MATCH REPORTS 1997/98
Goals: MC: Brannan (20,71), Dickov (88). NF: Campbell (81)
Line up: Margetson, Edghill, Brightwell, Symons, Van Blerk, Summerbee, Brannan, Wiekens, Horlock, Kinkladze (Dickov), Bradbury
Report by: Paul Howarth
Well, what can I say? Given Forest's 100% record in six league and cup games and City's so far fruitless search for a league win, prospects for a result at the City ground didn't look good. However, with Van Hooydonk and Stone both absent, maybe an upset was possible? Arriving at the ground, there were far more Blues there than I'd expected - I know several regulars who boycotted the game due to the Ł20.00 ticket price (same price for adults in all parts of the ground) but we still filled around two thirds of our normal allocation, around 4,000 Blues amongst the 23,681 crowd.
The line-up was a bit surprising. Gio was indeed fit as was hinted at earlier in the week but there was no sign of Uwe, not even on the bench. Speculation mounted that he'd had a bust-up with Frank Clark or was on his way to Everton but it turned out his wife was about to have their first child and he was with her. This gave City the chance to play a 4-4-1-1 formation, advocated by many fans, and that's what happened. Ricky Edghill returned at right back, giving us two specialist full backs in the side for the first time in years but I must admit I groaned at the news that Ged Brannan had retained his place - I just don't think his contributions have been good enough this season. The side was thus:
Margetson Edghill Brightwell Symons Van Blerk Summerbee Brannan Wiekens Horlock Kinkladze Bradbury
Subs: McGoldrick, Dickov, Vaughan
City kicked off and looked good straight away. Edghill and Summerbee linked well down the right flank and were a constant threat to Forest throughout the first half. Bradbury, who played much of last season as a lone striker for Portsmouth, looked the part, using his pace and presence to bother the home side's defence. Kinkladze was given room to play as he wished, which led to a good supply of through balls for Bradbury to latch on to. He was caught offside quite frequently but was onside enough times to create a number of openings. The first of these came from a quick break down the right flank by Brannan; he crossed hard and low for Kinkladze who, instead of shooting, back- heeled the ball into Bradbury's path, 15 yards out. Unfortunately, Bradbury's nerves got the better of him and in his eagerness to ensure that his shot was on target, he ended up hitting what was little more than a pass straight to Pascolo in the Forest goal.
Undeterred, the City fans got behind him and started chanting his name. Another quick break down the right, this time by Bradbury, resulted in City taking a deserved lead in the 19th minute. Pascolo should have come out and intercepted the ball but stayed close to goal, which gave Bradbury the chance to square the ball for the supporting Brannan to knock home from 6 yards. Brannan had already stamped his authority on the game, and with Wiekens, was dominating the centre of a very competitive midfield. Forest seemed to have a lack of ideas, their main threat coming from in-swinging corners whipped in by Bart-Williams. Despite Margetson's lack of authority in his own six-yard box, these were all dealt with quite well by City. Forest's only other decent chances came from Dean Saunders, a quick turn and shot that flew just wide from 20 yards and then, capitalising on an error by Symons, he raced forward but hesitated when he should have had a shot on goal, and when he eventually crossed the ball, Edghill was on hand to head the ball away. Edghill was a revelation - it's great to have him back...
At the other end, City nearly doubled their lead when Kinkladze shuffled past a defender and let rip from 30 yards with virtually no backlift. His shot dipped and swerved away from Pascolo before striking the top of the bar. Oooh! Half time came and there were cheers from the assembled Blues and boos from the home fans, who had been very quiet throughout.
Forest pressed forward more purposefully in the second half, getting men forward in numbers and leaving themselves open at the back for quick breaks, which City exploited on a number of occasions. Kinkladze played a superb through ball for Summerbee to run on to, and his perfect low cross between goalkeeper and defenders reached Bradbury at the far post who seemed certain to score. Once more his effort was on target, harder this time but still straight at the 'keeper. And still the City fans chanted his name (Maine Road moaners please take note). The ball was cleared off City's line a couple of times as the corners kept coming in, an instinctive poked shot by Saunders flew just wide, it seemed that City's luck might be holding for once.
Not only was it holding, it got stronger! Another great through ball by Kinkladze put Brannan in on goal, and this time Pascolo came out to meet him. Both players went on the 50-50 challenge and the ball bobbled loose. The alert Brannan got up first and instinctively hooked the ball towards the goal without looking. He could not have hit the ball better if he tried 100 times. From 30 yards out, the ball must have gone at least 20 yards up in the air and it eventually came down just under the crossbar but over the head of a despairing defender who'd raced back to cover the open goal. The ball bounced back up into the net - we were two up! Brannan raced forward towards the City fans and slid on his knees for about 10 yards in celebration.
The two-goal margin lifted City who now looked very confident and likely to score again. Kinkladze, concerned about his ankle (he didn't look 100% fit but still had an excellent game) was replaced by the ever industrious Dickov and the little Scot could have had four goals by the end. One goal was disallowed for a close offside decision, and he was inches from converting a Bradbury pass. At the other end, Forest had become very direct in their approach. A Geoff Thomas header was brilliantly turned away by Margetson but soon afterwards the seeds of doubt were sown in the Blues' minds again - Campbell finally converting one of those corners. With 10 minutes to go we were asking ourselves if the Blues could hang on for a draw (yes, we've got that pessimistic!) but we needn't have worried. With two minutes left a third goal came to settle the match once and for all. Summerbee was fouled near the corner, and from his free kick, Brannan headed the ball back across goal to the totally unmarked Dickov at the far post. As everyone stood still and watched (I was looking for a linesman's flag), Dickov controlled the ball on his chest before volleying the ball in. "I'm lethal from a yard," he quipped later.
The final whistle came soon afterwards and it was all smiles amongst the fans for the first time in ages. Virtually the whole side played well and I can't see there being any changes for a while. The formation suits the players we have, we created more chances in one game than in the rest of the games put together and I can't see Uwe getting back in the team, much as I like him. The win lifts City several places up the table: "We're not bottom any more" we sang on the way home...
Goals: MC: Morley (81). B: Johnson (65)
Line up: Margetson, Edghill, Morley, Symons, Van Blerk (Scully), Summerbee, Brannan, Wiekens, Horlock, Kinkladze, Bradbury
Report by: Paul Howarth
"Blues are here, Blues are there..."
It's a dark, wet Friday night in Bury, thunderstorms nearby, the Sky TV cameras beaming coverage of the game to houses and pubs the length of the country (and further), yet the ticket touts are out in force at Gigg Lane. Yes, the City boys are back in town after a wait of 31 years and the biggest crowd for 17 years has converged on Bury's neatly revamped ground. With City fans at both ends as well as being dotted along both sides of the ground, Kappa shirts clearly visible, it's clear that the visitors outnumber the home fans. However, on the back of a 28-game unbeaten home run in which only 8 goals have been conceded, the Shakers' fans are at least as optimistic as those of the Blues, who have seen their team struggle against "direct" sides recently.
Frank Clark, keen not to disturb the side that played so well at Nottingham Forest, made only one change, bringing in the lanky young defender David Morley for his full League début in place of the poorly Ian Brightwell. The City line-up was thus:
Margetson Edghill Morley Symons Van Blerk Summerbee Brannan Wiekens Horlock Kinkladze Bradbury Subs: Rösler, Beesley, Scully.
For the first few minutes Bury seemed a little overawed and made some panicky clearances as City pressed forward. The first decent chance fell to Nicky Summerbee, who got on the end of a Kinkladze through ball but was tackled by Andy Gray before he could fire a shot in. However, before long the home side were back into their usual stride, heaving high balls into the penalty area towards man-mountain Peter Swan. Thankfully though, the City defence held firm, dealing much better than usual with this type of pressure and with Margetson in particular looking surprisingly comfortable. Morley showed composure beyond his years and Edghill showed again how much he has been missed.
Nevertheless, some half-chances fell the way of Bury, Swan and Johnrose being thwarted by the alert Margetson before Battersby struck the outside of the post following a good run. City won a few corners towards the end of the half and from one of these nearly took the lead; an attempted clearance only reached Wiekens, 15 yards out and the Dutchman hooked the ball powerfully goalwards. The ball was cleared off the line by Swan, this time on defensive duty, though a foot either side and the power of the shot would taken it into the net. Bury went close again just before the break when Johnson, the most skilful-looking of the Bury players, fired in an angled drive which was well saved by Margetson.
The second half was a different story as City dominated both in terms of time in possession and territorially. Part of the reason for this was the introduction of Tony Scully in place of the injured Jason Van Blerk in the 47th minute (Horlock dropped back to left back); Scully's quick runs down the left flank gave the home defence something else to think about and this helped Gio Kinkladze to break free of his shadow, Andy Gray, as Bury struggled to escape from their own half. In the 53rd minute the Georgian went on one of his trademark runs from deep in midfield, beating five players before being upended as three defenders tried to dispossess him. IMHO it was an even better run than his goal against Southampton 18 months ago. Unfortunately, the normally-reliable Kinkladze scuffed his penalty, giving Dean Kiely a comfortable save low to his right.
City continued to press forward but in the 65th minute Bury opened the scoring on a rare break. David Johnson chased a long ball with Kevin Horlock, who appeared to slip as he tried to pass the ball back to Margetson, leaving Johnson free to lob the ball over the stranded goalkeeper much to the delight of the home fans. However, after the game Johnson was honest enough to admit that he had fouled Horlock: "I caught Kevin Horlock on the heels as we both went for the ball and I must admit I expected to hear the referee's whistle. But it didn't come and I was able to run on and score. Sometimes you get away with things like that, sometimes you don't. It was just my lucky night."
Bury nearly extended their lead when Johnrose broke through the City defence and fired in a shot from eight yards which was well saved by Margetson. Lee Bradbury went close to equalising but his header flew just past the near post after a good cross from the left flank. Scully caused Bury a lot of problems with his pace, trickery and understanding with Kinkladze, but all too often his delivery of the final ball was lacking. There were no such complaints 10 minutes from time though, when his perfect in-swinging corner was glanced home by the impressive Morley. City pushed forward looking for the winner, one run in particular from Edghill being very threatening but Scully came closest, getting on the end of a Bradbury flick-on and striking his shot against the outside of the near post.
Overall, it was an enjoyable game between teams with contrasting styles but plenty of energy and a draw was a fair result. Both sides had chances to win it, though City will point to the penalty miss and Johnson's challenge on Horlock as being key moments. It was certainly a game that début boy David Morley will remember. Frank Clark said of him: "The way that Bury play, David looked the best bet to play when we found out we were without Brightwell. David is big and strong in the air and he had to cope with everything they threw at him. I thought he had a great game and the goal was a real bonus for us. You won't find me complaining about Bury's style; as long as it's within the laws that's okay by me. Their style is very much in the air but we knew what was coming and we just had to cope with it. David's display was top class. I couldn't have asked for any more from him. He took his chance well and he has a great future."
Commenting on the game in general, he added: "We took control in the second half and the irony was that they scored while we were having our best spell. Gio is obviously disappointed that he missed the penalty. The piece of skill that he showed to win it was world class."
Bury manager Stan Ternent said: "I never felt we were safe even after we had scored. They had a lot of possession and were increasingly dangerous but we deserved the point. I felt we worked so hard for it and gave them a lot to worry about. We needed a second goal, but it would not come."
After the game, unused substitute Uwe Rösler warmed-down by running up and down the length of the pitch, pausing to chat with fans and shake hands. It was seen by many as a farewell gesture but despite the fact that he has turned down a new contract and will be leaving the club, he could still have a rôle to fill for City until another club signs him.
Final Score: Bury 1 City 1
Goals: MC: Bradbury (27). NC: Adams (38), Coote (64)
Line up: Margetson, Edghill, Van Blerk (Scully), Brightwell, Symons, Summerbee, Brannan (Dickov), Wiekens, Horlock, Kinkladze, Bradbury
Report by: Steve Kay
Queued for half an hour pre match to buy my tickets for Ipswich away and Paul Lake Testimonial. Stopped and chatted briefly to Noel Bayley, who was selling Bert Trautmanns Helmet (not THE Helmet, the fanzine) outside the North Stand. There was a very strange atmosphere at Maine Rd today. In fact there wasn't any atmosphere. 27500 fans stood in impeccable silence for one minute as a mark of respect to Diana, Princess of Wales. This was followed by another 90 minutes of virtual silence as a mark of respect to a once great football club.
