MATCH REPORTS 1997/98
Goals: MC: Rösler (16), Wiekens (56). P: Aloisi (5), Hall (80)
Line up: Margetson, Brightwell, Symons, Beesley (Summerbee), Vaughan, Brannan, Wiekens, Kinkladze, Horlock, Rösler (Dickov), Bradbury
Report by: Sam Al-Hamdani
Heading down the motorway, Oasis playing, and with the temperatures steadily rising into the eighties. What better way to start the season? On arrival in Manchester there were plenty of the new Kappa kits to be seen around town, and on arrival at the ground there was almost nothing but Kappa kits to be seen. My nerves, already having been jangling for a week, were steadily fraying further and further. Before the game the Gallagher's came out on to the pitch adn drew adulation from the crowd. Then to a huge cheer out came the two teams, Portsmouth in a lovely new yellow number and City in their new kits, and it is a vast improvement on the old pale Umbro kit.
City lined up with a flat back four, and without Nicky Summerbee, who was on the bench with David Morley, and Paul Dickov. The team lined up as follows:
Margetson Brightwell Symons Beesley Vaughan Wiekens Brannan Horlock Kinkladze Rösler Bradbury
First we had to wait as the teams changed ends, and then amidst a great roar the season began as Portsmouth kicked off. Little pattern had emerged in the early moments when a huge hoof over the City defence caused trouble. Svensson had misjudged the path of the ball, leaving Symons on his own underneath it. Unfortunately, the height of the ball gave Svensson time to readjust meaning that he was moving when he attacked the ball, whereas Kit was static. The ball came loose and fortunately for Portsmouth fell to their new signing Aloisi, who thumped the ball home past Margetson.
Early season optimism was dampened but there was still enough there to encourage the crowd to get behind City more. Gradually they got back into the game more and more. Portsmouth though nearly silenced the crowd for good when Brightwell and Symons left the ball to each other allowing Aloisi to run through unchallenged. His shot though was not great, not getting enough height on the ball as Margetson came out to challenge and Martyn pushed it just round the post.
City's best move of the half, and probably of the match led to their equaliser, neat passing and one-two's between Brannan and Kinkladze, then Brannan and Rösler allowed the midfielder to get clear on the left side of the Portsmouth defence and slide in a low cross to the near post which Rösler thumped past Alan Knight in the Pompey goal.
However this move was untypical of City's first half performance. Both Brannan and Horlock, especially the latter were uninfluential in midfield, leaving Wiekens to do much of the work on his own in the middle of the park. Both full-backs failed to provide adequate cover, both in defence and attack, and the overall result was that the team would pass the ball along the back line a couple of times and then punt the ball forward for one of the strikers to chase. The midfield was largely uninvolved in any positive action, and gave the front two little chance to prdouce any meaningful action. Indeed Prtsmouth also managed to hit the crossbar in a first-half where they would probably have been unhappy to come in level.
The second half saw the introduction of Summerbee for Beesley, and the team moving to a back three:
Margetson Brightwell Symons Vaughan Summerbee Brannan Wiekens Horlock Kinkladze Rösler Bradbury
This immediately improved matters, both Brightwell and Vaughan looking happier than as full backs, both Brannan and Horlock contributing more, and with some genuine width from Summerbee. However the paked Portsmouth defence still proved difficult to break down, and it was unsurprising that the goal came from a set piece rather than from open play. Summerbee floated in a free kick from the right which was headed across goal to where Wiekens was at hand to prod the ball home, and to be extremely excited about it. City generally bossed the game for a good while and generally looked more likely to score, Horlock crossing right across the face of the goal without anyone getting a touch and Vaughan carrying the ball the length of the park and whistling a shot past the post.
Gradually though the temperature told on both sides (around the 100 mark apparently) and both sides ran out of steam, especially Horlock who was dead on his feet as left wing-back. It was unsurprising that there was a goal as it was pretty much pot-luck, with both teams too tired to really have control of the game. Portsmouth had a penalty appeal turned down as Hall raced into the area, (I wouldn't say it was definitely a penalty, but I've certainly seen them given), and then a spell of pressure paid off as Paul Hall thumped home shortly after hitting the post.
