CITY 3 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 0
Nationwide Division One
30th March 2002
Scorers Huckerby(40, 45 & 84 pen)
City Nash, Pearce, Howey, Dunne, Wright-Phillips, Benarbia, Sun, Jensen, Horlock, Huckerby Goater – subs Macken(73), Mettomo(69), Mears(84), Royce(unused), Wiekens(unused)
Notts Forest Ward, Louis-Jean, Scimeca, Hjeide, Brennan, Prutton, Gray, Williams, Bopp, Harewood, Reid – subs Jones(70), Westcarr(70), Cash(70), M Dawson(unused), Formann(unused)
WHAT THE PRESS SAID
ALTHOUGH the clocks went on an hour on Saturday night one could have excused Manchester City fans for fast-forwarding an additional five months. From being a distant speck on the footballing horizon back in October the Premiership has since inched into sight on a weekly basis to the point where Kevin Keegan’s side are now standing nose-to-nose with their destiny.
This was a game decided by moments of individual excellence rather than the purring of a well-oiled machine. There are too many of the vital nuts and bolts missing from Keegan’s side for it to be operating at full tilt just now They have missed Paulo Wanchope’s cavalier attacking play the craft and sheer brainpower of Eyal Berkovic’s midfield artistry and the lung- poweir, pace and will to win of Danny Tiatto. The good news is that Tiatto and Berkovic ought to be fit for the last three games and that should make the task of running through the title finishing tape, as Keegan is apt to describe the final weeks, that little bit easier.
In a season when they have had to sell their best players on a regular basis, it is amazing that Forest can still field a team capable of competing at this level, and they did exactly that for more than half an hour Their speed of thought at the back, coupled with a youthful freshness, allowed them to compete on an equal footing with City for much of a drab first half. The home side too often failed to get enough support to and beyond the front pair to cause Forest any real problems. When City did create width it brought with it a certain degree of panic to the visiting ranks. Particularly impressive in that sense was the form of Jihai Sun who enjoyed a fine home debut.
Even so the biggest early scares were at the other end where Carlo Nash was grateful to see Andy Reid’s looping cross cannon off his bar.
City found the target more elusive and Shaun Goater who is currently finding goals hard to come by spurned two early chances. For Forest, Marlon Harewood went close with a low 20 yarder that fiizzed past Nash’s left-hand post, but it was a contest that needed a touch of magic to lift it beyond the mundane and that came in the 40th minute. Kevin Horlock played a magnificent long ball into the path of Darren Huckerby who let it bounce once before smashing an unstoppable effort beyond Darren Ward. It was the kind of goal that adds credence to the widely held belief that Huckerby is a scorer of spectacular goals rather than a spectacular goal scorer but he soon set about dismantling that particular theory in the rest of the game. Five minutes later; deep into stoppage time, he took his tally for the season to 21 goals when he seized on to an horrendous pass from David Prutton and calmly slotted the ball past Ward.
That was the end of the game as a contest and the second half was only ever going to be a matter of how many.
Huckerby completed his second hat-trick of the season from the penalty spot and the Blues could have had a hatful.
The win also broke the post- war club record for wins in a season, previously 26 achieved twice in both 1946-47 and 1999-2000.
FROM MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS BY CHRIS BAILEY AND PAUL HINCE