MATCH REPORTS 1998/99
Goals: MC: Goater (26), Bradbury (62), Tskhadadze (79)
Line up: Weaver, Edghill, Tskhadadze, Wiekens, Vaughan , Mason, Pollock, Horlock, Goater, Dickov (Allsopp), Bradbury (Jim Whitley)
Report by: Averil Capes
Some time in early July my wife and I sat down to decide whether or not to renew our season tickets. When logic and reasoned argument failed to achieve the required resolution we resorted to 'Scissors, Paper, Stone'. This too proved to be a deeply flawed method.
"Best of three",
The Kippax looks magnificent, a swarming mosaic of laser blue, sun-splattered with black and yellow. A familiar face grins 'hello' and then disappears behind a meat and potato pie he now wears like a grotesque false beard. Another familiar face appears to inform us that, after ten years as a season ticket holder he hopes a change of seat will bring a change of luck.
Off to the left a beach ball bobs haphazardly over the bright orange surface of a healthy contingent of Blackpool supporters and I'm beginning to feel just a little ashamed, after all it was me that 'lost' the game of Scissors, Paper, Stone. But wait, all is not lost, in about three hours or so I will be able to soothe my blistered pride in the cool breeze afforded me by the utter slagging off of yet another miserably woeful and inadequate City performance.
"Oh S**T !, S**T ! and thrice S**T!!".
The game started well enough, we looked nervous and lacking in imagination and our attack displayed the speed and penetration of a Tesco trolley. However ominous telltale signs were beginning to emerge to convince me that all was not going well.
There was an unfamiliar 'solidity' in defence and a growing 'calmness and sense of control' in midfield, and what was that little Scots pillock thinking of as he skilfully rounded the Blackpool defence and picked out Goater for our first goal, when it was obvious to the 32,000 plus crowd that he had been blatantly obstructed and the proper course of action was to hurl himself to the ground for a good whinge?.
Then we were back on more familiar territory the opposition had a period of possession (managing to hit the bar from six yards) that had me fumbling for the panic 'fast forward to full time button'. A futile gesture, there being almost an hour left to play and the absence of any such button on the cap of the bloke sitting in front of me.
Twenty-odd minutes into the second half Goater made the fatal mistake of dropping back to help the defence. He picked up the ball and found Mason who in turn, instead of whacking it in the general direction of no-one in particular, choose to play a long controlled ball to Dickov (again!!) just inside the City half. He in turn carried the ball at pace to the edge of the Blackpool penalty area and laid it off to Bradbury who, deprived of any real alternative, hit the ball into the net.
There is currently great debate across the nation concerning the number of foreign players plying their dubious trade in the English league. Their case is significantly compromised by the unpronounceable Georgian, Kakhabar Tskhadadze. Just where did this man get the idea that midfielders let alone defenders should support the attack in open play?. Did no-one show him videos of the last two years and explain that the huge gap between the City attack and the rest of the team represented the only opportunity the ground staff had to re-seed sections of the pitch during the playing season?.
Yes, we are in Division Two, Yes, it is the first game of the season and Yes I have just demolished a rather large single malt whiskey but there was something rather special for me about Saturday, apart from the team's performance, special and a little disturbing - It was us, the crowd.
City, have for several years at home put out a side in excess of twenty thousand, only a dozen or so privileged or skilled enough to make it to the green bit. However the bulk of the twenty thousand sit, watch and panic. On Saturday the team made every attempt to play as a disciplined controlled unit not the headless chicken approach that typified many of last year's performances.
But on Saturday when the ball was passed backwards or held, waiting for a better opportunity, the crowd surrounding me at least, groaned even when 2 nil up. Only when 3 nil up, with ten minutes to go, did the crowd see this retention of possession as an indicator of our superiority and cheer every touch of the ball. The crowd did also, however, visibly lift the team on Saturday and was it my imagination but it seemed to me that when the final whistle blew the team did not want to leave the pitch. It seemed as though they wanted to stay to share the joy, to make that moment and feeling last for as long as possible. City have always looked better than the opposition (at least for the last 2 years) when we chose to play football and not to be just work horses.
