Date:Monday October 30 2006
Although making statements to the contrary, Stuart Pearce looked ashen faced and under pressure before the start of the game. He'll be feeling a lot better now after a tense and hard-fought 1 - 0 win over an equally desparate for points, 'Boro.
City recorded their third win of the season and leapfrog 'Boro into 13th spot, now six points clear of the relegation zone.
Although City started much the brighter, they found it hard to break down a dogged and spoiing 'Boro team. Skipper, Richard Dunne redeemed himself for last week's own goal shocker, with a powerful headed goal at the right end of the pitch this time to break the deadlock after 23 minutes. You could feel the relief on the pitch and in the ground as the ball crashed into the back of the net.
'Boro fought back in the second half and finished the game strongly. In fact they could have got something from the match right at the death when substitute Maccaroni incredibly hit the same post twice within the space of a few minutes. Unusually for City, we got a bit of luck tonight, but we'll take that.
A few individual mentions; Dunnie put in a real captain's performance and led by example, Thatcher did ok in difficult circumstances on his return, Beasley showed little flashes to suggest he could be quite a shrewd buy, but again Samaras seemed to lack confidence in front of goal and never really looked like scoring, something he and the coaches need to sort out quickly. Vassell looked sharp again when he came on late in the game and should really have done better with a couple of good chances, but let's be fair to the lad, he needs games to recover his touch.
Reyna however, once again flattered to deceive and I can't understand why Pearce still persists with him when there are much better options. On a more positive note Micah Richards showed why he'll be England's next right back with another rock solid performance for one so young and inexperienced.
Special mention tonight though for Paul Dickov who was my man of the match ( although Dunnie won the honour on Sky TV). I thought he was outstanding and chased and harried for everything. His gutsy performance should be noted by some of the other senior players. If they showed the same level of committment, we wouldn't be struggling like we are.
In summary, not a classic by any means, but the three points was the only target tonight and we got it. It wasn't pretty and the quality in truth was pretty poor, but who cares, we just needed the win !
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