Size matters to City manager

CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant paid tribute to his Little and Large double act after they helped tame the Black Cats at Carrow Road on Saturday.


Peter Grant paid tribute to his Little and Large double act after they helped tame the Black Cats at Carrow Road on Saturday.

While Dion Dublin was using all his 18 years of playing experience to keep the visitors at bay, Robert Earnshaw was doing what he does best at the other end, taking the only opportunity he had all afternoon to claim the three points.

It was another performance which left the City manager shaking his head - but Dublin and Earnshaw were, for the most part at least, exempt from criticism.

“It's a good job Dion Dublin was playing because if he wasn't playing we would have lost the game, there is no doubt in my mind about that, especially that second half where he defended his box with his life,” said Grant. “He was outstanding.

Dublin was dropped back to centre-half because of the injuries to Gary Doherty and Craig Fleming, although Grant did have the alternative of playing the promising, but inexperienced, Michael Spillane, who had to settle for a place on the bench.

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“It was big call for me because I like playing people in their proper positions,” added Grant. “I was going to play Mickey Spillane; I'd seen him in the reserve game and I have no qualms about playing young boys. The only thing that swung it for me was I thought we probably would have some heavy legs after midweek and we had a few boys coming back from injury and I thought maybe I would play Dion in there just to keep us together, and he proved that.

“I thought he was outstanding. But the first half, he gave the ball away - he was banging it long. I was trying to say to him, 'go and make us play, give them that experience', but I can understand his argument in the first 15 minutes.

“The second half he was colossal for us, his organisation and guiding people round about him. I am delighted to have him around the squad, he is so valuable, not just on the playing side but in everything else as well. He is such a great professional.

“I said to the boys after the game, 'take something from today, learn from the way he played, that determination, the areas of the pitch he picked up in, the backs against the wall attitude. If they show the character he showed we won't go far wrong.”

While Dublin was doing his stuff at one end, Earnshaw cut a lone figure at the other, with City unable to get their passing game going and depriving the Welshman of any sort of decent service - expect for the goal.

“That's the reason I picked all those players on the pitch, because the way I played the other night, I played Huckerby behind and I thought maybe they'd drop someone a little bit deeper so I tried to play two in behind there, McVeigh and Huckerby,” explained Grant.

“If you do that you have got to be able to pass the ball. What happened for the goal is exactly what I was saying in the first half - if you take care in your passing and you run without the ball and make space for people to move the ball quickly you win more games.

“We have match winners within the group, we have more match winners than most teams so we have to make sure we do it properly if we are going to progress and get better and better.”

One passing move that did come off was on 52 minutes when McVeigh set Earnshaw away and, after setting himself, the front man notched goal number 10 of the season, ending a run of four blank days at the same time.

“Earnie only needs one chance,” said Grant. “People said to me he had dried up a little bit - I looked at every game I have had that he's played in and he has had a chance in every game. I would be more disappointed if he wasn't getting chances.

“If we take care with the passing that wee man is in. You have to look at the service sometimes, he gets good service today and he shows you what he does, he put the ball in the back of the net and you've got three points, and then Dion at the other side of the pitch kept everything else together and you've won the game. It takes that combination to be successful.”