Weah's cheers muted by defensive frailties

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The Independent Online

George Weah scored a debut goal for City, but was still decisively upstaged as his new team was embarrassed by neighbours and rivals from last season's First Division.

George Weah scored a debut goal for City, but was still decisively upstaged as his new team was embarrassed by neighbours and rivals from last season's First Division.

As gestures go to show that you mean business, signing a former world footballer of the year rates pretty highly. The City fans who made the short journey down the A6 responded with the traditional calls for Weah to give them a wave, rising to a peak of excitement when he slammed a shot past Nicky Weaver in the kickabout.

With Paulo Wanchope also due to give the club a decision about his intentions tomorrow and a Premiership season beckoning, these are heady times to be a City supporter. One could also argue Weah's signing was the very best of good news for Jim Gannon, the Stockport player whose 10-year testimonial this was.

Inside 30 seconds, another shot flashed past Weaver, to rather less acclaim from the City fans massed behind him. The perpetrator, Ian Moore, would probably be happy to be Stockport's footballer of the year, never mind the world's. He cut in from the right and crashed a left-foot shot that the Liberian would have been proud of into the roof of the net.

Weah drew applause for some neat touches and a shot blocked by Peter Clarke, but, after 10 minutes, things got worse for City. Their other new signing, Alfie Haaland, felled the elusive Kevin Cooper on the edge of the area and Tony Dinning's curling free-kick went in off the foot of the post, Weaver again failing to get there.

This was not supposed to be in the script and City's agitation increased as Weah made a hash of his first two clear shooting chances, firstly when Lee Crooks put over a cross from the right that he volleyed high over the bar, and then when Paul Dickov's ball in was stubbed into the ground by the high-profile debutant.

After a third mistimed tackle from Haaland, the Norwegian was replaced, on the refer- ee's suggestion, by Kevin Horlock. City did not look any more secure at the back, Dinning going close with another free-kick and Gerard Riekens almost beating his own keeper. If another goal had gone in, it would not have exaggerated Stockport's first-half superiority. Four minutes after half-time they increased their lead des-ervedly. Sean Connelly fed Dinning, whose perfect right-wing cross was met with equal precision by Karim Fradin's head.

Things looked up for City as the substitute Robert Taylor won a corner, Mark Kennedy crossed and Weah squeezed in a header. An exchange with Taylor threatened a second goal and Horlock had one disallowed for off-side. But City's defensive failings were exposed again six minutes from time when Cooper set up another for Moore. "City's going down," chanted Stockport's fans. Early days, of course, but it was fair comment on what they saw.

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