At the start of play I would have been happy with a draw, but not really with the way that it happened, City showing both enough to suggest that they could do a lot better, but showing enough frailty at the back to suggest that they could do a lot worse.
Of the new players Wiekens looked the best on the day, working hard in midfield, particularly in the first half when he was on his own. Vaughan didn't look great as a left-back as is probably suggested by Frank Clark's post match comments that he was going to try and sign Van Blerk (the Australian left-back) but looked comfortable enough at centre back to suggest that he could have a future there. Bradbury didn't really have enough to do for us to see what he is like, so judgement shall be suspended until he is tested more. Man of the match was probably Wiekens for us, although Uwe looked sharp up front and worked very hard with only scraps from midfield, also taking his goal very well.
Final score 2-2.
Goals: B: Preece (73)
Line up: Margetson, Brannan, Brightwell, Kernaghan, Vaughan, Summerbee, Wiekens, Kinkladze, Horlock, Rösler, Bradbury
Report by: Paul Howarth
The line-up was as follows:
Margetson Brannan Brightwell Kernaghan Vaughan Summerbee Wiekens Kinkladze Horlock Rösler Bradbury
A clueless display by City, reminiscent of the bad old days of last season. City put out a near full-strength side who appeared to be under orders to play one-touch football, i.e. a hefty boot upfield without looking in most cases. It took about 20 minutes before the 2,100 exasperated Blues saw their side play more than a few passes on the ground in succession. This wasn't enough to make much of an impression on the Blackpool defence though; the home side closed City down well and that seemed to be enough. At the other end, Summerbee cleared one effort off the line and a couple of other chances went narrowly wide. The highlight of the game came at half time when a young City fan ran on the pitch with a beach ball and "scored" in front of us all.
There was a slight improvement at the start of the second half as City showed a bit more passion and commitment. An early chance came when the ball was pulled back from the left flank but Rösler scooped his shot over the bar from the edge of the area. In fact, City didn't really trouble the Blackpool 'keeper once during the whole game, other than giving him a bit of catching practice with some crosses. The tangerines seemed to be winning far more than their fair share of 50-50 tackles and City's supposedly more talented midfield was unable to impose itself on the game. Our passing was atrocious, Bradbury, who spent most of the game wide on the left, looked very ordinary as did most of the side. Margetson made a couple of good saves in one-on-one situations but after another one of these in the 73rd minute, the loose ball found its way to ex-Stockport striker Andy Preece who made no mistake. City pressed forward then as they should have done for the whole game but still didn't test the Blackpool 'keeper. Wiekens went close with a dipping volley but that was about all. Overall, a pretty poor performance by just about the whole side, except maybe Rösler who worked hard and got into some good positions. He was also the only one to acknowledge the visiting fans at the end. At least there's still the second leg to come, but let's not forget Lincoln last season...
Goals: MC: Kinkladze (75 pen). S: Quinn (17), Phillips (82), Clark (90)
Line up: Margetson, Brightwell, Kernaghan, Symons, Vaughan, Brannan (Summerbee), Wiekens, Kinkladze, Horlock, Rösler (Van Blerk), Bradbury
Report by: Paul Howarth
A near-capacity crowd of 38,827 witnessed the first ever league game at Sunderland's excellent new Stadium of Light, against our boys in blue. The ground is very similar to the Swamp actually, with the stands on all four sides joining up neatly and with an extra tier at one of the sides. If the extra tier was continued around the other three sides (which is an option left open by the design), the capacity would rise to 63,000. As with Derby's first game at their new stadium earlier in the week, there were teething troubles - the kick-off had to be delayed until 8:00pm to allow all of the fans to get in. When the game did eventually get started, there was a tremendous atmosphere, both sets of fans making lots of noise. It was nice to see Niall Quinn get such a good reception from the City fans too - nice to see him acknowledge us as well. Pity he went on to score against us - he never managed to score against previous club Arsenal when he was playing for us!
