September 2006: CHELTENHAM 1 CITY 2 (Graham 52, Johnson 69)

IT WAS the afternoon when Dean Windass would have a ball – well, two actually.

The City striker put the squeeze on Cheltenham quite literally as Colin Todd’s side triumphed in the first ever meeting between the two clubs.

Windass grabbed more than just the headlines when he “did a Gazza” and gripped the nether regions of Cheltenham skipper John Finnigan – who was then sent off for his retaliation.

But the main man when it came to the victory was winger Jermaine Johnson.

The Jamaican turns 40 today so it seems a good time to look back on arguably the finest of his 31 appearances in a City shirt.

Johnson was only with the club for seven months before being off-loaded to Sheffield Wednesday to help cover the wage bill – the Bantams would pay the price with relegation at the end of the season.

But the exciting wide man provided some highlights during that brief period, none more so than his dazzling display at Waddon Road.

Former City full back Craig Armstrong, tasked with the job of trying to contain Johnson, had an afternoon every bit as painful as Finnigan’s.

By the end of it, those who had ventured down from West Yorkshire to Gloucestershire were dreaming of exiting the third tier upwards – not making the drop amid the rancour and recriminations that would follow.

Typically, in a game that City would dominate, they fell behind to a soft goal in the opening minutes.

Birthday boy Richard Edghill came up with the last present he would have wanted, misdirecting an attempted clearing header straight back across his own penalty area.

Kayode Odejayi accepted the gift from the right back to put the Robins in front.

Odejayi was the one threat to the visitors and would later create a big chance for substitute David Bird, who was athletically denied on the line by Nathan Doyle.

But otherwise it was Todd’s team who dictated the play and they soon racked up the chances in a dominant first half.

David Graham, on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, linked up well with Windass and saw his effort blocked on the line by Jerry Gill.

But it was Johnson causing all the problems on City’s right flank. He could have had a goal by the break as could Windass, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson and Steve Schumacher.

Then David Wetherall’s close-range header was somehow kept out by the legs of home keeper Scott Brown.

City did have the numerical advantage from the half-hour point after a set-to between Windass and Finnigan.

The pair had already clashed once, ref Clive Penton turning a blind eye, before squaring up again.

Windass looked to be the instigator with a grab below the belt and Finnigan flipped, lashing out with an elbow into the striker’s face.

Fourth official John Farries had a ringside view and after consulting with Penton, the home man was angrily on his way as the crowd howled.

After Bird’s near-miss, Cheltenham went into survival mode and packed bodies behind the ball. City had to negotiate a way through.

Windass and Graham threatened at the start of the second half and then Johnson saw a fierce drive finger-tipped round the post by Brown.

But justice was done from the corner as Mark Bower flicked on and Graham stooped unmarked to nod in from five yards.

The Scot, whose time at Valley Parade would go downhill as the season wore on, nearly had another with a first-time effort that smacked the bar and bounced beyond the incoming Windass.

Johnson was in his element and teased Armstrong again to set up Bridge-Wilkinson for a header just past the near post.

A second goal surely had to come – and the Jamaican provided it with an exhilarating solo finish.

Fed the ball by Windass just over the halfway line, Johnson raced full throttle to leave Armstrong flailing in his wake. Charging into the box, the winger cut inside before firing past Brown.

It was such a good goal that even a couple of Cheltenham directors were on their feet to reluctantly applaud its execution.

Windass could have had a third but opted to pass in front of goal instead of shoot. But fittingly it was Johnson who provided one last highlight with a late run and step-over fest that left his marker tied up on the floor in frustration.

CHELTENHAM: Brown, Gill (Elvins 73), Caines, Lowe, Armstrong, Wilson, McCann, Finnigan, Melligan (Yao 84), Guinan (Bird 34), Odejayi.

CITY: Ricketts, Edghill, Wetherall, Bower, Johnson, Doyle, Schumacher, Bridge-Wilkinson, Holmes, Graham (Colbeck 78), Windass.