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City 2 - 0 Bolton

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On the way to nineteen unbeaten and scoring in twenty-one consecutive games at home, there have been plenty of impressive performances in which we have witnessed some scintillating attacking play and of course, plenty of goals.

Tonight was not one of those evenings, but it was just enough.

Following the manner of the defeat at Hull on Saturday, there was plenty written about how this game would serve as a way of exorcising demons and returning to winning ways with style and panache.

The victory over Bolton tonight was more about functionality and pragmatism though. Whilst Roberto Mancini may cut a dapper figure on the touchline it is becoming clear that he does favour substance over style.

With Patrick Vieira now deemed fit enough for the starting line-up we perhaps saw a glimpse of his favoured formation. Vieira came in along with Adam Johnson for Stephen Ireland and Craig Bellamy - whilst Vincent Kompany made a surprising recovery to beat out Joleon Lescott to partner Kolo Toure.

This gave us a very solid and central looking formation and it was interesting to see quite where Adam Johnson would operate. The answer was - and typical of Mancini - a roving role. Just off the forwards, tucked in centrally ahead of the midfield, on the left and of course wide right. It was from this position that Johnson enjoyed most success, given space to attack the cumbersome Paul Robinson.

The general lack of width also meant a change in deployment for the full-backs, and both Pablo Zabaleta and Wayne Bridge were further forward than we have seen under Mancini so far, where he prefers a more defensive pairing. It was Bridge who was brightest over the first quarter an hour so, offering plenty going forward as we started brightly rather than flying out of the blocks as predicted.

The difficulty with a central trio of course though is none of de Jong, Vieira or Barry offer the creative bent of Stephen Ireland and too often Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor were peripheral figures. With Adam Johnson finding his feet early, he was functional rather than threatening and we missed the drive of Martin Petrov or the dash of Shaun Wright-Phillips.

In a sense then, we scored at precisely the right time. Johnson, growing in confidence attacked down the right and won the penalty against Robinson, a soft one in the sense that he was heading out of play rather than attacking towards goal. Tevez was slightly fortunate with the resulting spot kick, but it was enough to put us ahead. Sixteen times prior to tonight we had been ahead in games and not lost and in truth, as much as we frustrated for the most part, we didn't look as though we would relinquish the lead.

With our lack of attacking players in the side, this did provide territory for Bolton to attack us and whilst they had plenty of the ball, the end result of their play was merely forging opportunities as opposed to creating chances. Shay Given had a couple of anxious moments, but these were self-inflicted rather than being tested by the opposition.

A second was clearly going to seal the game, and Adebayor - anonymous for 70 mins - obliged with a quality finish from a ball over the top. Reminiscent of his goal against Portsmouth and whilst he offered next to nothing all evening, moments like that can make the difference in a game and it is why you pay big money for players who can guarantee goals.

The game may not have provided the type of fluent, attacking performance many were expecting, or hoped for, but the result, three points and maintaining our push for the top four was the ultimate target heading into games.

In that respect it was a successful evening.Just enough.