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FRIENDLIES 1995/96

JULY 24 GALWAY UNITED - MANCHESTER CITY 0-3 (0-1)

Attendance:
Goals: MC: Walsh, Simpson, Quinn
Line up: Dibble, Edghill, Phelan, Kerneghan, Ian Brightwell, Lomas, Summerbee, Walsh, Rösler, Flitcroft, Simpson.
Used Subs: Quinn, Thomas, Ingram, Foster

Report by: John Coen - The Green Blue

Manchester City manager Alan Ball started his managerial career (and let's hope it's a long one) on a winning note with a three-nil defeat of gritty Galway United. The Tribesmen (as Galway are called) could walk proud to the club bar after the game, probably feeling that they should have got at least one in a game with a City defence showing more leaks than Sellafield. The one consolation was seeing City pass the ball around well at times and hopefully this will improve with the new Ball/Hartford regime.

The day started for us Dublin Blues with a 3.5 hour drive in the sunshine to Galway. The weather was good so we were hoping for a good turn-out; it exceeded our expectations. A crowd of 6000 packed into the City Sportsground in a carnival type atmosphere and when one thinks the average attendance at a League of Ireland game is around 1500, this was brilliant. The local City Supporters' Club had organised their local bar, The Goalpost, as the meeting place. They also wrote some excellent pieces for the programme, so well done lads. Plenty of blue, black and red and purple City shirts to be seen amongst the maroon of the Galway Utd. supporters.

A big cheer greeted the sides onto the pitch (it would have been bigger but I only two pints before the game!!!), with City in their new strip looking like some Italian side (by the way you want to see the head on UWE!). Keith Curle sat on the bench as a spectator so we don't know if he is fully fit yet and with no Tony Coton it looks like we have injuries before the season starts. City lined up as follows: Dibble, Edghill, Phelan, Kerneghan, Ian Brightwell, Lomas, Summerbee, Walsh, Rösler, Flitcroft, Simpson. The local side as expected got stuck in and had the City defence on the back foot on a number of occasions. The locals ended a quiet first half one down to a scrappy gaol by Walsh, although the build-up and cross by UWE was class.

City moved up a gear in the second half with Flitcroft, Edghill and Walsh having good performances. The Blues got a free about thirty yards out, just in front of where we were standing, layed it off to Simpson who hit a space shuttle into the Galway goal - what a shot! City sat back and made four substitutions - Quinn (to much applause), Thomas, Ingram and Foster. Galway attacked and pulled two fine saves from Dibble and the crossbar. The third City goal came from another long shot by Carl Griffths which hit the post and landed at Quinn's foot, who obliged ever so kindly and the game was over. Pitch invasion of kids at the end, the Blues must have thought they were Take That. Not a great game but plenty of good signs for the future so roll on Cork on Wednesday and very happy future for Alan Ball.

Final score: Galway United 0 Manchester City 3

JULY 26 CORK CITY - MANCHESTER CITY 0-2 (0-1)

Attendance:
Goals: MC: Quinn (37), Griffiths (50)
Line up: Margetson, Foster, Curle, Kernaghan, Edghill (Phelan), Summerbee, Brown, Flitcroft (Lomas), Thomas, Griffiths (Walsh), Quinn (Rösler).

Report by: Tony Mullins

First of all I had to bribe someone to accompany me to the match. This wasn't exactly easy. I did convince one easy-minded Arsenal supporter to come and even got him to wear a City shirt. Of course, I think it was the temptation of drink before and after that really swong it my way. Because we left the bar at the last possible minute I missed the line up before the kick off. I was told Simpson was playing at left back but thought it looked more like Edghill. Seeing as all the papers I later read referred to Simpson then I'll bow to their superior knowledge, after all I do wear glasses. So what was Simpson doing at full-back???

Team:- Margetson, Foster, Curle(cpt), Kernaghan, Edghill, Summerbee, Brown, Flitcroft, Thomas, Griffiths, Quinn.

Substitutions:- Lomas for Flitcroft (1/2 time), Phelan for Simpson, Walsh for Griffiths, Rösler for Quinn (All 60 mins.).

