Football: Sheron's mop-up job

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The Independent Online
Manchester City. . .1

Southampton. . . . .0

IN THE sort of conditions favoured by ducks and galoshes manufacturers, Manchester City scrambled to their second home win of the season. Driving rain in the hours before the kick-off had reduced the Maine Road pitch to a waterpark. The ball skidded happily off the edges or stuck stubbornly in the middle. And the players did likewise.

It was a day when a mop would have been of more use than a sweeper. Neither side, however, were blessed with such an implement and the game was left to splash from one error to the next.

The clearest chance of an exasperating first period came just before half-time when Tony Coton's short pass out to Ian Brightwell became becalmed in a particularly large puddle and Iain Dowie raced in to test the City keeper with a shot to his near post.

However, after the restart, City displayed considerably more purpose. Indeed, they seemed to be playing with the tide. Mike Sheron and Rick Holden both shot narrowly wide and Tim Flowers saved well from Sheron's dangerous volley.

Southampton seemed to be getting out of their depth as Trevor Hurlock and Dowie were booked in quick succession after petulant challenges.

City gave substance to their superiority in the 74th minute when Southampton failed to clear a corner and Holden hoisted the ball back into the box; Quinn's header came back off the bar but Sheron was on hand to finish the job. It was the England Under-21 player's first goal of the season, and a timely one.

The Saints, with scarcely a shot to their credit all match, nearly stole an improbable equaliser in the dying minutes when Coton spilled a cross under challenge from Dowie, but the Southampton substitute Paul Moody sent his shot into the building site behind the City goal.

Manchester City: T Coton; I Brightwell, T Phelan, S McMahon, K Curle, A Hill, D White, M Sheron, N Quinn, F Simpson, R Holden. Subs not used: P Reid, G Flitcroft, M Margetson (gk). Player-manager: P Reid.

Southampton: T Flowers; J Dodd, F Benali (N Maddison, 78 min), T Hurlock (P Moody, 78 min), K Monkou, R Hall, M Le Tissier, G Cockerill, P Groves, I Dowie, M Adams. Sub not used: I Andrews (gk). Manager: I Branfoot.

Referee: P Don (Middlesex).

Goal: Sheron (1-0, 74 min).