An untypical Cardiff City win.

CoymayAfter a couple of dalliances with 3-1 wins in his first four games in charge, City have only managed to win one league match (at Rotherham last season) under this manager by scoring that many goals since then. Championship victories under Russell Slade have tended to be by 1-0 or 2-1 with the odd 2-0 thrown in as well.

As the scorelines suggest, wins under this manager have tended to be based on solid defensive performances with the team doing just enough at the other end of the pitch to ensure that we take the points – the sort of big wins we saw occasionally under Dave Jones and very occasionally under Malky Mackay have, just as they were under Ole, been conspicuous by their absence.

So, by ending their run of two successive defeats with a 2-1 victory over Charlton at Cardiff City Stadium yesterday, City would, on the face of it, have ground out what was has come to be seen as a typical Russell Slade type win. However, this time at least, the scoreline does not tell a true story – this was a match which could and should have had a lot more goals in it.

To start on a negative note, that tight defence was opened up more often than usual in a Russell Slade victory and City had good reason to be grateful to David Marshall’s goalkeeping understudy Simon Moore at times.

Although not wholly convincing when it came to crosses again, Moore did very well to get off his line so quickly to block a Jordan Cousins shot after knocking a Tony Watt shot into his path. This happened in the second half, but Moore’s best moment came around the thirty five minute mark when he spread himself to block a Watt header from point blank range.

As has been the case in all of our recent home games, Sammy Ameobi's introduction has provided a shot in the arm for the team. Ameobi provides pace and movement that we can sometimes lack and when Kenwyne Jones is as quiet in an attacking sense as he was yesterday, Ameobi provides so much more. It says a lot tha tKenwyne's best work was done defensively against Charlton - here he clears a first half header off the line about a minute after almost scoring an own goal when putting a dangerous ball out for a corner.*

As has been the case in all of our recent home games, Sammy Ameobi’s introduction provided a shot in the arm for the team. Ameobi injects the pace and movement that we can sometimes lack and when Kenwyne Jones is as quiet in an attacking sense as he was yesterday, Ameobi provides so much more for us. It says a lot that Kenwyne’s best work was done defensively against Charlton – here he clears a first half header off the line about a minute after almost scoring an own goal when putting a dangerous cross out for a corner.*

There were also a few more decent saves by the keeper and throw in the odd clearance off the line, near own goal and goalmouth scramble, along with the sloppy goal we conceded as well and you can see that City have had better days defensively.

However, if we had our defensive problems, then they were as nothing compared to our opponents. I’ve had a look at one or two Charlton sites since yesterday’s match and they confirm what I’d already deduced for myself – their team don’t usually defend as poorly as they did yesterday – if they did, then they would have let in something like three times the twelve goals they’ve conceded in their nine Championship games this season.

Charlton defended set pieces and some City crosses dreadfully all afternoon and they weren’t great when attacked by other methods either. It was more by luck than judgement that they didn’t find themselves a couple of goals down after ten minutes as their impressive keeper Nick Pope denied Anthony Pilkington, Cousins nodded a Sean Morrison header off the line, the same player and then Kenwyne Jones failed to find the net after Matt Connolly had won the ball on the far post and Morrison put another header not far over the bar.

The visitors improved somewhat at the back after that, but the feeling that there were goals in the game for City if they got at their opponent’s backline never went away and it was so revealing that the twenty goal attempts we had in the game is a figure that has only been matched once before (Brentford at home last season) under this manager.

Now, it needs to be said here that twenty goal attempts in a game for any side is not too rare (that same Brentford team managed an incredible forty three of them in their home win over Blackpool last season!), but, as has been shown, it is very uncommon for Russell Slade’s Cardiff team and so someone looking at the stats from yesterday’s match may well conclude that City were at their very best when it came to their attacking play.

Such a conclusion would be wrong though, the fact that only five of those goal attempts were on target (Charlton has two more than that) tells it’s own story about our profligacy in front of goal.

Also, although I thought radio summariser Jason Perry made a good post match point when he said Fabio is more effective in an attacking sense when playing on the right, the standard of crossing by all but one of our players was poor throughout the game (Scott Malone, who usually impresses in this department, in particular was some way off his best).

The one exception to the norm in the City side was Peter Whittingham with his part in the winning goal saying so much about one of his most influential performances for some time as his threatening corner was headed back to him by a Charlton defender. Rather than let the ball go out for a throw in like many would have done, Whitts had a second go and this time his pinpoint delivery was nodded in by Morrison.