With Kit Symons back from injury, City lined up as follows:
Margetson Brightwell Kernaghan Symons Vaughan Brannan Wiekens Kinkladze Horlock Bradbury Rösler
The game started off quite evenly but as usual, City's defence looked rather shaky. Alan Kernaghan became the first player to be booked at the new ground (somewhat harshly) for a late tackle on Kevin Phillips. After just over a quarter of an hour, disaster struck. Kernaghan and Vaughan tried to play their way out of danger, and when pressed by one of the home players, Vaughan made the schoolboy error of knocking a pass across his own penalty area. It was nowhere near either Symons or Margetson, though both tried vainly to reach the ball before the alert Quinn, who poked the ball just inside the post to give the home side the lead and make a bit of history for himself. Eight minutes later it got worse. A ball along the touchline appeared to have gone out of play but the linesman didn't signal anything so Phillips and Kernaghan converged on it; Phillips got there first and just managed to knock the ball on before Kernaghan's attempted sliding tackle took his legs away. Another booking for Big Al, who thus became the first player to be sent off at the new ground, the first (and probably the last) dismissal of his City career.
City battled on but were in danger of being overrun at the back, so Uwe was replaced by Aussie left back Jason Van Blerk (making his début), leaving Lee Bradbury up front on his own. City's lone striker struggled to make an impact on his own, with little service apart from a few of Gio's dazzling runs. City's cause wasn't helped by Margetson's irksome refusal to throw the ball out, preferring instead to boot the ball into the Sunderland half where Bradbury, hopelessly outnumbered, invariably conceded the ball straight back to Sunderland. City's young 'keeper did make amends though when he produced two stunning saves just before half time, keeping City in the game. Sunderland used their extra man well, passing the ball around and making the City players work very hard. Difficult to believe this was a Peter Reid side!
The second half started out as very much a backs-to-the-wall effort to keep the score down. Margetson made several more excellent saves to deny ex-Macclesfield star Chris Byrne and Kevin Phillips. As the half progressed, it seemed there was a chance that we could still salvage something from the game. Gio was in top form for the first time this season after his summer of body-building and he came close to equalising when a struck a free kick against the outside of the post from 20 yards, with goalkeeper Perez well beaten.
City's attacking options were still very limited though until Nicky Summerbee came on in place of Ged Brannan in the 73rd minute. This gave City some much-needed width, though strangely it was Gio on the right and Buzzer on the left. However, the change paid off almost immediately when Gio dribbled into the Sunderland area and fell under a challenge from Kevin Ball. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Gio got up and knocked the ball hard, low and just inside Perez' left hand post. This was a cue for wild celebrations from the Blues behind the goal, and there was nearly more to follow when a lovely chipped pass from Gio put Summerbee through, and his shot hit Perez (who probably knew little about it).
Just as we thought we might actually win the game, we were brought back to earth with a bump. Quinn headed back a Michael Gray free kick and Phillips was on hand to finally beat the outstanding Margetson. The ten men were tired and tried to come back again but it was no good, and in injury time Lee Clark was set up by Byrne to make it 3-1 from the edge of the area.
After the game, as the fans filed out of the stadium and mingled in the parking areas, there was much shaking of hands and well-wishing for the rest of the season between the two sets of supporters. So I guess it's not *that* similar to Old Trafford after all!
After conceding the bad early goal and the sending off of Alan Kernaghan, the points seemed lost but City showed good character to stay in the game until the last few minutes. There were outstanding performances from Margetson and Kinkladze and let's face it, Sunderland are likely to be there or thereabouts at the end of the season so this isn't too unexpected a result. Frank Clark made a point of praising the players: "I was proud of the way they played in the second half. It's always difficult for ten men to play against eleven and I thought we were unfortunate not to sneak something out of the game. People accused us of lacking the passion and commitment in the Coca-Cola Cup at Blackpool in midweek, but that is garbage. We didn't pass the ball well enough against Blackpool and Portsmouth last Saturday, but we showed tonight what we can do if we pass the ball."