Silly me thinking FC might start the game with the line up that finished strongly at Bury. Instead we welcomed back Ian Brightwell!? The team lined up:
Margetson Edghill Brightwell Symons Van Blerk Summerbee Brannan Wiekens Horlock Kinkladze Bradbury
I have to say here and now that this Norwich side were the worst I have ever seen, so in view of the final score, God help us, its going to be a long cold winter!! City created chances-a-plenty and Lee Bradbury finally broke his duck in the 27th minute, slotting the ball into the bottom right hand corner after his first effort was half-saved. I can honestly say that was the only time the crowd broke into voice. Not once did I hear Blue Moon, just a few half-hearted attempts. I had to laugh when Norwich equalised and their fans started the predictable "You're not singing anymore", 'cos we were'nt singing anyway! We need to think of a chant for Bradbury, like "Lee Lee Bradberee". Anything but not just a round of applause. When he scored I was deluged with a load of Lottery playslips cut into strips !! Was it somebody who read my Bury report ? If so make yourself known please, if you were near the front of the Kippax upper tier (FF section). Everybody I spoke to before the game were surprisingly confident of a City win by two or three goals, and this looked like a good bet. But once again City failed to get the breathing space that a second goal would have brought, and poor defending let in Norwich to equalise in the 38th minute, with Adams? curling a right foot shot past Margetson with the outside of his boot from the right hand corner of the box. Half time 1-1.
In the second half City again had chances, Bradbury looked to have stabbed home a second, only to have it cleared off the line. But once again a defensive mix-up led to the Norwich winner. As a qualified referee, I have to say that the goal was clearly offside. As the Norwich player broke down the left towards goal with only the oncoming Margetson to beat, he appeared to pass the ball forward and to the side, into the path of a teammate, who slotted the ball into an empty net. The referee looked at his assistant for a decision. As the flag stayed down, the goal was given. An appalling decision by a poor referee, who gave unnecesary yellow cards, and completely lost it later on when he made an injured Norwich defender, who was obviously time wasting, leave the field after being treated, only to allow him back on BEFORE play was restarted !!
City now drop to 20th place, and if these inept, headless-chicken displays continue, we will be challenging for relegation, not promotion.
Margetson 7 Another steady display, keeping out the fit again Tommy Wright. Brightwell 5 Should not have been picked. Simple as that. Van Blerk 6 Brought off again. Should try him further forward on the left. Wiekens 9 Tireless performance again. 120% effort. Symons 5 Mr "Give A Goal A Game Away". Zero confidence. Booed every time he touched the ball. FC please put the lad out of his misery, take that white bandage off his arm, and drop him. Edghill 8 Played with the same determination as Wiekens. Must have been great for him to play at home again after 22 months out. Summerbee 5 Needs a rocket up his arse ! Has the same fan club following as Symons, i.e every touch booed. By the way Nicky, tuck your bloody shirt in your shorts ! Horlock 7 A trier, but I'm not convinced that he is a First Division player. Bradbury 9 Never gives up. Could have scored 3 at least, but needs an attacking partner (Rösler), AND support on both wings (Scully and Van Blerk). Kinkladze 8 Exiting on the ball, but could have released it on occasions to better placed players. Brannan 6 I always think of him and Horlock as very similar players, so see my comments on Horlock. Scully 7 Caused problems by whipping the ball into the six yard box. I'd try him on the right in place of Summerbee. Dickov 6 Not on long enough to rate, but "Braveheart" battled as hard as ever. Rösler (not used). With ten minutes left, I'd have thrown him on in place of Symons or Brightwell. I cannot understand FCs mentality over Uwe. Either drop him altogether, and hope he finds another club before the end of the season, or play him from the start, and let him sell himself. I have no doubt that while he is still here he would die for the fans, if not the club.
Frank Clark may never have his name in lights, but today he had his name in seats. The initials FC (as in MCFC) were clearly to be seen in the seating behind the North Stand goals, just in front of the Norwich fans.
