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From the Darke into the light!

By Santosh Benjamin :  13/12/2008 :  Comments (0) :
After going over the end of the Villa game repeatedly during the course of the week, I have the opportunity to do the same after the City game. Thankfully this one will bring me great relief and joy... That was no thanks to the commentary team who included the one and only Ian Darke, who went through the entire game putting our players down... going down too easily, calling our tackles rough, waiting for City to score and generally being a stupid twat. He obviously has some visions of City joining the elite of the Premier League sometime soon as his brown-nosing would suggest.

The worst comment of the lot was one when Pienaar after getting fouled repeatedly apparently asked the ref to book Zabaleta... he asked Brian Marwood whether it was the same in his day... and they agreed that it only started when the foreign players invaded the league! Sickening... especially when you have to only look as far as across Stanley Park to players like Gerrard, Carragher, etc who are the masters of such behaviour!

We started the game without a striker up front and that was in stark contrast to the £32 million Robinho starting for City (not to mention the £19 million Jo on the bench!). Castillo got a rare start in the defensive midfield role alongside Arteta. The back four remained unchanged.

We started brightly and yet it was City who had the first effort, a shot from SWP which was duly blocked by Lescott. At the other and, Cahill won a foul just outside the box and Arteta stepped up and for once curled one over the wall and beat Hart — only for the crossbar to deny him a stunner! The rebound went to Fellaini who looped a header goalward... only to see it land on the roof of the net. That seemed to spark a good period from City who had a poor miss from Ireland and a good snap-shot by Robinho which Howard saved well.

Osman was dragged down in the box by ex-Evertonian Michael Ball and yet the ref and his blind assistant turned it down. (I'm sure that a few TW regulars will disagree about that opinion of mine, since the handball by Curtis Davis was deemed fair too!) Another flowing move from us ended with the ball being squared to Arteta who produced a good save from Hart.

Just as the half drew to a close, Ossie crossed from the right for Fellaini whose first time shot was well saved by Hart. SWP had a good chance when he ran clear but the crossbar came to our help for once to deny him his customary goal against us. All square at the break then and we surely were the better of the sides. Elano with his new hairstyle had done a good job though for City.

City brought Jo on for Benjani after the break and City looked more composed as the game restarted. We had a good move though, orchestrated by a great cross from the right via Neville which almost landed on Cahill's head... only to be headed away by Zabaleta. SWP was being a pain on the right, he skipped past Lescott and had a shot/cross into the box which was cleared well by Neville.

Ireland imposed himself on a 50-50 ball and ran towards our goal and took a shot which Howard saved. We were looking pretty tired and I expected to see Jutkiewicz or AvDM but they sadly stayed on the bench. City brought on Vassell who ran about for a while.

At the other end, Fellaini picked up his customary booking for a silly challenge... that's eight I think and he will miss 2 games soon. Just as I thought that we would get at least a point, I was proved wrong — like last week.

In injury time, we won a corner which Ossie took and floated one into the six-yard box and — like the days of old — Tiny Tim Cahill rose majestically to head it back across the face of goal and into the net!! I ran about the house screaming and hugging the wife...

As the game restarted, I felt my hearbeat reach a flutter when City pushed forward and almost were in on goal... only for a few desperate interventions to bring it back to it's prior rapid rate. The final whislte blew ages later, as we won against the odds and got 3 points away from a whole lotta chasing teams below us in a very very congested league table. Chelsea next and I hope that we have Saha or Vic back and hopefully even both of 'em as options.

Player ratings:

  • Howard: Other than the one time when Lescott expected him to come out for the ball and he didn't, he was brilliant; another clean sheet for him!
  • Neville: Solid game again.
  • Jags: Was back to his usual self, except for a scary moment when he passed it back to Howard and who was rushed into a sliced clearance.
  • Lescott: Nice bombing down the left, was beaten once by SWP but otherwise did well.
  • Arteta: Lost the ball once or twice but the things that I will remember about him today: a great free-kick and some good tackes, tracking back.
  • Osman: My Man of the Match today.. .was quick to win the ball, made good passes and made himself a nuisance to the opposition... and a nice corner to ice the cake!
  • Fellaini: Needs to cut the silly booking-inducing tackles out of his game and look a bit more lively (Dammit, he is 21-years old!) but otherwise he makes our midfield much stronger when he is around.
  • Pienaar: Was all over the place today and was fouled to kingdom come by the City team... especially Zabaleta... came a close 2nd in my Man of the Match ratings.
  • Castillo: Was overall poor in my opinion; gave the ball away too often but that maybe a sign of rust rather than anything else. I hope he gets a longer run.
  • Cahill: Was quiet for long periods and looked tired close to the end... but the goal was trademark him... and I couldnt wish it for a nicer guy. Well done, Tiny Tim.

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