Football: Beagrie on song

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The Independent Online
Manchester City. . . .3

Beagrie 39, Walsh 45, Rosler 53

Aston Villa. . . . . .0

Attendance: 26,075

CONFERENCES with Brian Horton after Manchester City games this season have sometimes recalled the old reggae blockbuster 'There Are More Questions Than Answers'. The City manager's style continues to be rhetorical but at Maine Road yesterday three of his recent signings suggested he has stumbled on to some solutions.

City's difficulty in scoring has been the overriding reason for decline into the relegation area, but for three new acquisitions all to find the target - within 13 minutes on either side of half-time - hinted at a change of fortune.

Fortune certainly played a crucial part in the way that Peter Beagrie opened the scoring on his home debut following his transfer from Everton. A free- kick after Earl Barrett had fouled Uwe Rosler spun off Kevin Richardson's shoulder in the Aston Villa wall and the deflection left Mark Bosnich helpless, giving Beagrie the first chance to show off his trademark somersault to City's fans.

Villa had been by far the more purposeful side until that blow, but they had only themselves to blame for the way they let the game gallop away from them afterwards.

David Rocastle was allowed far too much room and time to find Ian Brightwell on the right and his cross found another of City's recent arrivals, Paul Walsh, unmarked for a firm downward header into the net.

Walsh and Rosler, the German on loan with a view to a permanent signing at the end of the season, had shown a willingness to chase anything, even when their new team-mates were producing little for them to chase. Rosler got his reward with his second goal for the club seven minutes into the second half after Walsh's skill in killing a ball in his stride had created some space on the right wing.

The impressive Brightwell put in a perfect cross and the Villa defence, lacking the commanding presence of Paul McGrath, was again conspicuous by its absence as Rosler rose to head home.

City played their best football after going three up, but could not add to what was already, by their current standards, a breathtaking tally.

Beagrie, getting more ball and finding the space in which to use it, drew the best save of the match from Bosnich and Michel Vonk had a header cleared from the line.

The Coca-Cola Cup winners, however, never recovered their early momentum. The City new boys' jamboree had robbed them of that and of any real desire to play their way back into the game.

Horton refused to be deflated by Oldham and Sheffield United's results going against City. 'It's down to us and what we do,' he said. 'I've said all along that we'll be all right and I still think we will be. We are not getting carried away, but we got a bit of luck today, didn't we?'

For once, the answer was obvious and entirely satisfactory.