Manchester City v Preston 2001/02

Preston home 2001 to 02 prog


Nationwide Division One

10th February 2002

Attendance 34,220

City Wright-Phillips(49), Howey(56), Wanchope(74)
Preston Macken(47), Anderson(90)

City Weaver, Pearce, Howey, Dunne, Wright-Phillips, Benarbia, Berkovic, Jensen, Horlock, Huckerby Wanchope – subs Dickov(unused), Tiatto(79), Ritchie(84), Nash(unused), Wiekens(81)

Preston Mollanen, Alexander, Gregan, Lucketti, Cartwright, Keane, Etuhu, Edwards, Cresswell, Healy, Macken – subs Gudjonsson(70), Anderson(81), Skora(unused), Eaton(70), Lucas(unused)


Preston home 2001 to 02 howey goal4

Preston home 2001 to 02 howey goal

Preston home 2001 to 02 howey goal2

Preston home 2001 to 02 howey goal3

Preston home 2001 to 02 howey goal5


WHAT is it about this wonderful, masochistic Manchester City side? ls winning a place back in the Pre- , miership not nerve-wrecking enough without putting the supporters through the mangle as well? Having become predictably bored with beating some of their biggest promotion rivals using just ten men, the Blues yesterday found an alternative way to torture the denizens of Maine Road, fall a goal behind two minutes into the second half. it was a ploy that worked splendidly although Shaun Wright-Phillips nearly ruined the suspense and must be taught to toe the line and not equalise quite so soon. It spoils the tension, don’t you know. Still, it’s easy to forgive the lad, the impetuosity of youth and all that, and I am sure the powers that be will have a word in his “shell-like”. Wright-Phillips’ heroics, were you watching David Platt? were, however just one strand of an epic second-half display from the Blues, who finally found the finishing to match their finesse and ran out worthy winners. Victory proved that last Sunday’s defeat at Wimbledon was indeed a blip and not the start of the kind of terminal tailspin that some of the Blues’ more pessimistic followers are still, in typical moments of self doubt, half expecting. Even those jittery Jonahs who have been brought up on a diet of flaccid under achievement must surely now get the message. This City team is the real deal and will win automatic promotion and they will do so on the back of some magnificent home form. Victory over Preston stretched the unbeaten run at Maine Road to fourteen games and means that Kevin Keegan’s side has now bagged 28 of the last 30 points on offer on their own pitch. For a brief spell at the beginning of yesterday’s contest it didn’t look like that run would continue. North End, all vim and vigour in the pouring rain, bossed the first 15 minutes during which time only an instinctive save from Nick Weaver prevented Jon Macken from opening the scoring. City with Paulo Wanchope and Steve Howey back for the injured Shaun Goater and dropped Gerard Wiekens respectively looked disjointed, out-of-sorts and as sloppy as the rain sodden pitch. The normally laser-sharp passing of playmakers Ali Benarbia and Eyal Berkovic was off beam and the trick and flick approach work was readily rebuffed by a wall of Lancashire steel set up by Sean Gregan and Chris Lucketti. Even so, Finnish keeper Tepi Moilanen had to be at his sharpest to keep out a City side that engagingly worked its way into the contest before com-pletely taking it over. Moilanen twice denied Darren Huckerby with smart stops and produced an even more eye-catching effort to help Paulo Wanchope’s raking 32nd minute drive around the post. There was still the feeling, however, that City’s midfield was spending too much time in front of the ball than behind it, those who watched the Blues last season would never have dreamt of such luxury and Keegan had some general tightening up to do to his team at the break. The manager’s words obviously struck home because the home side were transformed after the interval. Even Macken’s pace-and-precision finiish in the 47th minute failed to knock City out of their elegant, all-consuming stride. Barely 90 seconds had elapsed before jack-in-the-box Wright-Phillips bounced up to lob the leaders level and seven minutes later Howey celebrated his recall with a supply volley of his own after Wanchope had put Moilanen off as he clutched at Benarbia’s corner Once in front, the Blues never looked back and the points were secured in the 74th minute when Wanchope motored onto Berkovic’s precise pass and then unleashed a ripsnorter that flew beyond the startled Moilanen and into the roof of the net via the angle of post and bar City then toyed with North End and produced some entertaining cameos, not least from skipper Stuart Pearce. The former England captain revelled in the Moss Side monsoon and so intimidated North End striker David Healy that one almost felt sorry for the former United man, almost. Every time the ball went near Healy the City skipper slid stealthily and menacingly into the picture. It got to the point where the youngster’s frustration and worry almost got the better of him. The third goal also brought more torment for teenager Dickson Etuhu, who received a far warmer reception from his former City tearn mates than he did from the Blues’ fans. Etuhu’s recent £500,000 move to Deepdale, after he failed to reach a contractual agreement at Maine Road, left Keegan with no hard-feelings but there was plenty of anger in the stands, some of it way over the top. To his credit the former City Acade- my product was unfazed by the barracking and was neat and tidy in most of what he did, though intimately overshadowed by the rampant home side. lain Anderson’s clever; injury-time chip gave the score line a more even look than was really the case.   FROM MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS BY CHRIS BAILEY AND PAUL HINCE
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