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13:32 24th March 2003

Antony Moxey Presents a Fans Eye View of

So City eke out a point in a 1-1 draw with Rochdale at a gloriously sun-drenched St. JP this afternoon. City lined up: Miller; Power, Curran, Todd, Hiley; Peteffer, Walker, Ampadu, Coppinger; Devine, Sheldon.The opening exchanges were definitely in City's favour with much passing and running and an air of nonchalance and superiority. Devine had a couple of chances - one splendidly saved then agonisingly trickling wide - and all the play was in the Rochdale half. A deserved lead came courtesy of the ref: awarding a penalty at which neither the crowd or team appealed was rather a novelty - apparently for a push on either Hiley, Curran or Sheldon at the back of the box from a corner. Fortunately for Devine Walker was on hand to despatch the kick with ease. Then Rochdale got back into it, and once again a goal came courtesy of the ref. It would appear that this time Walker had committed some sort of offence, but again no appeals from either crowd or players. Strangely not much protesting from our team either so perhaps it was a penalty - who knows. Regardless, the outcome was the same as at the other end a couple of minutes earlier, and as much as City had dominated in the opening period of the half, so Rochdale did for its remainder.The second half saw City still lack lustre, although Kev was rarely called into action. Devine, Sheldon and Pettefer fired in weak efforts which wouldn't have troubled a schoolboy (even if they had managed to get them on the target), and the game fell into the pattern of attack and counter-attack, albeit with neither side showing the ability to hit a cow's backside with a banjo from two feet. And so it remained for the rest of the half, although City perked up a bit for about ten minutes as the game drew to a close, buoyed by the substitutions of Roscoe, Cronin and Kilheeney for Pettefer, Ampadu and Sheldon, but it was to no avail. Both sides were clearly drained from their exertions and the game petered out into a farcical lump and counter lump affair.So another point on the road to safety or two points dropped? Definitely the latter, and I would say the worst performance since Peters took over. True they showed some neat tricks and clever passing - particularly early on from Devine - but Rochdale stood strong and resolute and proved devilishly difficult to break down. Devine it has to be said ran like a teenager for all but the last five minutes and was desperately unlucky with one good save and one turn and shot that happened to hit the keeper rather than him save it. We should have won this at a canter, for Rochdale aren't a good side by any means, but for some reason we just weren't on our game today.But a word about the crowd - behind the team for the entire ninety minutes, and 4000+ again - when was the last time back to back home games attracted 4000 crowds, especially with the amount of away support in attendance (don't answer, it's rhetorical). Although I sort of felt it was a little like an 'after the Lord Mayor's show' kind of event after all the hype and build up towards the Lincoln game on Tuesday, but the crowd were still there, even if the atmosphere felt a little flatter than Tuesday. The media still has a valuable part to play it should be noted.But whatever, onwards and upwards and Rushden next week - a game that if we get anything other than a defeat will be something of a miracle. Stranger things have happened at sea, and if the players can put this afternoon's performance to the back of their minds and go about their business as they did against Lincoln and Wrexham then who knows. And remember that FA Cup game against Rushden and the 3-1 scoreline? A little of that wouldn't go amiss next Saturday and then it's back to the Park the following week for Bury - another must win game (aren't they all!).So see you all in a fortnight when hopefully some of those games in hand will have been played - and lost - and we're three points better off. Believe - it might just happen.Antony Moxey
    Data provided by Press Association