Manchester City v Gillingham 2001/02

gillingham home 2001-02 prog


Nationwide League Division 1

3rd November 2001

Attendance 33,067

City Goater(18, 20 & 53), Huckerby(35)
Gillingham King(70)

City Weaver, Mettomo, Pearce, Howey, Dunne, Wright-Phillips, Benarbia, Berkovic, Tiatto, Goater, Huckerby – subs Etuhu(86), Dickov(unused), Colosimo(64), Nash(unused), Horlock(81)

Gillingham Bartram, Samuel, Butters, Hope, Smith, Hessenthaler, Nosworthy, Osborn, Perpetuini, Onuora, Ipoua – subs Browning(68), King(60), Taylor(74), Shaw(unused), Saunders(unused)


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Shaun Shows How Priceless An Asset He Is To Promotion Bid

KEVIN Keegan’s best two transfer deals are rapidly turning out to be the ones he didn’t complete. While everyone continues to marvel at the magical footballing powers of Ali Benarbia and Eyal Berkovic, it is Shaun Goater and Darren Huckerby who are spearheading the Blues’ race back to the Premiership. But if Manchester City chief Keegan had given the nod at the right time neither of them would now be at Maine Road. Instead, Goater would have packed his bags and joined Mark Kennedy at Wolves and livewire Huckerby would have been on his way back to Coventry in a swap deal. City fans should be grateful the pair never quite made it to the congested confines of the M6. Goater’s inexorable rise into the pantheon of great Maine Road strikers shows no signs of slowing following a fourth hat-trick for the club, which took his season’s tally to 20 and put him smack on course to re—write all the Blues record books.
And to think a section of supporters wanted him drummed out of the club shortly after his arrival! Perhaps those people will now think twice before targeting their next ‘victim’. It is not easy to categorise ‘the Goat’ who is not the most natural of ‘sniffers’ and certainly doesn’t frighten defences with his dazzling ball skills. What he has got, however is an almost mystical ability to read where the ball will end up and oodles of honesty bravery and integrity Has anyone seen a 20 goals in 19 games marksman who is as unselfish or who has such an inate work ethic? If so, they have not been watching English football. Whatever Wolves wanted to pay for Goater, and it was reportedly not an awful lot, it wouldn’t have Been anywhere near enough. He is a priceless asset both as a goalscorer and a talisman for this City team and what is more, he is getting better with age. And ‘getting better’ is a tag that could equally apply to the whole Blues team which has gratefully accepted the managers wise decision to switch to a 4-4-2 formation which looks neat, compact and comfortable and, more importantly is consistently effective.
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The attacking verve and vision is still there, but there is a more solid look about the side as a defensive unit and they really do now look like a Premiership team in waiting instead of a bunch of entertainers capable of incredible highs and excruciating lows. Plucky Gillingham were dealt with in the same manner a bear would deal with a naughty mischievous cub. For nearly 20 minutes Keegan’s team of midfield impresarios put up with the stubborn and irritating antics of their visitors before inspiring a couple of chastising cuffs that put the men of Kent firmly in their place. Thereafter only the odd gentle reminder was needed to keep the Gills in check and the final scoreline far from flattered Keegan’s side. Until Goater struck in the 18th minute, the best City effort had come from Richard Dunne who showed great balance and touch as he collected Benarbia’s pass with his left foot. dragged it past a defender on to his right and unleashed a spiteful drive from the edge of the box that the over-worked Vince Bartram did well to fist away The keeper could do nothing, however about the opener as Goater and the irrepressible Huckerby fashioned a one·two on the edge of the box which left the latter with a shooting chance. Bartram made an initial block but when the ball rebounded there was Goater to smash home from 15 yards. The second followed in double-quick time after Danny Tiatto fired in a cross from the left. Goater’s initial header was poor but it hit Guy Butters and rebounded back to the Bermudian who made no mistake second time around squeezing a left foot shot between she]l—shocked Bartram and the near post. That was game set and match and the Blues quickly went into exhibition mode with Benarbia and Berkovic the twin conductors of a tuneful orchestra. Shaun Wright-Phillips, a bouncing ball of energy and commitment, went close to a first senior goal with a shot across Bartram that flashed wide and the Gills goalkeeper denied Goater a ten minute hat-trick with a splendid stop after another eye-catching interchange between the front pairing. The third goal came in the 35th minute when Benarbia threaded a ball through what used to be called the inside-left channel and Goater pulled back a splendid pass for Huckerby to crash home his tenth of the season and his ninth in his last seven starts.
gillingham home 2001-02 action
From then on it was a case of how many for the Blues who have been apt to take their foot off an opponent’s throat when three up in previous games. There were, however few signs of any slackening early in the second half as Berkovic saw a free-kick tipped over the bar by Bartram and Wright-Phillips went close with a volley that was spinning viciously when it reached his foot. Goater was obviously desperate for his hat- trick and it arrived in the 52nd minute when Berkovic released Huckerby into the box and a quickfire one-two left the marksman with a tap-in. Marlon King’s low shot then reduced the deficit to manageable proportions before the post and Bartram’s reflexes denied Goater a fourth. Keegan’s pre-match talk was all about the Blues becoming men and not boys — any more superb performances like this and they stand the chance of being accused of bullying.     FROM MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS BY CHRIS BAILEY AND PAUL HINCE

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