Man. City from the start attempted to play one touch football which was difficult on this pitch. The pitch has recently been drained and has not fully recovered yet. In fact I'd imagine that there was always a danger that someone would turn an ankle. Thankfully nobody did. City dominated the game and I felt left down by Cork who played extremely defensively.

In the back 4 Curle was obviously in charge. There seems to be a good understanding between himself and Kernaghan, who was commanding in the air. Full backs, Foster and Simpson (Edghill!) were used effectively. I was particularly impressed by the passages of play between Foster and Summerbee who was on the right wing. They worked well together, allowing one to make a run while the other laid back. In fact each sent in a cross for a goal. Flitcroft acting as play-maker in the middle was a delight to watch. It was obvious that he is a class apart. I just hope we can hang onto him. If Kinkladze is as good as we are told then we may actually have a skilful midfield. What would we do then! Thomas was on the left and looked good but he is no Beagrie. Brown in the middle was a passenger. I hope this will change with more games.

It was hard to get space up front for any clear cut chances because of the sheer number of Cork defenders. Still though this wasn't an excuse for Quinn and Griffiths' obvious weakness. Walsh and Rösler are much more dangerous as they demonstrated later. Both starting strikers scored. The first came on the 37th minute from a great low cross by Foster which was belted home by Quinn from close range. Foster was actually fouled but the referee waved play on. The second came early in the second half when somehow Summerbee sent in a high, looping cross from between 2 Cork players. It was met on the edge of the 6 yard box by the head of Griffiths. In fairness both goals were taken well but I still think that Walsh and Rösler are more capable of making their own trouble up front.

There were lots of missed chances throughout the match, the worst of which was from Rösler when he ballooned over from 3 yards when it was almost easier to score. Walsh was magic from the minute he came on. His best was when he ran at the defence from the left of the box, shimmied to his left leaving 3 defenders mesmerized and struck a low left foot drive which was brilliantly saved. Overall I was pleased with the way City tried to play. A bit disappointed that there wasn't more of a match, so that we could witness how the team played defensively. City from this display are still far off championship contention but are a good bet to do well this season i.e. stay away from relegation. If we stuff the rags I'll be happy.

Final score: Cork City 0 Manchester City 2

JULY 31 STOCKPORT COUNTY - MANCHESTER CITY 0-1 (0-1)

Attendance:
Goals: MC: Quinn (20)
Line up: Margetson, Foster, Edghill, I.Brightwell, Vonk, Thomas (Summerbee), Lomas, Brown (Rowlands (Flitcroft)), Simpson, Quinn (Rösler), Griffiths (Walsh)

Report by: Paul Howarth

This match was to be the official opening of Stockport's new Cheadle End Stand and it drew a big crowd, fitting for the occasion. It's an impressive cantilever stand, like the ends at Blackburn except with only the bottom tier. How often it will be filled is a matter for conjecture but nearly the whole ground was sold out for this one, with a few thousand Blues making the short journey down to Stockport to see Alan Ball's first game in charge of City in England. There were so many people there in fact that the game had to be delayed for 25 minutes to get them all in, such was the congestion outside the ground. Railway problems at Longsight didn't help either.

City lined up as follows:

                               Margetson
                  Foster  Vonk    I.Brightwell  Edghill
                   Thomas    Lomas    Brown    Simpson
                           Quinn     Griffiths

City had the best of the opening moments but it was Stockport who came closest to scoring in the first 5 minutes when a good move down the left flank ended with a low cross being pulled back to the edge of the area and a low, hard shot being sent in towards the City goal. The home fans were already celebrating when Margetson dived low to his right and pulled off a brilliant save. There was no shortage of commitment from either side as several hard tackles went in and a player from each side was booked. On 13 minutes Quinn's flicked header at the near post from a corner was cleared off the line. He was looking sharp and causing the County defence a lot of problems; he's as popular as ever with the fans too, though not as much as Uwe who was sporting his new close-cropped hairstyle. Another popular figure was Roy Bailey, who was cheered loudly when he scampered across the pitch to treat Carl Griffiths.

The only goal of the game came in the 20th minute when Quinn got on the end of a badly-directed back pass, shrugged off the challenge of the last defender and coolly slotted the ball past the 'keeper from a tight angle. County had a golden chance to equalise five minutes later when they were awarded a penalty for a trip by Edghill. City's defence had been exposed by pace a few times already but this incident came from a two-against-one situation on Stockport's right wing and there wasn't much else Edghill could do. Fortunately for City, the penalty crashed against the bar and was cleared. The next ten minutes were fairly even until Michael Brown (who had picked up a slight ankle injury) was replaced by a very young-looking Aled Rowlands. The youngster made a good impression on the left flank, his pace and trickery creating several openings for City.

Overall, City were the better side in the first half, though Stockport had caused problems with pace and aerial power. The full backs looked good but I think that Michel Vonk is unlikely to figure in Alan Ball's first team plans. Ian Brightwell, captain for the night, will probably fight it out with Alan Kernaghan to be Keith Curle's central defensive partner. The team's style wasn't much different to last season, with most attacks directed down the flanks and clearances hit down the channels, although there were two ball- winners (Lomas and Simpson) in midfield like the first half of last season rather than the second half, where Gaudino figured regularly.

City opened the second half brightly, nearly doubling their lead in the 47th minute when some good work down the left flank by Edghill was followed by a good cross in to the near post which was well met by Griffiths. His header looked to be going in but was very well saved by the Stockport 'keeper. Stockport were causing more problems than in the first half but we expected this to change when on 60 minutes City made a mass substitution. Off came Quinn, Griffiths, Thomas and Rowlands (less effective in the second half as Stockport double-marked him), on came Walsh, Flitcroft, Summerbee and fans' favourite Rösler. As it happened, this was the cue for County to have their best period of the game. A good half-volley from round about the position that Quinn had scored from was heading between Margetson's legs but was somehow deflected wide. From the resulting corner the ball was cleared off the City line.

The game was getting very lively now, more like a good end-to-end cup tie; the home 'keeper was the next in action on 80 minutes when Walsh shimmied past two defenders and hit in a good shot which was well saved. Flitcroft and Simpson impressed in midfield but I wasn't as impressed with Uwe, who didn't look quite back to full match-fitness yet. On the evidence of this game, I'd go for Quinn and Walsh as City's striking partnership. Having said that, Uwe was more involved in a frantic last few minutes in which he had a header crash against the bar and was sent clean through by Flitcroft only to be caught and tackled by the last defender, much to the delight of the home fans. Between these incidents, Stockport nearly scored but the shot flashed just wide. I'd say Stockport had the best of the second half, particularly in the last half hour after the 4 City substitutions. I'll expect to see a different defensive line-up at Wolves on Wednesday, which should be the sternest test of our pre-season. Nice to see Martyn Margetson playing so well and looking confident; he can kick the ball well too!

Final Score: County 0 City 1 (another win, another clean sheet)

AUG 2 WOLVERHAMPTON - MANCHESTER CITY 2-1 (1-1)

Attendance: 11,404
Goals: MC: Walsh (45). WW: Dennison (10), Kelly (83)
Line up: Margetson, Edghill, Phelan, Curle (Lomas), Kernaghan, I.Brightwell, Summerbee, Flitcroft, Simpson, Quinn (Greenacre), Walsh

Report by: Geoff Clarke

Well, I arrived at Molineux, Wolverhampton, wondering what the new season would hold for the Blues, and to see if Alan Ball had already influenced the style of play. I was impressed with the stadium, all in gold, and it was very easy to get to.

Once the match had kicked off, City took control virtually immediately with Flitcroft starting very confidently. But within 5 minutes of the start, things took a turn for the worst. As Keith Curle cleverly outwitted Steve Bull in a difficult bouncing ball situation, he seemed to fall awkwardly and didn't get up, and in the end had to be helped off the pitch. "Great", I thought, "Five minutes into a pre-season match and our best defender gets injured again!!" Steve Lomas came on, with Ian Brightwell moving back into central defence. One minute later, Wolves were one up, with their first real foray into City territory. The ball was played in from the Wolves right flank, flicked on, and volleyed home by Dennison, with City's defenders nowhere to be seen.

After these two setbacks, the Blues set about their opponents, totally outplaying them for the rest of the half. Flitcroft and Lomas took control of the midfield, helped out by Simpson on the left hand side, who had a very impressive match. Walsh was his usual tricky self and Quinn was the perfect target man, showing for his team mates and holding the ball up well, linking with the wide men and the midfield. The defence got its act together with Brightwell and Kernaghan keeping Bull and Kelly quiet, helped ably by Edghill, although sometimes he still finds it difficult to find a Blue shirt with his passes. Phelan was given a bit of a run around by Don Goodman, on the ground as well as in the air. Walsh had a shot saved when one-on-one with the 'keeper after beating the offside trap, and Kernaghan missed a header from a couple of yards with the goal at his mercy!! Eventually City managed to equalise just before half time, Walsh again getting in on the 'keeper, and this time making no mistake - for his first chance he had a lot of time to think about it, whereas this chance was taken a lot quicker.

After half time, Wolves came back into it with Margetson making some fine saves, including a great double save from Kelly then Richards. The game was evenly balanced when some substitutions were made - Wolves brought on three players, and City brought on Chris Greenacre for Niall Quinn, who'd had a sterling match up front. This change made a huge difference, as City were now unable to retain possession in midfield, leaving the defence more vulnerable.

With about ten minutes left in the match more changes were made, Wolves bringing on Tony Daley among others which got the crowd interested again, and he proceeded to make Richard Edghill's life more difficult. Two or three minutes after coming on, Daley forced a corner from a cross, took the corner, which Margetson and the defender failed to clear and Kelly managed to chest the ball down and hit a low volley into the goal, Phelan on the line unable to stop it. Wolves had the better of the final exchanges, City having lost control of the midfield.

During the match, City played some brilliant football, including a lot of one-touch play around the box that lead to chances or half- chances which weren't taken. A bit better finishing could see some good goals this season (famous last words?). Nick Summerbee had a poor game, not getting any decent crosses in from open play, but there could be some competition for midfield places with Flitcroft playing well, as too is Steve Lomas, back after his broken leg injury, and not forgetting Fitzroy Simpson who played a fine game on the left hand side. Martyn Margetson did well, showing what a good shot stopper he is, but still looks a little suspect on crosses. His kicking has improved and is certainly better than Dibble's. Overall, a good performance, but the wrong result.

Final Score: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Manchester City

AUG 5 BURNLEY - MANCHESTER CITY 2-1 (0-0)

Attendance: 4,734
Goals: MC: Griffiths (85). B: Philliskirk (73), Francis (75)
Line up: Talia, Edghill (Foster), Phelan, Lomas, Ian Brightwell (Ingram), Kernaghan (Vonk), Summerbee (Thomas), Walsh (Griffiths), Quinn, Flitcroft, Simpson (Brennan)

Report by: Paul Howarth

This was a trip back to my roots, having been brought up in East Lancashire and having seen my first professional football match at Turf Moor many years ago. Those were the days when Burnley were in the old First Division and regularly attracting crowds in the region of 20,000. The ground has changed very little since then (the two large terraces are due to be replaced this coming season) but I was disappointed with the attendance of only 4,734. City started with just about the strongest side they could field in view of the injury situation:

                           Talia
      Edghill   Ian Brightwell   Kernaghan    Phelan
        Summerbee    Flitcroft    Lomas    Simpson
                  Quinn             Walsh

Both sides started brightly, taking the game to the opposition whenever possible but the Blues had a slight edge and looked the most likely scorers. However, the first real chance came Burnley's way when Talia misjudged a cross whipped in from a free-kick on Burnley's right flank; with the goalkeeper stranded and an open goal to aim at, the Burnley player hit the bar and the chance was gone.

