Goals: MC: Clough (25), Symons (50)
Line up: Immel, Summerbee, Frontzeck, Curle, Symons, Flitcroft, Kinkladze, Lomas (Brightwell), Phillips, Clough, Rösler (Creaney)
Report by: Ken Foster
With Stockport and Bury having home games called off on (ironically) a beautiful day, I was anticipating a big crowd at Maine Road. We arrived at the ground just before 2 o'clock and decided to have a look round the back of the Kippax. The familier rustic brick wall still survives on the periphery but is now dwarfed by the technological structure possessing a tubular look similar to the back of the one at Elland Road. We carried on round through the ginnel that joins the Car Park to the Platt Lane (sorry Umbro) stand. I resisted the temptation to buy King of the Kippax as I recently read that Dave Wallace was a Bon Jovi fan! I noticed another fanzine on sale which didn't seem to be This Charming Fan or Bert Trautman's Helmet (any ideas Paul?).
Nigel Clough didn't join the pre-match kick in. There was speculation about our likely formation with Quinn being injured. In the event Clough started in a quite advanced midfield rôle with Rösler and Phillips in attack. The first minute produced a clear chance for QPR with Eike saving well (from Sinclair I think). We were penned back for 5 minutes or so and then began to get into our stride. Phillips looked dangerous on the left and got two quality crosses in, but Uwe couldn't direct his headers. Summerbee, Clough and Kinky started to get a good understanding going. Our best early chance came when Clough sent Summerbee away on the left. He crossed to Kinky who pushed it on to Phillips whose shot across the goal hit the post and rebounded into Sommer's arms. The goal soon followed and was ample reward for Phillips' industry down the left. His cross resulted in a clash between Sommer and Uwe and the ball dropped kindly for Clough whose shot was deflected into the bottom corner.
I was particularly impressed by our new left-back Michael Frontzeck (for some reason nicknamed 'The Fonz' by those in close proximity). He puts himself about a bit, looks confident on the ball and all in all gave us a much needed new dimension on the left. QPR had a couple of efforts, one being a long range shot which Eike got his body behind but it somehow slithered out of his grasp for a corner. The other was a header from the unimpressive Hateley which Eike was shepherding round the post until it span back and actually rebounded from said woodwork. The referee was a little overfussy in the first half which slightly spoilt the game as a spectacle.
In the second half we scored after a neat interchange of passes between Kinky (from a corner) and Flitcroft. The ball was knocked in and Kit Symons rose to nod in his first goal for the club (again after a deflection). QPR's spoiling tactics began to escalate which was a complete surprise to me as I thought they would at least try to play attractive football. Combined with the ref's non-comprehension of the advantage rule, the game descended into a niggly and petulant stop/start affair. Seven QPR players were booked (1 red : Dichio for second bookable offence) and 3 from City. Unlike some comments I heard afterwards (Paul Power's included) I thought the referee was completely justified with all the bookings although I did still feel that he had a bad game. Unless I'm mistaken I think Flitcroft's yellow means another suspension.
City cruised to victory for the first time in the Premiership this season and I left with much optimism for our impending victories against Coventry, Everton, Newcastle and The Rags.
Immel 7 How can you criticise someone who has kept a clean sheet? He made a couple of great saves in the second half. Summerbee 8 Defended adequately, looked dangerous going forward. Frontzeck 8 We have been crying out for this guy for 2 seasons at least. Symons 8 Capped his usual steady performance with a goal. Curle 8 Distribution improved as match progressed. Lomas 6 Not as effective as usual. Flitcroft 6 Rather poor by his standards. Clough 8 Has good vision and awareness, can pass a ball well and links well with Kinky. Kinkladze 7 Enjoyed having Clough in midfield with him. Rösler 7 No theatrics but struggled to make openings. Phillips 9 Brilliant full début and he can use his right foot.
Final score: 2-0
Goals: MC: Busst o.g. (33), Flitcroft (81). CC: Whelan (2), Dublin (90)
Line up: Immel, Summerbee, Brightwell, Curle, Symons, Lomas, Flitcroft, Kinkladze, Brown, Clough, Rösler
Report by: Paul Howarth
"Snowball the linesman..."
The pitch covering at Coventry's Highfield Road ground was sufficient to ensure that the game went ahead this time, although the playing surface was very uneven and had large areas covered with sand. Such surfaces often help to provide great drama but in this case the assistance of the pitch was not required.
Traffic in the West Midlands was surprisingly light so I arrived at the ground just before 6:00pm and proceeded to the Rose and Crown pub plugged in MCIVTA 165. Despite the fact that the place was nearer 20 minutes' walk away from the ground than 10, it was packed with Blues sampling the many well-kept ales on offer.
Arriving back at the ground some time later, I just caught the team being announced over the P.A. system. As expected, there were only the two enforced changes from the side that beat Q.P.R. on Saturday. Brightwell replaced the ineligible Frontzeck and Brown replaced the cup-tied Phillips, both straight 1-for-1 swaps with no positional shuffling. There was another excellent turn-out of around 4,500 Blues despite the prohibitively expensive tickets (18 quid each), mostly looking forward to a 5th Round derby after dealing with the challenge of Coventry.
City kicked off and had not managed to advance more than about 5 yards into the Coventry half before the home side took the lead in the second minute. Whelan forced a corner, and when Shaw's shot subsequently deflected off a defender's foot into his path, he neatly clipped it over the advancing Immel to momentarily silence the visitors. Uwe glanced a free header well wide shortly afterwards but it took the best part of half an hour for City to recover from the early setback. During this time, Coventry had several flowing attacking moves with which they could have increased their lead but Immel was rarely troubled due to stout defending and wayward finishing.
As the half wore on, City clawed themselves back into the game and came close to equalising after 30 minutes when Clough hooked the ball over his shoulder but just wide of the far post. A few minutes later, Clough provided the through ball which led to the equaliser. Rosler and Kinkladze raced clear of the not-quite-square-enough back four and when Rosler's low cross was fired in towards the Georgian at the far post, David Busst was in the right place to slide home his third own goal of the season, giving Ogrizovic no chance.
This seemed to rejuvenate City and two more good opportunities soon followed. Rosler floated a chip over Ogrizovic but just over the bar and then Geo did one of his trademark runs right through the Coventry half before being scythed down from behind by Dublin. TV replays suggested that he may have got the ball as well as the man but we've seen many players booked for challenges like that (particularly Brightwell and Flitcroft) this season so it came as a major shock when referee Ashby and his linesman declined to award us a penalty. The City fans were incensed and the linesman in front of us was pelted with lumps of snow by irate fans throughout the remainder of the half as a chant of "snowball the linesman" went up.
Coventry nearly restored their lead with a rehearsed free-kick which ended with a glancing header flashing narrowly wide. Why is it our set pieces never look rehearsed? Half time came and we were left to reflect on what had been a pretty poor half. Both sides had packed midfield and chances for either side were few and far between. The half time entertainment was courtesy of the Sky Blue Belles, a very young formation dancing team. Their co-ordination was better than it was in August but it seems the locals are sick of them as they took the opportunity to practice their snowball-aiming on the poor girls. Needless to say the City fans applauded them warmly for their efforts (the Belles that is).
If the first half was poor, the second was abysmal. For the first half hour the only high spots were a run by Kinkladze after a Curle punt which ended with the Georgian uncharacteristically mis- controlling the ball and shooting tamely wide, and a quickly-taken free kick from just outside the box by Dublin which Immel parried comfortably. With 11 minutes to go, City's best move of the game led to Flitcroft's first goal of the season. Some neat passing between Clough, Summerbee and Lomas resulted in Lomas getting to the bye-line and pulling the ball back. Twice Dublin blocked his efforts but on the third attempt the ball span up into the air by the penalty spot and Flitcroft beat Strachan to the ball, contorting his body to volley home underneath Ogrizovic. Cue massed celebrations from the travelling fans who were now in really good voice.