So let's support them when they play well and keep a rein on our nervousness and impatience when things are not going our way and there will be many such occasions in the course of a season. We've gotten used to losing and its easy and almost cosy, this must end and be reversed this season, and Saturday was the best of all possible starts.
One swallow doesn't make a summer but its the only way to start a feast. (Did I really say that ??)
Goals: MC: Tskhadadze (72), Allsopp (92)
Line up: Weaver, Edghill, Tskhadadze, Wiekens, Vaughan, Jim Whitley, Mason, Pollock, Horlock , Dickov, Bradbury (Allsopp)
Report by: Robert Berry
The first half was very forgettable. Notts County won the third div. and many "experts" had them marked for great things this season and perhaps even promotion again into the first.........I think not! My neck is hurting due to the amount of high-balls used by them. They did not really create anything of a threat, Weaver looking very composed for his age and looks a tremedous prospect. Wiekens appeared to be the only weakness in the first half and that was only due to him deciding to give the ball to the opposition in dangerous places. We didn't create a clear-cut chance although we did most of the attacking.
Second half we came out (probably after a shouting at by Big Joe) with real purpose and I can't remember them having anything of a shot. Pollock began to boss midfield and Mason got more and more into the game, Jim whitley didn't have that good a game but he improved. After about sixty minutes or so Bradbury was replaced by Allsopp and he showed some good attacking play and introduced pace to the front line (other than Dickov of course).
Well, I can't remember how we won the corner 'cos we won so many but from Horlock's outswinger in came Tskhadadze from the far post about ten yards out and the ball passed the keeper before he could move........he can really head a ball!
More and more pressure and after a sort of penalty area scramble with the ball being thumped towards the net only to rebound of a defenders boot 3 or 4 times, the ball eventually came to Pollock who lashed the ball with his right boot from around 25yds towards the keepers left-hand top corner.......the crossbar saved them that time.
In the 92nd minute a hard tackle by Horlock in the City half brought protests from Notts players, the ref having none of it played on and with half the opposition team arguing Horlock chipped an amazing ball over the County defence and into the path of Alsopp who beat off one challenge and very, very cooly passed the ball past the keeper.....it was so cool we all thought that the ref had given a foul or off-side and it was just shooting practice. Alsopp does seem to be an exciting prospect on this display. Well, we all went home happy.
Goals: F: Beardsley (21), Lehmann (33,39)
Line up: Weaver, Edghill , Tskhadadze (Allsopp (Jeff Whitley)), Wiekens, Vaughan, Jim Whitley, Mason, Pollock, Horlock, Dickov , Goater
Report by: Dave Lewis
As a contest this match ended after 12 minutes when Tskhadadze was carried off with what looked to be serious ligament damage. This was a result of heading the ball clear and being gently knocked off balance by a Fulham knee causing an awkward fall. Shortly afterwards Edghill went in clumsily with his knee high - gave away a free kick, did no damage to his opponent, got booked and was booed for the next half hour. This just about summed up the difference between the two teams City clumsy and ineffective Fulham smart and effective.
Tskhadadze was replaced by Allsopp and for the next 35 minutes City were as badly outplayed as I have ever seen them. The back three played as though Tskhadadze was still there leaving a huge gap for Lehmann in particular to exploit. The remaining City players didn't seem to know quite where they were supposed to be playing except Pollock who played everywhere with enthusiasm but perhaps not too much skill. Dickov ran about a lot and tried. Having said all that there was an element of unfairness about Fulham's first goal; Symons climbed all over Allsopp on the touchline about ten yards inside the Fulham area and the referee gave a free kick to Fulham taken just about on the halfway line. Allsopp headed the ball on to Beardsley whose shot would probably have been saved by Trautmann or Corrigan but just eluded Nicky Weaver. Next a shot from outside the area was deflected by Lehmann from about 8 yards and brought a great reaction save from Weaver only for Lehmann to pick himself up and collect the rebound whilst the City defence waited for Tskhadadze to clear. Lehmann was left to be marked by Tskhadadze from a corner and placed an unstoppable header for number three.
