This was an immensely frustrating result. It felt worse for obvious reasons – it was a derby so it came with an added emotional resonance, there was the fact that the world was watching and, importantly, on a night when it most mattered on a big stage, the EDS put in arguably their most timid performance of the season. It was a pretty hard pill to swallow. There was no arguing with the result. It was deserved. United were the better team. Better organised, faster, more of a threat going forward and in general pretty comfortable throughout. City struggled to break down the solid block of red shirts in front of them and barely mustered a shot in anger throughout the 90 minutes, despite lining up with a relatively strong eleven. There was a small spell of concerted pressure towards the end of the game as United sat back, desperate to maintain their one goal lead, but other than that it was an incredibly stale outing, typified by large spells of relatively pointless possession as City passed amongst themselves without really going anywhere.
Annoyingly, their goal was far too easy. While we tend to be good going forward at this level, usually anyway, we’re always liable to a soft goal or two unfortunately, and this was no different. After some weak play from Barker on the left wing, a long ball forward was completely misjudged by Bryan, who was to be fair only making his second appearance back after a long spell out with an injury. The ball ran between both centre-backs and it was cut back to the edge of the area by Will Keane and Joe Rothwell slotted home the goal that proved to be the winner with only fifteen minutes on the clock. United had a few more half chances, capitalising on some naivety that stemmed from our insistence on playing it out from the back, but it remained 1-0 at the break. The second half was a relative non-event. United sat back, comfortable and in control, City toiled with no real success. It was far too pedestrian and the final whistle came as a relief in the end.