Football: City fans vent anger on Swales

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The Independent Online
Manchester City. . 0

Blackburn Rovers. .2

THE more plaudits and points their neighbours accumulate, the worse Manchester City's plight seems to become. Last night's defeat by Blackburn left them with only one point and one goal to show for their opening four fixtures, and the match finished against a backdrop of anger from the Maine Road crowd.

Most of the dissent was directed towards the City chairman, Peter Swales, with the protests continuing afterwards when several hundred supporters gathered outside the main stand to demand his resignation. However, it may also be significant that the appearance as a substitute of Peter Reid, a Graham Gooch figure to Swales's Ted Dexter until now, was booed by some home fans.

John Maddock, City's new general manager, later admitted he had heard the chanting and added: 'City supporters deserve better than that. What happened tonight is not good enough.'

City's problems should not detract from a fine performance by Blackburn, who scored early in each half as well as missing a penalty. Kenny Dalglish was clearly so impressed that he resisted the clamour for Alan Shearer until 11 minutes from time.

The game was up for City long before then. Short of confidence and creativity, and carrying two clearly unfit key players in Niall Quinn and Keith Curle, they were chasing shadows from the 10th minute when Blackburn scored a goal of embarrassing simplicity.

Jason Wilcox, who typifies the mobility in Dalglish's team, was fouled on the City left. From his inswinging free- kick, Mike Newell stole in front of a defender at the near post to beat Tony Coton with a textbook glancing header.

A diving header by Garry Flitcroft, which cleared the Blackburn bar by inches five minutes later, proved the closest City came to replying. The brilliance of Coton prevented Kevin Gallacher from doubling the lead, but he was merely delaying the inevitable.

Five minutes into the second half, Stuart Ripley's long diagonal pass breached City's offside trap and Gallacher netted nonchalantly. Within two minutes, Wilcox fell like a wounded rhino as Coton dived at his feet and the referee pointed to the spot.

The challenge looked fair, although Coton must have been surprised not to be sent off. Newell defused the situation by putting his penalty badly wide.

Wilcox struck a post in the closing minutes, by which time the Blackburn contingent were enjoying themselves hugely with a mocking chorus of 'There's only one Peter Swales.'

Manchester City (4-4-2): Coton; Hill (D Brightwell, 33), Phelan, Curle, Vonk; Groenendijk, Flitcroft, McMahon (Reid, 67), Holden; Quinn, Sheron. Substitute not used: Dibble (gk).

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Mimms; Berg, May, Moran (Atkins, 47), Le Saux; Ripley, Sherwood, Marker, Wilcox; Newell, Gallacher (Shearer, 79). Substitute not used: Talia (gk).

Referee: J Lloyd (Wrexham).

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