Joe Royle obviously explained why he'd replaced Tskhadadze with Allsopp at half time and the players now looked as if they knew where they were supposed to be playing and this coupled with Fulham not wanting to overexert themselves lead to a goal-less second half. Allsopp had a good chance to score but let the defender catch up with him and there were a couple of other chances and a near miss with a good drive from Pollock. Fulham could have scored a couple in the second half as well. Ah well; Bobby Charlton's scrapbook on Saturday featured City v Spurs in 1977 and I could watch Tueart, Barnes, Booth, Hartford and Kidd score to give a 5-0 win, so the week-end wasn't all bad!
This defeat is down to Joe Royle. How could he replace Tskhadadze with Allsop without having a formation in mind? His choice of Substitutes - Allsop, Whitely and Wright?! left him no really sensible option if one of his back four was injured.
I doubted his intelligence last season when he didn't put Kinkladze on the substitutes bench as a worry to opposing teams (imagine being able to bring him on for half an hour as Gazza walked off and Middlesborough down to ten men!). But now we see a team that falls apart when a player who until a week or so ago wasn't in the reckoning and was to be transferred. Perhaps he'll now try David Morley having just transfer listed him?
Hopefully David Bernstein has given him some targets - 18 points from 10 games is a minimum for promotion and if he doesn't get these then we might as well get a young promising manager to build a long term future. If City haven't met this target and the board don't react, then would be the time for City fans to stay away in protest just as they did against Swindon to herald in the Mercer-Allison era.
Goals: MC: Mason (6), Dickov (16,57), Bradbury (21), Goater (38,90), Jim Whitley (68). NC: Torpey (86)
Line up: Weaver, Edghill, Nick Fenton, Wiekens, Vaughan, Mason, Pollock, Horlock (Jim Whitley), Dickov (Conlon), Goater, Bradbury (Allsopp)
Report by: Dan Rigby
"Maine Road Madness"
Another surreal night at Maine Road as over 10.000 watched City annihilate a Notts County side, currently positioned above us in Division 2. A game virtually won from the first leg, played in front of a 1/3 full stadium is perhaps not the best on which to judge the Blues. However, it was good to see City bounce back after the Craven Cottage Catastrophe and builds the anticipation, and hopefuly the crowd, for Saturday's game against Wrexham.
Goater, Bradbury and Dickov played up front, with Nick Fenton making his debut as one of the 3 centre backs with Vaughan and Wiekens. City completely dominating the first half and were 4-0 by the time a full Kippax cheered them off. The goals came initially from good through balls slipped inside a horrifically slow and square County defence,- Mason and Bradbury finished calmly in one-on-ones with the keeper. Goater volleyed into the top corner following a delightful flick-on from Dickov, and Dickov himself scored following a quality foul and perfect early ball from Richard Edgehill who threatened to open up County's defence all night.
The rout continued in the second half when City interspersed long periods of simply keeping the ball in front a packed County defence with goals from Dickov and Whitley, before conceding a late header. Goater toe-poked a late goal after a penalty area scramble to allay any fears that City were going to concede 7 last minute goals and take it to the wire.
The bad news is that Horlock was substituted following a knee injury, I am not sure if it was the same knee as was previously injured but this is a worry following his good performances and the Club's recent luck with injuries. Fenton was not really tested a great deal, he did most things competently although generally refused to pass the ball anywhere except square. I suspect that we need to buy a Centre Half to cover for the loss of both Georgians, but unfortunately a bid for Monkou of Southampton has been rejected, much to his relief no doubt.
The front 3, particularly Dickov and Goater, were a real presence and threatened goals all evening until the attack was changed round with Conlon and Allsop coming on. Allsop looked lively and pacey, Barry didn't! Pollock wanted the ball all night and looks considerably fitter, Mason looked capable when he had the ball to feet but rarely made a tackle when chasing back,-personally I am not sure that he looks better than our Young Player of the Year, Michael Brown, who seems likely to be sold to Sheff Utd for Stlg.1m. Surely not.