Summerbee fired a drive just over the bar shortly after following a spell of keep-ball in the Coventry half. The home side didn't look like getting back into the game as City seemed to be doing a good job of playing out the remaining time. With the fans' whistles ringing in the referee's ears in the second minute of injury time, Whelan won a midfield tussle with Brown and fed the ball to Strachan who raced into the City area. His low cross was met at the near post by Dublin (he always scores against us) who clipped the ball over Immel and in off the crossbar from barely 3 yards. Now it was the home fans' turn to go wild. From the kick-off there were about 10 seconds more play before the final whistle went. It had been that close. Had it been a league game and 2 dropped points I'd have been really gutted but with a replay at Maine Road to redeem the situation it wasn't too bad.
Overall I felt that neither team deserved to win this match. It had been virtually devoid of goalmouth action and how much of the media seemed to think it was a good game is beyond me. City played with one up front again which really doesn't suit Uwe and Coventry weren't much more positive.
Reasons to look on the bright side:
Goals: E: Parkinson (32), Hinchcliffe (47 pen)
Line up: Immel, Summerbee, Frontzeck, Curle, Symons, Brown (Creaney), Flitcroft, Lomas, Phillips (Quinn), Clough, Rösler
Report by: Paul Howarth
"The referee's a w****r!"
Arrived at Goodison in good time to have a look around the new Everton superstore before heading off to the Royal Oak for a couple of pints of Murphys. Their new store makes City's revamped souvenir shop look a bit sorry but the growth of commercial activities at the club certainly hasn't gone down well with many of the fans, judging by some of the letters in their fanzine "When Skies Are Grey". One point which amused me was that some of the club's recent publications which featured photographs from last season (e.g. programme photographs showing Dave Watson lifting the F.A. Cup) have had the old sponsor's (NEC) name removed from the front of the shirts in the pictures since they are competitors of the new sponsor (DANKA). Is this ludicrous or what? On getting into the ground I was greeted with the disturbing news that Geo wasn't playing. There hadn't been so much as a whisper of this being possible in the press so it was really surprising, and in view of what was to happen, really disappointing. Goalkeeper and back four were as expected, Brown, Lomas and Flitcroft were in central midfield, Phillips started wide on the left, Rosler was alone up front and Clough was "in the hole" behind him. Before the game started there was a superbly-observed minute's silence for the late archbishop Warlock of Liverpool. It really was a credit to both sets of fans.
Everton set their stall out right from the start, being tigerish in defence and midfield to win the ball and then pumping crosses in from the flanks towards the towering presence of Duncan Ferguson. The big Scotsman still hasn't recovered his fitness after his spell in one of Her Majesty's hostels so he presented little threat on the deck but he won virtually everything in the air. At the other end, Watson and Unsworth were very solid and totally dominant in the air. It was clear that City would have to play their football on the deck to get anything from the game but unfortunately we just couldn't get our passing together. Even normally reliable players like Clough and Flitcroft couldn't find a City player much of the time and as a result Everton enjoyed the bulk of the possession. Lomas in particular had another nightmare. He tried hard but just couldn't make the passes.
The crosses raining in on the City penalty area were a constant source of problems as Immel displayed a vampire-like aversion to them. This eventually led to a goal in the 33rd minute when a cross from Matt Jackson soared over the City area and looked to be going out of play a few yards wide of the far post. Whilst the Everton fans groaned at another wasted opportunity, Ferguson got to the ball and headed back across goal where an unchallenged Parkinson was able to score against us for the second time this season. Referee Paul Alcock (the one that booked Alan Shearer last week for doing an impression of a linesman) was allowing a lot of physical challenges from both sides go by and since Everton were winning most of them, we didn't look like scoring a goal. Our best chance of the game came on the break with some accurate (for once) passing which led to a chance for Brown who was one-on-one with Southall. He managed to clip the ball over the goalkeeper but it went just over the bar too.
City made a double substitution at half time, Quinn and Creaney replacing Phillips and Brown. Phillips had made very little headway against a well-organised and physically strong defence and Brown was probably knackered after his exertions on Wednesday night. Anyway, the change to a conventional 4-4-2 seemed to make an instant improvement to City's play as we were able to hold the ball up in the Everton half and Quinn made some intelligent lay-offs for other players. However, two minutes into the second half Everton were awarded a controversial penalty. Horne and Symons chased a long ball into the City area and just as Symons was about to reach it, Horne nudged him and he stumbled forward, his hand knocking the ball away from the goal. After the protests died down, former Blue Andy Hinchcliffe (who got quite a bit of stick from the City fans) stepped up to whip the spot-kick into the bottom corner.
