City finish home campaign on a high (kind of), but it’s still a thank God that’s over from me.

CoymayI’ll admit the only motivation behind my claim in last week’s piece that City’s 1-1 draw with Bournemouth last month may not turn out to be the only truly watchable league game at Cardiff City Stadium this season was sarcasm pure and simple. However, yesterday’s 3-2 win over Blackpool turned out to be better than most of the matches played at the ground in 14/15 – but then it only needed to be of moderate quality to fall into that category..

3-2 is a score which normally guarantees entertainment and some quality, but, although there was some of the former yesterday, there wasn’t a great deal of the latter.

For some reason, rugby players and coaches have taken to using the term “we left some points/tries out there” in their post match interviews in recent years when talking about chances that have been missed, well City certainly left plenty of goals out there yesterday as Blackpool showed exactly why they have been the worst team in the league by a distance this season.

City were able to get in down the right side of the visitor’s defence at will, but very little came of the numerous chances that arrived via this avenue as a combination of wrong decisions and poor execution meant that they had to rely on a couple of penalties for their win.

The first of referee Steve Martin’s spot kick decisions was a straightforward one after the visitor’s back line failed to deal with a routine situation as Cameron brought down Aron Gunnarsson, but his second one was more arguable, firstly became it seemed debatable to me whether Addison’s challenge on Joe Mason was an illegal one and also there were questions as to whether it had occurred inside the penalty area.

What watching football has become in 2015. Jobsworth  stewards prevent Blackpool fans from visually displaying their feelings about the club's current ownership. Yes, I'm sure they'll be able to point some sub para of some Health and Safety regs somewhere to justify their actions, but, for me, this sort of thing is just another reason why   the

What watching football has become in 2015. Jobsworth stewards prevent Blackpool fans from visually displaying their feelings about the club’s current ownership. Yes, I’m sure they’ll be able to point some sub para of some Health and Safety regs somewhere to justify their actions, but, for me, this sort of thing is just another reason why the “match day experience” has been such a thoroughly miserable one at Cardiff for about eighteen months now.*

Either way, both were despatched with minimal fuss by Eoin Doyle who I made City’s man of the match.

I mentioned earlier that there was not an awful lot of quality on display, but Doyle provided a good portion of the little that was seen in the build up to the first goal. Some nifty footwork enabled the Irish striker to wriggle away from a couple of opponents and then, rather than stand there admiring what he had done, he was straight off down the right wing to receive the return pass.

A week earlier Doyle had done very well to work himself into a similar position in the game with Millwall, but then undid all of his good work by putting his low cross behind Joe Mason – this time though Doyle rolled his pass to Mason and although there was a deflection to his shot, the ex Plymouth man had his first league goal in City colours in over two years. Yes, I know we were in the Premier League for half of that time, but there has to be something wrong when someone who looked so good at this level in 11/12 has been given so few opportunities at the club since he scored our second in a 3-0 winb over Blackburn on Easter Monday 2012.

Mason’s goal and Doyle’s first penalty sent City in at half time with the two goal lead their dominance had warranted, but it was typical of the season as a whole that a sloppy start to the second period saw their opponents right back in the game within a few minutes of the restart.

Andrea Orlandi’s goal was a strange affair for a couple of reasons. Firstly because the group of two or three I always sit with were discussing former Swansea players at the time and a split second before he hit his shot, the guy behind me said “yeah and you watch him score now”.

There are rare occasions when I have reacted to goals by our opponents by laughing and this was one of them because the timing of the remark was absolutely perfect. What was not a laughing matter was the way City backed off Orlandi to allow him to become the latest in a long line of players to score with shots from distance against us this season. The weirdest thing about the whole exercise though came when some home supporters started applauding the ex jack’s goal – I was baffled at the time by this and I still am now!

City’s response to this setback was impressive up to a point as a succession of chances were created, but, as mentioned earlier, they let themselves down with the final pass too often.

A sight I doubted I would see again at times over the past couple of years - Joe Mason scoring for Cardiff City. Mason's shot  eludes former City keeper Elliot Parish - let's hope now that someone who has looked a better striker for City when he has been given a run of games in the side than any of the expensive forwards brought in during the time he's been a forgotten man at Cardiff is given the opportunity to stake his claim in 15/16.*

A sight I doubted I would see again at times over the past couple of years – Joe Mason scoring for Cardiff City. Mason’s shot eludes former City keeper Elliot Parish and let’s hope now that someone who has looked a better striker for City when he has been given a run of games in the side than any of the expensive forwards brought in during the time he’s been a forgotten man at Cardiff is given the opportunity to stake his claim in 15/16.*

When City were unable to get their two goal lead back the match reverted into a quiet period that was interrupted temporarily by Doyle’s second penalty.