Royle's view was "I'd rather have had 3 points at Fulham but this result was really for the fans. They may not have seen many results like this in recent years, so it was something to savour"
Final score: City 7(9) - 1(1) Notts County
Line up: Weaver, Nick Fenton, Wiekens, Vaughan, Jim Whitley, Mason, Pollock, Edghill, Dickov , Goater, Bradbury (Allsopp)
Report by: David F. Ball
We were expecting great things again from City following that excellent performance against Notts County on Wednesday. So it was meet at the local pub, pile in the taxi down to the ground, purchase tickets (GG lower again - we really must buy our tickets sooner, but two of us never know until the Wednesday if we are working or not on Saturday) then round to the Parkside for several beers.
I won't witter on too much about the match, as I'm sure there are many better suited to journalism than I, save to say that it's the 3rd time I've seen Mason and really feel he has a bright future (hopefully with convoy. The coaches streamed past to the usual exchange of V signs, waves and other gestures when, right in the middle of this convoy was the coach with the sign Man City Supporters Club, Caernarvon Branch!
After having said it was sad to drop 2 points like that it must have been far worse to have to drive down the 56 with a shed full of gloating Wrexham supporters alongside. Well done the North Wales supporters. See you at the Walsall game - work permitting
Goals: MC: Goater (94). NC: Hendon (pen 71)
Line up: Weaver, Nick Fenton, Wiekens, Vaughan , Edghill , Jim Whitley, Mason, Pollock , Jim Whitley (Bradbury), Horlock, Dickov, Goater
Report by: Sharon Bennett
This was dire. Unrelentingly so. A good turn out of Blues and a poor one of County fans saw what has to be one of the worst matches so far this season, in any division. Notts County is quite a nice ground, good view from the away end behind the goal (which we filled) and it probably would have been a good view from the other stands too if over half the seats hadn't been empty. We weren't expecting a repeat of the 7-1 but surely we couldn't lose this one.
Bradbury was again on the bench, this time with Brown and Jobson. The team lined up as
Weaver Fenton Wiekens Vaughan Jim Whitley Pollock Edghill Mason Horlock Goater Dickov
The fans were in fine voice, for once we didn't stay in the pub too long and miss the kick off, this was our chance to really get our season going and show them some class. Ahem.
The first five minutes were all County but we weren't worried, after all, they were the home team and we could just soak up the pressure and hit them straight back, right? Well... no. We did get the ball back from them with relative ease after each attack they had, then Whitley and Edghill hit it straight into touch. Every time. After a while Vaughan realised this was all they were doing so decided to clear the ball from defence himself. Straight to one of the County forwards. It took almost half an hour before we had a decent chance, when Pollock (who'd been having a nightmare but wasn't alone in that) put a lovely ball through the middle of the County defence for Goater to run on to. He couldn't have asked for a better ball, all he had to do was control it and hit it hard and the keeper wouldn't have had a chance. He fell over his own feet when trying to take his first touch then waited long enough to let the defenders get back to mark him before kicking one of the weakest goal attempts I've ever seen. Five minutes later Mason put Goater through with an even better chance. Again, all it needed was control and shoot - he dawdled around so long this time that one of the defenders just came and took it off him. Five minutes later, exactly the same. All chances to Goater, all completely fluffed. We've found our very own Andy Cole. Still, at least he was getting into positions where he had chances to score, all we needed was to bide our time and the goals would come. Right. A large proportion - although not all, never believe what the papers tell you - of the City "faithful" booed the team off at half time. Someone sitting behind us who'd been at the cup game at Meadow Lane was telling everyone who'd listen (and a few who didn't want to) that this was exactly the way that cup game had gone - terrible in the first half, bollocked by Royle at half time then much better in the second half. It's a shame this wasn't what happened on Saturday.
