If Manchester City are to end their trophy drought this season then the F.A Cup is a competition Roberto Mancini won`t be taking lightly.
£27 million man Edin Dzeko started for the Blues in a relatively weakened City side, and we had to count on our Bosnian front man to grab a late equaliser in a 1-1 fourth round draw against Notts County.
County manager, Paul Ince, now has the luxury to enjoy a reply against City at Eastland`s after a hard fought contest.
However, if Manchester City, and in particular Yaya Toure, found the net early on from Richard`s burst then the encounter could have turned out differently. Nevertheless, with early chances missed and large amounts of possession counting for very little we had to wait until the 80th minute to secure a place in the fifth round draw.
Meadow lane is home of the oldest football club, but -perhaps used as a leveller- the state of Notts County`s pitch wasn`t exactly prepared for this historic oldest v richest clash with Nottingham Rugby club also requiring the playing surface last weekend.
If the condition of the pitch was up for debate, then Notts County`s tenacity and passion wasn`t. City started the game brightly, acquainting themselves with the pitch with a succession of neat passes, but County`s chasing and harrying never allowed us to settle.
City may have had countless possession, keeping the ball and moving swiftly, but the chances were few and far between. Yaya Toure had the best chance of the first half which was well saved by County keeper, although it was Micah Richards who was proving our greatest asset.
The ex- England international, who is still surprisingly only 22, has slipped down the pecking order after recent injuries has hampered his progress. His recent form has merited another call up from the England squad and -although he was facing third tier opposition- he looked a frightful competitor.
His strength, speed and athleticism, as usual, were exceptional, but after his positioning, willingness and ability has been regularly criticised he looks to have become more accomplished under Mancini`s guidance.
With City failing to negotiate their opposition, County had their chance to believe and although their goal mouth opportunities were less frequent than ours a clever corner put them ahead.
Neal Bishop drifted in front of Lescott and Dzeko to clip his header over Joe Hart`s stretched arm.
City`s old tag of “typical City failing again” was again going to be tested and after going 1-0 down against sturdy opposition and only 10 minutes left, it would have easily prompted the pessimist to believe it was over. However, this New Age City team look to have a resolute nature of their own and with 10 minutes left Dzeko popped up and clinched a replay after Richards, again, had provided superb delivery.
Rampaging down the right he collected the ball and assisted Dzeko tremendously allowing him to score his first City goal with ease.
Just defeated by Bishop’s head although if he stayed put he might have tipped it over.
Great width, speed and delivery. Disappointing he got injured because if he stays fit he is a very useful asset.
Looked very comfortable at centre back.
Good strength but at times he looked shaky.
Committed if not his greatest performance.
Controlled the game for an hour before he tired.
Similar work to Vieira.
Not his worst city display, but he drifted out if it in the second half.
Hard working and some decent deliveries.
Was a handful and deserved his goal. Strong link up play
If he doesn’t contribute with that killer pass his presence lifted the City side.
Had very little to do.