Football: Walsh lifts City's stock

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The Independent Online
Manchester City 1

Walsh 18

Crystal Palace 1

Dyer 31

Attendance: 19,971

MANCHESTER CITY'S season had been starkly black-and- white before this: two heavy defeats away, two good wins at home; and the way they swaggered around for the first 20 minutes at Maine Road yesterday did not inspire much confidence in Crystal Palace's prospects.

Paul Walsh, 32 next month but enjoying a bright new passage in his career, gave City an early lead that came as no surprise. The blow seemed to soften Palace up, but the killer punch was never delivered.

For this, Palace owed a lot to their goalkeeper, Nigel Martyn, who pulled off an extraordinary save to deny Nicky Summerbee towards the end of the first half, and two more of equal skill as City raised the tempo in the last 15 minutes. The highlights will have suggested that City were the unlucky ones, but for half the game at least the Londoners looked capable of gaining their first Premiership win.

Palace, their first-day humiliation against Liverpool still fresh in their minds, lacked self- belief initially but appeared to realise, when Bruce Dyer headed them level on the half-hour, that they were good enough in this company not to feel overawed.

City's wingers play an exciting part in their positive approach. Summerbee, in the first half at least, bore more than a passing resemblance to his revered father, Mike, tormenting Dean Gordon, the England under-21 full-back. He crosses superbly, and it was from his delivery that Walsh nodded home his fourth goal of the season.

With Uwe Rosler, the German striker, suspended, Niall Quinn was able to ease his way back after 10 months out through injury. He set up Summerbee for the volley that Martyn saved so spectacularly, and might himself have scored when his late header hit a post.

But Palace missed perhaps the clearest chance of the game when Chris Armstrong's cross looped over three City defenders, only for John Salako to head wide of an open goal.