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MATCH REPORTS 1998/99


JAN 2 (FACR3) WIMBLEON - MANCHESTER CITY 1-0 (0-0)

Attendance:
Goals: W: Court (62)
Line up: Weaver,Jim Whitley. Wiekens, Morrison , Vaughan, Horlock, Pollock (Dickov), Brown, Taylor, Goater, Dickov

Match report by: Peter Kewley

A cold, but sunny day at Selhurst Park at the kick-off when there were plenty of seats to spare for both sets of supporters, with the game having the look of being played at a neutral venue. Support looked about even. How Wimbledon achieve what they do I'll never know. Attendance 11,200, so no bumper profits for either club from this one.

The City line-up:

                       Weaver
Whitley ,Jim    Morrison    Wiekens     Vaughan
            Horlock    Pollock   Brown
             Taylor    Goater    Dickov

It was an attacking look for the start of the game and generally City had the better of much of the opening. Naturally (as usual) they didn't create too many really clear-cut opportunities but they often looked the better footballing side against Premiership opposition. Most of the shooting chances seemed to fall to Michael Brown although probably the best chance of the half went to Horlock who only managed a tame shot into Sullivan's hands. Dickov seemed to be operating almost as a winger and up front Goater and particularly Taylor were winning quite a few of the aerial battles.

At the other end Morrison and Wiekens were superb, containing the threat of Gayle and Leaburn well at many of the corners that Wimbledon won. The main weakness for City was at full back, especially Whitley who was having to work hard. The referee didn't seem to be doing City any favours at this stage and he let one nasty challenge on Weaver from Leaburn go without a card. Soon after this Weaver made one of the saves of the season from a point blank range header. Horlock was yellow-carded when Wimbledon players seemed to be given free licence to commit fouls.

The half ended with City continuing to look easily Wimbledon's equals and we all went for our tea and Bovril feeling pretty happy. There were no changes for the Blues (playing in their home strip) at half-time but Wimbledon brought on a couple of subs.

The second half was much like the first with City continuing to have slightly the better of things. We were all on our feet as Taylor found Dickov who volleyed sweetly home but the linesman had his flag up promptly for off-side. I'd like to see that one on t.v.

Needless to say Wimbledon scored not too long after this. It was at the opposite end from my seat but a ball was played inside Whitley and squared across, prodded back by Hughes and the move ending with it being put into the net by Cort. Until then, Wimbledon hadn't really looked like scoring but they missed another good chance soon after this.

Soon after, things boiled up when Morrison retaliated to a bit of aggro from Cort and both were sent off. It appeared to me (admittedly from some distance) that Morrison was treated a bit harshly but he did react. Pity, since he was having a great game. (I've watched it all on Match of the Day now and the original incident was nothing but they did flare up rather stupidly. The referee didn't see it and he relied on his linesperson called Wendy for the decision. No sexist implications.)

Russell replaced Pollock soon after and the game became an exciting end- to-end cup-tie. When Euell was dismissed for a second bookable offence the match was there for City's taking. They laid siege to the Wimbledon goal but (you're all familiar with the scenario) they didn't ever really look like scoring. It was cross after cross into the box but not much else. It was nearly totally one-sided with just the odd breakaway and Wimbledon were happy to hang on.

This was definitely a game that we should have won but most of the fans were happy with the performance. Team and fans applauded each other at the end. We seem to have a gritty, fighting team at last, built on a really solid central defensive duo.

Ratings: I think I might give everyone 8 with the exceptions of Wiekens (10) and Morrison (9). It would be harsh to criticise anyone after such a passionate performance. If we had a real goal scorer this team could well be looking at promotion!

(The Sunday papers are unanimous in describing the game as 'drab' and in taking the opportunity to relate how far City have fallen. I suppose it all depends on your perspective - on the one hand we performed well against a team two divisions above us and compared to some games I've seen this season this was a good show from City. On the other hand, there wasn't much skill on display and we still can't put the ball in the net. P.S. the NoW reports Joe Royle being interested in the Darlington centre back after an impressive game against us. Surely, that's the last thing we need? Shelia was on the bench at Wimbledon).


JAN 9 BLACKPOOL - MANCHESTER CITY 0-0 (0-0)

Attendance: 9,752
Goals: None
Line up: Weaver, Crooks. Wiekens, Morrison, Vaughan, Brown, Pollock, Horlock, Taylor, Goater, Dickov (Russell)

Match report by: Martin Ford

A midday kick-off meant an early start for a "traditional Lancashire derby" (in other words a div3/4 fixture - how the mighty have fallen). We'd managed to get on a coach trip taking in the game, a meal and a few beers!

