City fired on all cylinders again yesterday without gaining full control of this match. Goalscoring hero Carlos Tevez was for once off-key with just about everything and this resembled yet another 1-0 thrashing, similar to the Bolton match.
As promised Ian Holloway sent his team out to give it a go and to give City a game. This is usually a signal for Silva and Yaya Toure to step up to the plate and pull the strings from the area between the back four and midfield ‘however many’ and this is pretty well how it turned out.
Right from the kick-off City were in the box, Tevez forced an excellent shooting position, but his far post shot curled the wrong way with Kingson struggling. That set the tone for the match as City eased through the gears causing problems all over the field.
City had paid Blackpool the compliment of fielding a strong team which included Kompany on four yellow cards knowing that one today would end his participation in the match against the Ashburton Assassins on Wednesday.
The first half hour not only brought the glaring miss from Tevez but also a howler from David Silva, who’s neat one-two should have yielded a goal.
In between times Taylor-Fletcher got open in City’s box forcing an excellent save from Joe Hart.
Just after the half-hour a corner from Kolarov found its way to Adam Johnson on the edge of the box and his low shot evaded several attackers and defenders, clipped a Blackpool defender and wrong-footed Kingson to make it 1-0 for City.
This really fired the near record crowd at Eastlands.
Yaya Toure who in recent reports I have referred to as resembling a rugby league loose forward, rampaged into the box and was taken down with a rugby tackle as for once Mr Clattenburg assisted City and pointed to the spot. This was the goal that would open the floodgates. But Tevez hadn’t read the script (perhaps it was in English) and once again he curled the penalty to the wrong side of the post. Tevez generally places them a yard or so wide of the keeper depending upon which way he looks as though he is moving. He didn’t do that today and paid his own penalty!.
So it stayed 1-0 and this seemed to give Blackpool heart if not hope. But they battled on and it is a tribute to them thst they did. Holloway’s boys do not play non-football like the skint scousers from Goodison nor the rotten rovers from Blackburn. They give it a go. In turn this bouys their supporters and helps lift the team. Blackpool brought more supporters than anyone else to the City of Manchester Stadium this season.
As the second half got under way City were once again dominant with Silva continuing to weave his magic and Johnson at last starting to look consistently good on the flank. Nigel de Jong was simply awesome. Nothing escaped his radar as he set about destroying just about everything that Blackpool were trying to do.
However the shrewd intoduction of Phillips at half-time helped Blackpool exploit a perceived weakness down City’s left and things started to tick along much better for the gallant Seasiders.
As City and Tevez in particular squandered chance after chance, Blackpool upped the tempo sensing there might be a point in it for them. But it wasn’t to be. With Silva withdrawn due to injury, Milner failed to kick-on from his work against Aston Villa leaving Zabaleta time and again clearing up down the left with Kolarov too now in the dugout.
Tevez, clean through rounded Kingson and at the vital point slipped with the net set to welcome the ball. The North Stand gasped in disbelief. Even Ray Winstone with his in play betting wouldn’t have stuck a tenner on that one. Bruce Grobelaar would have been put in jail!
By the time that the three stoppage minutes were over City were probably more relieved to hear the whistle as Blackpool still hunted down an equaliser that wasn’t going to arrive.
Once again today the match had to suffer Mark Clattenburg as the referee and although on this occasion he did grace us with a penalty, even he couldn’t have said ‘No’ to that one. He continues to make very strange decisions for both teams and at times it was clear that both teams were frustrated by this. But whether it was simply New Year or whatever, it was refreshing that his cards stayed in his pockets. I am generally hyper-critical of Clattenberg because I do not like him. At least we still have Kompany for Wednesday, and there was a chance that Clattenburg could have picked him up after a rather obtuse challenge at one point.
So City are still close to top. The significant factor is that, with the exception of Spurs, we have to play all the big guns away from home in the second half of the season, commencing on Wednesday when we head for the trenches of North London hoping to keep our shins and ankles intact as the midfield mongrels of the Ashburton Assassins start to sharpen their teeth, if not their studs.
A win there would really set the cat amongst the pigeons and start to make the world take note.
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