As the half wore on, City became more and more dominant. Flitcroft was running the midfield, comfortable on the ball and able to make space for himself at will, obviously relishing the responsibility of being captain. Lomas was industrious but still hasn't recovered to his form of last season before that incident at Selhurst Park. At the back, Kernaghan and Brightwell seemed to be very comfortable and were well supported by Edghill and Phelan, who appears to have learnt how to defend a bit too. Up front, Quinn was dominant and was providing some excellent lay-offs. Walsh was running at defenders and generally being a nuisance to them until he had to trudge off with a groin strain after half an hour, being replaced by Carl Griffiths. The only real disappointment was Summerbee once again, who often seems to be hiding from the ball and not giving the player in possession an option to pass to him. When he does get the ball, he almost invariably tries to go round the outside of the defender and is tackled, gaining either a throw-in or a corner. A bit more ambition, effort and variation please Nick.

Within a minute of coming on, Griffiths was the victim of a horrendous tackle from behind which resulted in a booking for the defender concerned. Fortunately he was OK; we're quickly running out of forward players at the moment. City carved out several chances in the last quarter of an hour before half-time but the efforts were all either weak or straight at the goalkeeper. One memorable piece of skill came from Niall Quinn, who chested down a long, diagonal cross and flicked the ball back over a defender but unfortunately he didn't connect properly with the ball when he attempted to volley it home and it was a simple save for the Burnley 'keeper. At the other end, Talia had a quiet half but looked competent when called into action, despite some ribbing from the home fans in view of his connections with their arch-rivals Blackburn. City's style was looking good, with some inventive passing movements in midfield and around the edge of the box and it seemed only a matter of time before dominance was turned into a lead.

At half-time City made a mass substitution, taking off Brightwell, Kernaghan, Simpson, Summerbee and Edghill and replacing them with Rae Ingram, Michel Vonk, Steve Brennan, Scott Thomas and John Foster. Alan Ball clearly wanted to have a good look at his squad and as might have been expected, this changed the pattern of the game. City's defence didn't look as confident as it had done and was prone to giving the ball away, though Ingram made up for one particularly bad mistake with a superb tackle which would have resulted in a penalty had it been mis-timed. The midfield and attack lost shape too, with Flitcroft much less influential (he was staying deeper) and Quinn drifting off to the left, leaving Griffiths with no support. On the right, Thomas looked to be more interested than Summerbee had been, but to be honest he was no more effective.

With an hour played, there was another appalling tackle from behind, this time on Quinn. The referee booked the offender but the Burnley management did the decent thing by substituting him straight away. The game continued to be quite an even affair, with Talia much busier in the second half. He made a couple of good saves, holding onto the ball well but he was unable to prevent Burnley taking the lead in the 73rd minute. A cross came in from Burnley's left flank and it evaded almost everybody except Tony Philliskirk, standing unmarked near the edge of the 6-yard box. Talia got a hand to his header but it was too powerful for him to stop and the home fans were celebrating. There was even more to celebrate two minutes later when the lead was doubled. A corner came in from the opposite side, flew over everybody and ended up in the net at the far post. John Francis got a head on it to claim the goal but it might well have gone in without his intervention.

Burnley's tails were up but City kept trying to get back in the game (not very urgently though). There were more chances at each end before City pulled a goal back with a route-one classic. A long ball was punted up to Quinn, who appeared (to the Burnley fans at least) to handle the ball as he attempted to round the goalkeeper. His effort was blocked but Griffiths followed up to tap the ball into the empty net from 20 yards. Many City fans had already left, disgusted that we could be 2 goals down after dominating the first half so much, but what can you expect when such sweeping changes are made at half time? Quinn was booed by the Burnley fans whenever he touched the ball in the last five minutes but his effort made no difference to the result. So, two defeats in a row but encouraging signs for the future. In the first half, City played some really good football which will hopefully be repeated throughout the coming season, and in the second half a number of our younger prospects got some valuable first-team experience. We lost but it's not the end of the world.

