Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Too nervous to post

As I've said before on more than a few occasions, it's never an easy ride with City.This Championship run-in is as nervous a time as I've ever had in the years I've been supporting City. So much so that I've not even posted much and missed commenting on the last two results v QPR and Preston.

On Saturday, it was still all in City's own hands. A simple equation. Win their remaining 4 matches and they'd be promoted, whatever anyone else did. But QPR aren't top of the table for nothing, and twice came back against City in a pulsating match. On any other day, you'd have taken the point, gone home aglow with the quality and the superb goals and had a few beers. This though, felt almost like a defeat, because that result combined with Norwich's thrashing of Ipswich on Thursday (thanks Ipswich) meant automatic promotion was out of our hands.

So to Deepdale, just two days later a place we've not had the happiest of times at recently. I was listening to this on the radio, and how we didn't win about 8-0 was anyone's guess, but we did win, although a 1-0 win where despite early superiority we were hanging on at the end wasn't quite how I'd scripted it.

And for much of the last few minutes of the match it looked like Derby were doing a job on Norwich. They'd pulled back to 2-2 and as the City game finished it looked like we were back in 2nd with it all in our hands again, but cruelly, Norwich scored in the 7th minute of added time (yes 7th) to win 3-2 and keep hold of 2nd spot.

So two more matches to go. Again we need someone to do us a favour against the Canaries but with their matches against Pompey and Coventry, both with nothing to play for except pride, it's hard to see them slipping up.

We have Boro on Monday, followed by our last match at Burnley on 7th May. It's not over yet, and f we don't get it, we still have the play offs, but after last year I'd really rather not go down that route again if we can avoid it.

Come on City!

Come on Pompey!

Come on Coventry!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Closer and closer: City 3-0 Portsmouth

Every game is a massive game now. With Norwich winning last night, City had to win to go back to 2nd spot, and they did so in some style.

The game started fast and open, and the atmosphere was brilliant with a big travelling support, it looked like we were going to be in for a treat, although to be honest I'd have settled for a boring match and all three points.

It took only six minutes for City to take the lead, when Bellamy's wonderful first time cross was headed back and into the net by Seji Olifanjana. Portsmouth were contesting everything though - sometimes quite robustly it has to be said. They looks so pumped up you wonder what their manager had said to them before the kick off. Whatever it was , it came back to haunt them on 18 minutes when Ricardo Rocha was given his marching orders after what appeared to be a head butt on one of the City players. It was always going to be hard from then on, and City doubled their lead in first half stoppage time from a corner. Bothroyd, who when the corner was given was on his knees, looked injured and then limped slowly into the box. The corner wasn't cleared properly, and after McPhail had had a stab at coring the ball fell to Bothroyd from a yard out. He doesn't miss those. Miraculously, his injury appeared much better as he raced to the Ninian stand to celebrate. I'll forgive him his theatricals this time.

In the second half, City continued to push and Pompey, became more and more exasperated as they chased the ball and 50/50 decisions went against them (though apart from being a bit picky about where throws and free kicks were taken from, I though the ref had a decent game).

A third goal was on the cards and came after Bellamy broke down the right, looked up and squared the ball for an onrushing Whittingham to smash into the roof of the net from six yards.

A few changes ensued - Parking for Bothroyd, Koumas for McPhail and Blake for Quinn, as City saw the game out without any major concerns.

I thought the whole team were first class today. Bar a few moments of long ball madness when playing to feet would have been better given Pompey were down to 10, and keeper Bywater's kicking which has to be some of the worst I've seen in a keeper for a long time, City were professional and committed throughout. I particularly though Bellamy, Olifanjana, McPhail and Whittingham were outstanding, but the rest were right up there too.

So, back to 2nd, and we are now just 4 wins from the Premiership. We know if we win the next four games, nothing can stop us, and that's a great position to be in. A tough match next week v table topping QPR, but we shouldn't fear them, especially at home.

Though we should only concentrate on ourselves, it's hard not to look around. Norwich scraped past Forest last night, and lie 3rd a point behind with a GD five worse than us. Two points behind them in 4th are Reading, the form team, unbeaten in eight . The Jacks lost against Burnley today and are 5th, five points behind us, whilst Leeds in the final play-off spot are 10 points adrift of us after their 2-2 draw with Watford.

But, as I say, all that doesn't matter if we win the next four games. So keep the faith, and let's do it!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Massive night in the Championship: Sheff Utd 0-2 City

It's been a massive night in the Championship. City started in 3rd place, but a 2-0 win at Brammall Lane, combined with the Jacks been held at home by Hull, and Watford drawing with Norwich, means the Bluebirds finish the night in the 2nd automatic promotion spot behind QPR who won again.

It was Craig Bellamy who got things off on the right foot, with a great goal in the 21st minute. JET notched the 2nd to ease nerves after City had been under a bit of pressure, and despite some late chances for the home side, City kept a clean sheet.

