Report | Defeated Town run champions close


Town 1Adebayo 45+2

Manchester City 2Bernando Silva 62, Grealish 64

For the second time in a week the Hatters came oh-so close to earning a point against one of the best teams in the land.

As Arsenal found out on Tuesday coming to Kenilworth Road isn’t easy. Here, it was the same for Manchester City – the reigning champions and last season’s treble winners.

For long spells Pep Guardiola’s stars found it difficult to get to grips with the hard work and endeavour of the 11 men in orange facing them and the measurements of a compact pitch.

However, just as the Gunners did in the week, City found a way and the Town were left to reflect on what might have been and, ultimately at the end of the game, had no points to show for their gallant efforts.

City had plenty of the ball throughout – and plenty of decent chances too – and the Hatters can take heart from running a team close that swept all before them last season, even if they were missing leading goalscorer Erling Haaland through injury.

A lack of the Norwegian’s cutting edge in attack frustrated the visitors as the Town clung onto their coattails as the first half continued.

The Hatters had Thomas Kaminski, fresh from winning the save of the month for November, to thank for a series of good stops to deny City. After 80 seconds the Belgian needed to be alert to deny Bernando Silva and then flung himself out to his right to keep out a top-corner-bound effort from Rodri on 19 minutes.

Eight minutes later, as City continued to hunt the opener, Kaminski did it again, a superb strong arm keeping out Phil Foden’s fierce low drive.

As the visitors toiled, the Town sensed an opportunity and, as half-time approached, the old ground was rocking when they took the lead. Alfie Doughty and Andros Townend flew down the right, the latter then composing himself to dig out a wonderfully deep cross that had City in trouble. It was another ball into the box of real quality and Elijah Adebayo profited, leaping the tallest to nod the ball past Ederson to shake every corner of the ground. The striker’s second goal this week and fourth of the season.

Ahead at half-time against the champions. A sentence nobody saw coming - but it was deserved.

After the restart City kept coming as the Hatters tried to keep Guardiola’s men at bay. Ruben Dias saw a shot cannon back off the crossbar shortly before the hour. And then, on 62 minutes, they were level when Bernando Silva swept home a beautiful curling shot beyond the outstretched arm of Kaminski. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up. It was a great goal.

Two minutes later the turnaround was complete as it was 2-1 to the visitors. The Hatters appealed in vain for a handball on the half-way line as City attacked, but the whistle would not come. Julian Alvarez raced down the right and put a pass on a plate for Jack Grealish to slot past Kaminski.

The Hatters were aggrieved, as were half of the crowd, but replays showed the ball did not strike the hand – but the damage was done and the Town were behind with a mountain climb.

Trailing, the Town attempted to rally, yet City kept the ball and their composure to see the game out – and that was that, the life strangled out of Rob Edwards’ men after that two-goal burst.

Close but not close enough.

Despite the defeat, there was plenty of encouragement to take at the end of a week which saw the best two teams in the Premier League last season run incredibly close.

The way those two sides celebrated at the end told its own story. You’ve got to be at your best to get something from the Kenny.

Next up, a trip to Bournemouth. And we’ll see you there.

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