City strove to get back into the game but managed to create no real clear-cut opportunities. The best effort was an overhead kick from Creaney which went just wide of the foot of the post. What became obvious was our lack of pace up front. Although some good through balls were played from midfield, all of our forward players have to hold the ball up and wait for support as they cannot outrun defenders. I sincerely hope that the Georgian we're supposed to be buying this summer is quick.
Neither goalkeeper had to make a save in the second half as the game petered out. Everton always looked comfortably in control but on this showing they don't look a particularly good side. There's lots of effort, strong tackling and good organisation but without Kanchelskis (on international duty) it was left to Limpar to supply any touches of flair. Just before the end the Swede was involved in an incident which led to the sending-off of Michael Frontzeck for only the second time in his career. Both players went in for a 50-50 ball which Limpar just reached first and knocked past the German. However, their momentum carried them into each other and Mr. Alcock decided that that was a bookable offence. Since Frontzeck had already been booked for shirt-pulling early in the game, he was red-carded. Even Limpar sprang to his defence but it was no good. Not surprisingly, the City fans started chanting "the referee's a w****r" and Niall Quinn immediately turned to us and applauded, right in front of the referee. I'm surprised he did didn't get a booking for that himself.
The sending off made no difference to the outcome of this game but it means we'll be without a recognised left back for at least one of the important games coming up soon. Since Frontzeck has picked up four yellow cards in three games for City, he may already have amassed enough points for a two-match ban. With Coventry's unexpected victory against Chelsea, we're back down in the bottom three and on this form, I'm getting worried again.
Goals: MC: Clough (29), Quinn (46) CC: Dublin (85)
Line up: Immel, Summerbee, Curle (Creaney), Symons, Brown, Flitcroft, Lomas, Kinkladze, Clough, Rösler, Quinn
Report by: Ken Foster
My fears about closing the North Stand to City fans were brought into perspective when we passed the ticked office at 7.30pm. Thousands of people queuing to buy tickets. The 3 sides of the ground open to home fans filled up as the kick off approached but I'm sure some people must have given up and gone home. I heard rumours of Junior North Stand Season Ticket holders being asked to pay full price for the Kippax. I think they were offered reduced price tickets in the week, but the Oasis situation may have put people off until the last minute. Certainly the 'credit card line' has been an absolute nightmare.
The game started with City adopting a 5 man defence with Flitcroft as sweeper. Brown was at left back. AB said afterwards that the formation was dictated by injuries but I couldn't see his logic. We could have brought Ingram back in or played Brown (as he did) and continue with Lomas, Flitcroft, Clough and Geo in midfield. We were at home for Christ's sake. The effect of the tactics employed was that we surrendered 75% of the pitch to Coventry and were just soaking up pressure and hitting them on the break. We restricted them to long range shots apart from one occasion when Brown was caught upfield and Strachan got in behind him and crossed for Whelan who had got in front of Curle and only had to side foot in. Fortunately for us, he put it wide. Niall had another of those (He can't miss) one on one's, only to see his shot pulled well wide again. Soon afterwards Uwe won a corner and following Niall's flick down, Clough hammered home from short range. In spite of our defensive look, we looked quite dangerous on the break, although Coventry were dire. Brown was putting in a Trojan performance at the back and making a few useful forays forward. Clough and Kinky were effective without being spectacular and our new look central defence dealt comfortably with anything that came their way.
Half time came and I was desperate for a more attacking policy in the second half. On the restart Clough fed a nice ball through to Uwe. Niall's momentum (running from a deeper position) gave him reason enough to take it off his team mate's toe and he took it on a pace or two before directing a well placed shot, low to Ogrisovic's left and just inside the post. 2-0! why were we still nervous?. Flitcroft came forward on occasion and the game developed into a real blood and thunder cup tie with lot's of end to end stuff. We had several chances to increase our lead. Uwe was the most guilty party being put through by Kinky, Clough and notably Brown after a tremendous solo run. He missed them all with shots hit too early and too innacurately.
At the other end the Coventry sub Nil Lamptey hit a rasping 20 yard drive against Immel's post and then Dublin missed an open goal that put all Niall's into the near miss category. The whole stadium guffawed with laughter at the outrageous miss. Coventry's meagre number of away fans did quite a good job of trying to lift their team. Curle picked up a bad looking knee injury with about 10 minutes to go. He was making a good run forward before being clattered on the blind side of the ref. Creaney came on to replace the skipper with Quinn moving back into defence. Coventry scored after Dublin headed against the bar and when the rebound dropped to his feet he had a simple job of clipping it over Eike who was still on the floor from his attempt at saving the header. Coventry pressed hard for the last couple of minutes, and as much as I loathe him, I must admit that Strachan was at the heart of anything that looked even remotely dangerous. We hung on for victory and began to either a) lick our lips or b) wet our pants at the prospect of Sunday's match. I am quietly condfident, but something at the back of my mind keeps telling me that Alan Ball may be a 'Schizophrenic Football Genius'.
Goals: MC: Rösler (11). MU: Cantona (38 pen), Sharpe (77)
Line up: Immel, Summerbee, Frontzeck, Curle, Symons, Lomas, Kinkladze, Clough, Brown, Rösler, Quinn (Creaney)
Report by: Paul Whittaker
What an absolute disgrace that ref was. It's difficult to know where to start on him he was so bad, bribery pops up in my mind when I see decisions like that. I've watched the game twice now, and watched the major incidents over and over again, the referee gets worse the more I watch. First minute, C*ntona flies in on young Brown, nothing happens. Keane then gets rightly booked for a foul on Geo. Then Brown and Butt get into it on the sidelines, next Keane ( the situation has ***k all to do with him) comes flying over in 19 year old Browns face, Quinny comes flying over and pushes Keane away, Cantona pushes Quinn away along with Panickster, Bruce, Neville. A few yards away Curle and Cole are going at it. Everything seems to die down when Keane starts mouthing off to Quinny again, Quinny goes for Keane again but too many players are between them. Keane should have been sent off (the commentator also saying he should be off) the referee was a shit bag though, if a City player had done the same he'd have been off. It's a good thing I don't live there anymore as I'd find that little bastard Keane and break his neck. He's an evil little bastard that needs his arse kicked, he's a thug, the kid at school who was a bully. He was going after Geo all afternoon, and on top of that he smacked Curle near the end of the game.
City settled well and passed it around nicely. Then it happened, immediately following the fracas Geo put a lovely ball through to Rösler who chipped Schmeichel. It seemed to take forever to reach the net. The City fans go wild, wild is too mild a word to call it, they went absolutely crazy. City carried on playing well,patient, confident triangle passes until an opening appeared. The Rags saw plenty of the ball but we looked fast and dangerous on the break, mainly Geo leading the way, Lomas right with him, Clough was very quiet. Rösler had a half chance after a good move but shot at Schmeical. The Rags had a corner, Immel saved well, out for another corner. Ball is hit deep over everyone's head, rolling out the area to safety, whistle blows, ball out maybe? No a penalty? A What? Not a single appeal by a player or by a fan, complete bullshit call in front of the Stretford end. Players appeal to no avail, The cockneys realize they are back in the game from the help of the referee. If a penalty was awarded everytime contact like that happens then there would be 10 penalties a game. Paddy 'red nose' Crerand said it wasn't a penalty as did everyone on the BBC. It was clearly the turning point of the whole game, The City fans went quiet(er), the players heads went down, and the cockneys got behind there team, right on half time. The Rags completely dominated the 2nd half and you sensed there 2nd goal was coming. If City were still 1-0 up in the second half then the Rags would have been pressing harder for an equaliser, committing more players forward thus leaving more space for City on the break, ie most of the first half.
