Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Barnet 2 - 2 Bradford City/Man United 4 - 3 Man City

An unusual weekend saw me attending back to back matches which couldn't have been more contrasting. A trip to Underhill was undertaken because of  a Bantams-supporting friend's annual bit of birthday blackmail. Normally I've managed to duck these as they've clashed with a Fulham home game, but not this season.
Underhill's a pleasant enough lower league ground, with large swathes of terracing and a quite pronounced sloping pitch. I particularly liked the tuck shop feel of kiosk at the back of the stand which sold cups of Bovrill.
The game itself didn't really amount to much, with whichever team was playing downhill in the ascendancy. The only goal of particular note being Bradford and Pakistan captain Zesh Rehman's volley. The officials, decked out in salmon pink didn't get a great deal wrong and the crowd of 2,282 was sporadically noisy but everyone seemed happy with a point.
It was fitting thet Mark Hughes scored Barnet's second equaliser as the day after I watched his namesake's side try to get one over on their more illustrious neighbours in Manchester. I've mentioned before I am at heart a United fan, so the opportunity to watch a derby for the first time in at least a decade was too good to pass up on.
Sat in the usually quite reserved South Stand, there was an electricity at this game from the start, aided by the pantomime booing of Carlos Tevez. Despite the early goal, United were jittery and second-best in the first half - typified by Ben Foster's brain freeze moment for City's equaliser - but in the second half I've rarely seen United so fluid, or Giggs so dynamic. In the first half Barry kept winning flick ons for Tevez and Bellamy to dash onto and cause a nuisance, but that didn't really happen in the second half. The ebb and flow of the game also helped the fans find their voices and the atmosphere buzzed. The two goals at the end of the game also provided unbelievable swings in emotions for everyone in there. I don't think I've ever cheered a Michael Owen goal quite like it.
The only other match I've attended that has come close to that atmosphere was the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay between United and Arsenal (where Giggs scored THAT goal) but it was very reminiscent of Fulham's home 3-3 draw with Spurs a couple of seasons ago when Kamara improbably equalised in the last minute with an overhead kick. I was buzzing for a couple of days after that match and I'm still buzzing after the Manchester Derby.
I think City have a good chance of winning something this year, highly likely the League Cup, so I doubt Fulham will get a now customary win at Eastlands tomorrow night. But with his attitude to Europe, will Woy mind getting knocked out?

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