City and Charlton yesterday continued in their quest to return entertaining football to the Premiership. After sharing seven goals at The Valley, the teams put a disappointing first half behind them to ensure another five goals were added to the seasons? tally.
City were forced into changes after a late injury to Sun Jihai left them woefully short of defensive cover. Sommeil was drafted in at left back to replace the suspended Jordan while Micah Richards was handed a full debut, out of position, at right back. The only other change from the Everton defeat saw Cole starting up front with Samaras dropping to the bench.
The first half was short on action with both teams seemingly content to play for possession and wait for something to happen. After 22 minutes it was City who broke the deadlock with the only shot on target in the first half. Barton?s corner was returned to him on the right, he swung a cross back in that found Dunne 15 yards out. The central defender hit the ball sweetly on the half volley and into the ground, the ball picked up pace on the wet surface and left Myhre with no chance. It was Dunne?s first goal in eighteen months, well first goal in the right net, and was the catalyst for what was to come in the second half.
The second half was everything the first wasn?t. Slick football, great goals, contentious decisions and some top class goalkeeping at both ends. Charlton pulled level on 51 minutes when El Karkouri played an excellent ball in behind the City defence. Darren Bent was probably just offside which allowed him to sneak in behind Dunne but the finish was clinical and Charlton were level. As happened at The Valley, City responded immediately. Within 3 minutes they were back in front when Samaras, on for Sinclair at half time, met a Barton cross to power a header into the Charlton goal. 8 minutes later came the goal of the game Contract rebel, Joey Barton, picked up a loose ball some 35 yards out. With only one thing in his mind he hit an absolute screamer that left Myhre with no chance. Redemption complete? Maybe if he signs his new contract this week. The argument was never about what Joey wanted, just how he went about it.
All credit must go to Charlton for not calling it quits at that point. Albeit helped by an incorrect refereeing decision at a throw in, Charlton moved the ball out wide before a pinpoint cross was delivered for Marcus Bent to head home and put Charlton back in it. That was the end of the scoring but not the action. Both goalkeepers made fine saves to keep the scoring down, the most important from a City perspective being the save James made in the last minute to deny El Karkouri, simply world class.
All in all an enjoyable game and an enjoyable result. Eastlands is finally becoming a bit of a fortress with this being the fifth successive home win. It?s time that this form was taken onto the road and maybe then City can push for a European place.
Psycho came out on top in the battle of the England candidates. Tactical nous is improving and his handling of Barton is delivering the goods on the field.
Charlton are entertaining, perhaps because they have conceeded 14 to us in the last four games between the sides. They looked better yesterday than at The Valley but they appear to be missing a dominant presence in the centre of midfield. They won’t get sucked into the relegation fight but they probably won’t be involved in the fight for European places either.