Goals: MC: Horlock (46). T: L.Jones (61)
Line up: Margetson, Brightwell, Beesley, Symons, Vaughan, Brannan, Wiekens, Kinkladze, Horlock, Rösler (Summerbee), Bradbury
Report by: Steve Garthwaite
It's difficult trying to control the disappointment and depression after only getting a point from a game we really should have won, but we've really got to support Frank Clark, and not get on the players' backs. Having said that, there were a lot of really disappointing things about the game.
We started really well - every player looked up for it - but it only lasted 10 minutes. After that, the confidence seemed to go - I think the players feel too pressurised from the fans, something that's been going on at City for years. All the players looked nervous for the rest of the first half. Having said that, Kinkladze looked good, although for the first time since seeing him, I felt he tried to do too much on a number of occasions. He could have passed the ball a few times, but instead he tried to take on the whole team and lost it. At times I wonder if he really is too good for us at the moment, and if the others would play better if they were relieved of the pressures of playing with him. It would be depressing to see him go, but if we did better as a team without him, fair enough.
The second half started brilliantly, with a spectacular goal from Horlock. He'd been quiet in the first half, but after his goal, for about 20 minutes, he came alive. I think he could be a really good player, if he plays in the centre, like tonight, instead of left wing back. City controlled the game for about 15 minutes after his goal, and it was in this period, and looking back at the first half, that I realised that we had made an exceptional purchase in the summer - a player who can at last equal and play alongside Kinkladze - the best player we've got, in fact, apart from Gio - Gerard Wiekens. He looked totally composed on the ball, stroking it around like Gio does, and not like the other clubfoots in the team. He was cool under pressure, like Curle used to be, but with better distribution than he ever managed. I really liked the position he played in too - just in front of the defence, like Reid or McMahon at their best? I think he'll be a real hero.
Margetson had a very good game - making several excellent stops. His distribution was occasionally awful - I just wish we had a keeper who could set up attacks like Rudolph does with his throw-outs at the Swamp. I've always thought Brightwell's appearance on the team list signalled we weren't good enough - he should only ever have been a really useful sub or squad member - the fact that he plays under every City manager indicates to me how poor we've been over the last few seasons. He made a few good contributions in the first half, but in the second, when he came forward, he was hopelessly lacking in the ability to cross the ball. One excellent City attack fell apart when he had an easy cross to make, but hit it straight against their defender.
Kit Symons and Paul Beesley at centre backs looked woeful throughout the game - this has to be the area most in need of improvement. Their distribution is awful, as many fans have said before, but also lacking is their heading, their interceptions and their tackling. They both look very slow, and it was this lack of pace which allowed Beesley to be turned inside out for their goal. FC has really got to get the centre of defence sorted out. I think he's the best manager we could ever have hoped for, and judging by his comments after the game on Sky, he knows exactly where the problems lie - he said it was a very poor goal to give away.
As for Vaughan, I'll reserve judgement - he looks really keen going forward, but his stature and lack of pace (?) suggests he's more of a centre back than a left back.
Brannan in midfield looked good on occasions, though I really haven't seen enough of him. He's had good reports on these pages, so hopefully he'll be a good 'un.
Up front I was disappointed. Rösler and Bradbury look too similar to be in the same team. They are both very British looking, old fashioned centre forwards - full of hustle and bustle and strength, but both relying on good crosses. As City played without any winger, I can't see how they can both be in the team. Much as I like Rösler's seemingly whole-hearted displays for City, I can't help feeling that he misses too many sitters. His chance to seal the game up from 5 yards, with an easy chance set up by Bradbury, sums him up. If he'd scored the chances made for him last season, we'd at least have been in the play-offs. A good striker, like Bull at Wolves, has one chance and scores one goal. Rösler misses more than he scores. I would like to have seen Bradbury on his own, with Kinky alongside/behind him, and Summerbee on the wing. The only good teams I've seen at City, in 25 years of watching them, have had at least one winger. To start the game without one, as we did tonight, is for me like England cricket team playing without a spinner - it just isn't right. Summerbee is the best we've got at the moment, so I'd play him - I hope this Scully is good, but I can't understand why Beagrie has gone.
