Date: 6th December 2010 at 10:55pm
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Yes, I know it’s Monday, and yes, I know it’s Monday evening. And yes, I know that SuperKevinDavies has been digging himself a hole on Twitter. We’ll deal with that tomorrow. First, a day or so late, here’s my tale of my visit to the most expensive building in Beswick.

I’ve been asked a couple of times before if Mrs X Snr is my mother or my mother in law. She is my mother. My mother in law is a Liverpool/Tranmere fan, so doesn’t come on jaunts with me and my wife to the arse end of Manchester.

And when I say arse end, I really do mean arse. Mrs X Snr commented on the way back to the car that she thought that the Commonwealth Games was supposed to have regenerated the area. I’ve seen nicer houses in Anfield, the arse end of Liverpool. And don’t let Rebecca Ferguson’s return to her home that has been splashed all over both Granada and North West Tonight fool you. Anyone who has been to Anfield will tell you that a coat of paint will double the price on your house.

But compared to Beswick, Anfield is Alderley Edge. I’ve never felt more trepidation walking past some pubs since that trip to Frank’s English Bar in downtown Kabul. Maybe I came at it from the wrong side, but when you see a sign saying that Beswick’s shops are still open and a quarter of them are a Greggs, you thank whatever God you believe in that you only have to go there once a year.

Unless your a Citeh fan.

As for the game, I thank Catte for reminding me that we are, indeed, a work in process. That the score remained 1-0 from the fourth minute onwards was down to some lacklustre shooting from Citeh, some excellent last minute defending from Cahill, some wasted opportunities by ourselves and a stand out goalkeeping performance from Jussi Jaaskelainen.

The goal itself was simplicity enough for the home side. Zat Knight meandered upfield for no apparent reason, Yaya Toure passed the ball into the space that Knight had vacated, the ball somehow evaded Gary Cahill and Tevez chose one of the eighteen spots he could have put the ball and wide of Jussi.

It was a this time that I had to explain to Mrs X Snr that, at some away games and especially derbies, you may do a lot of standing up. Gamely, for her advanced years, she stood for about eighty of the ninety minutes, gripping her handbag as if the local population were about to storm the stadium.

What then followed was pretty much what we would have expected away to our ‘local’ rivals. Citeh dominated the game and could have had more goals. But don’t let yourself be fooled by this ‘offside’ goal that wasn’t offside. The Bolton defence had stopped for a good couple of seconds before Silva put the ball into the nete. That Tevez booted the ball into the advertising hoarding maybe one of the reasons why SuperKevinDavies started digging on Twitter.

For all the bluster and hyperbole about the amount of bookings that we get, the last Bolton player to be booked for dissent was when Kevin Nolan called the ref a Jeremy Hunt at Blackburn in 2006 and I can’t recall the last time a Bolton player took his shirt off after celebrating a goal. I don’t understand why players do this. The ref isn’t going to change his mind, just get on with it.

After all, they were going to get other chances the way they were playing. Silva kept on shooting and missing, Tevez found the goalkeepers arms twice and Zabaleta almost fell over himself when finding himself in front of the goal.

The second half didn’t get any better. Zabaleta brought another fine save from the Finnish goalkeeper, while Balotelli hit a post, Tevez hit a defender and then Silva hit the bar. It could have been serious carnage. That it wasn’t didn’t just suprise the Citeh fans.

Then it changed slightly, and it changed due to two things. Martin Petrov, well received by the home fans, was taken off and Matty Taylor was brought on and St Owen decided that a change of tactics might be worthwhile and started lumping it forward rather than trying to go through a midfield that Muamba and Mark Davies had lost.

Suddenly, balls were being pinged into the box and causing Citeh’s defence problems. Hart spilled a ball after colliding with his own defender and it took last minute defending to stifle a Taylor cross for Elmander.

Kolarov’s sending off gave the home team a chance to play keep ball and the game tailed off into a nothing. For us to have got something may not have been the travesty that Alan Hansen said it would have been on Five Live’s Sports Report, but it would probably have been undeserved.

It can’t be a coincidence that since Stuart Holden picked up his thigh injury we have dropped five points. Mark Davies and Muamba were second in the midfield in a way that you feel Holden and Muamba wouldn’t have. And it also seemed strange for the manager to bring Petrov back in for Matty Taylor when Taylor has been playing so well. Petrov’s goal against Blackpool was a stormer but it doesn’t gloss over the fact that the left side seems more solid with Taylor in it. It may have been the manager keeping with his policy of having players playing against their former clubs, but on Saturday, Petrov put in his usual shift, which is the reason he was dropped in the first place.

However, to repeat, we are a work in progress and should expect performances and results like this sometimes. The secret is to pick ourselves up and go into the next game as if we are on a ten game unbeaten run. That we have Big Sam next should preclude any excuses.

 

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