If one incident can sum up a match and our season so far then it occurred in the 26th minute when Graham Dorrans was through on goal, was tackled (and fouled) by Gary Neville and the penalty was not given.
We might not, of course, have scored from the penalty – after all Peter Odemwingie missed with a dreadfully taken one in the second half, but we would have been up against 10 men, with all the resultant pressure that would have brought.
The annoying thing, also, was that we played well and outplayed a lack-lustre United side for great periods of the game, had equalised with a stunning goal and threatened to take all three points. This would have given us breathing space, dented United’s title hopes and reversed the trend of no win in four games. It didn’t and we are now in trouble, only two points clear of the bottom three.
Steven Reid had replaced the suspended Gonzalo Jara, and was then injured; with Pablo Ibanez also getting his chance for the suspended Gabriel Tamas, and himself getting injured. Both are out of the next game. Chris Brunt returned from suspension, was by far the best player on the pitch (oh how we missed him) and he was the website man of the match; and Marek Cech replaced Nicky Shorey.
Once again we went behind after only three minutes, with Wayne Rooney scoring with a glancing header. Scott Carson could not quite reach it, tucked in the corner as it was, and we sometimes don’t give enough credit to the opposition when they score good goals. Their support soon sang out their joy, then went quiet during our domination, then could be heard again after they had scored their second. As Alice might have said – ‘how curious’.
Our equaliser came from nothing: Brunt’s cross was headed back out straight to James Morrison, who scored with a stunning volley. Certainly a contender for goal of the season.
Then came the ‘incident’ which people will remember about the game: Morrison fed in Dorrans, the first time he had ventured forward, and he was taken out just as he was about to shoot. It was a clear penalty, but referee Chris Foy seemingly saw nothing wrong. Such decisions can make or break a season.
Dorrans was put through once again, but shot tamely into the side netting. He should certainly have at least forced a save. Overall possession for us was 62%, which tells its own story of how well we were playing, and how United were not being allowed to play. Shots at one stage were 9-1 in our favour!
We went behind again, after a corner with Hernandez left completely unmarked; United were undeservedly in the lead, and we were yet again chasing the game. Morrison, who had shown a marvellous technique in scoring his goal, cracked another attempt just wide.
It was a cracking game, but will be remembered for the wrong reasons.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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