Giggs kicks Lomas, nothing. Irwin fouls Clough, play goes on till he realizes "oh I best blow the whistle " and books Irwin. Bruce clatters Quinn, ref waves play on. Brown goes past Rag player on edge of there area, goes down, play on. Rag player does exactly the same move on edge of City's are, foul! The City fans started taking the piss at the end and cheering if we got a decision, or shouting penalty if a Rag player went down. City looked tired and not likely to equalize. Symmons is a brilliant player, Lomas ran himself into the ground and had a good game. We definitely missed Flipper. Creaney came on for Quinn and did nothing. The Rags just sat back after their 2nd goal. I just hope the players don't get too down about it all and let it affect their remaining games. Staying up is the goal now and Bally has to get them fired up and focussed for the remainder of the season. The City fans were fantastic, easily outsinging the Rags. We didn't get beat by the Rags on Sunday but by the ref. I didn't think I could hate them anymore than I do, but I've suprised myself, they are nothing but a bunch of thugs! The Rags best player?.....he was wearing black!
PS I have a question: Was it really the City fans that made all the noise during the minute silence as we are getting slagged off all over the the footie pages I've looked up, in the reports etc? Our kid said a Rag shouted " you scouse bastard" or something to that effect, and a City fan replied "better than ***king Busby"
Goals: MC: Quinn (16,62), Rösler (77). NU: Albert (44,81), Asprilla (71)
Line up: Immel, Summerbee, Hiley, Curle, Symons, Lomas, Kinkladze, Clough, Brown, Quinn, Rösler
Report by: Ashley Birch
I had a bad feeling about this game and wondered whether last weekend's result would see the boys in blue collapse....may I ask forgiveness now?
New boy Scott Hiley was in for Frontzeck otherwise this was the team that acquitted themselves admirably over at the Swamp. The ground was sold out and later on there were people phoning into GMR complaining that they had travelled from Prestwich only to find out that there were no tickets left; have they no telephones in North Manchester? There was an average showing of 'Toon' fans who had about one third of the North Stand and sang mightily as we have come to expect.
City started off brightly, attacking the North Stand and carving out a few half chances early on, the best one when Rösler broke free down the right and crossed in for Quinn who had run goalside of Peacock, only for the ball to sail disappointingly high over his head.
Newcastle had clearly come for a result and after weathering the initial storm soon found their pattern which seemed, more often than not to involve Ginola. He has never looked particularly gifted to me but, watching him closely you can easily see that his first touch is brilliant and he always gets his cross in. Within the space of ten mins he did the same thing three times; he teased Summerbee then cut fractionally inside him unleashing a shot. One screamed over Eike's outstretched lefthand and thankfully over the bar; another hit the post and the third sent Eike the wrong way but he somehow recovered to palm the ball away with his righthand. Although I now rate Ginola very highly, he was again up to his despicable diving antics. There's diving for a penalty and there's diving to get a player booked and Ginola, in my experience, constantly does the latter. He was tackled from behind by Summerbee and fell as if poleaxed, getting Buzzer booked. The City fans chanted "Cheat" although whether this was for the ref or Ginola I don't know. I just wonder why a player with such obvious talent feels the need to do this; I'm with Cantona on this one, Ginola is a jerk!
I was labouring under the misapprehension that the gangly awkward git with the flashy red boots was Carlton Palmer. Funny I thought, no-one told me that Newcastle had signed him! A quick glance at the programme informed me that this was one of the world's most exciting players, one Faustino Asprilla.
City took the lead thanks to the impressive Hiley who neatly skipped past Barton and, when the ball came in, the unmarked Clough chose his spot, the wrong one!. Fortunately, the ball went through Quinn's legs who, as it passed, flicked it with his instep, totally wrongfooting Srinecek. City easily matched Newcastle and if it wasn't for our lack of pace up front we would have surely scored again. Kinky did one of his runs, beating about 4 players and unleashing a shot which grazed the bar with Srinecek beaten. City looked dangerous in the air for the first time all season and also had a Quinn header cleared off the line. I glanced at my watch to see it was nearly half time, "here it comes I thought!" Sure enough, Albert brought the ball out of defence, sent Asprilla away to the right and continued his run. Nobody picked him up and Asprilla picked him out with a beautiful ball beyond Symons which was clinically finished by Albert, giving Immel no chance..44mins!
