Football: Goater's double calms City's nerves

Manchester City 3 Walsall 1

THE NEW season is less than a month old and already Maine Road's optimistic vision of Manchester City waltzing through the Second Division is beginning to fade. They may go up, and with their resources they ought to, but on the evidence of last night it is going to be a test of nerve rather than a lap of honour among the lower orders.

Shaun Goater claimed two goals and Paul Dickov one for City to secure their second League success, but the scoreline disguised a night of creeping anxiety. A better team than Walsall, who scored through Andy Rammell when it was too late to capitalise on fraying composure, would have embarrassed their supposed betters.

The spell after half time when City could barely string two passes together was particularly worrying, but at least the manager, Joe Royle, who had described their start to the season as "quiet", is now in danger of being asked to turn the volume down. With eight points they are in touching distance of the leading teams.

According to reports, City had squandered liberally in their last home game, a 0-0 draw against Wrexham, and they began as if they were reading from the same script. Dickov was halted by James Walker's charge after a minute; Goater headed weakly after seven; Lee Bradbury pulled a shot wide after 21: it was not so much hit and miss as miss, miss and miss again.

It was just becoming touch and go whether the home supporters will be dealing with more waste than the local rubbish collectors when City confounded everyone by adjusting their sights to the intended targets. Walsall appeared to be dealing with the predominate tactic of the high ball into the box when Nick Fenton unleashed a cross of superior quality after 29 minutes and Goater applied the finish with a thumping header.

City began the second period wretchedly. Even the hitherto barren Walsall were able to thrive and twice Tony Vaughan had to clear after Jason Brissett had flicked on near-post corners.

Bradbury, City's record buy at pounds 3.5m, was profligate in chief and withdrawn after 54 minutes, allowing his replacement, Daniel Allsopp, a pounds 10,000 buy from Australian junior football , to make a decisive contribution.

His start, blazing over from six-yards, was not promising but after 71 minutes he laid Walsall's left flank to waste with a run that threatened to go nowhere but ended with a pass to Goater, who tapped in at the far post.

City's third goal, four minutes later, was similar. Allsopp raced down the right and when Goater went for, and missed, the cross, Dickov was behind him to relive the home anxieties.

Manchester City (3-4-1-2): Weaver; Fenton, Wiekens, Vaughan; Edghill, Pollock, Mason, Tiatto; Goater; Dickov (Brown, 84), Bradbury (Allsopp, 54). Substitute not used: Jobson.

Walsall (4-4-2): Walker; Marsh (Watson, 79), Green, Viveash, Pointon; Wrack, Keates, Porter, Ricketts; Rammell, Brissett. Substitutes not used: Dyer, Evans.

Referee: D Laws (Whitley Bay).

Stadium switch, page 27

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower