February 2005

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Manchester City 1 Newcastle 1
Wednesday 2nd February 2005 : Get Your Kits Out at the COMSTAD

Striking stalwarts Alan Shearer and Robbie Fowler both found the net at the COMSTAD on yet another night of frustration for under-achieving Newcastle and City fans.

Now rid of bad boy Craig Bellamy, Magpies boss Graeme Souness is hoping for a sustained end-of-season burst to carry the Tynesiders into a UEFA Cup spot next season.

Instead, he just got another inconsistent performance as his side faltered badly after Shearer had driven them into a ninth-minute lead with his 250th Premiership goal and, although Fowler's equaliser came from the penalty spot, it was richly deserved and kept Newcastle in the bottom half of the table.

Just three days after selling the man he bought to lead City into a new glorious era, how ironic Kevin Keegan should be on the wrong end of a goal from the player who will forever be synonymous with his time at Newcastle.

Shearer's time on Tyneside will be remembered with significantly more fondness than Nicolas Anelka's 30 months at Eastlands.

Such was the seemingly indifferent manner with which the French striker treated his stint with the Blues that he probably did not even know his old club were in action for the first time since his departure to Fenerbahce.

If he did, and he could be bothered watching, Anelka might have learned a little lesson in longevity and loyalty.

When he calls time on his career in May, Shearer will not have the medal collection a player of his unquestioned ability should beable to boast.

What he will have instead is a mindful of memories about the effort he put in trying to restore his hometown club to past glories.

His latest goal on a wet and cold night in Manchester may not rank that highly but for those privileged to witness it, it was a little gem, the kind he will be most famous for.

Ben Thatcher was caught glaringly out of position when Bramble launched a huge cross-field pass from well inside his own half. Ever alive to an opportunity, Shearer had spotted his chance, drifted behind the Welshman and then, after controlling with the minimum of fuss, smashed his shot into the roof of David James' net before the England keeper could move.

It was a goal Newcastle's first-half dominance deserved as City struggled to find their rhythm, although they were forced to survive a near calamitous mis-kick from Shay Given.

The Irish international had been a virtual spectator until he had to try and deal with Celestine Babayaro's routine back-pass. Caught out by a cruel bobble just before impact, Given sliced his clearance so badly for one awful moment it looked to be heading in before the keeper scampered back to recover.

City did not have to wait long for an unlikely equaliser though, four minutes into the second half to be precise.

But while the goal itself was a shock given the paucity of the hosts' previous attacking invention, its creator and scorer were entirely predictable.

Darting on to Fowler's deft flick, Shaun Wright-Phillips had definitely stolen a march on Titus Bramble as he entered the area.

Television replays were conclusive about the extent of contact as the City man crashed to the floorand the Newcastle man did not protest, and neither did Fowler as he strolled confidently forward and sent Given the wrong way, leaving him just six behind Shearer for the season. Questions should be asked why referee D'Urso didn't show Bramble the red card.

From being virtual bystanders in a game destined to go against them, the Blues were suddenly transformed with Fowler - the man Keegan must now rely on - galvanised most of all.

The former Liverpool player may have plenty of critics but the removal of Anelka from the City side does not appear to have done Fowler any harm and although Newcastle's defence may not be the best, he kept them busy with a series of intelligent runs with and without the ball.

Unfortunately for Keegan, Fowler's efforts could not bring the Blues a winner and neither could Thatcher, who - eager to atone for his earlier error and proving that the collapse of his move to Fulham would not affect his efforts for City - charged up and down the left flank like a man possessed.

Instead, the only noteworthy incident of the final half hour proved to be a booking for Paul Bosvelt which will rule the Dutchman out of the clash with Manchester United on February 13.


Man City James, Mills, Dunne, Distin, Thatcher, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Barton, Bosvelt, Musampa, Fowler, Macken (Bradley Wright-Phillips 84).

Subs Not Used: Weaver, Onuoha, McManaman, Jordan.

Booked: Distin, Bosvelt.

Goals: Fowler 49 pen.

Newcastle Given, Carr, Andrew O'Brien, Bramble, Babayaro, Bowyer, Dyer (Butt 63), Jenas, Faye, Shearer, Ameobi (Kluivert 65).

Subs Not Used: Harper, Hughes, Robert.

Booked: Jenas, Bowyer, Andrew O'Brien.

Goals: Shearer 9.

Att: 45,752

Ref: A D'Urso (Essex).

Chel$ea 0-0 Man City                 Super James
                                        Tames Chel
Sunday 6th February 2005 : John Kemp at Stamford Bridge for Get Your Kits Out

A brave defensive display, led by keeper David James, helped Manchester City hold the leaders Chelsea.
After a quiet opening, James denied Damien Duff, Jiri Jarosik and Mateja Kezman, while Paul Bosvelt cleared William Gallas' header off the line.

Robbie Fowler should have scored for City but sent his header wide.

Chelsea had most of the possession in the second half but James kept out Frank Lampard's free-kick and superbly tipped the same player's volley wide.

City went into the game with the proud record of being the only domestic team to beat Chelsea this season.

And there was little to alarm them in the first 30 minutes as Chelsea - deprived of Arjen Robben and Didier Drogba through injury - struggled to pose much of a threat.

Indeed, it was the visitors who looked likelier to enliven a drab opening played at a lethargic pace.

Shaun Wright-Phillips - watched by England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson - showed his customary trickery to burst into the right of the area and deliver a dangerous ball, which was blocked by John Terry.

But Chelsea suddenly stepped up a gear and created a flurry of chances.

First, Duff got round Ben Thatcher and blasted in a shot that James parried to Kezman, who turned the ball wide. Chelsea really missed the match-winning finesse, strength and sheer agility of Arjen Robben

Soon afterwards, Jarosik found space in the area to powerfully head Lampard's corner goalwards but James tipped the ball over.

Chelsea were now looking more like Premiership leaders and James kept out Kezman's fierce drive before Bosvelt and James combined to clear Gallas' header from Duff's corner.

City broke swiftly up the field and the last chance of a frenetic spell should have resulted in Fowler celebrating his 150th Premiership goal.

Wright-Phillips raced down the left and crossed to Fowler but City's lone man up front, left free by Terry's slip, contrived to head wide when it seemed a breakthrough was certain.

The second half started as quietly as the first, although James was forced to divert a cross from the lively Duff away from Eidur Gudjohnsen's path.

There was a nasty moment for Petr Cech, looking for a ninth straight clean sheet in the league, when a series of ricochets saw Fowler chase a loose ball in the area and collide accidently with the Czech Republic stopper.

Another quiet spell followed, which Duff interrupted with a surging run that was halted illegally on the edge of the penalty area by Bosvelt.

Lampard stepped up to blast a shot through the wall and James somehow blocked it with his legs.

Another timely challenge, this time from Richard Dunne in time added on, prevented Gudjohnsen from getting in a shot.

There was still time for James to produce a sensational save to tip Lampard's volley round the post.

A great afternoons work by City, now for UniŁed next week

Chelsea: Cech, Paulo Ferreira, Gallas, Terry, Bridge, Jarosik (Tiago 56), Lampard, Makelele, Duff, Gudjohnsen, Kezman (Cole 63).
Subs Not Used: Johnson, Smertin, Cudicini.

Booked: Makelele, Gudjohnsen.

Man City: James, Mills, Distin, Dunne, Thatcher, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bosvelt, Barton, Sibierski (McManaman 85), Musampa, Fowler.
Subs Not Used: Macken, Weaver, Onuoha, Jordan.

Booked: Bosvelt.

Att: 42,093

Ref: H Webb (S Yorkshire).



Wayne Rooney's deflected strike and a Richard Dunne howler gave Manchester United a crucial 2-0 win at Manchester City on Sunday to keep the pressure on Chelsea.

United hotshot Rooney slotted home Gary Neville's right-wing cross - although the ball took a crucial deflection off Dunne (pictured right) - in  the 68th minute to give United the lead.

And it was the Rooney-Dunne combination that sealed the win for Sir Alex Ferguson seven minutes later as the City defender sliced Rooney's cross over a stranded David James and into the far corner of the net.

But it could have been a different story had Steve McManaman converted a glorious first-half chance. (pictured below)

The City midfielder blazed a close-range effort wide with the goal at his mercy after good work down the right flank from Shaun Wright-Phillips.

The home side enjoyed the better of the early exchanges with Antione Sibierski firing wide and Roy Carroll doing well to beat away a fierce Kiki Musampa shot.

At the other end, James scrambled away a Rooney free-kick and Paul Scholes headed over.

And five minutes before the break, Gabriel Heinze lashed a shot well over following a corner.

Chances were scarce in the opening stages of the second half, although City nearly snatched a goal when Wes Brown's error let in Wright-Phillips.

