Sunday, July 31, 2011

Airtricity League XI 0-3 Manchester City 30-07-2011 2 PM

A typical cloudy but fresh July day in Dublin saw a typical pre-season tournament get underway with Damien Richardson’s charges taking on an ordinary Man City lineup at Lansdowne. The Aviva turf was looking good, and allowed the teams to spread the ball regularly.

Top-heavy with Derry City players, the LoI representatives acquitted themselves well first half, against a team that played possession football to begin with, without trying to test the opposition out too much.

Ger Doherty was rarely tested in goal with his own full-back line (except for Bohs’ Ger O’Brien) snuffing out the few chances Manchester City fashioned. Shaun Wright-Phillips did threaten in the early exchanges and pulled an excellent full-stretch save from Doherty after clearing a path past Stewart Greacen and Shane McEleney at the front of the box. Vladimir Weiss on the left flank showed creativity, but no real clear-cut chances materialised from it. Greacen, McEleney, Molloy and O’Brien looked more comfortable as the half wore on.

Up front, Daryl Kavanagh created a few decent efforts, but finishing was a problem. James McLean playing down the left troubled Frederic Veseli on occasions, and some deft touches from an in-form Eamon Zayed brought some few chances but without delivering results. Apart from a hopeful Ger O’Brien ballooned shot, the first half ended with both teams very evenly matched. The League side had good reason to look forward to the second half.

City upped the intensity in the first 5 minutes of the second half, but were well stewarded by the LoI defence. A nice through-ball to John Guidetti was skewed over the left-side of the crossbar. James McLean failed to make use of a well-weighted ball over the top before Wright-Phillips broke the deadlock in the 51st with a sweet left-footed ball along the turf to beat a sprawling Doherty from 6 metres.

A consistent spell of Manchester City pressure surely promised another goal but the Airtricity XI were the next team with a dangerous looking chance only for an on-rushing Eamon Zayed to be caught offside.

Manchester City were clearly on top as Shaun Wright Phillips was pushed out of the way by an aggressive Airtricity defence. The introduction of Joe Gamble on 55 minutes for Derry City star RuadhrĂ­ Higgins was more than likely Richardson trying to empty the bench.

City struck again through English international Adam Johnson just before the hour mark after a sweet curl around on-rushing goalkeeper Ger Doherty in the Southern goal.

Substitute Gamble then spurned a glorious chance to put the League back in the game after a cross from Bohemians’ O’Brien landed perfectly at his feet but he couldn’t connect properly and the ball flew into the low North Stand. That pretty much summarised the Airtricity’s performance. Just about not good enough.

Infamous City player Vladimir Weiss won them a corner on 64 minutes but a poor delivery left the Airtricity select to clear easily. It was to be his last action in the game as Mancini took him off for Denis Suarez.

The Airtricity XI continued to press but could not produce results for their efforts. It even looked like City substitute Suarez could put the game out of reach on 66 but his chance was taken from him at the wave of the linesman’s offside flag.

On 69 minutes City made their second sub of the game Frederic Veseli coming off for Rekik.

72 minutes in it looked like McLean had scored for Airtricity but it wasn’t to be as Man city cleared for a corner which as per usual landed straight into Stuart Taylor’s safe hands.

Wright-Phillips put a 3rd into the net, but the offside flag ruled the goal out just before Daryl Kavanagh made way for Dean Bennett.

Good breaks were the name of the game for Manchester City but it seemed that the 3rd goal was proving elusive for the Premier League representatives in this tournament.

Wigan target McLean really made a nuisance of himself in the Man City half as he made some great chances as well as on 80 minutes scaring the City goalkeeper with a 20 yard shot that grazed the crossbar.

2 substitutions (1 on either side) then - firstly Scapuzzi coming on for scorer Wright-Phillips who immediately made the score 3-0 as well as Lafferty coming on for Northern Irish international James McLean.

Barry and Taylor left play for Roman and Johansen respectively as the Airtricity XI looked for some consolation in keeping the score at only 3-0. However Gamble looked like ruining that goal as his attempted Cruyff turn gave the ball to Razak and Limerick FC’s latest acquisition was left to thank his lucky stars that the score stayed at 3-0.

Aiden Price was brought on 91 minutes in for McEleney.

As the final whistle blew Airtricity XI were looking at this game as an improvement on the disastrous result from last year.

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