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.


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