It's all in City's own hands now. Win all the remaining and we'll go up - simple. Obviously, it's not that simple. With the table so tight, nerves will play a part, and there are surely more twists to come, including a home fixture against QPR who are nailed on and have been for a long while) as division Champions.

Still, City should fear no-one. We know we can perform. The nerves will be the same at Carrow Road, at the Liberty and the Madjeski.

Come on City. Three points on Saturday at home v Pompey please!

And whilst I'm at it, congrats to Brighton, promoted to Championship on 11th April! Stunning!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Quick note: Doncaster 1-3 City

Just a quick note to record City's great away win at the Keepmoat last Saturday. I've been up to my eyes in Dinas Powys Cricket Club's Nat West Cricket Force weekend (all Friday afternoon, and all day Sat & Sun, plus a club disco on Sat night), so haven't had time to breathe let alone update blogs.

Anyway, I knew amongst the painting and grass cutting that City were 1 up courtesy of Burke, and I heard they'd been pulled back to 1-1 with minutes to go. Somewhere between a paint can and a ground roller, someone mentioned that Koumas of all people had scored a brace and it had finished 3-1 to the Bluebirds. Stunning.

Back to (relative) normality now, and looking forward to seeing if the Bluebirds can stick one over the Blades tomorrow and then even more excited by Saturday's home date against Pompey.

Up the City! Keep it going lads....

Saturday, April 02, 2011

That's more like it: City 4-1 Derby

City needed a big performance after the international break. With only 8 games left, automatic promotion is still in the grasp of several teams, so no slip ups were needed.

Derby have been struggling at the foot of the table, but frankly anyone can beat anyone in this division, and City have often struggled against those fighting for safety.

The arrival of Derby also f course brings Robbie Savage. Love him or hate him, you can't ignore him. He was booed off the bus, booed in warm up, and booed every time he touched the ball. I reckon he loves it!

One amusing sight was City's 'keepers warm up. With goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson out there, there were no less than 5 keepers warming up. A new strategy perhaps. Don't even know who they all were - we had one other (Bywater who's on loan from Derby, not even in the squad today).

City with the solid Heaton back between the sticks started brightly enough. It took just seven minutes for them to take the lead from the spot, courtesy of Jay Bothroyd, after Bellamy was brought down.

City settled after that, and whilst Derby frankly posted no threat thereafter throughout the whole match, a few comedy defending moments did raise the heart to mouth on occasions.

City should have been two up after Bellamy was set free, but in taking the ball past Derby keeeper Jones, his touch was awful, and the angle became too acute and allowed the defender to clear off the line.

Half time, 1-0 City.

As we settled for the second period, I said to @ministats, "an early goal, the pressure will be off, then settle back and enjoy it. Sure enough, three minutes in, Dekel Keinan was first to a corner with a powerful header, and it was 2-0 City.

Just under 10 minutes later, it was the occasionally maligned defender Paul Quinn who stabbed home with a Derby player lying injured in the box, but the goal stood.

And on 68 minutes, after it looked like a great move had fallen apart as Chris Burke mis-controlled and the ball ballooned up, Peter Whittingham struck a thunderous volley past Brad Jones to make it 4-0.

Derby did carve a couple of chances due to poor defending, but one (I was at the other end of the ground) appeared to be hit over the bar from about a yard, and another clear header went yards wide.

The last 20 minutes or so was frankly pretty rubbish. City subbed Bothroyd and then Bellamy, and didn't look like scoring again. They just took their foot right off the gas (unlike Norwich who improved their goal difference by 6 at Scunthorpe). It was almost inevitable therefore that Derby grabbed a consolation five minutes into the added six, when a very dubious looking penalty (the player seemed to first lose control of the ball, and then run into a City player) was converted by - yes, none other than the ponytailed Savage.

So a good win (at last) for City. They looked hungrier than of late, and I thought Bellamy, Kienan, McNaughton were on top form today. Bothroyd, Whitts, Burke, Olifanjana and Quinn showed flashes, whilst McPhail was steady and debutant Jlloyd Samuel did OK. Heaton was completely untroubled, and almost got to the penalty.

I suppose you shouldn't look for negatives - after all it was a 4-1 win and we've moved up to 3rd after the Jacks lost, but there were a couple for me.

City could have dominated the game far more. Derby were poor - no question, but Parkin and JET who came on for Bothroyd and Bellamy didn't inspire confidence and neither threatened to show any goalscoring prowess. Parkin was penalised virtually every time he touched the ball for "nudging" defenders, and JET just looked lazy - "job done" attitude, being robbed of the ball for lack of opponent awareness on several occasions. And whilst we almost kept a clean sheet, there were some unforced errors at the back that need to be eradicated in the last few games.

Still to concentrate on that would be churlish. We won, we scored four goals, and we're third with 7 games to go.

Keep it going lads.