The game opened tentatively with chances at a premium. Indeed most of the opening quarter of an hour was played out in the middle of the pitch, with Manchester City controlling possession but rarely testing Ger Doherty in the Airtricity goal.
Damien Richardson’s game plan was evident from the off as the home side adopted a defensive attitude, hoping to catch City on the break – the painful lessons from the 7-1 hammering at the hands of Man United last summer still fresh in the former Cork City supremo’s mind.
This defensive mindset saw Derry’s Eamon Zayed operate as a loan striker with Daryl Kavanagh operating as the link between attack and defence. It was a ploy that brought little joy with Zayed finding himself too often outnumbered and outmuscled.
For Man City, Sean Wright-Phillips came closest to opening the scoring on a number of occasions. The first which of which came after only one minute played when he picked up the ball on the right of the penalty box but his low shot was well saved. The winger had similar sporadic long range efforts throughout the half. But they were only half-chances.
City’s best chance arrived on the half hour mark when winger Vladimir Weiss, booed throughout for his former allegiances to Rangers, brought the ball to the endline and cut back for Adam Johnson to fire narrowly wide.
The Airtricity XI rarely tested the Man City goal, though Bohemians midfielder Ger O’ Brien did find space on a number of occasions to cross for Zayed but Stuart Taylor went untroubled. The best the side had to offer came just before the break when James McClean was played through in the box. The Derry winger was muscled off the ball which broke to Ger O’ Brien who rifled over from the edge of the box.
Man City came straight back at the Irish selection after the restart. With only three minutes played, forward John Guidetti rounded Shane McEleney in the box but blazed over Ger Doherty’s crossbar when it looked easier to score.
The breakthrough came four minutes later. Gareth Barry’s long ball from the centre circle caught McEleney and Stewart Greacen napping. Wright –Phillips stretched out a toe to poke past Doherty.
The ease at which the opening goal came should have been a tell-tale sign for Richardson and co. The manager introduced Joe Gamble soon after but there was nothing the Limerick City man could do about City’s second. Barry, once again the provider, found Adam Johnson with another long searching ball. The winger controlled before curling the ball around Doherty.
The Airtricity XI had a glorious opportunity to pull one back almost immediately. James McClean, anonymous for large phases of the game, did fantastically well down the left before crossing low. The ball broke to Gamble who fired wide from all of six yards.
At this stage there was a danger the floodgates might open. Indeed a hammering looked very much on the cards when Wright-Phillips had the ball in the net for the second time, however the former Chelsea star was deemed to be offside.
There was no saving grace with six minutes to go though as Adam Johnson played a perfectly weighted pass into trialist Luca Scapuzzi. Ger Doherty could only get a hand to the Italian’s shot which rolled over the line to make it 3-0 and condemn Irish soccer to another unpleasant afternoon.
Airtricity XI: Ger Doherty; Simon Madden, Stewart Greacen, Shane McEeleney (Aidan Price, 92), Danny Murphy; Ger O’ Brien, Barry Molloy, Ruaidhri Higgins (Joe Gamble, 57), James McClean (Daniel Lafferty, 83); Eamon Zayed, Daryl Kavanagh (Dean Bennett, 76)
Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Owen Heary, Ryan McBride, , Daniel Kearns, Gareth McGlynn, Stephen McLaughlin, Jason Byrne
Booked: Danny Murphy
Manchester City XI: Stuart Taylor (Eirik Johansen, 85) ; Ryan McGivern, Stefan Savic, Dedryck Boyata, Frederic Veseli (Karim Rekik, 70); Gareth Barry (Juan Roman, 85), Adam Johnson, Sean Wright-Phillips (Luca Scapuzzi, 82), Abdul Razak, Vladimir Weiss (Denis Suarez, 66); John Guidetti
Subs not used: All used Booked: Ryan McGivern
Referee: Padraig Sutton
ExtraTime.ie Man of the match: Adam Johsnon
Sam joined Extratime for the 2011 season and is now the site's features editor. He is based in Dublin and covers all the clubs in the capital. He is also prone to the odd Drogheda game. If you would like to contact Sam, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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