Football / Coca-Cola Cup: City fail to heed Freedman's early warning

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The Independent Online
Barnet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Manchester City. . . . . . . . . . .0

THERE were chances beyond counting here last night, but the one which mattered was converted not by Uwe Rosler or Paul Walsh, but Barnet's Dougie Freedman, whose prolific start to the season has caught the eye of several larger clubs. Two excellent chances were wasted by the same player, though, to give City hope for the return leg and show the scouts that Freedman is not yet the finished article.

Barnet's Plan A, predictably, was to throw everything they had at the visitors, but they were as surprised as anyone when the strategy succeeded after just 36 seconds. A hopeful long ball should have been comfortably cleared by Andy Hill, but a moment's hesitation was enough for Freedman. He charged down the attempted punt and strode calmly into the box to beat Tony Coton from close range.

City's speedy strikers soon found their stride, but their defence, painfully slow in the absence of Keith Curle, was given just as many problems by Freedman and Lee Hodges. Chances, good ones too, were equally shared: Walsh hit the post from 10 yards while Freedman, unmarked a similar distance from goal after excellent work by Hodges, again stayed calm but shot six inches wide.

Freedman made a slow start to the second half: it was all of 90 seconds before he found himself through with only Coton to beat. Again, his attempt went wide. City, in the early stages of panic, found extra pace but little common sense to accompany it and Barnet's fondness for back-passes, and Gary Phillips's casual clearances on the slippery surface, seemed as likely a source of goals as Premiership skills. The stoutly- built Phillips has inevitably been nicknamed Sumo by the Barnet fans, but kamikaze would be more accurate.

He belied his physique, however, to make excellent saves from Peter Beagrie and Nicky Summerbee, and Rosler had two goals disallowed for offside, while at the other end, Freedman, Hodges and Junior Haynes all wasted good openings.

Barnet enjoyed some outrageous luck in the final minutes, in particular when Walsh's shot went straight to the feet of David McDonald on the line, but their victory was well-deserved. 'I'm glad it's two legs,' Brian Horton, the City manager, said afterwards.

If Barnet show as much spirit at Maine Road in a fortnight, those words may return to haunt him.

Barnet (4-4-2): Phillips; McDonald, Gale, Hoddle, Newson; Primus, Haynes, Scott, Wilson; Freedman, Hodges. Substitutes not used: Alexander, Mutchell, Newell (gk).

Manchester City (4-4-2): Coton; Edghill, Brightwell, Vonk (Foster, 71), Hill; McMahon, Summerbee, Lomas, Beagrie; Walsh, Rosler (Quinn, 71). Substitute not used: Dibble (gk).

Referee: S Dunn (Avon).