Whittingham also played a full part in a dominant midfield which, again, proved that this is the department of the team which has really improved from last season. Apart from a curious short spell in the first half when he couldn’t stop giving the ball away, Joe Ralls played a full part in establishing City’s superiority in this area, as did Kagisho Dikgacoi who, with each passing game, offers more solidity to the argument that he is the main reason for our transformation in the middle of the park this season.

Although ideally it would be great to see the ball being moved more quickly in the middle of the park, City played some neat and at times incisive football of a kind which, if backed up with more assured finishing, could see us being able to spend the next few months somewhere around the fifth position we currently occupy.

City’s attacking intent could be gauged by the number of times both full backs popped up in attacking positions – Fabio would have scored had his shot from eight yards not been diverted for a corner by a defender, while it was Malone who was there in the penalty ares to feed Joe Mason for his equalising goal and the left back was in much the same position inside the last ten minutes when he provided the striker with a chance from which he should made the score 3-1.

Mention of Joe takes me on to the game’s controversial moment when he was booked for diving after falling to the ground when chAllenged by Pope. Mason was put through by a lovely pass from Pilkington and was in the process of trying to take the ball around the keeper. Sat where I was at the opposite end of the pitch, it was difficult to know whether referee Andy Madley (who I thought had a pretty good game overall) had got the decision right or not, but, having now seen it a few times on video, I’d say the official got it wrong.

I'm not as big a critic of Sean Morrison's defensive play as some others are, but he had his problems yesterday which culminated in him being beaten too easily by Karlan Ahearne- Grant for Charlton's goal. Up the other end of the pitch, Morrison could, and probably should, have had a hat trick - he had a header cleared off the line, sent a couple others narrowly over the bar and failed to score from about four yards before things came right for him late on with this match winning header from Peter Whittingham's cross.*

I’m not as big a critic of Sean Morrison’s defensive play as some others are, but he had his problems yesterday which culminated in him being beaten too easily by Karlan Ahearne- Grant for Charlton’s goal. Up the other end of the pitch, Morrison could, and probably should, have had a hat trick – he had a header cleared off the line, sent a couple others narrowly over the bar and failed to score from about four yards out before things came right for him eventually late on with this match winning header from Peter Whittingham’s cross.*

If the yellow card and his late missed chance were black marks for Mason, I’d still say that his work rate, intelligent runs and all round awareness made him a candidate for City man of the match along with Whittingham and Fabio – on balance, I think I’d just about opt for the last named, but there was quite a lot in City’s play to be admired as they completed a win which might not have been perfect, but was one that I found more enjoyable than most I’ve seen from us in the past year.

Finally, I’ve not got the time today to do a full piece on yesterday lunchtime’s Academy game with Huddersfield at Leckwith I’m afraid, so I’ll just do a paragraph or two here.

Having lost their previous five games by a one goal margin, City’s under 18s managed to end that poor run with a much needed 2-1 win. Although there were a few hair raising moments late on, I think overall the team were well worth a win which, for me, proved they are not as bad as recent results may have made them look.

It was particularly pleasing that both City goals were of such high quality. Rabbi Matondo got the first one early on with a crisply hit volley from ten yards, but, after the visitors had levelled with a header from a corner around the half hour mark, the winner, scored about halfway through the second half, was even better. Again, it was a volley, but this one was from about twice the distance that the first one had been – unfortunately, I don’t have the name of the substitute who fired the ball home when a free kick was half cleared to him on the edge of the penalty area, but it really was a fine effort.

*pictures courtesy of



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7 Responses to An untypical Cardiff City win.

