January 2005
City v Southampton 2-1
January 1st att. 42,895
An early arrival at the City of Manchester Stadium and no indication of the weather that was about to hit us. As the teams went about their warm-up I am sure they didn't expect to be drenched. Southampton deep in the relegation zone were desperate for points while City needed to start the New Year with a home win against lowly opponents.
There was a warm welcome for Colin Bell who had featured in the New Years honour list. A well deserved award for one of City's greatest players.
City made just one change from the West Brom game Thatcher coming in for the injured Jordan. There was no sign of Beattie in the Southampton squad as he is just about to make a move .
With one of the ball sponsors having to use a wheelchair and the appalling weather the referee took the opening ceremony to he side of the pitch rather than the centre It is the first time I could remember this happening.
For a change both teams went into a pre-match huddle .
As the terrific first half rain storm hit the stadium (shades of the Ipswich game at Maine Road a few seasons ago) many spectators were given plastic rain coats for protection
A good tackle by Dunne in the early stages must have given him confidence after the West Brom incident.
From the first whistle Shaun Wright-Phillips was eager to forget about his recent indifferent form and give the Southampton defenders plenty to think about.
After 18 minutes SWP forced a corner after a run down the right. Fowler's corner kick was nodded by Dunne back over the goal area to a waiting Boswelt who directed it into the net. City one up and well deserved .
While a stunned Southampton defence decided who was to take the blame Bosvelt a real rock in midfield in recent games celebrated his first goal in the new stadium.
After 24 minutes SWP picked up the ball on the half way line sped past the young Southampton defender and cracked in a shot which Niemi saved really well. City were now on top and Anelka had missed a good chance moments earlier when he scuffed his shot.
Niemi's goal was under siege with Fowler continuing his run of good form. After 32 minutes a great city move down the right hand side ended with a good Fowler header which Higginbotham saved on the line with Niemi beaten for once.
The rain continued to pelt down and goodness me the prawn sandwich brigade on the second tier started to abandon their seats as the wind blew the wintery rain into their stand. Will there be protests at the next AGM I wonder!
David James who had had little to do was nearly caught out after 36 minutes when McCann broke through. James saved at the feet of McCann but the ball broke free but Phillips took the ball too wide and gave the defence time to cover and save the situation
The irrepressible Shaun Wright-Phillips now back to his best form tormented the Southampton defence and after 39 minutes he let fly from long range. He nearly caught me napping.
The ball flew towards goal - hit the left hand post and went in with Niemi well beaten. A wonder strike. He celebrated in true SWP style.
Two goals down at half time Southampton were bound to have more of the play and David James had to clear some difficult corners. Some supporters moan about his handling but in the conditions and a wet ball punching clear is probably a safer bet.
After 57 minutes Southampton hopes were raised as a cross ball was netted by Phillips but as they celebrated they failed to spot the linesman flag. It was a tight but correct decision.
As the game entered extra time the referee who until then had enjoyed a good game especially in the first half when conditions were at their worst gave two amazing decisions. Crouch was chased a nothing ball towards the goal line and Distin gave him a shoulder charge to allow the ball to go out. Crouch, off balance, fell forward and the referee Foy gave a penalty to everyone's amazement. Despite the encroachment - top right- Phillips scored from the spot. In the next minute a City shot that went wide without going anywhere near a defender ended up as a corner! This was a much better effort by City especially in the first half. With SWP now back to his best form I hope City will do well on Tuesday against Arsenal at Highbury and keep in the top half of the table. Then it's the Cup and a trip to Oldham.
After half time Southampton brought on Crouch who is at least 8ft tall (well he looks it) for Oakley and Fernandes for Ormerod.
City continued to press but I had the feeling they had taken their foot off the accelerator and Southampton were getting back into the game
David James made a wonderful save after 77 minutes from Crouch
The long throws from Delap often caused problems for City but they held firm and it looked like a good start to the new year
Macken came on for Anelka and Onuha for Thatcher in the latter stages and just before the end McManaman came on for Fowler who had played really well. Fowler got the cheers Macca the boos.
James 7: Mills 6, Dunne 7, Distin 7, Thatcher 6 (Onuoha 7): Wright-Phillips 9, Bosvelt 8, Barton 6, Sibierski 6: Fowler 8 (McManaman 6), Anelka 7 (Macken 6):
Back to City 2004-2005

