Football: Kiely keen to repeat heroics

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The Independent Online
DEAN KIELY is hoping to repeat the heroics he performed in goal against Manchester United three years ago as a York City player when he faces United again tonight as a Bury player.

Kiely kept a clean sheet when he went to Old Trafford with Second Division York in the second round of the Coca-Cola Cup in September 1995. Few gave Alan Little's struggling side any chance even though United left out a couple of first-team regulars. York then shocked the home fans by winning the first leg 3-0. They survived the return leg at Bootham Crescent to win 4-3 on aggregate.

Kiely, aiming to repeat the feat with Bury in the third round of the Worthington Cup, yesterday recalled how his prediction that he would keep a clean sheet for York came true.

"We weren't doing particularly well in the League and when the draw was made everyone looked upon it as a rest from the League," he said.

"When we get nearer to the ground there were hordes of people about and the lads were joking, saying we would lose by five or six. I said, jokingly, that I would keep a clean sheet and of course I did. In the game itself I did not have a lot to do, which was surprising, and it was just one of those nights when everything clicked for us."

Salford-born Kiely, 28, has vivid memories of the return at Bootham Crescent, in which Eric Cantona played, even though he was ruled out by injury. "I fractured both eye sockets and my skull and nose at Hull the following Saturday, which put me out for eight weeks," he said. "I discharged myself from hospital to go and watch the game because the hospital was beside the ground.

"I sat on the bench, but I saw two games because I had double vision. We got battered at Bootham Crescent, but we sneaked a goal and that got us through."

But as achievements go, Kiely does not rate his clean sheet at Old Trafford that highly. "Surprisingly not," he said. "It was just 90 minutes work and it was not the culmination of a season's work.

"It wasn't like winning the Second Division title with Bury or winning promotion through the play-offs with York."

Bury's chances tonight will be helped by the fact that Alex Ferguson will rest some first-choice players for the visit of their Greater Manchester neighbours. Cynics will say the Shakers will only be playing United's reserve side, but that does not cut much ice with Kiely. "Some people may say they will just be their reserves, but their reserves at the moment are people like Solskjaer, Sheringham, Berg and Cruyff," he said.

"They are not reserve players in my book and whatever 11 they select they will still be world class. I think whatever side they put out, it will still be an extremely difficult game for us.

"Our main strength, though, is that we are solid at the back and if we can keep it at 0-0 for as long as possible, then as the game goes on, who knows?"

The match will also be a special night for the Neville family, who have close ties with both clubs.

Gary and Phil have been regulars for United recently, although it is uncertain if they will figure tonight, while their father, Neville Neville, is Bury's commercial manager.

Kiely said Neville could have divided loyalties if his sons play. "He's got a foot in both camps and I'm not quite sure where his allegiances will wholly lie on Wednesday," he said.

"But for their family it will be a great occasion because games like this only come along once in a while. He's not giving much away, but I'm sure whatever the result he will be happy."