Carrol parried his shot into the path of Robbie Fowler, but the City ace missed the target.

Rooney's chip caused no problems for James before he made no mistake for the opener.

City poured forward in a bid to rescue a lost cause after Dunne's own goal and Musampa, Fowler and Sibierski all missed great chances to pull a goal back.

Ryan Giggs nearly made it three in stoppage time but was denied by the upright but United were content to run the clock down and again lie nine points behind leaders Chelsea.

Man City: James, Mills (Bradley Wright-Phillips 83), Dunne, Distin, Thatcher, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Barton (Macken 68), Sibierski, McManaman, Musampa, Fowler.
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Onuoha, Flood.

Booked: Fowler, Sibierski.

Man Utd: Carroll, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Brown, Heinze, O'Shea (Ronaldo 33), Keane, Fortune, Fletcher (Giggs 64), Rooney, Scholes (Phil Neville 84).
Subs Not Used: Howard, Bellion.

Booked: Rooney, Scholes, Keane.

Goals: Rooney 68, Dunne 75 og.

Att: 47,111

Ref: S Bennett (Kent).


Norwich 2-3 Manchester City   Away day joy for Robbie

Robbie makes it 2-2

28th February 2005 : Dave Farrington at Carrow Road for get Your Kits Out

Dean Ashton's superb flicked finish put the Canaries ahead and Ashton then turned provider as Leon McKenzie raced through to double the lead.

But Antoine Sibierski's header made it 2-1 and the Frenchman then combined brilliantly with Shaun Wright-Phillips to tee up Robbie Fowler for number two.

Norwich had Mattias Jonson sent off and Fowler's injury-time shot won it.

Norwich, desperate to claw back some points in the relegation battle after Crystal Palace's win over Birmingham on Saturday, raced into a two-goal lead in a pulsating opening period.

Ashton had already combined with the lively Graham Stuart to carve out a half-chance for McKenzie when he grabbed a sensational opening goal.

The England Under-21 striker made a fine diagonal run behind the visiting defence and his audacious first-time right-foot flick from Adam Drury's pass looped the ball up and over David James and into the far post.

Joey Barton almost pulled City level but his fierce 20-yard shot was deflected wide.

But Norwich were celebrating their second almost immediately.

Ashton once again showed excellent composure to hold the ball up and send McKenzie free on goal and the striker neatly sidefooted home across the on-rushing James.

Despite being two goals to the good, Nigel Worthington's men - who included debutant Jason Shackell at centre-half - were looking anything but comfortable.

Fowler saw a chipped effort sail comfortably over the bar and the ever-impressive Wright-Phillips' pace and trickery was once again posing major problems.

And it was no surprise when Sibierski profited from some sloppy marking to glance in the visitors' opener from Kiki Musampa's excellent right-wing centre.

Sibierski's stunning pass then sent Wright-Phillips racing away on the left and his superb pull-back was expertly tucked away by Fowler - his 150th Premiership goal.

Dean Ashton gave Norwich the lead with a brilliant volley
Despite the best efforts from Delia Smith, who grabbed the mic to rally the crowd at half-time, Norwich's hopes continued to evaporate after the interval.

Neither side could create a clear-cut chance but with Norwich beginning to get on top they had Jonson sent off for a needless second yellow card.

Jonson dived in late on Joey Barton leaving referee Rob Styles with no option but to dismiss the midfielder.

A Norwich win seemed highly unlikely but Ashton almost scored with a rasping half-volley that was well blocked by James.

It was the visitors who were totally dominating possession and Sibierski went close before Fowler's miskicked shot crept over the line two minutes into injury-time to break Norwich's hearts.

  • Norwich: Green, Edworthy, Fleming, Shackell, Drury, Stuart (Safri 74), Holt, Francis, Jonson, McKenzie, Ashton.
    Subs Not Used: Gallacher, Charlton, McVeigh, Henderson.

    Sent Off: Jonson (66).

    Booked: Stuart, Jonson.

    Goals: Ashton 12, McKenzie 16.

    Man City: James, Mills, Dunne, Distin, Jordan, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bosvelt, Barton, Musampa, Sibierski, Fowler.
    Subs Not Used: Sommeil, Weaver, McManaman, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Flood.

    Booked: Barton, Jordan.

    Goals: Sibierski 25, Fowler 37, 90.

    Att: 24,302.

    Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).


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