This was hard work. Very hard work.
City almost scored from the kick off with a quick break. The next 45 minutes it looked like they were playing "how many times can we pass it back to our 'keeper". Tom Heaton certainly had about as many touched as anyone else in that first half.
To be fair, Scunthorpe seemed to be playing a 5-5-0 formation, and the only time they had a whiff of pushing forward was when City lost possession casually.
There were a few boos at half time, which was harsh, but in some ways understandable. Scunthorpe were dreadful, and a side like City pushing for automatic promotion and with the talent at their disposal, should be flaying sides like Scunthorpe - even if they were packing the middle of the park. You've just to find a way through. But City were static, lethargic, and so often playing in isolation. Sound familiar? Me, and many others have said that a lot this season.
Quick word on the ref as usual. This week's candidate for clown of the year was Mr Crossley, who denied Craig Bellamy what seemed a blatant penalty for being hacked down in the box, along with several other bizarre decisions throughout the match. Admittedly he was nearer to the action than we were, but he seemed to be watching a different match to the other 21,000 people in the CCS (and I'm honestly trying to be objective here).
City's most likely route to goal was through Bellamy who made several good runs, but the options and finishing were poor. JET also got through and hit one thunderous shot, that was well saved.
JET is an enigma. Clearly he's got talent - he's played a Champions League match for Arsenal this season. But either he doesn't really want to be here, he's playing out of position or we just haven't seen the best of him. He slows it down every time he gets the ball, cuts back inside (left footed player playing on the right), and as I've said before appears pretty u/s in the air for a big tall lad.
Second half City pushed, the Iron packed the midfield again, and it looked like it was heading for a 0-0, despite City's dominance (they ended the game with 64% possession).
Burke came on for JET (as in the Reading game the crowd had been calling for this) and immediately City looked to have more about them. Koumas came on for Chopra who'd huffed and puffed without much joy, and eventaully the "beast", Jon Parking came on with Bellamy making way. Parking got the ball in the net but it was ruled offside, but a few minutes later, the breakthrough eventually came, with 4 minutes left on the clock. Koumas looped a cross for the left, Parkin headed back across goal, and Olifanjana nodded in from close range. The relief around the CCS was palpable.
Inevitably the game opened up as Scunthorpe who had clearly come for a draw were suddenly looking down the barrel. But City held fast again bot much pressure all told, though Heaton had to be sharp to keep one effort out.
It was a bizarre game. City had 21 attempts on goal (half on target) but it didn't feel like it. Scunthorpe had 5, and arguably the better chances of the match.
Why City don't play fast and furious against teams like Scunthorpe I don't know. When they slow it down they look pretty ordinary. When they up the pace they look in a different league.
On the plus side, it was three big points, especially as everyone else in the top 8 who were playing also won. It was also a second clean sheet - Hudson again had a stormer, and Kienan looks good.
It's another big match on Tuesday, when our game in hand against Burnley takes place at the CCS. Two things I want from that match. Burke to start, and three more points!