Monday, 22 August 2011

Blast from the Past: The Greatest Comeback?

On Wednesday the 4th February, 2004 City pulled of one the greatest comebacks of all time. It was an FA Cup tie, away at Spurs. The teams were pretty equal heading into the game, both on reasonable form in the league and it was expected to be a close game. I was 10 years old, sat in my living room with my Dad in anticipation of an exciting game. And boy did that live up to expectations.
City lined up as follows: Aarson, Jihai, Distin, Dunne, Tarnat, Wright Phillips, Barton, Bosvelt, Sinclair, Fowler, and leading goalscorer Nicolas Anelka.

Disastrous start, Ledley King put Spurs up inside 2 minutes, with I have to say, an excellent curling effort after a stray City clearance. City looked shell shocked, and on 19 minutes, Robbie Keane doubled Spurs lead with a striker's 'dink' over goalkeeper Arni Aarson. Taking it down with his right and finsihing with his left. City still yet to manage a shot on goal. 

Ziege free kick. 3-0 Spurs.
On 27 minutes, Nicolas Anelka hobbled off due to a groin injury and had to be substituted by Jon Macken, the blues now without their main goal threat and top scorer. Yes, Spurs added to the City misery right on half time. This time Ziege with a brilliant curling free kick from the edge of the area. City went in 3-0 down, and without star man Anelka.

Que Joey Barton. Hes good at making things a whole lot better, Barton received a second yellow card for dissent seconds after the half time whistle and City were down to 10.
Away from home, 3-0 down, 10 men, top goalscorer injured, we were out of the cup..surely?

City came out for the second half with the fans pretty much accepting the end of the their FA cup season was inevitable. Some fans had already left, the remaining were left bewildered at how the game could possibly get any worse. The answer is, it couldnt, and that's when it got better. 

City had nothing to lose. They came out the blocks at half time at full pace and Sylvain Distin pulled a goal back for City just 3 minutes after the restart, getting his head on a well worked Tarnat free kick, straight off the training ground. The blues managed to get another goal back through a huge slice of luck (it was about time!), Bosvelt got it, he fired in a shot that looked to be going wide before it took a huge deflection off Anthony Gardner and landed in the Spurs net. 3-2 and somehow, City's numerical disadvantage was out the window and we were in with a shout. Still 20 minutes to go!

City tails were up, they smelt blood and it took half that time, and then came the equaliser, Shaun Wright Phillips the man to latch onto a hopeful ball down the right channel, Shauny's blistering pace put him with only Keller to beat, before the little man delightfully chipped it over the American and into the net. City fans in the corner of the ground went crazy, and that wasn't the end of it. 

90 minutes, seconds to go. Jon Macken grabs a sensational winner, undoubtedly the most memorable moment of his career, he climbed above the Spurs defender and sent a terrific header looping over the goalkeeper before charging off to the corner flag to be molested by hundreds of blues . I did the same, only it being me and my dad in our living room. The game finished 4-3 to City. God pity those who left at half time. 

"They'll talk about this game long after we've all gone" - Kevin Keegan. Yes - every player and management staff to start that game, bar one Shaun Wright Phillips, has now left the club. And yes, every blue still talks about this epic 90 minutes like it was yesterday.

The game symbolises so much for City, the passion and grit we've shown for so many years. And as the song goes, "The boys in blue will never give in!"

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