City panned by their critics

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Manchester City 0 Huddersfield Town 0

Martin Guerre may have been turned around but reviving the other great drama of our times is proving more difficult.

Last night the Moss Side farce which goes under the name of Manchester City suffered another panning from their critics, who watched the Nationwide League side being held to a goalless draw by an injury-hit Huddersfield Town team without a win in nine games. Only the team's obvious effort muted the boos.

City, who have had as many managers as home wins this season (four) thus remain perilously close to the First Division's relegation zone.

The astonishing aspect of City's season is that, unlike Cameron Mackintosh's West End musical, Francis Lee's ailing show has maintained good attendances.

Even the combination of unfashionable Huddersfield and a wet and freezing night could not deter 23,000-plus diehards. Watching City struggle appears to have acquired the sort of cult status normally only granted to 1950's B movies involving aliens.

There was one star in the latest episode of "They came from Maine Road" - Georgi Kinkladze. Watching him in this was like finding Robert De Niro in repertory. One 35-yard dribble in the first half left Darren Bullock in a daze and had the crowd on their feet. Sadly, his shot drifted just wide. Apart from a first-minute effort from Uwe Rosler which was just off target, and a weak shot from Nick Summerbee, that was all City had to offer in the first period.

Phil Neal, City's manager of the month, must have produced an impressive interval soliloquy because they began the second act like a different team. Roared on by the sort of support Alex Ferguson would like at Old Trafford they should have scored after 47 minutes only for Kit Symons to somehow pull the ball wide from two yards out after Steve Francis had made a stunning save from Paul Dickov.

As the misses piled up the dread spectre of a Huddersfield goal loomed. With 19 minutes left, Martyn Margetson had to produce an excellent save to deny Ian Lawson. Then Steve Jenkins "scored" only to be harshly penalised for pushing Kinkladze.

A win would have flattered Huddersfield but they deserved a point simply for turning up after a nightmare four-hour journey.

"We had to cancel our pre-match hotel meal and have sandwiches from a garage," said their manager, Brian Horton.

Eighteen months and many managers ago City had sacked Horton after he kept them in the Premiership. His parting shot last night was "the journey was better than the match..."

Manchester City (3-4-1-2): Margetson; Wassall, McGoldrick, Symons; Summerbee, Lomas, Rodger (Dickov, h/t), Brightwell; Kinkladze; Kavelashvili (Clough, 85), Rosler (Whitley, 75).

Huddersfield Town (4-1-3-2): Francis; Jenkins, Sinnott, Morrison (Gray, 58), Cowan; Bullock; Burnett, Reid, Dalton (Lawson, 59); Stewart, Paton. Substitute not used: Edwards.

Referee: I Cruikshanks (Hartlepool).