Disappointed though I am, I feel that we've got to get behind Frank Clark. The players looked nervous tonight, but a few good wins and the confidence will increase and who knows what might happen then... Frank Clark is the man who will sort us out - the fans have got to do their bit by supporting and not getting on the players' backs. I think City will really turn it on away from the demands of the home fans - and as I've got my ticket for Charlton sitting in front of me, I hope it's this Saturday.
Don't panic, support them all you can, and Frank will sort it all out.......
Agg: 1-1. Blackpool win 4-2 on penalty shoot-outAttendance: 12,563
Goals: MC: Horlock (88)
Line up: Margetson, Summerbee, Brightwell, Symons, Vaughan, Brannan (McGoldrick), Wiekens, Kinkladze (Van Blerk), Horlock, Rösler (Dickov), Bradbury
Report by: SoccerNet
Kevin Horlock turned swiftly from hero to villain as Manchester City crashed out of the Coca-Cola Cup in a dramatic shoot-out at Maine Road.
City were within two minutes of going out in normal time when Horlock threw them a lifeline with the goal that sent the match into extra-time.
But when it came to the dramatic penalty finale, he was one of the two City men to miss. The other was Ł3 million record buy Lee Bradbury.
This defeat by Second Division Blackpool is another cup humiliation for City to rank with those at the hands of Halifax, Shrewsbury and Lincoln in recent seasons.
Blackpool kept their nerve in the nail-biting spot-kick finish. Horlock had his kick saved to leave City trailing 3-2 and, although Tony Butler shot wildly over for Blackpool, Bradbury also fired high and wide. Then up stepped Michael Mellon to crack in the penalty that provoked crazy celebrations among the Blackpool players and their 2,000-strong band of fans.
Proud Blackpool boss Nigel Worthington claimed he could not have cared less about the shoot-out, saying: 'Once the lads had given everything in the 120 minutes I couldn't have asked for more and I wasn't really bothered who won on penalties. City looked the livelier team in extra-time but we stood up to them - we battled. We never even thought about penalties before the game. We just sorted it out on the pitch. Six or seven lads went forward and we picked five to take them. When City scored late on it looked bad but these lads I have are honest and I felt we got the right result in the end.'
So yet again cup combat became a pain game for City. This was the first anniversary of the departure of Alan Ball and since then it's been a troubled trail for the club who seem to slip on a succession of banana skins.
They are still looking for a win after five games of a season which is rapidly turning sour. Manager Frank Clark had no complaints about the shoot-out. 'I honestly don't know a better way of settling cup games than by penalties,' he said.
But he was unhappy about Gary Brabin's 76th-minute tackle which led to his brilliant Georgian international Georgi Kinkladze being carried off. 'I felt it was a two-footed tackle which should not be allowed but the referee didn't even give a free-kick,' said Clark.
Blackpool fully deserved this success, having arrived with a one-goal lead and a resilient defence as upright and solid as the town's famous tower. City were jeered off at half-time and it was not until the 88th minute that they gave their fans something to cheer. Then Dutchman Gerard Wiekens crossed and Horlock, who had scored a stunning goal in Friday night's televised 1-1 draw with Tranmere, struck again. His fierce right-footed effort carried too much power for Blackpool 'keeper Steve Banks whose goal then came under real pressure for the first time in the extra half-hour.
City substitute Paul Dickov almost broke Blackpool's hearts with two crashing efforts which were denied by Banks. Another City substitute, Jason Van Blerk, headed against the bar and Bradbury, still searching for his first goal since a summer move from Portsmouth, was just inches away with a flashing header.
But Blackpool, who had dominated earlier, created plenty of anxiety for City and substitute Tony Ellis thought he had won it after 107 minutes, curling a shot just inches past the far post after a devastating run from Mellon.
However, their ecstasy was reserved for the penalty shoot-out. And their success was all the more remarkable in the knowledge that they had been savaged 4-2 at home by Wycombe at the weekend.