Oldham Athletic 1 City 0
FA Cup R3
January 9th att. 13,171

Oldham 1 City 0
Bosvelt brings down an Oldham player and the resultant free-kick is cleared by Distin with Scott Vernon in close attendance. Shortly afterwards the same Oldham player scored from close range to give the home side a shock lead.
Bradley Wright-Phillips gave only glimpses of his potential in his first full game and he was substituted after 70 minutes by McManaman
As the ball came out once again to SWP he lobbed it back towards the Oldham goal with their keeper helpless on the ground. Alas for City veteran 41 year old David Eyres cleared off the line
A few minutes before half time City should have equalised. A corner from the right wing was only partially cleared by the keeper to SWP whose shot was blocked by the keeper
One of the few players to come out of this cup shock with any credit was Dunne who did his best to
Pogllacomi the Oldham keeper had a good game and capped his display with a great save from SWP in the latter stages
The strong gales that had caused havoc in Northern England nearly caused a cancellation of the Cuptie when advertising signs were in danger of being a problem to spectators. Fortunately the efforts of local help enabled the game to go ahead. In the biting cold the police took an extra watch out for Polar Bears!
Referee Dean looks to be in trouble - even before the kickoff
Moonchester warms up before the start
Stuart Pearce is the epitome of concentration and balance as he warms up David James with crosses. Pity some of the City players didn't take note of his good example.
There was no sign of Anelka or Fowler as the City side took the field. Bradley Wright-Phillips made a rare first start. It is not often a team come down the steps to the ground
Facing a really strong gale it was going to be difficult for City to take over the game. So it proved with the Latics testing the City defence in the first few minutes.
City had a lucky escape as early as the 4th minute. An inswinging corner from the right wing evaded James and went straight in the goal. The Oldham faithful thought it was a goal but referee Dean disallowed it for a foul on James - you can see him blowing for the foul -above left.
In the second half City had the benefit of the wind but as we expected from the forecast the force of the wind had dropped
Macken and his colleagues never gave the Oldham defence the mauling we might have expected. They defended in numbers and hardly left their own penalty area let alone their half in the last 30 minutes.
Willo Flood who had come on for Sibierski failed to make any impact on the game.
Even all the skill of Shaun Wright-Phillips failed to make any dent in the Oldham defence who were playing out of their skins

At the final whistle the Oldham supporters invaded the pitch to cheer off their players who had worked their socks off in this surprise win. A surprise to many people but not to City supporters who have seen it all before. I have suffered several round three defeats - Shrewsbury and a five goal beating by Southampton come to mind
Rumors abound about Anelka who is perhaps quickly learning Turkish. Whatever the result of the January sales window the need for a creative left sided midfielder and another striker is vital.

The appearance of McManaman did little to cheer the City supporters
Shaun Wright-Phillips played all over the park to try and get an equalizer but the die was cast in first 30 minutes when City failed to play.
James 6: Mills 5, Dunne 7, Distin 6, Thatcher 5: Shaun Wright-Phillips 7. Bosvelt 5, Barton 5, Sibierski 5 (Mc Manaman 5): Macken 5, Bradley Wright-Phillips 5 (Flood 5)
It was almost a racing certainty that City, heroes at Highbury on Tuesday evening, would become one of the 3rd round shock results.. It must have been 30 years since I last visited Boundary Park and stood on the open terrace to watch City and it was cold then. Well the second highest ground in the football league was no warmer today and the biting gale blowing into the City supporters end didn't help. City had to play into the wind in the first half and it was obvious they didn't relish the experience in the first half hour or so. By then the damage had been done and another season had gone for a Burton. No Millennium Stadium this year.