Final score: Burnley 2 City 1

AUG 10 RAITH ROVERS - MANCHESTER CITY 2-2 (0-0)

Attendance:
Goals: MC: Flitcroft (70), Simpson (72). RR: Forrest (71), Lennon (90)
Line up: Dibble (Freeman), Edghill (Foster), Ian Brightwell, Kernaghan (Vonk), Phelan, Summerbee (Thomas), Lomas, Flitcroft, Simpson, Quinn, Griffiths (Mike)

Report by: Paul Hince of the Manchester Evening News

Manchester City are a distance away from being ready for a new Premiership season. But at least there were signs in last night’s entertaining friendly against Raith Rovers that manager Alan Ball is starting to get his message across to his players. The slick, accurate passing movements and inventive set pieces which the Blues brought to the ramshackle Stark’s Stadium in Kirkcaldy were straight out of the Alan Ball coaching manual in an eye-catching preview of what the Maine Road fans can expect in the coming campaign.

And not even the last-second penalty which denied City the victory they deserved could erase the smile from the face of their notoriously hard-to-please new manager. "It’s starting to come together," said Ball. "I am not blind and there are obviously one or two problem areas still to sort out. But our movement and passing at times was terrific and when you add players like Keith Curle, Georgiou Kinkladze, Uwe Rösler, Paul Walsh and Peter Beagrie to the equation, we won’t be far short of being a very good side."

The game really burst into life in the second half with three goals in three minutes. City took the lead 20 minutes from time with a magnificent goal started and finished by Garry Flitcroft, who was head and shoulders above any other player on the park. Raith, however, were level within 60 seconds as Gordon Forrest gathered a poorly-cleared corner to thunder an unstoppable 20-yarder past Andy Dibble. A minute later, City were back in front with Fitzroy Simpson squeezing a low shot into the bottom corner.

Manager Ball handed a senior debut to rookie goalkeeper Nathan Freeman for the final 15 minutes and it was the promising youngster who inadvertently handed Raith the equaliser when he was left with no alternative but to pull down Craig McKinlay, who had been given a clear run at goal by City’s shoddy defence. Midfielder Danny Lennon duly completed the formalities from the spot with only enough time left for the kick-off before the final whistle blew.

AUG 12 HEARTS - MANCHESTER CITY 5-1 (3-1)

Attendance:
Goals: MC: Summerbee (21). HoM: Hamilton (5), Johnstone (19), Colquhoun (45,51), Hagen (57)
Line up: Dibble, Edghill (Thomas), Phelan (Foster), Lomas, I.Brightwell, Kernaghan, Summerbee, Walsh (Mike), Quinn (Griffiths), Flitcroft (Vonk), Simpson.

Report by: Graham Robertson

Manchester City boss Alan Ball watched in horror as his team were ripped apart by a rampant Hearts side at Tynecastle. And while he admitted his own team's display was a major disappointment, he was full of praise for Hearts.

Ball said: "They totally outclassed us from start to finish, to the point of embarrassment. But there were reasons for that with the injuries we have. Hearts played very well and beat us in every department of football - passion, ability, workrate - everything. But hopefully this is a shadow of the team we will have for our first game of the season against Spurs next Saturday."

John Colquhoun led the Hearts attack in the absence of international striker John Robertson who was on international duty with Scotland. Colquhoun scored two goals and almost grabbed a hat-trick.

Hearts boss Jim Jeffries could scarcely control his delight after the performance. He said: "We watched City against Raith on Thursday night and we knew they were there for the beating, but you don't expect a scoreline like this. But they did make some horrendous mistakes in defence but the pleasing thing for me was that we punished those mistakes. This shows what we can do without John Robertson and all the other 1st team mebers who were missing."

Brian Hamilton shot the first goal in five minutes after Richard Edghill had knocked his first effort off the line (unlike Peter Beardsley on Wednesday who knocked the ball from behind the line).

Then an amazing blunder by Ian Brightwell presented Allan Johnston with the second after 20 minutes.

City made a token response with Nicky Summerbee pulling one back with a low shot 2 minutes later.

But Hearts were not to be denied. A superb pass by Craig Levein on the stroke of half time picked out John Colquhoun who finished from a tight angle.