Got to the slum that is Bloomfield Road with time to queue and gain entry, thankfully we were on the East Terrace, under a roof so the sun wasn't blazing in our eyes. City lined up:

             Weaver
Crooks  Morrison  Wiekens  Vaughan
      Brown  Pollock  Horlock
             Dickov
         Taylor, Goater

Subs, Bishop, Russel, J Whitley

The pitch looked in fairly decent nick, still a bit frozen in one goalmouth where the sun hadn't got too, so no excuses there for a poor performance. The game started and to say it was entertaining was an overstatement. It turned into a dire match, devoid of any mental ability of footballing ability. Weaver nearly got caught with one of his customary roll the ball out and try and kick it. Just why does he persist in doing it, he managed to escape, but it's not going to be long before he gets caught out!!! Goater had a brilliant effort touched round the post by Banks after he created some space on the edge of the box. Oh alright, Goater's shinned effort bobbled just in front of Banks and it trickled out for a corner. Other than that, not much more to say, well with a few exception's:

    Taylor, how many times will he be caught fouling (elbowing generally) opposition and giving away a good position?
  1. Another point, glad to see Crooks started taking the responsibility for some of the corners, Horlock's were fairly poor. At least it gave us another option.

Second half started in much the same vein, zzzzzzzzzz. City may very well have the possession, but the inability to create any genuine chances is starting to tell again!! Dick (sic) did his usual trick of falling down in the box trying to con the ref into giving a penalty. Which infuriated the Blackpool defence, their number 4 (and Dick) were both booked after a difference of opinion following a falling down incident. Soon after Dick was replaced by Russell who was stationed wide on the left. The match really deteriorated into a listless affair until Blackpool introduced a sub with about 10 mins to go, the Boy Wonder. His pace and skill nearly turned the game twice. Firstly he ran from the half way line, leaving Horlock in his wake (well that's not hard), beat Vaughan (again not hard) and then "fell over" after beating Morrison(?), if he'd stayed on his feet then he could have scored. The second chance came a minute from the end, when Paterson played a perfect diagonal through ball, Vaughan was left trailing but Weaver saved the day with a knee. And that was that.

Instead of an all-action match, this was again really poor. The team is crying out for someone with a little bit of skill and ability and most importantly a footballing brain, either from the management team or the actual team. The current crap (sic) of stars just makes me wonder how they became professionals, I've seen better skill, commitment, ability and pride in Sunday league teams. So a nil-nil might be a good result against top of the table opposition, but against Blackpool it's not good enough. Now 9th spot when are they gonna realise it's not good enough.

After the match it was on the coach down the Leigh for a meal and a few pints and then back home for a night out. Good day out with the exception of the match, the suggestion of a day out avoiding the match was met with some appovement.


JAN 16 MANCHESTER CITY - FULHAM 3-0 (2-0)

Attendance: 30,251
Goals: MC: Goater (24), Taylor (32), Horlock (53)
Line up: Weaver, Crooks. Wiekens, Vaughan , Edghill, Brown , Pollock, Horlock (Jim Whitley), Taylor , Goater, Cooke

Match report by: Sharon Bennett

Now this was a fine, fighting performance by a team who'd underperformed woefully at Blackpool the week before. The 10-minute delay to kick off meant I could squeeze another beer in from the Kippax bar too. Cooke made his debut, and as Michael Brown had recovered from his groin strain it was Dickov who was dropped to the bench. Morrison was missing for the first game of the completely unfair three-match ban that the FA had seen fit to dish out while letting Cort get away with starting the scrap, so Vaughan was moved back to centre half and Edghill was back. The full team lined up as Weaver, Crooks, Edghill, Vaughan, Wiekens, Horlock, Brown, Pollock, Taylor, Goater and Cooke. Subs were Dickov, Whitley and Bishop. For Fulham, Peschisolido and Horsfield started by warming the bench and Kit Symons, on his return to Maine Road, had the task of marking Shaun Goater. Cooke got a good reception from the City crowd which was nice to see, Symons was completely ignored until the Fulham fans started chanting his name and was then booed every time he got the ball after that.

