Due to work commitments I asked guest sports writer ex player James Last now 75 and living in Mijas to write a match report on tonights game. Here’s James’s match report.
Preston North End 0 Manchester City 3.
Alex Neil, the Preston Manager, despite flying high in the Championship, must have been a little relieved that Manchester City only picked three of the team that destroyed Watford 8 goals to nil last Saturday, but as Jose Mourinho famously said that Manchester City’s second team are good enough to get into the Champions League places it may be little consolation.
Perhaps it is no surprise that Neil is playing a back five with a midfield bank of four just in front of them with wide men breaking at pace to support the lone striker before a full house at Deepdale.
Nevertheless, Sterling’s pace gets him into the penalty area on twenty minutes, though perhaps he was fortunate to see his shot get a deflection over Preston’s goalkeeper Ripley. Preston were more fortunate to get the benefit of doubt three minutes later when Gabriel Jesus is marginally given offside when putting the ball into the net.
Manchester City dominating possession with their patient build-up play and looking dangerous on the break with their pace worrying the Preston defence. On 35 minutes Sterling’s through ball to Jesus, not quite walking on water, but he finds space on the left and his shot has too much power for the Preston’s hapless goalkeeper.
Manchester City’s finding space wide again with David Silva putting a tantalizing cross in from the left on 42 minutes resulting in the unfortunate Ryan Ledson sticking out a leg and scoring an own goal.
The half-time whistle must have been a great relief to the Preston players, knowing they only have pride to play for in the second half.
Young Foden for Manchester City shoots just over as the second half begins with City continuing to dominate possession with yet another cross from the left giving Jesus a clear header on the six yard line, which he spurns by heading wide.
When City lose possession Guardiola’s quick pressing game soon wins the ball back, but Preston playing with spirit and not allowing City to have it all their own way with some hefty tackles going in, though Josh Harrop incurring the wrath of referee Mason and getting a yellow card for his troubles.
When Preston lose possession they clearly try to get nine players behind the ball quickly, but struggle to cope with City when they break with pace.
Harrop manages to hit the post 15 minutes into the second half in an isolated attack from Preston, but it triggers a substitution from Guardiola and he replaces Angelino with the more experienced Mendy. David Silva’s work is done so he is taken off and rested for next Saturday’s Premier League game. Alex Neil takes the opportunity to bring on the veteran striker David Nugent for Tom Barkhuizen.
In the first twenty minutes of the second half Preston to their credit are holding their own with the mighty City.
After a quiet period Foden hits the crossbar with a left-foot shot from the edge of the area with the goalkeeper beaten.
Harrop who has made more box to box runs than any other Preston player looks exhausted as he is substituted with Josh Ginnelly. Sterling has done his work for the night and he is substituted by the ex-Leicester striker Mahrez.
Gabriel Jesus does not time his run and is caught well offside from another through ball. Leicester bring on the youngster Bayliss to generate more energy replacing the more experienced Daniel Johnson.
Jesus wastes a headed opportunity when unmarked in the six yard box. Five minutes of ordinary time left with City seemingly happy to hold their three goal advantage. Jesus has a clear chance but hits his shot straight at the Preston goalkeeper.
Preston can be pleased to show some spirit and hold their own in the second half with the mighty City, certainly showing more pride than the clueless Watford last Saturday, which must give Alex Neil some consolation.