1. A week that began with City in the bottom three ended with City still in the bottom three – yet, courtesy of the victory at Bolton, feels a little less hopeless than before. What a pity our brace of away fixtures began with defeat at Bristol City, with a second successive 93rd minute concession wrecking the result. City didn’t play too badly, creating enough good-quality opportunities to have taken the lead. The problem is that while last season, under both Slutsky and Adkins, City always looked like scoring, this season that sharpness in front of goal has fled.
2. Couple that with regular defensive lapses, and we’re always prone to a sucker punch. And so it proved, conceding again in injury time. The team and manager can persuasively argue that this was a harsh result, but that’s the sort of thing that happens when chances aren’t taken and clean sheets are rarities.
3. In some respects, Saturday’s match at Bolton looked quite similar – City played some decent stuff, made chances and for the most part kept the opposition at bay. But it’s all such fine margins sometimes, isn’t it? This time, we took a chance, and came up against a side who couldn’t take any of theirs. And while the 1-0 win at the poetically-named University of Bolton Stadium may not live long in the memory, there’s no disputing its value – or that City deserved a break after conceding twice in injury time within a week.
4. So, we’re still 23rd. But at least not cut adrift. Having kicked off in Lancashire a daunting four points adrift of safety, that deficit has been halved; it is – depending upon how optimistically you view the visit of West Brom on Saturday – possible to escape the bottom three with a single win. Contrast that with Ipswich, whose position of 24th may only be one worse than City, but they’re already five points from the promised land of 21st. That feels pretty ominous when you’re scuffing along at less than a point a game.
5. And 21st is probably still about the summit of our ambition this season. We’re in this position for a reason – the squad and the manager who leads it just aren’t good enough for anything substantially better. Saturday’s match report summed it up: if this season culminates with City ended fourth-bottom with new owners in charge, it will be a success.
6. Meanwhile…is that a marginally improving defence that we see? City are still conceding regularly, but not prolifically any more. Since the appalling loss at Reading over a month ago, City haven’t conceded more than one goal in a game, a spell that included all of the current top three. And yes, there’s a bit of straw-clutching going on here, particularly when we only kept one clean sheet in those half-dozen games…but if things are just tighening up a little at the back, perhaps that’ll just produce enough points over the rest of the season to keep us at least in with a chance.
7. It was a pleasure to see Robbie McKenzie make his first start in the Championship on Saturday. A player who is a full seven months younger than Amber Nectar, he’s been in the squad a lot this season and hadn’t disappointed when introduced from the bench. Forget that injuries and a gruel-thin squad may have accelerated his promotion: he hasn’t let anyone down this season, did well on Saturday, and provides the simple, enduring satisfaction of seeing a promising local lad breaking into the game. Well done young man.
8. West Brom next. They’re proper promotion contenders and are scoring loads this season, so our defensive capabilities are certain to be examined by them. Even though it would keep us in the relegation zone, a point would be very handy. Then again, they’ve haven’t won in three games or kept a clean sheet in six…
9. Away from City, it wasn’t a happy weekend for the national sport. Condolences to the friends and families of the three men and two women who lost their lives in a helicopter crash at Leicester; to the Brighton supporter who passed away after falling ill at their game against Wolves; and best wishes to former England manager Glenn Hoddle, who is gravely unwell following a heart attack.
10. Lastly, best wishes too to North Ferriby United supporters, who are facing a very familiar situation to one that blighted our recent past and whose consequences remain with us to this date. Their owners are apparently set upon renaming the club East Hull FC, and moving it ten miles to Dunswell. It isn’t a situation we’d relish, and as our nearest neighbours of consequence we feel a certain affinity to them. A petition has already attracted over 3,700 signatures – it can be signed here. Meanwhile, when considering this application, we trust that the FA will be guided by the very clear precedent it set when refusing Assem Allam’s odious attempt to foist Hull Tigers upon us.