The referee was awful. After about two minutes Goater was sandwiched in the penalty area by Symons and Coleman and he waved play on. Wiekens - yes, Wiekens, how dirty a player is he? - was then booked for dispossessing dirty diving Dirk Lehmann, who looked lovely with his earrings taped up. Why doesn't he just take them out? Brown was booked for a late tackle and obviously found the place in referees' hearts usually reserved for Paul Dickov, as the ref spoke to him time and again for his "over-aggressive tactics" yet let Brevitt, in particular, clatter through the back of him time and time again. Silly me, I thought football was supposed to be a contact sport but that seems to depend on which team you're playing for. Fulham got countless free kicks given their way in the first 25 minutes and the game seemed to be following an all too familiar pattern. Lehmann kept trying to get Brown sent off by diving theatrically whenever he went anywhere near him.

Suddenly something changed. Crooks was fed the ball on the right and put a pinpoint cross onto the head of Shaun Goater. Goater completely misheaded it, and didn't get any power on it at all - completely confusing the keeper who dived too early and missed the ball completely. Woohoo! 1-0! The ref seemed to decide at that point that we were the better team and gave us a couple of free kicks, then booked Taylor for an awful challenge through the back of one of the Fulham midfielders. After 30 minutes Taylor was responsible for a glaring miss when he ran onto ball played through the defence by (I think) Brown, who'd decided he wanted tostay on the pitch so had gone back to playing football. The Fulham defence appealed unsuccessfully for offside, but with only the keeper to beat Taylor hit it straight at his legs. Two minutes later the same happened again. Goater was running back from an offside position but Taylor ran through to collect the ball and this time made no mistake with a lovely curling shotinto the far side of the net. Woohoo! 2-0!! This was a far harder chance that the first one as he had to get the ball past Coleman and Symons as well as the keeper - maybe he just likes going for the spectacular?

Fulham were showing a remarkable amount of gamesmanship, ably abetted by the referee who fell for it all. Pollock nobbled someone in front of the Kippax (incidentally he then turned to the Kippax and clenched his fist in the air, glad the ref didn't see THAT) who lay over the touchline onto the pitch. Instead of the ref kicking him off the pitch for the physio to deal with and letting the game continue with our corner he stopped the game while the poor ickle diddums had treatment.

Weaver had one save to make all half that I can remember when he, Wiekens and Vaughan all went for the same ball and all missed it. Hayles almost managed to squeeze the ball in from virtually on the back touchline but Weaver stood up well and cleared it with his feet. Wiekens made one mistake when he gave possession away in the area but Vaughan came back and covered well.

Half time 2-0 and we couldn't quite believe it. Out came the chocolate biscuits in celebration. The team were cheered off - we decided we couldn't be doing with that so shouted a few boos instead - got to make the lads feel at home haven't we?

I honestly thought we'd get walked all over in the second half as Fulham were so disappointing in the first half. Surely Kev would go off on one of his usual I've-lost-my-mind rants and scare his team into playing better? Well...no. Brown was fouled from behind right on the edge of the area - it was close as to whether it should have been a penalty as Brown was running along the line at the time but I think on this occasion the ref did actually make the right decision. The ball was placed right on the edge of the area and Fulham lined up level with the penalty spot. Eventually the ref realised how close they were and made them go back, oh, at least another yard. Hmm. While everyone else was still arguing and complaining that two of the defenders were still encroaching (which they were) Kevin Horlock stepped up and smacked the ball in the net. Nice one Kev. Woohoo! 3-0!!!

At last we could start to relax, although all I could think about was the game a couple of years ago at Southend when we were 3-0 up and nearly managed to lose it in the last 10 minutes. This wasn't going to happen here though as we restricted Fulham to virtually no chances. Mad Kev in desperation threw all three subs on but they couldn't turn the game away from the rampant Blues. Hey, I like the sound of that. It would have been nice to score a fourth so we could beat them by more than they beat us but I wasn't that bothered. Three would do.

I can't remember who else was booked but it seemed as if it was half of our team, when the only bad tackles all game were Taylor's and when Brown was fouled just before the third goal. Hayles blatantly elbowed Edghill in the head at one point but we didn't even get a free kick. Brevett was leading with his elbow every time he jumped for a ball and finally got booked about half way through the second half. I think Pollock and Vaughan were booked too but not for doing much.