After watching the standard of football in the current Premier League, on MOTD on Saturday night (I only watched to see Donkey Pallister get sent off), and then casting my mind back six hours to that garbage I saw, it has finally sunk in that we are definitely an average First Division team, and dropping fast. I reckon Taggart could put his "A" team out in the Paul Lake Testemonial, and still win handsomely. Let's not kid ourselves, we are light years behind the Rags. Why are we signing players from ****ing Adelaide Sharks, and players on free transfers ? Where is all this money we have? We probably take around half a million pounds sterling per home game in gate receipts alone. If we are ever going to get out of this tin pot division, we need to use our well known players like Kinkladze and Rösler to attract some big name quality players to the club, who have something to prove. That's the dream. In reality Kinkladze and Rösler will leave for around 10 million, leaving us with no heroes, nothing to bring us back every other week, and therefore no need to come at all. Where could the downward spiral end? Sorry to be so negative, but I've had plenty of practice over the years.
PS I heard over the loudspeaker system at the match, that Helen "the Bell" was poorly in hospital. On behalf of all City fans, can I wish her all the best, and hope she's back behind the goals ringing her bell soon. I sat talking to her at the Open Day, where she reeled off loads of her City memories.
PPS What's happened to Eddie McGoldrick. We need his type at the moment !
City 'til I die, which won't be long, watching this garbage.
Goals: MC: Kinkladze (2), Casper (17 o.g.), Horlock (37), Dickov (50,59), Bradbury (80)
Line up: Margetson, Brightwell, Symons, Beesley, Edghill, Brannan, Kinkladze (Conlon), Wiekens, Horlock, Dickov (Scully), Bradbury
Report by: Steve Kay
"We're the M.I.B." (Manchester Internet Blues)
Back to Bouncy Castle Maine Rd for another "eventful" afternoon? As I queued for what seemed an eternity pre-match to buy two more tickets for the Paul Lake testimonial, I made the comparison of waiting at the dentist to have your wisdom teeth pulled. Is it better to stay at home where you are comfortable but in pain, or do you risk going to the dentist, who is either going to make you feel a hell of a lot better, or worse? I rushed into the "waiting room" (the Kippax) for my 3pm appointment. I always thought dentists appointments were at 2.30, you know.... tooth hurty (sad joke). Then the receptionist (Vince Miller!?) told me that I would have to prolong the agony another 15 minutes to see the dental team (City), as some other patients (other long suffering Blues) had been delayed in traffic on Princess Parkway. Would the Department of Transport even dream of cutting such a major road down to one lane if The World's Greatest Football Team* had been at home ? Answers on a postcard please.
An unexpectadly high attendance of 26,646 turned out to see us take on Mighty High Flying Swindon Town!! The team was announced:
Margetson Brightwell Symons Beesley Edghill Brannan Wiekens Horlock Dickov Kinkladze Bradbury
Subs: Van Blerk, Scully and Barry Conlan (who??)
The team lined up in Flying Saucer formation (how else could you describe it ?), with a fat (sorry, flat) back three with an average age of thirty something. That's what I like to see......experience!! No sign of Summerbee or Uwe (think he was injured in training).
