City draw crumb of comfort

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Manchester City 0

Leeds United 0


IF Manchester City have an equivalent in the animal kingdom it is probably the hyena. Lowly beasts forced to live off scraps to survive, they must have scented a kill when a wounded Leeds United limped into Maine Road yesterday after two demoralising home defeats and without Gary Speed and Tony Dorigo, both injured against PSV Eindhoven.

Well, it never quite turned into The Day of the Jackal, but City did at least claim only their second Premiership point of the season, the first having come on the opening day in August in the home draw with Spurs.

City probably deserved their crumbs of comfort for a spirited second- half display when they might have snatched a win, or at least a penalty, if the referee Martin Bodenham had been more accommodating. And the inclusion of Nicky Summerbee provided hopeful signs of a less meagre diet.

Leeds were in no mood to play the sacrificial victims. Indeed, they could have had a goal in the opening minute, first when Kit Symons appeared to have grabbed Brian Deane on his run into the area, and then when Deane's eventual cross fell to Rod Wallace, only for his goal-bound shot to be deflected wide.

This cameo established the tone for much of the half, with Leeds creating the best chances as City defended nervously and attacked diffidently. In contrast, Gary McAllister was able to pass fluently into the spaces behind City's midfield, setting up dangerous incursions down the wings by Deane, Gary Kelly and Carlton Palmer.

Palmer produced the two best strikes of the half, forcing Eike Immel to claw his 25-yard drive from the top corner of the net and, moments before the interval, heading just wide of the angle from Kelly's deep cross.

City had a few brief flutters of hope, Uwe Rosler's flick blocked at the near post and Georgi Kinkladze pleasing with several nice touches. But their confidence faded as passes and crosses began to go astray, and they were lucky to go in level at half time.

But City responded well in the second half, attacking with considerably more bite. Kinkladze forced John Lukic into a stretching save, and there was a trio of penalty claims as a David Wetherall hand-ball, a pull on Keith Curle and a trip on Richard Edghill exercised the home crowd's vocal chords.

Perhaps their best chance, though, came as Niall Quinn headed across goal for Rosler, who was just beaten to the ball by a Leeds defender. Against that, McAllister should have buried his close-range header from Wallace's cross but managed to clear the bar. With Tony Yeboah utterly anonymous, goals began to be a fading prospect.

City fans will have to hope that rumours of a pounds 10m buy into the club by a consortium of Manchester businessmen prove more than distant drums in the jungle.