CITY 4 GRIMSBY TOWN 0
Nationwide League Division 1
23rd October 2001
Scorers Goater(2), Howey(21), Huckerby(24 & 64)
City Weaver, Mettomo, Pearce, Howey, Dunne, Etuhu, Benarbia, Horlock, Tiatto, Goater, Huckerby – subs Wright-Phillips(80), Dickov(76), Wiekens(unused), Nash(unused), Berkovic(58)
Grimsby Coyne, Neilson, Groves, Broomes, Gallimore, Butterfield, Coldicott, Willems, Boulding, Rowan – sub Allen(72), Campbell(72), Chapman(unused), Beharall(unused), Croudson(unused)
Kevin Keegan’s hair is in danger of turning black from the worry of not knowing which face his team are going to be wearing from one match to the next. Or from one half to the other come to that.
Only three days ago, after the defeat at Preston, you wouldn’t have wagered a defunct pound note on Keegan’s team joining the big guns in the Premiership next season.
At Maine Road against Grimsby last night, the Blues were everything they hadn’t been at Deepdale. Positive, determined, confident and — at times — devastating in front of goal. A team, in fact; with “promotion” stamped right through it.
How can three days make such a difference? Even Keegan doesn’t know the answer to that one. But where in the advertisement did it say that managing City was simple?
In fact, City’s entire back four looked rock-solid from Hrst whistle to last to provide compelling evidence that even a system which was forced on Keegan by circumstances is the one which his defenders are most comfortable with and most effective at operating.
Was it the reinstatement of Kevin Horlock into midiield which ended City’s jittery run of four First Division matches without a` win?
There was certainly a more balanced and cohesive look about the engine room with the under-used Irishman visibly growing in stature and confidence the longer the game went on.
Was it that the penny finally dropped between Shaun Goater and Darren Huckerby and they have finally worked out how to operate in tandem? Two for Darren and one for the Goat suggests they have. Or was it a combination of all those factors which transformed the Blues into an irresitible force ?
The simple truth is that City looked to have come from a different planet than Grimsby The difference in class between the two sides was almost embarrassing.
The crowd sensed that, too. Rarely can the Blue Mooners have been so quiet while watching their side canter to victory
If I didn”t know better I would have sworn that the Maine Road faithful were munching prawn sandwiches!
But perhaps that lack of atmosphere was understandable. It is a bit difficult to get worked up about a match which was effectively over as a contest inside 25 minutes.
The late-comers were still looking for their seats when the Blues took the lead with only two minutes on the clock thanks to a textbook goal which was simplicity itself.
The all-action Aussie whipped over an inch-perfect low cross which thread- ed its way to the unmarked Goater at the far post — and you know the rest. Feed the Goat and he will score. Which he did. With relish. Fifteen already this season. Bog is he hungry.
Pearce was again the architect when City’s non-stop pressure was rewarded with the second goal on 20 minutes. His right—wing corneR taken with his » trusty left foot, bent in wickedly leav- ing Steve Howey with little to do other than to stretch his neck muscles to send a thumping header beyond the helpless Danny Coyne in the Grimsby goal. Game, set and match was called four minutes later with the first of two amazing solo goals from Huckerby who terrorised the Grimsby defence all night.
The highly-impressive Lucien Mottomo probably hoofed his long clearance up field more in hope than anticipation. But to a player with Huckerby’s speed a situation like that is manna from Heaven. Huckerby raced on to Mettomo’s clearance, turned defender Marlon Broomes inside out and calmly smashed his shot past the oncoming Coyne as easy as picking apples off a tree.
There was simply nothing on when substitute Eyal Berkovic hoisted a high clearance just after the hour towards the centre circle. At least nothing on to everybody bar Huckerby who seems able to spot a chance where a chance doesn’t exist. Grimsby defender Tony Gallimore must have wondered what was happening when Huckerby whipped the ball off his toes, raced at rocket-speed to the edge of the penalty box and blasted home another unstoppable shot to bring his tally to seven goals in his last five outings.
FROM MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS BY CHRIS BAILEY AND PAUL HINCE