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Bradbury, City's record buy at pounds 3.5m, was profligate in chief and withdrawn after 54 minutes, allowing his replacement, Daniel Allsopp, a pounds 10,000 buy from Australian junior football , to make a decisive contribution.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

sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor