By William Wood | In Micah's Say
Manchester City succumbed to a 1-0 loss against ten-man Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium, and Micah shared his thoughts on the defeat exclusively with MicahRichards.com.
City went in to the fixture on the back of three wins in their last four league matches, and thus it was unsurprising that manager Mark Hughes opted for the same starting eleven that beat Newcastle United 2-1 on Wednesday evening.
The opening five minutes saw tit-for-tat long-ball exchanges between both sides, though it was City that created the first half-chance as Stephen Ireland worked an opening which allowed Craig Bellamy to volley goal-wards, but the effort flew high and wide.
As has been the story of Stoke’s season thus far, Rory Delap posed their biggest danger from throw-ins, though Joe Hart was attentive every time the ball went out anywhere in City’s half.
Another set-piece by Tony Pulis’ men – this time a corner – forced Hart to rush from his line and get a solid punch on the ball, removing the danger as both sides struggled to convert respective spells of possession into an opening.
From a subsequent corner, Robinho was gifted the finest opportunity of the first 25 minutes as Ireland and Bellamy combined to create the Brazil international with a chance to shoot on goal, but his driven effort from 20-yards out was straight at Thomas Sorensen.
Another Delap throw found Ryan Shawcross and the latter’s flicked effort required a fine stop by Hart who, had he not been tracking the journey of the ball, could easily have been caught out.
A sickening clash of heads between Nedum Onouha and Amdy Faye halted proceedings temporarily, before tempers boiled over between Delap and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
First, Wright-Phillips seemed to go in slightly high on Danny Pugh, with Delap then scything down the England midfielder before kicking the ball at him, and the melee that followed eventually saw the Stoke man dismissed in controversial scenes.
However, just as City looked certain to capitalise on their greater possession using the numerical advantage, Stoke put themselves in front in first-half stoppage time, James Beattie connecting with Matthew Etherington’s ball in from the left and sending a rocket of a header past Hart in what his second goal in three games for The Potters.
When the players re-emerged from the dressing room it was much of the same, with City enjoying greater spells of possession but struggling to create any real chances.
Robinho, in an attempt to get more involved, dropped deep into midfield, collecting the ball and launching a powerful effort towards goal, but it drifted wide much to the home fans’ delight.
Next up, Micah burst into Stoke’s box but saw his cross cleared by Sorensen, while substitute Elano’s miscued shot almost found Ireland, but the latter’s diving efforts to reach the ball were in vain.
It was all Manchester City as Stoke defender valiantly, though Bellamy came within a whisker of levelling for the away side as he watched a curling effort beat Sorensen, but just fail to dip under the crossbar.
Robinho then clipped in a lovely ball towards the advancing Micah, but it just evaded his out-stretched foot as it skipped off the surface and went out of play.
With just four minutes remaining, City and Micah felt they should have had a penalty when the England right-back was seemingly brought down by Andy Griffin in the penalty area, but all the protests were waved away by Martin Atkinson.
City continued to probe to no avail, and Stoke held out for a valuable three points despite Delap’s sending-off, much to the disappointment of Hughes’ side.
“I’m really unhappy with the result today,” Micah said. “We had a lot of the ball but we couldn’t break them down. It’s really hard to take that defeat.”
“We had a lot more of the ball when they went down to ten-men but we just couldn’t take advantage of it – they defended well.”
On an individual level, Micah continued his resurgence in form as he surged down the right-flank, and he looked threatening on a number of occasions as he made his way into the Stoke box.
“I played ok, and tried to get forward as much as I could,” the 20-year old continued. “I nearly scored when Robinho chipped the ball in to the back post, and I’m trying to influence the game more in the final third.”
“Regardless, however, the fact is we lost so I’m disappointed.”
After the sending-off, there was another prominent moment of controversy as Micah was brought down in the Stoke box by Griffin, and the youngster felt City had a case for a penalty.
“He [Andy Griffin] tackled me and there was contact, and I didn’t think he got the ball if I’m honest,” Micah concluded.
“On another day it might have been a penalty, but I’ll have to watch the reply on television later.”