The Sky Blues kept another clean sheet in the 0-0 draw at Reading last week, making it four in a row, the best run since 2002. It is now 398 minutes since they last conceded a goal, the Darren Ambrose penalty early in the second half at Crystal Palace last month. The run in 2002 was four games in December that month, which incidentally was enough to earn Gary McAllister his manager of the month award. In all the team went 487 minutes without goalkeeper Morten Hyldegaard conceding a goal. The man who ended the run was Crystal Palace’s Ade Akinbiyi. Amazingly City’s form slumped immediately and they won only one of their remaining 20 games. The games were:-
14 December 2002 Wolves (a) 2-0
21 December 2002 Derby (h) 3-0
26 December 2002 Reading (h) 2-0
28 December 2002 Sheffield U (a) 0-0
The last time City kept five clean sheets in a row was the previous season, in October 2001, when Roland Nilsson’s team were on an 11-game unbeaten run. The fifth clean sheet was a 2-0 home win that briefly lifted them to first place in the league. That run lasted 491 minutes and was finally broken by Preston’s Richard Cresswell, a striker who has haunted the Sky Blues for many years.
There was also a run of five clean sheets during the Don Howe era in 1992. In one of the most boring periods of the club’s history the run consisted of a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace followed by four 0-0 draws (Liverpool (h), Southampton (a), Man United (h) and Norwich (h). In the following game an 83rd minute goal by Sheffield Wednesday’s Viv Anderson meant Steve Ogrizovic had gone 572 minutes without conceding.
The club record for successive clean sheets was set in 1934 when the Bantams, a Division Three (South) team, were more renowned for their goalscoring feats than their defensive abilities. In the five seasons between 1931 and 1936 the team scored 502 league goals with the legendary Clarrie Bourton notching 164 of them. The first of the six clean sheets (which were spread over two seasons) came at Highfield Road as City recorded their record league victory, 9-0 over Bristol City, a week later in the final game of the 1933-34 season there was a 0-0 draw at Clapton Orient. The next season started:
Northampton (h) 2-0
Clapton (a) 1-0
Bournemouth (a) 2-0
Clapton (h) 4-0
In those days goal times are notoriously difficult to rely upon but my estimate is that the team went 649 minutes without conceding before Watford’s Jimmy Poxton put one past City’s keeper Horace Pearson.
At last week’s excellent Diamond Club lunch I bumped into City fan Dennis Cox who reminded me that I had not answered a question he posed some months ago. It concerns former City players Brian Nicholas and Lol Harvey and their arguments over the years about when they faced each other in City v QPR clashes. Brian played for QPR for six years but only once did he come face to face with Lol during that time. It was 29 January 1955 at Loftus Road and Rangers ran out 3-2 winners with goals from Smith, Cameron and Kerrins with Tommy Capel netting twice for City. Lol always reminds me of how he was in the team that 4-0 at Loftus Road in 1952 but unfortunately Brian wasn’t in the QPR side that day. On the subject of Brian it is great to see him back watching games at the Ricoh. He was very poorly earlier in the season but last week he looked back to his best. He won’t thank me for putting this picture from 1951 in the newspaper!