Newsletter #998

Apologies for the delay, which is down to NTL.

Tonight we have a match report from last week’s mini-derby, continuing debate on the atmosphere and a few requests – including one for vital kit from McV. There’s also another great Why Blue.

Next game: Manchester United, home, 2pm Sunday 14 March 2004 (TV)


A rollercoaster game that had more drama than a Coronation Street wedding ended all square at Altrincham’s Moss Lane ground, the home of Man United reserves. Two early goals were scored by Bradley Wright-Phillips and Joey Barton in the first half, and Stephen Jordan was deservedly sent off between the two goals. City were pegged back by an early second half goal by Matthew Williams only for City to restore their two goal cushion within the space of a minute through Paddy McCarthy. United then were able to level the score through substitute Mads Timm and a penalty from Kieran Richardson within a five minute spell.

City had the much the better of the play in the first half and had an early chance within ten minutes when Glenn Whelan played a lovely weighted long pass to Stephen Elliott but his touch let him down and the ‘keeper was able to come out and smother his effort. It was City’s first time playing an orthodox four-four-two and it was beginning to show as they dominated the play. City’s first goal came from their first corner of the match on twenty three minutes when McCarthy headed back to goal Whelan’s half cleared cross; Nedum Onuoha chested the ball and turned and shot but it ricocheted to Bradley and he hit it into the roof of the net.

Two minutes later, as we’ve come to expect from our neighbours in Red [surely not – Ed], they like to cheat; and so it was that United’s Colin Heath manhandled Stephen Jordan, Jordan lashed out at Heath and had to walk. But surprise, surprise, the referee didn’t see Heath’s infringement and so he was not even cautioned or spoken to [nor did the TV coverage, kindly provided by MUppetTV – Ed]. Two minutes later City made a quick break from Elliott down the right and he sent a good cross into the box and all Barton had to do was roll the ball into the far corner of the net.

In the dying moments of first half injury time, Lee Croft saw his powerful shot tipped over by the ‘keeper.

Apart from our repost goal immediately after United’s first, the second half belonged to United as they dominated most of the possession and United’s big centre forward Kenny Cooper caused our defence many problems. It was Cooper who played a major rôle in United’s first when in a rare moment City’s defence had gone AWOL and left a gap big enough for a super-tanker to get through and although Arason saved Cooper’s initial shot, Williams was able to put the rebound in.

One minute later saw a rare moment when the referee awarded a free kick for Elliot being barged off the ball. Joey Barton stepped up and whipped in a powerful in-swinging cross that just evaded everyone except the ‘keeper, but he spilled the effort and there was Paddy to volley in City’s third.

City decided to try to hang on to this lead by taking off Bradley, whose form wasn’t as good as he had been forced to play a right midfield position after Jordan’s departure. Young Jamie Lee Matthews came on to replace him and Willo Flood pushed more forward. But it was Willo who lost substitute Timm, who cut inside and send a powerful thirty five yard curling shot around Arason to make it three-two.

Then we saw a rare moment five minutes later: Lee Croft picked up his opponent’s free run down their right, but obviously no-one told him that you never try to tackle a United player near your own box when they are playing at home as although Lee got a touch on the ball, I think the material on his shorts caught Heath as well as he went down theatrically and the referee duly awarded the expected penalty. Richardson stepped up to send Arason the wrong way.

Next week sees City entertain Bury at Hyde for their final round robin Senior Cup match and seal a place in the final against United. Which, if we have ten men playing, should be a better scoreline for the Blue half of Manchester.

Arason: Needs to improve his kicking, otherwise some good saves. 7
Flood: Worked hard but had some lapses and was lucky to stay on the pitch. 7
Jordan (capt): As Captain, should have been more restrained. 5
Barton: Worked hard in midfield, scored a good goal, needs to keep his head up more. 8
McCarthy (capt): Worked tirelessly to try to contain Cooper but one slip was costly. 7
Onuoha: Needs to stop watching Distin in training by not going up field too much. 7
Croft: Playing a 4-4-2 suits his game far more. Still needs to release the ball earlier. 7
Whelan: Another fine display by the young Irishman. MoM. 8
Elliott: Worked his socks of up front alone with no protection from the ref. 8
Wright Phillips (69): Looked good up front, then form went as he went in midfield. 6
Tiatto: A great improvement from the Aussie. Still not good enough for the 1st tho. 7

Lee Matthews (69): Did a reasonable job when he came on. 6
Not Used: Ellegaard, J D