Saturday, January 22, 2011

3 big points: City 4-2 Watford

This game put the spectre of City's 4-1 defeat at Vicarage Road at New Year to bed. It was also a fantastic game for the neutral. Not so for the City faithful, who were chewing their fingernails to the quick.

For us City supporters it was game of three periods. The first period saw City take a 3-0 lead with some scintillating football. The second period saw the Hornets pull back to 3-2 with two soft goals as City completely switched off. The third period saw City get some rhythm back, and see the game out, sealing the points with a fourth goal.

Bothroyd was back in the starting line up after a month out injured and massive speculation about whether he's staying or going. The other Jay - Jay Emanuel-Thomas, our new loanee from Arsenal also started, and with Chopra and Bellamy also in the starting 11, there was talent and pace in abundance.

The game was open and fast from the outset, but it was City who took control in the 14th minute after a raking crossfield ball by Whittingham found Bellamy on the corner o the 18 yard area. His first effort was blocked, but the ball fell to him again and he finished well. 1-0 City.

Three minutes later it was 2-0, after a scrambled City City clearance fell to Bothroyd, Chopra raced wide was was fed by Bothroyd who calmly slotted the ball home. 2-0 City.

To be fair to Watford they were giving it everything, and looked dangerous, clearly having targeted the left channel with McNaughton at left centre back and Naylor at left back as a potential weak spot. Everything was coming that way, and they did look dangerous.

But on 31 minutes man of the moment, Bothroyd made it 3-0 with a great finish after being fed by Whitts who'd been shaping to shoot himself, and many would have said City were home and dry. But we City supporters know different.

Two minutes later a long throw into City's box was left by everyone, it bounced and fell to Buckley who rammed the ball past Heaton to make it 3-1. It was a really, soft goal and Dave Jones will be furious with his defence.

But the shock of conceding rattled City who 's game went completely. They couldn't pass the ball, they stopped moving - basically stopped doing everything they had done up to that point. Watford in contrast, looked the team in the ascendancy, and the next goal was going to be crucial.

Naylor, who still looks suspect was subbed at 40 minutes with Gyepes coming on. It seemed like an injury, but either way, the extra height of Gyepes in central defence with McNaughton moving wide looked a good move. 3-1 at half time.

It was Watford who came out of the blocks in the second period and it took them only three minutes to narrow the gap to one goal, as Sordell beat Heaton with a curling shot, although it looked like Heaton slipped at the vital moment. Whether he would have saved it had he not slipped, I can't say without looking at it again - it was the other end of the pitch and my eyes aren't that good!

There was a worrying moment when it seemed Kevin McNaughton had been knocked out, but he eventually got up and carried on, so presumably can't have been out.

At this point, it looked for the world like Watford were most likely to get either a draw, or even a win, with City looking shell-shocked, but the weathered the storm. Burke came on for Bothroyd on 61 minutes, hopefully just a precaution, and Rae came on in the 74th minute to shore up the midfield in favour of Whittingham. It almost went pear shaped as Watford hit the post, but a short corner by Bellamy/JET put the ball in the mix in the area for Gyepes to stab home on 83 minutes for 4-2.

Watford to their credit threw everything at City, and had one disallowed for offside but the Bluebirds played sensible easy balls and tried to keep possession. It's something they need to work on though, as to often they give away cheap possession, but even with 5 minutes of added time, the Hornets were unable to find another goal. The final whistle brought rapturous applause, for what had in the end been a cracking game.

A word about the officials. They were dreadful. Mr Tanner and his accomplices missed many fouls for both sides, two good penalty shouts for City, and were generally very inconsistent, and Malky Mackay, Watford's manager was going apoplectic at times with the officials. (Dave Jones doesn't generally do apoplectic, or else he may well have been too).

So a big win for City and the 23,000 crowd. And vital with Norwich winning. Leeds and the Jacks dropped points in draws.

Nice to see Jay B back. JET looks quality too. Big Seyi was good today breaking it up in midfield, and Nauts was brilliant (again) at the back as was Hudson.

City need to keep this up, and with two more Premiership signings yet to make the team - Aaron Ramsey on loan from Arsenal, and former Blackpool defender Dekel Kienan, Dave Jones now has the ammunition he needs to mount a serious attempt on automatic promotion. Let's do it.


Just heard Malky Mackay's interview on the BBC. Claims that City were repeatedly fouling (especially fouling Buckley, and rotating the person who committed the foul so the ref wouldn't couldn't take action), and spent the whole game time wasting - suggesting that City do this a lot.

Err...what game were you watching Mr Mackay. City fouled no more than Watford, who I thought were quite dirty at times. And as for time wasting - though I don't hold with it, show me a team that doesn't do that when they're ahead in the closing stages of a game. I thought not.

Poor loser.

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