Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fighting spirit

Newcastle Utd 2 - 2 Manchester City

After the tirade, and the apology, we're finally starting to see the fruits of JFK's labour on the pitch, as a team of his making fought hard in the face of adversity to take a point at home to a Man City side boasting the most expensive player ever to play in the Premier League.

Starting well, the game had barely got going as a contest before Shaun Wright-Phillips flick released Robinho only for Habib Beye to produce a brilliant covering tackle to flick the ball away.

Well, that's what history should have recorded. Unfortunately Rob Styles decided that rather than it being a brilliant tackle, he thought our right back had, instead, clattered the diminutive Brazilian, and pointed to the spot, before reducing us to ten men.

Robinho duly sprung to his feet to send Shay the wrong way and give the visitors an early lead.

Down to ten men and a goal down, it didn't bode well; a few weeks ago it would have been a case of how many more will Man City score?

However, JFK's clearly instilled some of his fighting spirit in the team. We regrouped, Man City thought they could simply pass the ball around and we'd roll over, and we slowly fought our way back into the match. With Martins returning from injury, but forced out on to the left following Beye's dismissal, it was left to Shola to plough a lone furrow up front. Something which the man apparently destined to become the new John Fashanu ("Awooga") did to good effect, taking his reward just before half-time, when his miscued shot found the net, sending us in level.

No doubt employing his natural eloquence, JFK's half time team talk had its desired effect, and rather than allow Man City back into the match after the break, we carried on where we left off, and with Shola continuing to harry and hassle Richard Dunne, the City captain fired a storming own goal to give our team men a thoroughly deserved lead.

Mark Hughes sought to change things around for City, throwing more and more people forward in a bid to get back into the game, and in doing so left space at the back. With N'Zogbia on for Martins, the Frenchman nearly set Shola away, only for Ameobi to fire wide. With Given pulling off a brilliant save from Stephen Ireland it looked like we might just squeeze home.

However, at that point we saw what £32.5 million gets you, with Robinho creating space and then threading a through ball for Ireland to latch on to, and fire past Given to earn City a draw.

Going in to Saturday's derby on the back of a strong performance packed full of fight and character, there's a real chance that our excellent record down the road will continue.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

A Man City fan's perspective: Bitter and Blue


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