The game kicked off at 3.12pm with City attacking the Platt Lane End, and like last Saturday, Kinky went close in the opening seconds. Dickov looked to be fired up, and chased every ball, which encouraged the rest of the team to do likewise. After six minutes Dickov was brought down. Free kick about 25 yards out. The ref pushed the Swindon wall back 10 yards, and Kinky curled one into the top left corner. From where I was sat it was difficult to see how much curl he put on it, but having just seen the goals on Granada's Footy Show, it was a peach. I threw my lottery playstrips into the air and scribbled down the time and scorer in the space on the back of the programme. Now if only we can get the breathing space a second goal would bring. City continued to press, and after 13 minutes Edghill was put through on the right. He fired in a low hard ball across the six yard box from the side of the penalty area, which was turned into goal by one of Taggarts young on loan Tosspots, Casper. No, not the friendly ghost, but Chris, son of Burnley's Billy. I noted down the time and scorer in another box on the programme. After half an hour, Swindon's Darren Bullock (replica of Blackpool's lard arse Gary Brabin) sent Dickov flying, and was lucky to only get booked, after grabbing poor little Paul by the collar while he was still on the ground. Dickov was booked for his reaction. Almost immediately, Kinky went on one of those long jinking runs, where the ball seems to be glued to his toe. God knows how many men he beat, but if his final shot from the corner of the six yard box had gone in, instead of hitting the angle and going out, it would have been without doubt the greatest goal seen at Maine Rd, even better than Southampton, or any scored by Rodney Marsh. The crowd rose to salute the Georgiam Maestro. This man seems to get better and better. His little turns and body movements alone can and do make experienced opponents look very silly. By now the whole team were playing well as a team, including Kit Symons (yes, I had to rub my eyes), who, to his credit, responded well to last weeks critisism (me included). City were now on fire, and after 38 minutes another good move ended with Brannan curling in a low ball from the left side of the box, away from the keeper, which was directed into the unprotected goal by Horlock, with a diving header only a foot off the ground. I filled in the third and last box on my programme, which left 3 empty boxes on the Swindon half for the goals they would probably score in the second half to scrape a draw (it has been known!). Half time 3-0.
During the half-time interval we were "entertained" by the usual City kids versus Opponents kids Penalty Shoot Out, with Moonchester in goal. Everybody knows that Moonchester can only see out of his/her nostrils, so if you hit the ball above nose height, you score. Pity the City kids didn't know this, 'cos once again we lost. This was preceded by the Half Time Draw, by Vince Miller, who was celebrating his birthday (yawn, yawn). But this was to be no ordinary draw. City's new female goal announcer, Jo Blakeway, who does the weekday traffic reports for Piccadilly Radio from the "eye in the sky", had "donated" a second prize of a flight in the plane. This was unfortunately announced by Miller as: "The second prize winner can have a ride with Jo Blakeway", which was greeted with thousands of wolf whistles by the crowd. My half time entertainment usually comprises of me watching the father and son sat next to me tucking into a massive pork pie, which is perched on the wall in front of us. I'm not one to critisise fellow Blues, but the son, about 20ish, usually just sits there during the match with his sunglasses on, trying to match up the different strips of lottery tickets that have landed on him. The only time he opens his mouth is to push in another piece of bloody pie. I have tried to get a conversation out of him, but he justs sits there. Perhaps he is a deaf mute, in which case I apologise for taking the mickey out of a disadvantaged person !
The second half kicks off and once again City are in complete control. Dickov is playing a blinder (he admits after the game it's his best game in a City shirt). He simply cannot do anything wrong and the crowd applaud him throughout. With five minutes gone, Bradbury puts him through just inside the Swindon half. Dickov runs in on goal, pursued by a defender. The keeper comes out, Dickov goes wide, keeper half saves, but Dickov cooly places the ball into the net, inbetween the keeper and defender on the line. The crowd goes wild. I note the time, but shit, there's no space left on my programme. I have to write it underneath. Ask me am I bothered? Naah. 14 minutes gone, and Dickov gets his second. Kinky bends in a corner from the left, which Symons heads back across goal from the back post, for Paul to volley in from his almost customary one yard. Edghill goes on one of his runs, which ends with his fierce shot being pushed wide by the keeper. Barry Conlon (an 18-year-old striker from the "A" team) came on for Gio, and soon headed the ballinto the path of Dickov who broke through on goal. With only Fraser Digby (nice name, crap keeper) to beat, Dickov saw Bradbury unmarked at his side, and unselfishly passed to him, to score off the keeper. Dickov was replaced by Scully, and received a standing ovation, the likes of which are usually only given to Kinky or Oasis. Margetson made one very good save late on for his first clean sheet. At the final whistle, the crowd stood and applauded loudly, as the team reciprocated (clapped back !) Full-time 6-0.
The perfect end to a perfect day was when the final score came through from Elland Rd: Leeds Utd 1 TWGFT* 0. As Gary Owen said on the radio "If a City player gives 100% effort during a game, the crowd will never jeer him", which is fair comment.
All players 8, except for Dickov and Kinkladze, who deserve 10 out of 10.
by Svenn A. Hanssen, firstname.lastname@example.org