Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Thursday September 24 2009
And so our Carling Cup dreams end courtesy of alter goal from a mega-buy at a half empty City of Manchester Stadium.
Possibly dreams that were never going to materialize due to the hectic fixture schedule participating in the Europa League lands us with.
Beforehand we`d speculated that the side Roy Hodgson would field would be more of that we can relate to a Europa League fixture than a Premier League fixture and that indeed proved to be the case. After the disappointment of capitulation at Wolves, at the weekend, Roy refused the option of giving some of those who under-performed the chance to redeem themselves, instead he made 11 changes and chose a bench that contained a fair sprinkling of youngsters.
So, with kick-off approaching and a view of a stadium not even half full, I pondered over why I`d trekked this far north on Wednesday evening, had I spent a fortune to see another display that would leave my jaw agape in disbelief? Well not really, instead upon leaving the ground I felt a little cheated, cheated that I`d been deprived, thanks to a gallant display, of a penalty shoot-out whereby we`d possibly delay or inevitable Carling Cup exit until the next round.
In fact that already mentioned jaw did drop open but in sheer delight when, totally against the run of play, Zoltan Gera put us 1-0 up. Thirty-four minutes had been played and we`d not had a shot on target until Gera thumped home a glorious half volley, from thirty yards, that beat Shay Given all ends up.
But could we hang on, could we surprise everyone by fielding an un-experienced team and beating the richest club in the land? Well we did until half time but shortly into the second half, seven minutes to be precise, the slightest of errors made by the gallant Stockdale saw Gareth Barry equalise. Time for brave hearts and cool heads as the City onslaught came, an onslaught that our defence weathered well and soon it was extra time, delaying a return south for at least a minimum of thirty minutes.
Sadly, just as it looked as if we`d get to the lottery of penalty shoot outs Toure, after 111 minutes, got the winner. Pushing forward we were always huffing and puffing rather than creating genuine chances and after giving the lads a round of applause that uninviting long drive back to London faced me. Disappointed? Slightly! Proud, most definitely, especially after I`d dismissed our hopes so easily before kick-off.
Date:Thursday September 24 2009
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