Result: Manchester City u21 1-0 Norwich City u21 (Barclays u21 Premier League)
Venue: City Football Academy Stadium (Sunday 8th November, 4pm)
Backing onto my trip to Coventry the day previous was this very trip right here. A short hop over to the Bradford area of Manchester to watch the City u21 squad under the tutelage of Patrick Vieira for the last time before his appointment to New York City. Dan Watkinson had picked up two tickets previously on account of his Citizenship and, as such, I headed into the City Centre to meet with Dan and catch the bus for the short trip to the Etihad.
Disembarking at the Etihad, I made it a priority to head for the Corner Shop pub, after hearing and reading good things about it, especially from the Lost Boyo himself, Matt Harrison. Could I find it though? No. Until I did a full circle round and came across the pub in all its splendour standing directly in front of me, no less than 2 minutes from the road we’d got off the bus on. We’d been walking for 15.
After a “splash & dash” stop here to catch the final throws of Aston Villa vs City, we headed back outside and, after feeling exceptionally lazy, caught the bus for a grand total of two stops from the Etihad to the CFA. Upon arrival, we were straight into the North East section of the stadium and upon entering through the turnstiles, we were all issued with a team-sheet for today’s game. City’s side was featuring the much lauded Thierry Ambrose and Norwich’s keeper was Ben Killip, who I’m almost certain I saw play a couple of years ago in non-league, possibly for King’s Lynn?
We headed for seats around the half-way line and the game was soon underway, with next to nothing happening during the first period, bar Ambrose striking the post with a header and a shot passing just wide of Killip’s right-hand post. Norwich rarely threatened the City goal in the first period, looking to break on the counter when they did attack, which was very rarely witnessed as City dominated possession, but failed to break down Norwich. It was raining at the break but, sadly, it wasn’t raining goals at the CFA. 0-0 and it was pretty dire.
The second period got underway as the rain eased somewhat, but the game never really improved as a spectacle. The fact that Killip’s bright pink kit & that every Norwich player seemed to have been injured at some point are “highlights”, tells you all you need to know.
Norwich did look a bit more sprightly, as City began to get sloppy at the back, with a couple of weak passes almost putting them in danger, with a great last-ditch tackle denying a Norwich attacker a one-on-one when he latched onto a poor, under hit back-pass. Ambrose was unlucky again soon after, as he curled a wonderful effort against the bar, before City won a free-kick. Bersant Celina stepped up and whipped a free-kick perfectly into the top corner. If it was anywhere else, it was likely Killip would have kept it out, but it was on a penny and left him no chance. Celina definitely enjoyed his strike, sliding on his knees in front of us in the main stand. 1-0 and that was it in terms of chances.
So, full-time arrived and we dodged the rain again for the most part, as we bussed it back into Piccadilly and onwards back home. Sadly, for the second time in two days, the game was pretty poor overall but at least there was a goal which stretches my run of no 0-0’s to….actually, I have no idea, I’ll have to check. Dan’s record reached 100 he informed me afterwards, so Celina has definitely become a bit of a favourite of ours I’d say.
As for the City Football Academy Stadium, it really is a fine ground to watch a game in. I’d been once previous, to watch England v China in a Women’s International when it was pretty full, so I can base it on that, rather than today and the sparse crowd. With only the Main Stand in use and the two covered terraces behind each goal and opposite stand out of bounds, it wasn’t great for atmosphere, but it’s to be expected and it’s cheap football, so who really cares?! The only negatives was the wet and cold. What happened to 17 degrees?!!
Game: 5- Poor on the whole, little entertainment.
Ground: 8- A really good ground to watch a game in.
Fans: N/A- Doesn’t really count here.
Value For Money: 7- Just the £6.60 travel & earlier drink, so a cheap day.