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City slickers!

Posted on 9 November 2008  - 12:00

A Darren Bent double at City saw to it that we bade goodbye to the bottom three and will now hopefully remain upwardly mobile.

City slickers!

A Darren Bent double at City saw to it that we bade goodbye to the bottom three and will now hopefully remain upwardly mobile.

Virtually everything in this performance suggested this should be the case as the boys came from a goal behind to inflict defeat on Manchester City and in doing so recorded a first away win of the season in the Premier League.

On early inspection there appeared to be something of a 4-2-3-1 system at work, with Didier Zokora and Tom Huddlestone deployed in front of the back four. The much more offensive minded David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas and Luka Modric were in advance of the duo, charged with getting up swiftly in support of Darren Bent.

The early mayhem in opposition territory came from an altogether unlikely double act - Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate operating in tandem in the City area before Woodgate sliced his shot woefully wide.

Modric was far more precise on nine minutes when he dispatched a curling effort just wide of Joe Hart's left-hand upright. Vedran Corluka, lightly chided on his return to the ground now affectionately nicknamed 'Middle Eastlands' was assigned the task of nullifying the threat of a certain Robinho. A straight forward afternoon in prospect for him then?

Even though the game was deadlocked in the opening 15 minutes, it was giving the impression of being more on the latch. This proved to be the case when Robinho spread play to the right of the penalty area where Darius Vassell, via a clever touch from Shaun Wright-Phillips, drilled goalwards and forced a parry from Heurelho Gomes. Unfortunately, most alert to the loose ball was Robinho, who picked his spot and opened the scoring.

Stephen Ireland later forced a fine save from Gomes after a counter-attack prompted by Robinho before Bentley was crudely chopped down by Gelson Fernandes and was shown a second yellow card by referee Mr Dean.

Modric produced a breathtaking moment of skill moments later to carve out a chance for himself. The Croatian lashed the ball to Hart's right, but the goalkeeper stooped and diverted wide.

Just before the half hour mark Bent got himself into double figures for the season after Richard Dunne made a hash of dealing with a searching ball from Modric. Bent was on the scene in a flash, re-routing around his markers before slotting beyond Hart and sliding off along the soggy turf to celebrate with the Spurs travelling thousands.

The team were now comfortably in charge and far more composed in the driving rain, City were rattled and the captain Dunne was not an assured presence at the heart of the home defence. Bent was like a coiled spring awaiting the moment the likes of Modric or Huddlestone elected to pop one over the top for him. City were being bossed around on their own patch and the shrill of the half-time whistle must have been welcome listening for Mark Hughes.

The start of the second half, attacking-wise, was a bit tentative from both teams, with Modric looking the most likely to unlock the City gate, which was bolstered shortly before the interval by the resolute presence of Didi Hamann, the former advanced guard of Liverpool's defences.

The game continued to ebb and flow, although more of the former than the latter, with Spurs playing with more conviction, but City remaining a danger on the counter with the quick-step of Wright-Phillips raising the decibel level whenever he got on the run.

Home spirits were dampened on 64 minutes when Huddlestone pinged the ball forward in his unflustered manner and picked out the chest of Jenas. The midfielder managed to steer left into the path of Bent who, with stunning accuracy, placed the ball beyond Hart and in off the post.

Clever and patient interchange between Zokora, Modric and Bentley led to Huddlestone being presented with another opportunity to try his luck from distance - this time Hart was smart and alert enough to foil.

Aaron Lennon was introduced in place of Modric, who had an excellent game, but next in the thick of the action was Gomes, who was forced to extend himself to deny Robinho a further entry on the scoresheet. The Brazilian then thwarted Ireland's smash towards his near post.

The fluency returned and City were down to nine after Bent sped through and was deemed to have been fouled by Dunne. With him being in on goal there was only one decision the referee could reach - red.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto was next to depart following a second yellow, an action that served to boost the home side for the three minutes of stoppage time. The stampede towards the stairways before the final whistle told its own story and the points were duly and gratefully banked.