Sunday, 1 December 2013

Jim's column 30-11-13

What a week for the Sky Blues! Flying high after a seven-match unbeaten run in the league and three successive home games in which they had scored three goals, they collapsed to two heavy home defeats to Tranmere (1-5) and Rotherham (0-3). Both games left many City fans frustrated as neither scoreline reflected the games at all & flattered their opponents.

The Tranmere defeat was the heaviest home reverse since West Brom won 5-0 at the Ricoh in an FA Cup fifth round tie in 2007-08 against a City team managed for just one week by the joint management team of Frankie Bunn & John Harbin. Ray Ranson unveiled Chris Coleman days later. The last time the Sky Blues had such a heavy home league defeat was back in 1998-99 against Newcastle when despite Noel Whelan giving them an early lead the Geordies hit five in reply. Alan Shearer gave French defender Jean-Guy Wallemme a nightmare afternoon, scoring twice with the other goals coming from Stephen Glass, Dabizas & the late Gary Speed. I seem to remember that the scoreline flattered Newcastle somewhat.

Only on three occasions have City had heavier home league defeats than that.

1919-20 0-5 v Tottenham
1980-81 0-5 v Everton
1989-90 1-6 v Liverpool

In each of this week's games City were undone by two strikers at the top of their game. Tranmere's Ryan Lowe has been a thorn in City's side before. Last season he scored for the MK Dons in our 3-2 win at Milton Keynes and in 2011 he netted twice for Bury at Gigg Lane in the annual first round exit from the League Cup. Last Saturday he netted a hat-trick, the second in consecutive games against City following Wells' three for Bradford City the previous Sunday. Then on Tuesday Rotherham's Nouha Dicko, making his debut on loan from Wigan, scored a superb goal & had a hand in the other goals.

Several readers wondered if the Sky Blues had ever conceded hat-tricks in consecutive league games & I could find one instance of it. In 1925-26 City, playing their solitary season in Division Three North, lost at home to Chesterfield (2-4) and away to Bradford Park Avenue (0-3) in successive weeks. Chesterfield's Jimmy Cookson netted three goals on his way to scoring 44 goals for the season, at the time a Football League record – not bad for a converted reserve full-back! A week later Ken MacDonald scored all three goals as the Bantams crashed at Park Avenue, who went on to finish runners-up in the division.

Lowe became the first player to score a hat-trick against City at home since Nottingham Forest's Kevin Campbell on the opening day of the 1996-97 season.

Today City travel to Milton Keynes with a following of fans expected to be around 7,000. Last season City took just under 5,000 fans there & they saw a fine 3-2 victory with the team twice coming from behind. As I have written previously there were no official figures for away followings until the last five or so years, so any figures for away followings are estimates. I believe however this weekend's Sky Blue Army at Stadium MK will be the largest for a league game since that vital relegation match at Wimbledon in 1996. An estimated 7,000 Coventry fans trekked to Selhurst Park that day to watch two Peter Ndlovu goals virtually ensure safety. There have been bigger followings for Cup games with around 12,000 travelling to Old Trafford six years ago & 9,000 going to the Emirates last season. Let's just hope the team can give the incredible following at MK something to shout about.

City's average away following after today's game will be around 2,250, their best for many, many years and currently only bettered this season by three Football League sides. Leeds United have by far the best away following with an average of over 3,200, City's League One rivals Wolves are averaging 2,700 and Nottingham Forest around 2,500. In other words more fans are following City than 22 Championship sides including Leicester, Birmingham, Derby & Sheffield Wednesday. City's average is slightly skewed by the fact that they have had most of their local derbies and the final figure is likely to be somewhat lower. The number of away fans is obviously boosted by the large number of fans who won't travel to Northampton  & therefore away trips are there only chance of watching their team.  Today, by the way, Leeds have sold 6,800 tickets for their game at Blackburn.

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