Sproule Inspires As City Rout Preston
Ashton Gate, Bristol
16 January 2010, 15:00
City scored four for the time since Boxing Day 2008 as Ivan Sproule and co made sure new Preston manager Darren Ferguson had a first game to forget.
Held by enemies Cardiff in midweek, Johnson, and City, needed a result now more than ever.
Lewin Nyatanga returned from a ban to take a new role at left-back allowing Jamie McAllister to attempt to provide width in front of him. Sproule was restored to the right with Haynes pushed up to partner Maynard in attack.
And the changes reaped the results almost immediately.
With only 85 seconds on the clock, Haynes slid in Paul Hartley's chaotic free-kick from close range to give us a flying start. It was our first goal we'd scored in the opening 10 minutes all season!
Reeling from the early set back, Preston hit back through pie-man Jon Parkin's long ranger but it wasn't long before the City doubled our lead on 11 minutes.
McAllister shaped to bend another free kick in from the right but instead slipped it across the box for Hartley to flick on for Maynard. His shot was saved but the rebound fell to Liam Fontaine to fire home from close range.
The set-piece was reminiscent of the famous 'weasel' routine that fooled Crystal Palace in the Play-Off Semi's two years ago!
Darren Carter tried to spur on his side with a 30-yard strike that Gerken was equal to before Hartley tested Lonergan in the Preston goal from a similar way out.
The visitors then got back int he game through a brilliant piece of wing play from Chris Sedgewick down their right side on 27.
After turning Fontaine inside out, the ex-Rotherham wide man measured his cross to perfection for Chris Brown to nip in between both Carey and Nyatanga to head home unchallenged from 6 yards. Both centre-halves were guilty of ball watching as it was a soft goal to concede.
Eddie Nolan then fired narrowly over from a Ross Wallace corner as the Lilywhites sensed our vulnerability immediately after getting themselves back into the game.
City had Gerken to thank just before the break, not for the first time this season, as he kept out a dangerous Sedgewick guided volley to keep the scores level going into the break.
Having flown out the traps in the first half, McAllister was found by a perfect Maynard pass only for the full-back-come-winger to fluff his lines with only the keeper to beat whilst Sproule warmed Lonergan's gloves following a jinking run and shot.
Sproule saw another effort deflect narrowly wide of the upright after another breathtaking burst of speed had taken him clear down the wing.
The third was coming and so it arrived on 58.
Hartley swang in another pin-point free-kick, this time from the left for Louis Carey to leap like a salmon and loop his header over Lonergan for 3-1.
Ten minutes later, the impressive and lively Haynes hobbled off to be replaced by Alvaro Saborio only for David Clarkson to enter the fray in place of Maynard shortly after that.
Saborio failed to connect with a bicycle kick from a clever piece of play by his fellow sub Clarkson and it was the Scot who was largely responsible for the match-clinching fourth on 90 minutes.
His astute pass picked out Evander Sno, who had literally been on the field a few seconds after replacing the talismanic Hartley, to arrow a 25-yard drive low into the bottom corner. The post it hit on the way through nearly snapped such was the venom of the Dutchman's strike.
But there was still time for City to concede what has become the customary stoppage time goal as Ross Wallace's free-kick from wide on the right evaded everyone on it's way to finding a way inside the far post.
Not that it mattered though as City recorded our first home win on a Saturday since the 2-1 triumph over Middlesbrough on 29th August!
CITY (4-4-2): Gerken, Orr, Carey, Fontaine, Nyatanga, Sproule, Hartley (Sno '87), Skuse, McAllister, Haynes (Saborio '68), Maynard (Clarkson '80).
PRESTON (4-4-2): Lonergan, Nolan (Jones '56), St. Ledger, Collins, Davidson, Sedgewick, Chaplow (Mayor '70), Carter, Wallace, Parkin (Mellor '61), Brown.
REFEREE: Gavin Ward (Sheppey, Kent)
Ran Calum Davidson ragged down the right wing today. Held good width, played with a real purpose and threat resulting in him being totally unplayable at times today.
Dean Gerken 6
Bradley Orr 7
Lewin Nyatanga 7
Liam Fontaine 7
Louis Carey 8
Jamie McAllister 7
Ivan Sproule 9
Paul Hartley 9
Cole Skuse 8
Nicky Maynard 7
Danny Haynes 8
Alvaro Saborio 5
David Clarkson 6
Evander Sno 7
At last Gary! He picked a well balanced side and gave them licence to attack. Everyone knows we have a talented squad that has been held back by the manager but hopefully today will usher in more of what is to come.
Hard to judge him when it's first game at a new club as he doesn't know his players.
Lets Hope It's Not A False Dawn
But... one swallow doesn't make a summer and Johnson needs to stick by this team selection and tactics if we're to have truely turned the corner.
The proof will be in the pudding over the next few games I suspect.
Fans Voting With Their Feet?
Fans are fed up with the drivel that has been on offer over the last 18 months or so but today gives us all hope that we have turned a corner so my advice would be get down the Gate and support the boys.
Hopefully Johnson and the chairman have got the point by now.