We had really played well with Kinky outstanding and Brown playing like a seasoned midfielder. He and Clough put in some excellent tackles, giving Beardsley, Ferdinand and Asprilla a very difficult time.
The second half showed no let up and before we knew it we were one up again, after a beautiful jinking run by Kinky he unleashed a hard shot which Srinecek could only palm back to him; Kinky then lobbed the ball over to Quinn at the farpost who headed the ball in from an unbelievably acute angle. The fans went wild with rousing choruses of "You're not singing anynore" which is what the 'Toon' fans had treated us to with their equaliser. After this (I think?) there was a nasty incident when the largely ineffectual Asprilla, who had been superbly martialled by Curle lost his head. He broke free of Curle on the left and there was a lot of pushing and shoving, probably a foul by Curle but, when it seemed over Asprilla blatantly elbowed Curley in the face. Now Curley is not of Ginola's ilk and when he goes down there is usually a reason for it. We didn't get a clear view but on TV it was crystal clear and Asprilla is going to be in hot water with the FA; a ban I would have thought. Newcastle once again came back and equalised when a Ginola (?) shot was nicely saved at the nearpost only to rebound to Asprilla who slotted home, though Eike did save it again but couldn't prevent his own momentum from carrying the ball over the line. Once again we attacked and the ball came to Lomas on the edge of the box who cross/shot beyond the Newcastle defence for Uwe to slot the ball home at the far post. Could we hang on? The answer was no but once again luck played a part. Albert shot on the edge of the penalty area and looked to have placed the ball beautifully, just beyong Immel. Seeing this again on TV showed it to have taken a substantial deflection off Quinn's (?) feet, wrongfooting Immel. Surprisingly, we still attacked and in a sublime scene which had Hansen and Brooking singing his praises (on TV), Kinky ran rings round 5 Newcastle players before curling a shot just beyond the upright, it would have been a fantastic goal.
The game was still not finised as a spectacle because there was what looked to be a blatant handball by Newcastle from a cross on their right. I couldn't see that well but it looked a good 'un to me. The ball was booted upfield and the ref blew for time; Curley and Asprilla were however, still unaware and were tussling away in some kind of mutual wrestling grip. They then realsied it was all over and Asprilla quite calmly headbutted Curle! Curley seemed to think about doing a Ginola but thankfully just held his face; the amazing thing was that the linesman was right next to it and seemed to do nothing! Having said that, maybe he'll be reporting to the ref afterwards. The replay on TV showed that although the headbutt wasn't of the fullblooded variety, it was clear and intentional.
To sum up, this was City's best performance of the season and Newcastle played well, don't let anyone tell you they were poor. Kinky and Brown were outstanding. Either Asprilla is vastly overated, had a poor game or Keith Curle is a brilliant manmarker. Kevin Keegan must be seriously concerned at the wisdom of spending 6.7m on the Columbian, he was very average and should have been off the field for his elbowing and headbutting antics. Final score 3-3
Immel 7 No chance with any of the goals and made some fine saves. Summerbee 6 Got a running from Ginola and a yellow as well. Hiley 7 Looks a good player to me, slotted in very well and looks like he has been playing for us for a couple of seasons. Curle 8 Marked Asprilla brilliantly but still felt it necessary to give the ball to the opposition in the most ludicrous circumstances. Symons 8 Great job, Ferdinand never had a look in. Brown 9 He looks a tremendous prospect and ran the midfield, winning balls and allowing Kinky to do his stuff. He can beat defenders as well. Lomas 7 Another good performance though not in the same bracket as at the Swamp. Kinky 9 Sublime, worth the admission price alone to see him make Newcastle's vastly expensive midfielders and defenders look like Sunday afternoon pub players..honest! Clough 8 What a difference he has made to this side, talks, encourages and don't let anybody tell me he doesn't like tackling. Rösler 7 Good finish but I do wish he could run faster. Maybe he'll score more as we grow as a team. Quinn 7 Two goals, the latter a real class finish, maybe we need to give him less to aim at?