Poor old City were once again left as the fall guys.
Goals: MC: Wiekens (20). C: Van Blerk (68 og), Jones (70)
Line up: Margetson, Brannan, Brightwell, Symons, Van Blerk, Summerbee, McGoldrick (Scully), Wiekens, Horlock, Rösler, Bradbury
Report by: Paul Howarth
City's poor run in London continued with a 2-1 defeat at the Valley but it could all have been so different. Without the injured Gio Kinkladze, Nicky Summerbee started a League game for the first time this season and the 3,000 travelling Blues anticipated some long- awaited service for Lee Bradbury and Uwe Rösler. There were other changes too, and City lined up as follows:
Margetson Brannan Brightwell Symons Van Blerk Summerbee McGoldrick Wiekens Horlock Rösler Bradbury Subs: Dickov, Vaughan, Scully
City started the game positively, with Van Blerk and Horlock looking a good pairing down the left side, Wiekens dominating midfield and Brightwell, moved to his best position of centre back, alert and confident. With 19 minutes on the clock, a corner from Horlock was angled into the net by Wiekens, unmarked at the near post, to give City a deserved lead. The lead was nearly extended five minutes later when Bradbury chased after a Symons clearance, made up a gap of five yards on Phil Chapple with his pace and power and was one-on-one with Andy Petterson for his first clear chance of the season so far. Sadly for Bradbury, the Charlton 'keeper managed to grab the ball as he tried to go round him. However, this pace should be a clear asset to City if it can be harnessed.
The second half was a different story as a fired-up Charlton side came out and attacked City, who seemed more keen to defend the one goal advantage than to increase it. Chances came and went at the far end as efforts whizzed past Margetson's goal but it was no real surprise when the equaliser came in the 68th minute. What was a surprise was how it came: a low cross came across the face of goal from Tony Barnes and it was heading to safety when Jason Van Blerk's effort at putting it out for a corner ricocheted into the net at the far post. City had barely got over that blow when the winner went in. Keith Jones reacted quickly when the ball bobbled loose at the edge of the City area and he managed to poke the ball in at the post. It looked like a mis-kick but Margetson must have been unsighted or wrong-footed as he didn't get anywhere near keeping the soft shot out. Young winger Tony Scully replaced McGoldrick with a little over 10 minutes to go but had to wait ages before he got to touch the ball. When he did get the ball, his pace took him past a defender despite the latter's attempt at stealing Scully's fashionable Kappa shirt, but then Scully dived to try to get a free kick and the referee wisely waved play on. The Addicks could have scored again late on and overall they deserved the three points, City's second half performance meriting nothing.
My view of the players:
Margetson: don't know where he was for the second goal, but otherwise was OK. I still think he lacks presence though.
Brannan: better at right back but looks at best a squad player so far this season.
Van Blerk: good full début despite the own goal. Should retain the left back spot.
Brightwell: much, much better at centre-back and a contender for City's man of the match. Was dominant in the air and made several important interceptions through good anticipation. Tends not to give the ball away as frequently from this position too.
Symons: better than of late but he doesn't look the player he was when we first bought him.
Wiekens: Frank Clark's star buy so far. Aggressive in the tackle and has an eye for goal too, though he faded in the second half.
McGoldrick: didn't impose himself on the game in the way that he can, but was effective at stopping Charlton from playing their usual game.
Summerbee: made one Gio-like run in the second half and won us the corner from which we scored, but didn't provide the service the strikers need.
Horlock: linked well with Van Blerk, took some good corners.
Bradbury: touch was poor but showed great pace when given the chance and didn't get much service.
Rösler: worked his socks off, was alert to rebounds, chased lost causes and might have scored with an acrobatic effort in the second half. I can't believe the amount of stick Uwe has taken from some people recently, especially those who accuse him of being lazy. Still looks our most likely scorer if he got some service.
Scully: quick and tricky but looks a bit lightweight, certainly too early to tell yet though.
Final score: Charlton 2 City 1
by Svenn A. Hanssen, firstname.lastname@example.org