I was going to do my usual type of piece on a Monday night Development team match this morning, but there is a lot happening at the club at the moment, so I’ve decided to do more of a general round up of events since Friday’s game.
I’ll start with the Under 21 match against Colchester. Going into the fixture, City were two points behind leaders Swansea, but had played three fewer games – unfortunately, they blew the first of them by losing 2-0 to a visiting side that spent much of the time defending, but City missed some good chances and their poor final ball meant that Colchester were always in the game – it could be said that they deserved the win because of their better finishing.
The first half was something of a non event with a young City side finally warming to their task in the ten minutes before the break when Tyler Roche had a shot turned aside by the Colchester keeper on his near post, the largely anonymous Guido Burgstaller was also foiled by the keeper as he moved on to a lovely through ball by captain Tommy O’Sullivan and, following a swift, O’Sullivan inspired, counter attack, Deji Oshilaja fired high and wide having done well to control Burgstaller’s cross.
The second half provided far more in the way of entertainment, with nearly all of City’s chances falling to Danny Johnson – the striker, who has been in such good goalscoring form lately, was unlucky a minute from time when his well struck shot from eighteen yards rebounded off the upright, but he should have buried the chance he had from about five yards out when O’Sullivan’s poor corner somehow found it’s way to him on the far post and he didn’t look too comfortable when he had to shoot with his right foot after being given a run in on goal in the inside left channel.
On both of those latter two occasions, the Colchester keeper was forced into decent saves, but you felt Johnson could have done better with what were very presentable chances. The same applied to Roche when he shot wastefully high after a good run by sub David Tutonda, while another sub, Gethyn Hill, was more unlucky when he flicked a Kane Owen volley from another O’Sullivan corner just wide.
It wasn’t all one way traffic though by any means, Ben Wilson was forced to tip over a long range shot by the visitors left back and then made the save of the match to deny one of their subs, Conor Hubble. However, he was helpless when Hubble scored from the edge of the penalty area with ten minutes to go and then, seconds after Johnson had hit the post at the other end, he was beaten again when he parried a shot into the path of another sub, Nnamdi Nwachuku who scored easily.
Perhaps City were a little unlucky to lose, but they were some way below their best and, apart from their 3-0 win over a very young Bristol City side, the Under 21s seem to have a big problem scoring goals at Cardiff City Stadium this season – they’ve only managed two in their five other matches there and one of those was a penalty. One last thing, like all City sides below first team level in the last decade or so, the Under 21s always try to play a passing game by building from the pack – given the thud and blunder stuff we’ve become used to seeing at first team level lately, all we seem to be doing is making it harder for our youngsters to break into the first team because it plays a brand of football they aren’t familiar with.
Just a few words about transfer dealings. It’s being reported that Millwall left back Scott Malone has agreed terms with the club and is having a medical today before finalising a £100,000 move, Chelsea youngster Islam Feruz is training with City ahead of a possible loan move and we are being linked this morning with Rotherham’s experienced striker Alex Revell who played for Russell Slade at Leyton Orient and, I believe, at Brighton.
Finally, there was what might just be a very important statement on the club’s website yesterday. Hardly surprisingly, this news of a meeting with supporters this week at Vincent Tan’s behest has led to speculation about a possible return to blue – although the statement talks of “a number of topics in relation to the Club.”, the overwhelming priority for those supporters representatives attending surely has to be the nonsensical rebrand we’ve had to live with for the past two and a half seasons.
The cynic in me thinks that, with season tickets to sell soon and plans for demonstrations by supporters planned during and before upcoming home matches, the club will try to soft soap people with vague promises of more consultation regarding the rebrand in return for us all being good boys and girls and buying our season tickets like we normally do.
I’ve lost most of the trust I had in those running the club over the past two and a half years and let’s not forget that only twelve days ago, the man who now wants to consult with supporters was saying
“Cardiff will stay red and we hope the fans will think carefully and support the club so that we can get promoted to the Premier League”
while talking about Cardiff fans not having kept their end of some mythical bargain he believed he had struck with them – how does any of this chime with
“We care about our fans and their views are important to us.”?
However, although I think it’s only natural that many City fans will share my misgivings, this is an offer that I believe should be taken seriously – I’ve seen it argued by some (not many mind) that there is nothing to be gained by attending such a meeting, but just think of the field day the club would have if they were given the chance to tell all and sundry “we were prepared to talk, but they didn’t even want to listen to what we had to say”.
Apparently invitations have been sent out to more than forty people to attend the meeting. That seems about twenty five too many to me and there has to be a chance that the whole thing will descend into shouting matches between supporters as the club representatives look on in amused silence. I’d like to think though that those who are genuinely there representing other supporters (e.g. the Trust representatives) will be able to make themselves heard as opposed to those usual suspects who seem to think people turn up just to listen to them represent themselves – this should be treated as an opportunity and there’s going to be plenty of unhappy supporters if that opportunity is blown because a few people thought their ego was more important than trying to get Cardiff City back to being the club that most of us loved so much.by The other Bob Wilson with 7 comments
I’ll probably comment on this more in a future piece on here, but there is an online campaign on Titter or whatever it’s called advocating that City fans do not renew their season tickets next season - here’s the story that appeared in the local press yesterday about it.
All I’ll say for now is that, based on what I’ve seen this season, I would find it much harder to make a complete break from watching the matches below first team level than I would with the seniors – right from day one of this season I have, for some reason, found it harder to relate to this season’s bunch of first team players than the ones of previous years and that feeling has only multiplied as the dismal, and.occasionally gutless, performances have mounted.