Anyway, the referee had obviously decided that he didn't want to see a 0-0 draw, so he invented a penalty. County had had one of their periodic "oh we aren't very good but lets run forwards" attacks and, in the ensuing City defensive panic, the ball bobbled up and hit Kevin Horlock. We couldn't see clearly from where we were as it was at the other end of the pitch, but I can well believe it hit his head, his nose, his back, anything except his hand. Wiekens and Vaughan were most put out and argued with the ref, both getting booked for their trouble. Don't know why they bothered, there's no way the ref was going to change his mind. There never is. The County no. 2 duly stepped up and scored the penalty - Weaver wasn't far away but you can't really expect him to save a well struck penalty. At last the County fans realised they were at a football match and started singing but we soon drowned them out. No contest really, there just weren't enough of them and they couldn't sing loud enough. Most of the players went back to the half way line ready for kick off, but the man with no brain decided to add an extra bit of excitement to the proceedings and went over to argue with the ref. Oh, Jamie Jamie, just because you'd been having the worst game of your life really didn't mean we wanted you to leave the field like that, we'd much rather have seen you subbed for Michael Brown. After you'd started to walk away from the ref when you'd been booked for arguing about the penalty, you really didn't have to go back for another go, I'm sure he got your point first time. It took Dickov to forcibly drag him away from the ref before he started to walk towards the tunnel. The County fans loved that - they'd been given a dodgy penalty then the ref had booked two of our players and sent another off. It couldn't be going any better for them.
Weaver made a couple of excellent saves after that, notably one when Vaughan had played a lovely cross field ball to the unmarked County centre forward. Bradbury came on for the quite awful Whitley - this boy is not a right back and I can't believe he was asked to play there - and played really well. He'd only been on the field a couple of minutes when he had the best chance of the second half, a header at the near post which somehow the keeper managed to save. Bradbury looked really up for it, running around and jumping - yes, jumping! - far more effectively than Goater had done. The minutes ticked away, County started some shocking time wasting and we just knew we weren't going to equalise. The board was held up for four minutes of time added on. City attacked and attacked but weren't ever going to score. People all around us started to drift out, we resigned ourselves to another away defeat, a terrible performance and another City let down. Four minutes of time added on had gone. Except then Goater, who obviously hadn't realised that City don't do things like this, remembered how to shoot. His first shot was only parried by the keeper, but instead of turning away in a sulk the way that Rosler always used to, he followed up his first shot and slid home the rebound. The crowd went wild. I couldn't find any words so I just screamed and screamed and screamed. Remember the Sheffield United game last year? You'd have thought that point had just won us the championship from the reaction. Some pride had been restored.
We ended up back in the Trent Navigation after the game, talking to some Notts County fans, who all seemed quite happy with their team's performance. It just shows how bad they must be the rest of the time, for they were awful. This was a game fought out by two clueless teams who looked more like relegation contenders than, in our case at least, odds on to be promoted. I was thoroughly depressed by the whole match. The only players who didn't disgrace themselves were Weaver, Fenton and Mason and, to a lesser extent although his passing was awful, Wiekens. Dickov ran around a lot but drove us all mad by diving constantly, why bother getting into good positions if you aren't going to do anything when you get there? Vaughan had the worst game I've seen him have this season. Edghill and Whitley could have been the same man. Pollock was frankly awful, how he dared to have a go at Fenton in the first half I've no idea. I know we had a problem last year with a lack of team spirit and passion, but I don't really think that's the sort of passion we need. Getting sent off like that was stupid, he's the captain and should have more sense than to let his team - and the fans - down. Horlock was better in the second half but still isn't playing anything like as well as he can. And as for Goater..... He may well end up as the leading goal scorer in the division, but just think how many he could get if he was any good? He doesn't jump, doesn't run, gets caught in possession constantly, doesn't create chances for anyone else, can't lose his marker, only worries defences because neither he nor they know which way he's going to go next. He should have had four on Saturday and we should have had three points. I hate writing match reports like this, I always try to find the good points of any performance but this time I don't think there was one. Well, there is one - we can't possibly play any worse. Sort it out Joe.
by Svenn A. Hanssen, email@example.com