Santa Cruz gets an hour as reserves see off Wigan

Roberto Mancini was briefly in attendance tonight as the second string beat near-neighbours Wigan by two goals in their penultimate league game of the season. A goal each from David Ball and Alex Nimely, both included in senior match squads in recent months, settled the game. City move above Liverpool into second.

The young Blues started the game extremely brightly and could have taken the lead within a minute, Alex Nimely threading through for Santa Cruz whose fierce strike was well pushed away by Nicholls. Nimely then sliced a chance from the resulting corner, and Scott Kay drove through the Wigan midfield, almost getting on the end of a great reverse ball from the big Paraguayan.

Robbie Mak, playing on the left, cut in and forced another good stop from Nicholls, and repeated the feat moments afterwards after a driving run down the flank from left-back Gregg Cunningham, this time scuffing his shot well wide after beating his man easily. Debutant 'keeper Loris Karius didn't have too much to do, easily saving a hopeful long drive from McManaman.

The deadlock was broken just after the quarter-hour. Tripper powered forward down the right and had looked to be taken out. The official played on and David Ball's speculative effort appeared to have nestled in the side netting. To the surprise of most of those in attendance the restart was signalled, and it has since emerged that the strike may have taken a deflection off a Wigan centre-half.

City certainly took their time getting going in the second half, and though the opposition's chances were extremely limited they at least began to keep possession and make it a bit of a contest. Kupisz and McManaman both called Karius into action with shots from outside the area, low saves on both counts, but the first twenty after the break were quite lifeless all round.

Santa Cruz was replaced on the hour having been in and out of a game without every really showing his class or experience. Some nice touches early on promised a productive evening, but he faded badly, possibly after a knock around the tenth minute, only showing occasional good link-ups with David Ball after the interval. Main thing is he's got a bit of gametime under his belt as the seniors season reaches the business end.

With Roque off, the side settled into their natural rhythm, and Alex Nimely ought to have extended our lead in the 65th minute, racing on to a high ball but his low shot just falling wide of Nicholls' left-hand post. At the other end McManaman again tested Karius from distance, and Serrano's left-footed free-kick dipped agonisingly wide of the upright.

Andrew Tutte's introduction saw Abdi Ibrahim push further forwards, and he began to make his mark on the game, getting into two or three good positions only for his finishing to let him down. A deep cross from the left found him at the back post but he scuffed his attempt at goal straight into Nicholls' arms.

As we approached the last five minutes Alex Nimely coolly controlled with one foot and smashed at Nicholls with the other from the edge of the box, heading comfortably for the top corner but for the save of the game. The same player put the game beyond doubt late on, going in bravely with the 'keeper after a ball over the top to prod home.

Karius, Trippier (Veseli '23), Cunningham, Boyata, Warbara, Kay, Ball, Ibrahim (Chantler '85), Santa Cruz (Tutte '63), Nimely, Mak


  1. Apparently Steve Redmond's son played for Wigan - any thoughts on his performance?

  2. "Apparently Steve Redmond's son played for Wigan - any thoughts on his performance?"

    Their number three (Redmond, according to the teamsheet) was a small, nippy lad who got forward quite a bit but wasn't great defensively. Our first goal came down his side and we were getting lots of space on that flank in the second half.

  3. Nothing like his dad then, who I don't remember being "nippy" at all, (a bit barrel chested actually!!), and also unlike his son quite a decent defender racking up in excess of 200 games for us I think?!