77 minutes Morford drew level with a fine finish, flicking home the ball after neat passing from Mann, Mustoe and Edwards.
Mullings had a shot saved on 82 minutes as City continued to challenge Telford. Bucks sub Yannick Salem had a shot saved on 89 minutes, with his first touch of the game being a weak effort which hardly tested Sawyer.
Sawyer tapped another effort out for a corner deep into stoppage time as City sealed their first season at Whaddon Road in style.
Gloucester City: K Sawyer, T Weir, T Parrinello YC, M Coupe, M Rose, W Morford, D Mullings, T Webb, D Edwards, M Symons (A Mann 65), S Malsom (N Mustoe 55). Subs: A Mann, M Tambling, D Mehew
AFC Telford Utd: R Young, W Salmon, S Newton, C Rodgers, L Murray, S Killock, G Mills YC (S Gwynne 81), P Trainer, A Proudlock, A Brown 9Y Salem 89), J Adams YC (D Williams 81). Subs: S Whitehead, D East
Gloucester City: 2 (Mann 69, Morford 77)
AFC Telford United: 2 (Coupe OG 21, Newton 64)
Referee: N Radford (Worcester)
MoM: Kev Sawyer