And Colquhoun made it 4-1 five minutes after the break with a well placed header from a Gary Locke cross.

City keeper Andy Dibble blundered a clearance on 57 minutes and David Hagen scooped the ball into the net. Two mins later Colquhoun came within inches of a hat-trick but was denied by the post.

Hearts:- Smith, Locke, Wishart, Levein, McPherson, Hamilton, Colquhoun, Mackay, Hagen, Johnston, Callaghan. Subs:- Jamieson, Ritchie, Wright, Leitch, Nelson. All used!

Man City:- Dibble, Edghill, Phelan, Lomas, Brightwell, Kernaghan, Summerbee, Walsh, Quinn, Flitcroft, Simpson. Subs:- Foster, Freeman, Vonk, Griffiths, Mike, Thomas, Beagrie. All used!

City had quite a large support and contributed well to the atmosphere both inside and outside the ground. All in all an enjoyable day out but City were rather poor. Hearts played well considering how many injuries they had. Hopefully this will be the fright City need. Bring on Spurs!

MAR 8 ATHLONE - MANCHESTER CITY 2-1 (1-1)

Attendance: 5,500
Goals: MC: Flitcroft (43). A: Collins (22),Parkes (46)
Line up: Margetson (Dibble), Summerbee, Frontzeck, Brightwell, Kernaghan, Crooks (Hiley), Flicroft, Kinkladze (Kelly), Lomas, Clough (Phillips), Creaney (Rösler)

Report by: Gerald McMahon

A crowd of around 5-6,000 saw a hugely disapointing City side take on Athlone who are destined for relegation from the League of Ireland Premier Division. The first real incident of note was when the youngster Lee Crooks had to be withdrawn with a head injury, he was replaced by Scott Hiley. Crooks had been playing just in front of the back four, with this change Hiley went into right back and Nicky Summerbee moved up to the right hand side of midfield. Flitcroft had the first shot after 12 mins but shot well wide . The crowd came alive when Kinkladze went on a mazy dribble beating two defenders before losing the ball after 17 mins. Athlone's first goal came after 22 mins, A long ball from defence was played to the edge of the City area, Alan Kernaghan hesitated then fell on his backside, Warren Parkes collected the ball and his inch perfect cross left Michael Collins at the back post to head to the net. City were showing a distinct lack of fight (effort?), and the pace rarely rose above pedestrian. City had another shot in the 40th minute but Nigel Clough missed the target by a mile. Then in the 43rd minute City equalised out of nothing. Summerbee crossed from the right and Flitcroft sent a glancing header into the net.

City made four changes for the second half, Rösler, Ray Kelly, Phillips and Dibble were introduced. City were caught sound asleep as straight from the kick off Athlone made it 2-1. Ex-Nottm Forest man Tommy Gaynor crossed from the right and Warren Parkes (Later named Man of the Match) headed firmly past Dibble. Dibble then made a good save in the 50th minute. From a corner on the left Kernagahan had an overhead effort easily saved. Then Ray Kelly, playing in his hometown broke through and clashed with the keeper. Rösler was put through by Summerbee on 60 mins, but again the chance was wasted. For the last half an hour or so City began to pick up the pace slightly and they began to make some impression on Athlone's back four. Rösler hit the side netting after 62 mins, and Ray Kelly had a shot cleared off the line after 75 mins. The last chance came when Summerbee sent Kelly clear only for the ball to come off the surface and hit Kelly in the face and role harmlessly wide.

IMHO City weren't interested in this match, too many of them were strolling around aimlessly. Nigel Clough tried hard and won a few tackles in the first half, Steve Lomas tried hard but had nobody around him to battle with him. Ray Kelly impressed but he was playing in his hometown against his former club and obviously had something at stake. For the rest of them it was a waste of time as nothing can have been learned from this. The only highlights were the attempts of the combined Dublin and Galway Blues to make some atmosphere and the odd humorous comments to relieve the boredom. I don't know why City bothered to play this fixture.

Final score 1-2


Svenn Hanssen