While it was disappointing that the team were unable to cash in on an opportunity to record their first really big win of the campaign, I’d say some allowances should be made for the fact that there was little or nothing on the game for them and that Blackpool were so poor that 3-1 always looked a very comfortable lead.

The fact that David Marshall was forced into a fairly routine diving save in the seconds which remained after visiting captain Peter Clarke’s goal deep into added time meant that there were a few alarms before it was confirmed that City had ended their home campaign with a victory , but, in general, this had been one of the few matches this season where a home win had always looked on the cards.

Elsewhere, away wins for Brentford and Wolves mean that their Play Off hopes are still just about alive, but draws for Derby and Norwich and a defeat for Middlesbrough mean that the automatic promotion places will, to all intents and purposes, be settled if Bournemouth beat Bolton on Monday – the side I reckon most neutrals want to see promoted would need a combination of a catastrophic defeat and a huge win for Boro to be denied the top two finish which Watford secured with their win at Brighton yesterday.

So, somewhat surprisingly, it looks like the automatic promotion places will be sorted out before the final round of matches, but, even if this turns out to be the case, there will be Play Off and relegation places to be decided – the 2014/15 Championship will get the dramatic finish it deserves, but, as has been the case virtually throughout, City will be somewhere else when the thrills are being provided.

* pictures courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/joncandy/

This entry was posted in Out on the pitch, The Championship and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to City finish home campaign on a high (kind of), but it’s still a thank God that’s over from me.

  1. Dai Woosnam says:

    Splendid report Paul, as always.
    You help me restore my faith in football after the usual Fred Karno’s Army of the two soccer highlights programmes on BBC1 last night.
    Usual nonsense of stupid unnecessary pass backs, short goal kicks and kamikaze goalkeeper howlers like that of Guzon trying to pass the ball across his penalty are instead of putting his boot behind it.
    And last night we had that absurd goal conceded by Spurs with Ben Davies unwilling to thump it out for a corner.
    The frustrating thing is that all these error are not down to the players, but their millionaire managers!
    Tim Sherwood MUST be encouraging his defenders to play this negative suicidal game in their own area: likewise Pochettino MUST be telling his defenders NOT to knock the ball out of play.
    And these are supposed to be our top coaches.
    Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad …

    But your report is blessedly free from such nonsense…and I thank you for that.

    Your other contributors will doubtless add their wisdom to the mix re the State of the (Bluebirds)Union at the end of the last home game of the season.

    I just want to make two comments… one related to your piece: one not.

    First, the banners.

    I am not surprised that being the passionate lover of free speech that you are, you defend the right of the fans with the Blackpool banner. I think I would too…with one proviso. And that is that it can only be displayed at half time.

    If I have paid good money for my seat, I do not expect my view to be blocked by people raising a banner …even if it is only for the 20 seconds that the ball may be out of play at say, a goal kick.

    I want to see the players on the pitch thankyou very much, DURING those 20 seconds. I want to see if they are moving to try to find some space to meet the pending goal kick, etc.

    And as we are on to restricted views: can we ban stovepipe felt hats? And don’t get me started on people who get to their feet at the merest sign of a home attack!

    Okay, so I am jaundiced. My knees are bug**red, and it is a job for me to raise my colossal bulk these days.

    Make me dictator of the football world and I would ensure that all seats had seat belts fitted, and once a fan released them for more than five seconds, a sharp electric shock would await him when he sat back down!

    [D'oh! I am such a duffer, I know! That would just mean they stood for all of the 90 minutes!

    Oh...and BTW, I am in favour of "all standing" areas, lest anyone misconstrue my thinking.]

    And the second point, unrelated to your piece, is to ask you to pick a Championship team (4-4-2)of the season.

    Here is mine:

    Dimitrious Konstantopoulos;

    Stephen Whittaker; Luke Chambers; James Tarkowski; Ryan Shotton;

    Michail Antonio; Ben Marshall; Lee Tomlin; Nathan Redmond;

    Callum Wilson; Troy Deeney*.

    Manager – Eddie Howe.

    * just shades it from Patrick Bamford and Rudy Gestede.

    Kindest,
    Dai.

