Martin Jol's 100th game in charge was marked with a fine 2-1 victory over Manchester City at Eastlands on Sunday.
Martin Jol's 100th game in charge was marked with a fine 2-1 victory over Manchester City at Eastlands on Sunday.A first goal for the side from Calum Davenport and a Tom Huddlestone cracker provided a first half tonic, while City rallied in the second period and hit back through Joey Barton.
It was a first away win of the season in the Premiership and the team have now only suffered two defeats in 19 games.
It wasn't until some 14 minutes were showing on the clock that the game sprang into life and we should have been a goal to the good. Teemu Tainio threaded the ball through for Jermain Defoe to sprint onto and the little striker shook off his markers only for Nicky Weaver to deny him an opener. The ball did run loose and Dimitar Berbatov steered it back, but Sylvain Distin was in position to clear.
The momentum had gathered though and, from a Tom Huddlestone free-kick on 16 minutes, Davenport climbed highest, turned in the air and cleverly diverted past the dive of Weaver and into the net for only the second goal City have conceded at home this season. For us, it was the first goal scored on our travels that was not from a penalty or an own goal.
Huddlestone was again pulling the midfield strings with the most authority with Tainio snapping around alongside him, it was a central pairing with good balance.
He ensured his name will be logged in connection with this game on 24 minutes when he advanced forward and pounced on a chip from the industrious Hossam Ghaly. He stooped a little to make a connection and drilled low past Weaver with a cleanly struck finish. He took it so well that the strike should at least be a contender in Goal of the Month.
Things were not going well for City and new England international Micah Richards was off injured after half an hour. It then should have been three when Steed Malbranque had a volleyed chance from inside the area saved by the legs of Weaver, who saved again from Berbatov when he was bearing down on goal.
Such attacking intent was clearly evident in the opening exchanges of the second half, with Defoe rattling the side netting and proving a constant threat. There was an alert at the other end just before the hour point when Joey Barton picked out a clever pass to play Stephen Ireland in on goal. Thankfully the substitute fired over, but City were building up a head of steam and it took an interception from Davenport to deny Paul Dickov a route through to testing Paul Robinson.
City grabbed a lifeline in the 64th minute and certainly livened up a crowd who booed them off at the interval. A Dickov cross from the left was met on the volley by Barton, who had stole in unmarked, and the ball whizzed past Robinson. It was game on.
Nerves set in and defending was a little erratic on occasions as the home team pressed forward in the hunt for a leveller. Thankfully it was not to be and City's unbeaten home sequence came to an end at a venue where we have yet to taste defeat.