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Season 2003-04
Manchester City  (h) Premier Reserve League
Tuesday 16th March 2004, 7pm

Venue: Archibald Stadium, Durham City

dry & clear, little bit windy

3 admission, team sheet only.

Newcastle United Reserves

1 - 3 Manchester City Reserves


32 mins The Newcastle defence opted not to chase down a loose ball out on their left flank, unlike Stephen Elliott who turned an apparently lost cause into dangerous possession on the dead ball line. He teed up Croft whose shot was parried by Bartlett, only for 18 year-old Bradley Wright-Philips pokes home the rebound from 10 yards 0-1

Half time: Newcastle 0 Manchester City 1

68 mins Our total lack of concentration when City won a free kick down their right allowed Croft to knock it forward for Whelan to steady himself and centre neatly to the unmarked Wright-Phillips, who had all the time in the world to nonchalantly head home 0-2

69 mins The visitors promptly went to sleep and the best Newcastle move of the game saw the ball pinged forward and across the field from the left between Bridges, Ameobi and Ambrose - the latter touching it forward into space for Gate to fire a low shot into the opposite corner of the net from the edge of the City area. 1-2

93 mins Yet more dallying in possession from Ameobi just outside the City box allowed the visitors to break upfield, Whelan laying the ball through to the left side of the United box for Stephen Elliott to drill his shot home 1-3

Full time: Newcastle 1 Manchester City 3 

We said

Tommy Craig commented:

"This is probably as bad as I've felt all season.

"We lacked in aggression and competitiveness and we never got a hold on the game.

"We played nice stuff in patches but by and large we were outrun and outfought by a young Manchester City team.

"Everything was set up to give a performance. We had a mixture of youth and experience, and the expectations that we have for them are much higher than what we got in return.

"They've let themselves down badly with a performance that will be analysed.

"What was wrong was there was a lack of a competitive edge and for a Newcastle United team that is disgraceful. But I will deal with it and then put it to bed."


In normal circumstances our reserve reports tend to be more descriptive and less opinionated, reflecting the fact that hardly anyone gets to see the matches in question and readers therefore rely on us to give them a feel for who is coming through, in form etc.

However, this one will be a little different for the simple fact we were terrible. 

We may have got away with the excuse of a poor surface at Whitley Park when losing to Bolton last week, but tonight on a perfect pitch we were taught a footballing lesson by a more eager, energetic and committed bunch of unknowns.

In stark contrast, our team with its alleged big names were content to indulge in another evening of meaningless flicks, poor ball control and general indolence.

Of the alleged first-teamers on show, only Robbie Elliott looked motivated - the less said about the others the better, with the only differences of opinion afterwards centring on which of Viana, Bridges, Chopra, Ameobi or Ambrose put in the most wretched ninety minute shift.

The younger home-grown players at least had a go and Gate's goal was well-taken, while Ferrell and Orr interspersed their defensive efforts with trying to assist the attack and gee up their wandering (Portuguese) colleague.  

Early exchanges were fairly even, but Wright-Phillips served notice of his ability to elude our defence when he popped up after only five minutes before dragging his shot wide when it almost seemed easier to score.

City broke forward and moved the ball at every opportunity, which caused us to switch from a 3-man backline to a 4-man defence after only 13 minutes, captain  Orr moving to right back. 

Neither side carved out any worthwhile openings until City went ahead, but in the dying minutes of the first half we did stir ourselves to force a series of corners, from which Brittain shot over, Ambrose shot wide and Ameobi's effort was headed away from the goal by Onouha.

However it was City who again threatened just before the break on the counter, the impressive Croft (who is a dead ringer for Tyrone from Coronation Street) crossing from the right for the onrushing Elliott to fire a first-time effort just wide of Bartlett's goal.

Halftime saw the DJ spin a fittingly-titled tune for Newcastle fans, "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet".

Whatever was said at the interval though had no effect, as we continued to tie ourselves in knots and offer nothing more than the occasional threat to our visitors. 

Precisely what the watching Sir Bobby thought of it all isn't known, but Ameobi's continued disinterest and a preening display from Viana that Ambrose bizarrely tried to emulate certainly made my pee boil. 

And as for Bridges, from what we've seen so far he'll be on that ever-lengthening list of out-of-contract players come the summer, as his stilted performance justified the decision by the management to not even bother naming him on the bench at Spurs. 

He might be a nice lad and a toon fan, but so far he's not even managed to emulate the form he showed for Leeds Reserves earlier in the season since donning a black and white shirt.

Aside from the instant response to going two behind, nothing changed and as the game entered it's final stages, it was City who threatened a third goal more than we looked like getting a second. Ultimately our lax approach saw us concede again and it could even have been four as Whelan tried an ambitious effort from the half way line right at the end of the game that cause Bartlett to back-pedal furiously.

With the mackems at home up the road at the dark place, we were spared the unwanted intrusion of red necks, but were still "entertained" by a small group of City ne'er do-wells, who may have taken the night off from a nearby fairground to be with us......

There was a wearside presence in the stand though, with a mackem scout on hand again, presumably to watch Chopra who has again been linked with a move down the A19. 

If it was the Newcastle striker's intention to knock himself off Mick McCarthy's wanted list though, then he did a grand job. A couple of decent chances went begging and as has been the case for most of this season, his first touch was awful. He also managed to indulge in a little bit of daftness with one of their players, leaving a foot in to catch a City lad in a tackle - unfortunately Chopra seems to do this more and more; it's almost symptomatic of his decline from next big thing to also-ran status.

Kenny Wharton tonight seemed to be in charge of the shouting from the bench but all his various instructions and observations didn't seem to inspire anyone. Perhaps if he'd just screamed two words repeatedly that might have penetrated the thick skulls of those in the stripes, those words being "play properly".

Final and appropriate thought (given the manager of the opposition) from a watching media man post-match : "that's as good a reason as I've ever seen to back up Keegan's decision to scrap the reserves." 

On this evidence and that of last week's drudgery against Bolton (not to mention the Senior Cup calamity at Bedlington) the season just cannot finish quickly enough. Utter bloody rubbish - nobody in their right mind should turn out to watch this lot.  



Page last updated 14 July, 2016