Football: City enjoy excuse for celebration

Manchester City 3 Barnsley 1
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The Independent Online
CITY. THE word was everywhere in Manchester yesterday and unfortunately for the followers of the blue and white it did not refer to Maine Road. The party last night was for the rebuilding of the municipal centre; the one for the football club will have to wait.

Not that the signs point to a lengthy delay in the celebrations. This win pushed City four points clear in the First Division and you have to go back to 28 September since they were last beaten.

Barnsley arrived with a burgeoning reputation, six wins in seven matches and a manager, Dave Bassett, newly committed to the club after refusing an offer from Blackburn Rovers. They left a thoroughly defeated side, undone by two early goals from Gareth Taylor and Shaun Goater and a late one from Kevin Horlock. Only when Geoff Thomas briefly reduced the disadvantage to 2-1 did they even threaten to steal a point.

In a downpour strong enough to earn admiration even in the umbrella capital of the country, it cannot have been much fun being an uncovered Barnsley supporter in the temporary stand and the attraction of their evening was even harder to locate within 11 minutes in which they saw their team go 2-0 behind.

Both were from headers and asked questions of a Barnsley defence that looked over-powered. The first came from a long, hopeful seventh-minute punt by Richard Edghill, who was barely out of his own half. There seemed little danger but Taylor rose high and his header had just enough power to elude Kevin Miller.

Miller saved his side four minutes later when he blocked Goater's muscular charge, although it was only a reprieve because from the resultant corner the City striker outjumped Chris Morgan and crashed his header in from six yards.

After a start like that Barnsley could have crumpled, yet to their credit they took the game to City. When Mike Sheron had the opportunities he mis-kicked, however, but the warning was there and one that was not heeded.

That negligence came home to roost when City's lead was suddenly halved. A cross from the right was headed against the post by Neil Shipperley and, as the home defenders were rooted to their spots, Sheron and Thomas moved for the rebound, the latter getting the touch.

The City of legend would have panicked at this point but Royle has transplanted backbone into the club and, instead of bending themselves, Horlock did very much the same to his shot after 72 minutes, curling it into the top corner.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Weaver; Edghill, Wiekens, Jobson, Granville; Jeff Whitley, Pollock, Horlock, Tiatto (Crooks, 80); Goater (Peacock, 80), Taylor. Substitutes not used: Cooke, Wright-Phillips, Wright (gk).

Barnsley (4-4-2): Miller; Eaden, Morgan, Curtis, Barker; Hignett, Tinkler, Appleby (Barnard, 79), Thomas (McClare, 75); Shipperley (Dyer, 76), Sheron. Substitutes not used: Hristov, Bengtsson.

Referee: T Leake (Darwen).