CITY 2 ROTHERHAM 1
Nationwide League Division 1
24th November 2001
City Negouai(43), Benarbia(88)
City Weaver, Mettomo, Pearce, Howey, Dunne, Huckerby, Benarbia, Tiatto, Negouai, Wright-Phillips, Mike – subs Horlock(74), Wiekens(45), Killen(79), Nash(unused), Cooke(unused)
Rotherham Pollitt, Hurst, Scott, McIntosh, Swailes, Talbot, Sedgwick, Monkhouse , Mullin, Richard Barker, Robins – subs Warne(75) Beech(72), Daws(89) Gray(unused), Branston(unused)
CHRISTIAN NEGOUAI SCORES CITY’S CONTROVERSIAL EQUALISER AND ALI BENARBIA BAGS THE LATE WINNER
WHAT THE PRESS SAID
KEVIN Keegan believes football matches are affairs of the heart. So the Blues boss must have been particularly perturbed when Manchester City’s vital organ failed to pump for 45 minutes of this contest. He might even have been forgiven had he contemplated yet more major surgery to his ailing squad when they finally snapped out of their collective torpor and found an escape valve.
Lacklustre City were a shambles in the opening half to the point where a busy and well-drilled Rotherham side were running the show The chance of being invited into a second tier of the Premiership looked much less complicated than trying to earn a way into the honey pot. But then came a transformation. . Where passing had been slipshod and careless, it became crisp and purposeful. Suddenly there was movement, effort and even a bit of sweat in a previously static and predictable midfield.
It was enough to change the ebb and flow of the contest but a team with City’s talent and pretensions should not have to struggle so manfully and have so much luck, to see off sides who are paupers by comparison.
This match showed the folly of the so—called big clubs trying to form their own new cartel. Leagues need their Rotherhams who are a team in the real sense of the word. They don’t depend on survival tactics but City seem to be relying on their skill and technique to see them emerge from the tight-knit promotion pack. lt might well prove to be enough but a little more work on creating a unit might not go amiss before the final reckoning.
Christian Negouai, despite literally punching home an equaliser will clearly take time to settle into the English game and the Blues looked lost up front without the predatory Goat.
The game looked to have inched away from City following a 23rd—minute header from former Bury defender Chris Swailes.
Rotherham rarely looked in danger until just before the break when Negouai led with his arm and bundled home an equaliser from one of several wonderful Stuart Pearce crosses. Uproar followed as United’s players unsuccessfully pleaded their case and their sense of injustice was only heightened when Ali Benarbia, well shackled until then, hit a 25-yard, 88th minute winner It was, however probably no less that City deserved for Mike Pollitt pulled off a pair of smart second half stops and Martin Mclntosh cleared one Darren Huckerby chip off the line with great aerial dexterity Added to all that, Huckerby and Lucien Mettomo each hit the post and both Leon Mike and Shaun Wright-Phillips had efforts blocked in what was one-way traffic.
The big question is why such dominance took so long in coming.
FROM MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS BY CHRIS BAILEY AND PAUL HINCE