Writer: Matt Wilson
Date:Sunday September 15 2013
Striking issues were again at the fore of City`s post-match thoughts despite a 1-1 draw against Cardiff City.
Steve Bruce, speaking in his post-match press conference, again made reference to his concerns of City`s attacking options having seen Danny Graham extend his goalless record by another 90 minutes and to 21 games in total. Graham`s issue is not a lack of opportunity having missed a near open goal as early as six minutes in whilst a headed opportunity in added time, and the chance the win to game, also passed the on loan Sunderland forward by.
In defence, Bruce may also have concerns regarding Ahmed Elmohamady. The Egyptian was at fault for Manchester City`s opener at the Etihad a fortnight ago while Peter Whittingham`s equaliser for Cardiff came by virtue of Elmohamady`s ball-watching, although a number of defenders were to blame for conceding a well worked effort.
Bruce opted to field the same eleven which had lost at Manchester City a fortnight ago but which had produced a good display. Allam McGregor had suitably recovered from injury which had forced him to miss last week`s internationals but Steve Harper was absent from the bench, Eldin Jakupovic featuring in the league squad for the first-time this season.
For Cardiff, they were led in attack by former Tiger Fraizer Cambell. David Marshall was absent through injury and replaced with Joe Lewis in goal whilst Steve Caulker had recovered from injury to play.
In a contest pitching two of last season`s promoted sides, the first half was an even affair. City were able to create the first opportunity as Livermore and Aluko combined well, the latter turning in the area to shoot at goal. Lewis palmed the ball away but only as far as Graham, eight yards out and with an open goal. The striker, 20 games without a goal, connected but sent the ball over the bar, much to the dismay of Steve Bruce.
At the other end, Cardiff maintained possession well but rarely threatened. Kim-Bo-Kyung went down in the penalty area with James Chester in close attention but the referee was unfazed and waved away the visitor`s appeal before Campbell shot wide. The former City striker, still much maligned after turning down a permanent transfer to City on more than one occasion, then went into the book after committing a foul on James Chester.
City took the lead towards the end of the half after Huddlestone`s effort was turned around the post for a corner. Koren`s delivery was punched away but the returned cross from Huddleston was met by a determined Curtis Davies who stooped to head in, his first since signing from Birmingham City.
The visitors introduced Nicky Maynard at the break in a change of formation, a move which allowed Cardiff to dictate the early stages of the half. Cardiff equalised with just under an hour gone as Caulker fed Maynard who in turned found Don Cowie. With Figueroa attempting to steal the ball and allowing Cowie to pass, Whittingham glided in past Elmohamady to volley past McGregor. Just three minutes later, Cardiff could have taken the lead as Gunnarsson headed past McGregor`s near post, the final chance the visitors would have.
In truth, City produced little more but did attempt to find a winner in the closing stages. Aluko saw his effort, turned in from Stephen Quinn`s cross, correctly ruled out for offside before Graham failed to take a well presented opportunity in added time. Graham did well to connect with Elmohamady`s right wing cross but his header was straight at Lewis whilst direct either side, City would have surely collected all the points.
What did we learn?
Despite it only being September, it was important that City did not lose and Steve Bruce`s side picked up another point towards Championship survival. The side remains unbeaten at home although goals continue to be a worry, especially for Danny Graham although the return of Yannick Sagbo from suspension at Newcastle will improve City`s options up-front.
In defence, City again look rarely troubled but the right-back spot is becoming a slight cause for concern. There will be a point when Bruce must consider the positives Elmohamady brings when attacking compared to his frailties when defending.
Date:Sunday September 15 2013
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