Cup Dream Over Again
Manchester City threw away the chance to win there only trophy of the season after a devastating 3-1 defeat, in extra time, at the hands of Stoke City.
Another must-win game loomed and the time has come to be counted. After a last gasp winner destroyed our chances of League Cup success and the chance of winning the league extremely slim, the F.A Cup was our only chance of lifting a much needed trophy. A trophy we deserve for our long standing loyalty and passion for the club. After spending £200 million in two seasons the chance for success has never been greater.
However, nothing has altered. Another year without success and with the team slipping away in the league and facing tough fixtures the hope for a good season is fading fast.
Too many tactical decisions, bad performances and lack of stability around the club have seen us take one step back rather than forward at this optimistic time. The quality of football over recent weeks has been diabolical, lethargic and unsatisfying.
Since Stoke have moved into the promise land their type of football has been heavily criticised and sometimes rightly so. Despite this a lack of initiative and knowledge has again seen us come unstuck at the Britannia stadium.
Mancini started the fixture with a defensive set-up, 7 defensive minded players all getting a start. Despite this we started strongly, good fluent football accompanied with a will to win and desire that has left us in recent weeks. This was different, we looked settled, and we took the game to Stoke.
The greatest first half chances fell to City players, Ireland and most notably Bellamy. The fiery Welshman was involved in everything and after great work from Adebayor he looked set to score, however, a last ditch smothering from Sorenson proved our downfall. Similarly Ireland was put through by strong Togolese running from Adebayor, but again his fantastic assist didn't find a finish to match.
Half time was approaching and the side looked pleased, the forums were buzzing with positive comments and the City faithful were out singing the loud-mouthed Stoke.
Although our first half performance was admirable and left us on top, something changed dramatically in the second. The enthusiasm and impetus wasn't there anymore. A Lack of endeavor, guile and technical ability was desperately needed. We continued to press, but this time with the usual cautious approach.
Stoke hit us on the break. Offering very little, they conjured up a great chance that substitute Kitson duly converted.
Fortunately, as it has done so often, an opposition goal spurred us on. Less than two minutes after Kitson's goal Bellamy justifiably levelled.
Pandemonium in the stands was short lived. After a tremendous display, probably one of his brightest, Adebayor was dismissed for the use of his arm. Bellamy led the protests but the referee was placed in front of the decision and had the belief red was the correct call.
Tension and anxiety swept the Britannia. Stoke had opened the scoring but were clawed back immediately, Adebayor then saw red leaving the hosts in the better position.
Extra time loomed, both sides were settling for a 90 minute stalemate that offered similar controversy to the league fixture one week ago.
Suddenly Stoke were left pulsated and overjoyed, Shawcross converting again from a Delap line-out, this time it was allowed to stand. City began to push but had little to show. Advancing and looking for the equaliser City were caught again. Tuncay provided the inspiration and after neat foot-work he added the third leaving no way back for City.
Unfortunately this wasn't the dream ending we had all hoped for. A sense of injustice and disappointment was etched across the travelling faces. A trophy we had hoped for so much in came to a disastrous end.