Manchester City 4 - West Bromwich Albion 2
City crush brave Baggies
A brave effort by Albion against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium might, on another day, have earned three rare away points. The Baggies matched their millionaire rivals for much of the game but after fighting back to draw level, conceded another goal and, despite frantic attempts, couldn?t quite grab a late equaliser or more.
Tony Mowbray kept an unchanged team as he retained the 4-5-1 formation which was relatively successful in our previous away game at Portsmouth.
The Baggies created three chances in a bright opening with the inevitable result, in the 8th minute Manchester City took the lead! It was a sublime goal. In one movement Stephen Ireland controlled a through pass, looked up and then picked out Robinho with a perfectly curled centre, which the ?32.5m striker volleyed home. The next two significant incidents summed up our season. First a clever reverse pass by Chris Brunt and a probing centre from Jonathan Greening found Meite inside the six yard box, with the goal at his mercy, but he prodded the ball the wrong side of the post. Then, in the 21st minute, at a City corner, Caicedo impeded Scott Carson to prevent the keeper from collecting a loose ball, allowing his team-mate Onuoha to head into the empty net. Despite protestations to referee Michael Jones the goal stood. To their credit Albion heads didn?t drop and they continued to attack. From a Greening corner Given punched clear and Robert Koren headed back over his head only to see Caicedo leap on the goal-line to head clear. Then, in the 37th minute came the goal we deserved. Paul Robinson found Koren wide left and his cross was cleverly laid back by Marc-Antoine Fortun? to Chris Brunt who sent a cross-shot from the edge of the penalty area just inside the foot of the right hand post.
Albion began the second half well and first the lively Fortun? saw his goalbound shot deflected wide and then he was dumped on the seat of his pants by Onuoha. From this 54th minute free kick, Chris Brunt curled a shot from twenty-five yards around the three man wall through team-mates and past Given. In the 56th minute, barely two minutes later, the Baggies gave City a great chance to equalise by conceding an unnecessary penalty. Elano was taking the ball away from goal, when Olsson, despite having cover from Robinson, threw himself into a reckless tackle. Elano picked himself up and easily converted. For over half-an-hour Albion went forward looking for goals after a desperate Tony Mowbray made three substitutions. Gianni Zuiverloon, playing virtually as a winger, created another opportunity for Brunt, but this time his shot curled agonisingly wide, just inches away from the angle of post and bar. In the 90th minute, actually the 4th minute of stoppage time, Albion had only two defenders back when Petrov thumped the ball forward. Ireland was probably offside, but went on, drew the keeper and played the ball inside to Sturridge who, almost apologetically, side-footed into the vacant goal.
The team departed to a standing ovation from the Albion fans, having lost the game despite having twenty-six strikes on goal.
Three players stood out; Gianni Zuiverloon, who has regained his confidence and contributed in defence and attack; Chris Brunt now both a creator and taker of chances and Marc-Antoine Fortun? whose movement caused problems for the home defence. Graham Dorrans and Jonathan Greening worked hard in our effective midfield.
The referee, Michael Jones, inexcusably missed a cynical foul on Carson for the second goal. When a replay was shown on the big screen there was an audible gasp from the crowd as Caicedo was seen to deliberately elbow Scott Carson in the throat. To make it worse Jones booked the keeper for protesting! It shouldn?t be forgotten that this is the same official who mystified everyone at The Hawthorns earlier in the season when he awarded Blackburn a penalty. Even worse it?s almost two years to the day since he sent off McShane at Burnley after an accidental clash of heads. The red card was rescinded but of course the two ?goals? remain, arguably costing us four points.
Albion?s recent league record against Manchester City remains admirable. This was our first defeat at the City of Manchester Stadium and in the last four away games, two at Maine Road, we?ve won one and drawn three. Four wins and just one defeat in the most recent Hawthorns encounters, means we?ve still won half of our last ten league matches against City and only lost twice. The single away win in that sequence, was by 2-1, on Saturday 1st February 2003, goals from Neil Clement and Darren Moore.
ALBION FORMRATE: GOOD
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: CHRIS BRUNT
Only five wins from the last five would give us a realistic chance of avoiding the drop! However, with no wins in thirteen, the odds against us staying up have doubled to 33/1.
Baggies played some great football and were DESPERATELY UNLUCKy to lose -especially 4-2. WATCH Match of the Day tonight to see Carson elbowed in the face/throat for the second goal...that never was!
They played it back on the big screens and even the Man CIty fans couldn't believe it and the Local radio station said "How can that NOT be a foul on the keeper"
Given had twice as much to do and believe me city were VERY fortunate to grab the three points.
The fans were great, and although i didn't expect too much from the game on this ocassion I returned home BITTERLY disappointed at the injustice.
City were hanging on by their fingertips at the end and only scored the 4th because Albion had pushed every player foreard in adespwrate attmpt to snatch an equaliser.
PS... Robinho? Talented player but a 'conman' in the best traitions of Ronaldo and Drogba.
I listened to a small part of the radio commentary and saw MotD. Pleased with the reports, though Man City would be tired after the midweek game, and this is probably our strongest team.
As I have said often enough I believe we should have stuck all season - home and away - with 4-5-1 which allows the midfield - arguably our strongest section - to play a greater and more flexible role. I thought the Portsmouth result also showed this whereas Bolton/Stoke were mainly awful performances.
Now that we are (to all intents and purposes) relegated do the players feel a tension has lifted, and the better ones are now playing with a view to increasing their value elsewhere?
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