Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's Miller time!: City 2-1 Southampton

A third match in a week, a squad laid bare by injuries and the top of the table side visiting. Hardly a recipe for optimism. Indeed, my son predicted a drubbing, whilst I was for once strangely buoyed with optimism. A 2-1 win I told him before the match, and when we bumped into a Twitter chum (@bennifactor) who was also thinking we'd be lucky to get away with even a draw, he asked me why I was so optimistic.

Well, for one, Southampton have to lose sometime I said. Secondly, though fielding a weakened side, the work ethic Malky has instilled means this bunch of City players never say die. Thirdly, I was clutching at straws.

And so it seemed as for the first 5 minutes of the match as the Saints players passed the ball with ease as City players ran around like headless chickens trying, In the main unsuccessfully to get a touch.

But City settled, and Southampton, despite creating chances, were profligate. In truth there wasn't much to the first half, which seemed much like the Leicester match a few days earlier. Peter Whittingham also had three chances from free kicks around the box, but frankly never got close.

I was impressed by the Gunnarsson/Kiss midfield, the defence was solid (for the most part), but Mason wasn't getting much joy, and Miller looked like he's done most of the season. Hard working, but with an awful first touch and no killer instinct (apart from that goal against West Ham on the first day).

But n 56 minutes the game changed. Marshall collected a ball and immediately punted long for Miller to chase. For once his kick was accurate, and Miller running down the full back just beat the advancing Kelvin Davis to nod the ball past him and into the empty net. 1-0 City.

That was surely the prompt for the visitors to up their game. They had been guilty of spectacular time-wasting to that point, especially Davis in the Southampton goal. Quite how referee Gibbs hadn't booked him for this as early as the first half I'll never know - you could have made a cup of tea as he prepared to make his goal kicks - but I guess the reason was the same one I moan about every week. The ref and his assistants were agin poor in my opinion, and weak.

Still Southampton didn't get chance to press, and 7 minutes later a beautiful Gunnarsson pass set Miller free to slide the ball in for number 2, and City were in heaven.

Going 2 down did spark the visitors into life, and with Chaplow coming on, they suddenly looked more creative. Southampton suddenly had all the possession, and wave after wave of attacks on the City goal looked threatening. Chaplow shaved the post with a shot, Lambert missed a couple of headers, and Marshall kept Lallana out with a cracking save with his legs.

When the 4th official indicated 5 minutes injury time, things looked relatively sen up, but suddenly De Ridder was put through, and controlling the ball wonderfully with his hands, unseen by Mr Gibbs and Co, slotted past Marshall, leaving a couple of nervy minutes for City to see out. They did though, and make no bones about this, this was a wonderful win for City. The only downsides were both McNaughton, who battled hard all night (and was battered all night) and Kiss both limping off.

A brilliant performance by City, and the fans and Malky should rightly be proud of this performance.

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