3 Nil looks an easy win and it was a fine performance but at 80 minutes with City giving it a bit of a go 2 nil did not look so comfortable with our record for clean sheets!
And had City been awarded a penalty – that we couldn’t see in Block 53 – or Adebayor take the clear cut chance the fell his way it could have been really nervy. They didn’t and instead we capitalised from a short Lennon corner that allowed Kranjcar a skipping run into the box before beating Shay Given on his near post to crystallise a fabulous victory.
The first 20 minutes were the most testing. City mirrored United’s tactic of dropping their front men deep in an effort to unsettle our marking and outmanoeuvre the midfield. Tevez looked most impressive of the three City starters but once Lennon got going and at Sylvinho we got ourselves into the game and after Kranjcar’s opener we got our confidence and took the game to City.
When Defoe pounced on a Crouch header early in the second half we should have felt nearly home and dry but Everton came back to mind and Man City are no slouches. Barry looked good, De Jong reasonably effective until a yellow card tamed him and Ireland simmered but our boys were as good if not better. Palacios ended up putting in his best shift since I don’t know when, Tommy was effective in getting the ball into space Lennon and Kranjcar at times unplayable, ably supported by Assou-Ekotto, Dawson and even Defoe who ran the line really effectively.
Peter Crouch took some stick from many Paxton Roaders yet conspired to set up two goals and made a number of important clearances from corners. Sometimes it’s better to watch on SKY. If you do you only see the ball and don’t hear some of the nonsense. Granted Crouchy did waste possession by blasting the ball wildly into the Paxton Road End rather than get the ball under control but his view was that it wasted valuable time when we were two up and 80 odd minutes played.
Our view was that it could have been a goal scoring chance and opportunity to kill the game dead because we’ve been here before. Losing tempers was maybe an extreme reaction but it does show that we want to see beautiful play throughout.
We still gave the ball away a bit naively in the first half but once the game opened up with us leading two nil our confidence rose and we played some really good stuff against a strong opponent. Down the left the link up play was excellent. Benoit, verbally abused on Saturday got a standing ovation from the area from where his abuser appeared when he was led away injured at the end.
Lennon too showed how difficult he is to play when the opportunity to play presents itself.
Dawson was a lion at the back and must surely push himself into either Upson or Lescott’s England squad place.
This presents an excellent problem for Harry. Where do I put Modric? It has to be in the middle and in Tommy’s place in my opinion but that may not be his view.
The weekend game at Blackburn is now crucial to keep our challenge on track having done far better than I had hoped for in my preview. I’m delighted with this win. Overall we deserved it and a clean sheet was the icing on the cake for a memorable night.
The programme even had a write up on Alan Gilzean and Steve Archibald – I wonder where that news came from?