City v Crystal Palace 3-1
January 15th att. 44,010
City 3 Crystal Palace 1
With the yellow flag on the left is the assistant referee who failed to see the Spurs goal at Old Trafford the other week.
City went straight on the attack and in the first few minutes went very near when Sibierski's shot just zipped past the post.
While the Hungarian keeper huffed and puffed - Distin demonstrated a high ballet jump. Perhaps practicing for Daphne and Chloe.
The further absence of Anelka - now almost certain to move to Turkey - meant that Fowler returned to partner Macken upfront. City swept the disappointing result at Oldham under the carpet as they won convincingly in the end but as usual there were a few faltering moments for the supporters to endure.
We had the unusual sight of running repairs to the net after 6 minutes while play was at the other end.
Shaun Wright-Phillips was already causing problems for the Palace defence early on.
City should have taken the lead in the 9th minutes after Fowler had put Wright-Phillips through. SWP bore down on goal but placed his shot wide of the far post.
City pressed hard but failed to break through in the early stages.
City took the lead after 12 minutes Barton fed SWP in the area and Shaun swept past his marker and from a similar position to his previous miss made no mistake cracking the ball past the keeper's right hand. One nil to City.
Two minutes later and City made it two nil. A long ball from defence found Fowler on the right wing. He turned inside Powell and shot past the diving Kiraly. What has KK been feeding Robbie Fowler. He is a different player to the one who started the season. Perhaps previously we had been watching a cloned version! He is so on song now.
Just after he had had saved from Mills the Hungarian keeper made another good save -this time from Fowler.
A run by the dangerous Johnson ended with the ball hitting the side netting with the goal well covered by James.
Shaun Wright-Phillips was continuing to run the visiting defence ragged and he must be worth at least 20 -25 million pounds now.
Just when we were waiting for the third and fourth, Palace reduced the arrears. A run down the left wing by Johnson was ended with a late challenge by Dunne. The resultant free-kick by Routledge was headed in off the post by Darren Powell. 2-1 after thirty minutes and Palace were back in the game.
Another great save by Gabor Kiraly kept Palace in the game a few minutes later. A deflected shot by Fowler was spectacularly kept out by the visiting keeper.
The second half proved a bit of an anticlimax. Palace had more of the game and David James was kept much more busy.and saved well from Andrews ( above left ) who had come on as sub at the start of the second period. City substituted Sibierski with McManaman at half time.
There were a few scary moments in the City goalmouth as attackers and defenders scrambled for the ball . Only one goal down, relegation threatened Palace tried their best to embarrass the City defence but the City back four held fast.
Palace forced several corners but James was equal to most of them.
After 70 minutes Bradley Wright-Phillips came on for Macken and brilliant play by Fowler put him through with 10 minutes to go but his shot went wide of goal. He should have shot across the keeper.
Just on the 90th minute City scored the 3rd. Once again it was the rejuvenated Fowler who made it, He beat several players dashed down the left with excellent ball control and crossed it for SWP to just tap it in . Phew - a comfortable win in the end and some of the memories of the Oldham game were erased. Men of the match were SWP and Robbie Fowler the latter being subbed in the last moments to receive the deserved plaudits of the crowd.
The B of the Bang was now lit up but spectators leaving the ground were still having to make a detour around the largest 'statue' in the UK . When it is wet however this detour can be quite dangerous but the City management appear to be oblivious of the fact. Because of the exit of the visiting supporters one large section of the ground is blocked off to home supporters leaving the ground. I have seen several supporters fall on the grass slope and nothing is being done about it. Over to you City.
James 6: Mills 6 , Dunne 7, Distin 6 , Thatcher 6: Shaun Wright-Phillips 9, Bosvelt 7, Barton 7, Sibierski 6 ( McManaman 6): Fowler 9, Macken 6 (Bradley Wright-Phillips 6)