Man City report

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Man City 0-1 Latics
Saturday 18th March 2003

The last time these two sides met it was Latics who had other things on their minds. Paul Jewell naming a much changed line up for the FA cup tie to protect the pursuit of the points required to ensure safety. This time around it was City, with a FA cup quarter final just over 48 hours away, who rang the changes. When those changes bring the likes of Distin, Mills and Sibierski into the team you would be excused for thinking that this was more of a calculated risk than a gamble. As it turns out city had taken more than one eye off the ball, allowing Latics to canter to their second away victory on the bounce.

From the off, it was obvious that the result was completely in the hands of Paul Jewell’s men. Despite never getting into gear they had plenty of opportunities, without applying the killer touch. With the strikers looking lacklustre it fell to the widemen to waste the chances. With City on the back foot Teale side footed a shoot too close to James and McCulloch failed to make contact with a Jimmy Bullard corner when free in the six yard box.

John Filan gave us the first half’s most entertaining moment, when he bowled the ball onto the head of a city player. The resulting deflection looped up and over the Latics defence, heading goalwards only to bounce back off the cross bar. Inexplicably the referee had blown for a free kick against City, interference or hand ball seemed the likely choices, but neither applied. Maybe there’s something in the rules about it being an offence to take advantage of goalkeepers embarrassing themselves.

Unluckily for City that’s not the case. Early in the second half and under minimal pressure, James made a hash of one clearance only to get a second chance when his sliced boot found a defensive colleague. The resulting back pass wasn’t the best, but the keepers second go was worse than the first, the ball ending up over his dead ball line. The resulting corner was almost a replica of the first half chance spurned by McCulloch. This time around the big Scot made no mistake with his free header, and he had a goal to dedicate to his new son, Jack, born last week.

The Boxing Day clash between these two sides had more than enough in it to make up for the dour FA cup tie. There was probably enough left to excuse this game not being a classic as well. It was very much the sort of game where the only thing to be happy about was the points. If Jewell is serious about a European place, then eight more wins like this will probably get it for us, and no one will be complaining then.

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