“Going to games has become a chore” is a line I’m reading and hearing increasingly and I can understand where those who express such a sentiment are coming from – following your football team should be about enjoying yourself and getting a release from everyday life, but, for a small percentage of people, that’s not been the case for two and a half years and, more than in any time since the rebrand, there are signs that significant numbers are beginning to feel the same way.
However, last night I watched our Under 21s beat Crystal Palace 1-0 and, as is normally the case with this side and the under 18s, came out of the game having enjoyed it. Maybe the fact that there are more local boys in these teams who have a genuine feeling for the club as opposed to the “mercenaries” (again, that feeling, probably unfair in many cases, that our senior players are just a very highly paid bunch of hired guns is stronger this year than it has been in others), but, being entertained more than I am in most Championship fixtures must, obviously, play a big part in it.
Of course, your team winning always goes down well, but, even if I was a neutral, I would have found last night’s battle between two very evenly matches sides a watchable one. I’m sure those of a Palace persuasion who were there to watch it, would have come away thinking that their team merited at least a draw, but I thought City just about deserved to shade it if only because they carried a bit more of a cutting edge up front than their opponents.
Palace’s side contained a few names that rang a vague bell with me (e,g, Jake Gray and Kyle DeSilva) and they did have a nucleus of players with some senior experience gained during loan spells at other clubs, but, with Danny Gabbidon, Declan John, Kadeem Harris, Guido Burgstaller and Etien Velikonja in their team, it was City who had a very definite edge in senior experience.
This showed as the home team enjoyed a forceful and dominant first quarter of the match with Burgstaller and John looking particularly dangerous down either flank. Danny Johnson twice tested Palace keeper Chris Kettings as City swarmed all over the visitors early on. The striker should maybe have made more of his opportunity from the second of these efforts, but his first forced Kettings to turn the ball around the post – it was a good save, but the one the keeper made from the resultant corner to keep out Tom James’ header was a much better one.
Kadeem Harris, whose withdrawal at half time suggested he will be involved in some way in Saturday’s first team match with Brentford, had a shot deflected wide, but, gradually the balance of power began to change – if City had the better of the first twenty odd minutes, then the opposite was true of the rest of the first half.
Palace, with Morgan Kerrier looking a real handful up front, had both pace and power apleanty during this period with number ten Reise Allassani providing much of the former (as well as a lot of skill) and midfield anchor man Kiram Boateng (booked for a cynical foul on City captain Tommy O’Sullivan) his fair of the latter.
City rode their luck when they failed to deal with a free kick and the ball was eventually cracked against the upright with keeper Ben Wilson beaten and there were plenty of occasions when it appeared for an instant as if Palace had opened City’s defence up, but, although he may have had his troubles during his only first team appearance of this season, Gabbidon was a reliable and assured presence at the back against one of this former clubs. Alongside him, James showed more of the promise and maturity that has seen him selected as a substitute a couple of times this season to go with his brief appearance against Chelsea at the back end of the last campaign.
City only threatened the once during Palace’s dominant spell when Burgstaller hit the outside of the post from an awkward angle after the ball had been flashed across the face of the visitor’s goal and, although it could be argued that the game deserved at least one goal, all square at half time was a fair reflection on how things had gone.
As mentioned earlier Kadeem Harris went off after half time after again not hitting the heights he showed for the Development team through much of 12/13 and the early part of last season before his loan spell at Brentford and, if anything, it could be argued that the introduction of the tall and tricky David Tutonda in his place added to the goal threat City posed on the night.
I alluded to Palace’s attacking pace earlier, but with Harris, John and then Tutonda it could definitely be argued that the City team had more attacking pace down the left flank than the senior side has. Declan John was City’s man of the match as far as I was concerned and he was to the fore as the home side followed their strong start to the first period up with a forceful beginning to the second one. O’Sullivan, who had caught my eye most during the first half for some untypically poor dead ball deliveries, and Theo Wharton began to impose themselves in the middle of the park and were able to ensure that City’s left flank was becoming more and more of an area of concern for the visitors.
On the hour mark that threat became something more tangible when John did well to play a ball down the line that gave Tutonda space to run into, Palace centre half Michael Chambers slid in with a desperate challenge, but the City player was too quick for him and made his way to the byeline at pace. There was still a lot for the youngster to do, but he showed great composure in delivering a low cross that enabled Johnson to side foot past Kettings from about eight yards out.
This was a more straightforward finish for Johnson than the one for his goal against Bristol City a fortnight earlier, but the businesslike manner in which he put it away offered a clue as to why he scored all of those goals for Guisborough Town last season – add in the two goals he scored in last week’s win at Millwall and it seems clear that he has benefited from his recent loan spell at Tranmere.
City were able to maintain their control for a bit longer compared to the first half and they looked a more likely scorer of the game’s second goal if it was to come, but some wrong options and careless passes when in promising positions meant that it never did for them and the onus switched to the other end of the pitch in the last ten minutes as Palace regained the initiative.
I thought referee Steve Oakey (who booked Wharton and Johnson after the break) tended to favour the away side throughout, but when Palace appealed for a penalty following a tackle by James I think it was, he waved play on. Having got the benefit of the doubt from the official with that decision, City were then reliant on Ben Wilson as he made a great save to deny Sonny Black and then a more routine one from another well struck shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Mr Oakey played a lot more than the signaled three minutes added time, but, eventually, he ended the game to give City their win – with the table before last weekend showing them to be two points behind joint leaders Swansea and QPR, but with three and two games respectively in hand on them, there has to be a good chance that our Under 21’s will again be contesting the end of season Play Offs.
One final thing to add quickly – best of luck tonight to our youngsters in their Youth Cup match at Charlton – they’ll be away to Burnley in the next round if they come through this tie.
* pictures courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/joncandy/sets/
by The other Bob Wilson with 2 comments