This was the best fighting spirit I've seen from a City side this year. It wasn't the best football I've seen, in fact with the exception of some nice touches from Cooke (who looks as if he'll be good) the football was pretty poor but I don't care. The Fulham defence were well organised - I lost count of the number of times Taylor was caught offside - yet even our goal shy side managed to score three past them. There wasn't a single weak link in the team. I think Brown was given MOTM by most of the papers but I'd have given it to Crooks, who's getting better in every game I see him. Cooke may not have done anything to lead directly to a goal but he was always a threat out wide and pulled Fulham defenders out to deal with him, leaving Pollock loads of room to boss the midfield. Our back four mopped up everything that was thrown at them and even Edghill didn't let himself down, while Vaughan's improvement had continued. Even Horlock looked more interested in the proceedings than he has for a while.

And it was good to get three goals past Mad Kev's overpriced, overvalued and overhyped wonder boys....


JAN 23 WALSALL - MANCHESTER CITY 1-1 (0-0)

Attendance: 9,517
Goals: MC: Pollock (74). W: Watson (67)
Line up: Weaver, Crooks, Wiekens , Vaughan, Edghill, Cooke (Jim Whitley), Pollock, Brown, Horlock, Taylor, Goater

Match report by: Gareth Thomas

I've never written a match report before but thought I'd give it a go. So please forgive any blinding errors, lack of skill, inability to achieve goals....but enough about me what about the match.

We started brightly in what looked like a first choice formation for a change.

           Weaver
Crooks   Wiekins  Vaughan  Edghill
Cooke   Pollock   Brown    Horlock
        Goater  Taylor

With the exeption of Horlock down the left, as I think he fairs much better in a more central position, he didn't get out very wide in any case.

Half chances seemed to come thick and fast at both ends, in all the first. Walsall failed to capitalise on an early defensive blunder by City, and then the same happened at the other end of the park. One incident of note however is the first booking, I didn't notice who was booked as I was venting my spleen at the ref, as I'm sure those with commentry heard. Basically this Walsall player pulled our lad back by his shirt when he was in possesion and the City player got booked???? The first of many blunders by a nincompoop of a referee. I must mention Cooke here, it was the first time I've seen him, and it is so good seeing City play with 'WIDTH' giving the two strikers some space, opening up the defence, Cooke is very pacy and can beat people and cross the ball, seemed a bit poor at collecting long passes though.

Crowd wise, the Bescot is quite a nice little ground when full as today, the saddlers fans were a bit quiet we were obviously too boisterous for them!!!, and good views, the unreserved seating meant that you could pick a spot without the hindrance of pillars if you arrived in good time...However, I reckon their were more Blues than seats as many were left standing in the corners. The pitch seemed quite hard despite the rain we've been having and it's waterlogged state the week before.

Anyway onto the second half more of the same basically another defensive blunder gifted them the goal, indeed the only time I got really worried about them scoring sort of intuitively. Anyway City bounced back with an incredible ten minutes of play, it took a goal mouth scramble, non-league style, but our Jamie popped it in the net and then did his usual fist waving antics but this time you could understand it. And then we dropped back and sat on the draw, Walsall pressed for the remaining ten minutes and a cracking save from our Nicky in the nets. Walsall are a good side for this division, but they lack what we lack...players who know what to do in front of the goal.

On balance a fair result I think, Now the bit I was looking forward to: My awarding of marks out of ten for the players...always wanted to do this:

Weaver (10) Did a magnificent save a few minutes from the end and looked cool and composed, Even got us singing 'Weaver' like the England fans do 'Seaman'

Crooks (9) Looked very impressive

Edghill (9) yes it was one of those days where Edghill excelled, I counted three good crosses (yes it is Edghill I'm taking about) Got into space, Passed accuratly.....Whys can't you do it every week Edgy!?

Wiekins (9) Another solid performance, someone recently wrote in MCIVTA that our Gerard couldn't handle being turned....well he can, I've seen him do it

Vaughan (6) looks alright in the central defensive positions, the odd error.

Brown (6) didn't notice him too much, ..wouldn't mind seeing one of his Kinky run impressions again mind.

Pollock (4) Probably doesn't deserve a 4 as he didn't look fully fit...hobbling around, but his passing was wayward too...so it's a 4 to our scorer (I said I was probably going to be bobbins at this)

Horlock (6) Still like to see him back to the way he used to play, not a bad performance though

Cooke (8) described him above really didn't I!

Goater (6) he does seem to be slowly improving got a few half chances but wasted them all, his positoning was a bit off. I don't think it's because he doesn't jump for headers..his timing is wrong I reckon. Why do so many supporters pick on him....he's not our only under achiever?????

