THERE are plenty of positives to report from City’s opening day performance at Sheffield United.
City won the game 2-1 and the victory was fully deserved as this was a spirited and cohesive display that was all the more impressive considering Cotterill played all six of his new summer signings. We started the better team and were rewarded in the 20th minute with a well worked goal. New recruit Little beat his man on the right and charged into the box before putting in a cross that was met by the head of Wilbraham, who powered an unstoppable header past Howard in the United goal.
The goal seemed to spark the home side into life. We didn’t help ourselves by looking suspect at the back and Fielding didn’t connect properly with a punch that caused pandemonium in our box. Then a set piece was met by United’s new signing Higdon and the scores were level. City tried zonal marking to defend the set piece and it didn’t seem to work very well.
City seemed better drilled in the second half and our energy levels remained high, whereas United looked to tire. Our winning goal was a superb team effort. A long cross-field ball by Williams was met by the head of Little, who played it into the path of Wilbraham. The opening goalscorer then delicately flicked the ball onto Elliott and, clean through on goal, the veteran midfielder smashed the ball in to make it 2-1.
It capped a fantastic team performance and set the bar high for the rest of the season. Standout performers, in my opinion, were Wilbraham for his goal and assist, Flint for his courageous defending and Little for his assist and attacking play.
City failed to live up to those standards on Tuesday night, losing 2-1 at home to Oxford in the League Cup. Steve Cotterill did make eight changes, though, and clearly wasn’t too bothered about going out.
This Saturday City host Colchester United (3pm) in our opening home league game of the season before playing Leyton Orient at Ashton Gate the following Tuesday (7.45pm)