  1. There were some good signs with the Cardiff performance yesterday but for long periods there was a distinct lack of a cutting edge – as sharp as a doughnut, and not even a stale one at that! I thought Mason had his best game yet, but his lack of speed and running strength was still apparent (albeit less apparent than usual). Neither is there real evidence of a partnership between himself and Kenwyne Jones. Curiously, in the pre-match warm up, which ends with the forwards hitting shots at goal, I noticed that both these players tend to scuff the ball rather than hitting it cleanly (a defect also seen in the unfortunate Cornelius some time ago). I believe that Idriss Saadi, wearing green boots and a tracksuit bottom, was also present in the ritualistic shots at goal. Whoever it was, his timing and ball-contact were first rate. Years gone by an experienced scout told me that you can tell a player’s potential within a few minutes just by looking at the way he hits the ball. If this is the case, and if it was really Saadi, I hope to see him in action ASAP.
    I’m also surprised that the shots at goal are almost invariably with the players’ stronger foot. Surely, practice with the weaker foot would be useful – unless too many of them would be embarrassed by having to shoot “stiff legged” in front of a watching crowd. (Pilkington is exonerated from this – and his selfless and intelligent running was another pleasing feature of yesterday’s game.)
    The most irritating or disappointing aspect of Cardiff’s game yesterday was the continued obsession with hitting long crosses into the area for Kenwyn Jones to head – which he failed to do time after time. I sometimes think he keeps his place in the team not for leading his line as most traditional centre forwards would do, but for his defensive qualities. In his role of marking space at the front of the Cardiff penalty box for corners and free kicks and attacking the ball to head clear, he is outstandingly good – in respect of his threat to the opponent’s goal, less so.
    On yesterday’s display, by the way, Digacoi is manifestly of Premiership standard – the best player on the field, even if not everyone recognises it. His ability to break up opposition attacks and to inspire Cardiff going forward is something that’s been long needed.

  2. Dai Woosnam says:

    Gosh…the best of TWO worlds.
    A typically all-encompassing report from Paul, followed by a thoughtful and well-written comment from “AMO” O’Brien.
    Just a word from me re Kenwyne’s apparent inability to win headers.
    I have said before in these pages that KJ is – aerially speaking – no Wyn Davies, Ron Davies, or even a John Toshack…let alone a John Charles. He – unlike them – is of limited ability with his back to goal.
    But where he is good – I almost said “Rudy Gestede class” but found it too painful to say, so managed to breathe the words back in, just in time – is coming on to a cross just in front of him. Remember that goal he scored for Bournemouth from a cross from the left wing? (Was it a corner? I seem to recall it was.)
    Will sign off now.
    Been concentrating on the rugby this weekend, but did manage to note the third Boro goal today at The Riverside.
    Leeds are down 0-2, and there is their keeper rolling the ball out…with disastrous results.
    And some claim Rosler is a good manager!
    When we die, we will actually wake up and realise this life has been a bizarre dream.

  3. Graham says:

    Anthony O’Brien right again – Jones and Mason are simply NOT a goal-scoring front two and never will be .. the best thing Jones did was stop a Charlton goal with his goal-line header from one of their corners – what a delight to see him actually aim his head at the ball and send it where he wanted it to go .. hope Morrison spotted that and thought ‘hmm – I’ll try doing that’ he and Mason should both have got hat-tricks .. all very well Mason running around a lot BUT strikers should strike and he just doesn’t .. hope Anthony is right about Saadi but we really miss having someone up front who shoots – like No.10s of earlier seasons or Nos. 39 or 44 ..

  4. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks for the replies. Anthony, the closest thing I’ve seen to a proper striking partnership at City in the last year or two was the one between Joe Mason and Eoin Doyle at the back end of last season – I’ve not seen anything so far to suggest that Kenwyne Jones can form a truly effective partnership with any of the other strikers we have at the club at the moment. Leading on from that, I agree completely about how we overdo the high ball looking for Kenwyne stuff – we certainly did that against Hull and there was a lot of it in the second half on Saturday. In recent home matches it’s struck me that we play a more varied game in the first half when we, almost always, attack the Family Stand end and when we are playing towards the end where I’m sat in the second half, it becomes fairly one dimensional stuff, is this because Kenwyne’s mobility and stamina levels decrease significantly as the game goes on?
    I’m going to defend Joe Mason a little now, by saying, firstly, that the style of play mentioned above is not one designed to bring the best out in him and second to point out that he has four goals in his first nine matches this season. I doubt it if he can keep up that rate of scoring up throughout a whole campaign, but we’d have a twenty goals a season man on our hands if he did – I believe fifteen is a reasonable target for him if he stays fit and it’s been some time since anyone has managed that for us.
    I can’t really comment on the player with the green boots because I didn’t see the warm up session on Saturday, but it’s hard to think who else it could be but Saadi – here’s a photo of him when he signed for us if that helps.

  5. Yeah – it’s me again! Sorry if I’m hogging too much space, but there’s a couple of things (orba few) I’d like to mention.
    (1) What a pleasure and a privilege it is to be a devotee of this site – genuinely a league of gentlemen, with opinions treated with respect and consideration. (Only one contributor in recent times went beyond the pale, and he was very smartly smacked down by Paul – aka The Other Bob Wilson, whose reports, by the way, are always balanced, incisive, and informative, as we can all appreciate).
    (2) I was interested to read Paul’s report on Jason Perry talking about Fabio being more at home in an attacking sense on the right. I’ve always considered Fabio to be a right back because of his his body shape, tackling, and running, when on the left. But I have to say that his recent performances as a left back have been a revelation. He’s obviously put in a great deal of work with someone on the coaching staff and is now almost equally effective in either full back position. In fact, he can cross on the run with either foot, which few professionals seem able to do. For his improvement and for the honest way he continued to play out of position without obvious complaint,he he he deserves considerable praise. In addition, his leap for the high ball reminds me in some respects of Steve Gammon.
    (3) Talking of leaping for the high ball, the percipient Dai Woosnam mentions (among others) Wyn Davies. He played at centre-forward for teams such as Bolton and Newcastle, both famous for their centre-forwards over the years. Indeed, it wsa The Mighty Wyn” as he was called, who produced the greatest display of aerial dominance by a centre forward I’ve ever seen It was in the international at Ninian Park against, I think, USSR in October 1965. He was unplayable, seeming to hang in the air (something to which John Toshack aspired) and to head every ball accurately to a team-mate, terrifying defenders in the process.
    (4) I fully accept Paul’s defence of Joe Mason. Teams have always needed a “snapper-up of unconsidered trifles” – the fox in the box, to put it another way – as great goalscorers like Jimmy Greaves, Gary Lineker, etc would agree. In the modern game, however, and given the way in which Cardiff play, someone who can hassle defenders with strength and speed, as well as to score goals, is usually required – and that’s just not Joe Mason’s way. However, with his intelligent running and sharp turns in the goal area, he might well score twenty goals a season – if only he had someone like Wyn Davies alongside him to provide accurate head-downs. Dream on, you say!

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Don’t worry about “hogging too much space” Anthony – I’m sure I’m not the only one who welcomes any contribution you make.
    Regarding Fabio, I thought he got into more attacking positions playing down the right on Saturday then he usually does on the left. In fact, it was noticeable how much time both full backs spent in our attacking thirds of the field and, if the standard of crossing from them both wasn’t always of the best, at least Malone had an assist in Mason’s goal and, with him having already scored this season, we already have one more goal from that position then we managed all through last season with the possibility that there are a few more to come.
    I can recall a Wales v Scotland match in 1969 I think it was when we fielded a front three of Ron and Wyn Davies and a young John Toshack. Tosh scored what I’m fairly sure was his first international goal that afternoon with a fine shot from the edge of the penalty area and our three towering strikers caused the Scots plenty of problems as we scored three times. Unfortunately, with Gary Sprake having one of those games which made him such an un-Leeds United like player, the ball hit the back of our net five times! Looking back, I probably under estimated Wyn Davies a bit because, firstly, I was a little too young to have seen him in his pomp and also because I though he suffered in comparison with Ron Davies who, for me, is the best target man type centre forward I’ve seen in a Wales shirt.

  7. Dai Woosnam says:

    AMO makes a great point about Wyn Davies aerial ability. Fabulous. Almost John Charles quality.
    But there was one aspect of his game that I have never seen equalled.
    I refer to his ability with back to goal, to control a ball on his chest. He could control any ball coming his way and stun it stone dead, like his chest had a giant magnet inside it.
    Yes, in recent years Mark Hughes, Didier Drogba, etc., have been fairly effective in that area, but did not really come even CLOSE to Wyn’s astonishing chest muscles.
    I know it is not politically correct to say it, but the modern player who comes closest to Wyn in looks and playing style in recent years was a chap hailing from the same part of the world…Ched Evans.
    I could say a lot about Ched – both for and against – but I won’t. Suffice to say that the way the Football Elite have turned their back on him, is unspeakably sad.
    And we are supposed to be a Christian nation.
    PS. Just saw Joe Hart’s superb long goal kick in Germany be brilliantly controlled by Aguero…alas he missed the golden chance that resulted. But gosh, that got me off my seat!

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