Taylor (5) Didn't really look the part, if we can get the crosses flying in and his positioning improves then i may be more generous

Corners.

Firstly when was the last time we scored from a corner (answers on a postcard to the usual address), Secondly why have Goater & Taylor standing on the goal line, the ball won't come to them there and if they meet the ball they're going the wrong way!

Away games - I don't go to many away games and my last two before today were the trips to Reading at the end of last season and Fulham this season....they kind of put me off going away!!! i.e. no singing, abysmal play from the blues, morque like atmosphere etc etc....Going to Walsall was so much better, must go away more often.


JAN 29 STOKE - MANCHESTER CITY 0-1 (0-1)

Attendance: 13,676
Goals: MC: Wiekens (20). W:
Line up: Weaver, Crooks (Bishop), Wiekens, Vaughan, Edghill, Cooke (Jim Whitley), Pollock (Dickov), Brown, Horlock , Taylor, Goater

Match report by: Julian Griffiths

This was an unusually spur-of-the-moment act for me. Usually I decide which games to go to weeks in advance, but not this time. I had decided to watch the Stoke game in the pub, if I could find one in Lufbra that showed it, but then I can't bear watching City on live TV - somehow they always lose when I do. And I had been convinced that we were going to lose.

But I woke up on Friday morning with a strange feeling we were going to do ok, coupled with a not-so-strange feeling (it happens regularly) that I had to get out of Loughborough. So I got the time off work, hot-footed it to Maine Road (passing the Britannia stadium on the way!) and got my ticket.

I can't write a full match report, somehow after the event it all seems to become a blur after a while. Someone at work told me I was mad to drive 100 miles just to buy the ticket when it only takes 40 minutes to get to Stoke from here, but it was worth it. One of those few occasions in this awful league that reminds you why you're proud to be Blue. The team's attitude, commitment and performance in the first Stoke game and the Fulham game, combined with the atmosphere, were fantastic, but somehow being away from home made it far better. The team battled for each other, outplayed Stoke, created countless chances, there was no way they were going to lose this game. Confidence is obviously high and you can see it throughout the team - except perhaps in the front two. Goater in particular seems very short on confidence, he's hesitating to take chances he would have put away earlier in the season.

The back four did their job well against one of the best teams in the division, restricting them to very few chances. Crooks and Edghill have been excellent in the full back positions in recent weeks - hopefully the arm injury Crooks picked up in the second half won't stop him playing Millwall on Saturday. Wiekens was, as always, superb - there are still rumours going around that he's going to be sold and I hope it's not true. You don't get anywhere by selling your best players, and if JR is building a team for the future Wiekens should be in it. Unless he screws up spectacularly he's bound to be player of the season. As for Vaughan, who'd have thought he'd be playing so well? As we've all seen before, Vaughan can be truly awful when he's at left back (perversely, the position Mad Frank bought him for) but in the past few weeks he's been excellent alongside Wiekens. JR must have a dilemma on his hands now Morrison has finished his suspension and in my opinion he shouldn't drop Vaughan while he's playing so well, it could destroy his confidence.

In midfield, Brown did well again (I was surprised he wasn't carried off after the apalling challenge that got Stoke's captain rightly sent off), while Pollock did alright although he still doesn't seem to be on top form. Horlock's doing ok as well, although he's another player that isn't on top form. As for Cooke, all I can say is it's nice to see so many crosses going into the box. Shame our front two can never do anything with them. Sign him up now Joe.

As for Goater and Taylor, Goater seems to be short on confidence as I've said already, while Taylor still doesn't look like the answer to our problems. They both worked hard but their finishing is appalling.

And finally - the fans. The atmosphere in our end was fantastic. The twenty minutes of "Joe Royle's Blue and White Army" was incredible. It's nice to see everybody getting behind the team.

It's a shame this win didn't move us further up the table. Automatic promotion still looks a pretty tall order, but you never know. As I write this the FA are discussing whether to sack Hoddle (and personally I think they should). Wouldn't it be a shame if Keegan were to get the job! Meanwhile, Preston's manager is said to be Taggart's first choice as assitant, and there are rumours that we're going to get a major cash injection. What should JR spend it on? Terry Cooke, a striker and a left winger - if we had a decent striker (Uwe would be my first choice) getting on the end of crosses from both sides there could be no stopping City. Whoever he buys, Joe shouldn't spend it all in one go but save some for if we go up.


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