  2. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks for a thought provoking reply Dai – lots to comment on so I’ll try to be brief with my answers to you.
    What I’d say about banners is that in this instance, they were in the line of sight of very few of the people in the ground and I would assume that the few who were behind the banner pictured were Blackpool fans who agreed with the sentiments of those who were displaying it.
    I’m in complete agreement with you about people who stand up once the ball crosses the halfway line – it drives me mad! Although I’m beginning to feel my age when it comes to standing on my feet for long periods, it’s not that bad and I would still prefer to stand at games if I had the choice, but I don’t. So sitting is the only option and if I have to do so, I want to remain seated for all but moments of high drama such as goals, penalty decisions etc. not up and down all of the time because someone in front of me thinks a goal is imminent every time City enter their opponents half!
    A few comments about your selection of a Championship team of the season. Firstly, I’m sorry but, due to his atrocious loan spell with us six years ago, there is no way on earth Dimi can be in goals – thinking about it though, goalkeeper is a tough selection and I readily admit my selection has his mad moments (as Kenwyne Jones would know). It would be arrogant for me to say I’m impressed by your selection of Tarkowski because it implies that if I rate someone, they must be good, but I was very impressed by him when I saw him play for Oldham on Sky early last season. You certainly like your wingers don’t you – I’d have selected Antonio if the team was being picked in November and I’ve always rated Redmond. Callum Wilson was another League One player I saw last year who I would have liked City to go after and although my selection is going to be entirely different from yours for the sake of variety, I reckon you may have got the two best strikers in the division there.
    One last thing – I find it very hard to keep track of all of the foreign players at Watford, so the only side promoted so far are not represented in my team and logic tells me this has to be a mistake.
    My team;
    Silvestre (Leeds) – as I said, he’s a bit erratic, but he’s only young and I think he has a big future.

    Francis (Bournemouth) – was classed as a real promising talent a decade and more ago and is now, finally, fulfilling that potential.
    Batth (Wolves) – never seen him have a poor game either this season or last.
    Gibson (Middlesbrough) – I’m guided a bit by what I’ve heard on the telly here, but Middlesbrough have been formidable in defence for most of the season.
    Friend (Middlesbrough) – I remember him standing out in a poor Doncaster side when they came to Cardiff a few years ago, good at both ends of the pitch.

    Ritchie (Bournemouth) – another player I was saying City should sign when he was playing in League Two for Swindon!
    Pritchard (Brentford) – only on loan, so I’m not sure whether he’s eligible really, but he’s what I call a proper footballer.
    Johnson (Norwich) – not really a favourite of mine, but he’s impressed me whenever I’ve seen him this season.
    Sako (Wolves) – a mix of power and skill, I believe he would cope with the Premier League with few problems.

    Murphy (Ipswich) – always been a very good all rounder, the main reason why what I feel is a pretty limited side are probably going to make the Play Offs.
    Martin (Derby) – the best compliment I can pay him is that Derby appear to have gone to pot since he was injured a few weeks ago.

  3. arfurwales says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for the great coverage this season there has been loads to talk about and not much to cheer and I find your even handed commentary refreshing compared to the dross in the mainstream media.

    Keep at it – the way things have been this season I have looked forward to reading your blog more than going to the games at times. Great stuff thanks ;o)

    See you in August for more “fun”

  4. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks very much Arfur – next season surely can’t be as bad can it?
    There’s still a few matches I’ll be writing on this season. Wales v Belgium of course and there’ll be a report on Thursday’s Welsh FA Youth Cup Final between us and the jacks on here. The Under 21s play their final game of the season tomorrow night as well, but Bournemouth v Bolton looks more tempting than that at the moment to me, so I may well give that one a miss.

  5. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Re fans standing up – When everyone is supposed to be sitting down, the selfishness, possible exhibitionism, and sheer lack of consideration for others among those who remain on their feet throughout the game, even when they are in the very front row with no-one to impede their view, is almost enough to make me despair for the human race. If everyone is standing, that would be a different matter of course!

    Somewhat unwillingly, I’d also like to make a comment on Joe Mason. It grieves me to criticise a player by name, but is it just me, am I the only one failing to see in him the qualities that others find so praiseworthy? I admit he can run all day, and do so with intelligence, but he has no change of pace whatsoever. He cannot make those darting runs which are vital for those who play in his position. And while I accept that he will never win high balls, I am concerned by his habit of ducking under the ball as it goes flying over his head towards a defender. This can easily be a prescription for injury. End of comment.

    On a more positive note,it was interesting to see O’Keefe in action for most of the game yesterday. I thought his display in helping both his defence and the attack was highly commendable, and evidence of what he has to offer. Also encouraging was the re-appearance of Pilkington, who – like Doyle – is full of movement and energy.

    I hope people don’t bite my head off at my next comment, but I see in these and the other signings, reasons for a degree of optimism for next season. So there!

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks Anthony. I’ve nothing to add about standing in seated areas – you’ve said it all.
    Regarding Mason, I’m a big fan of his and would say in his defence that we were never going to see the best of him this season given the months he spent out with injury – I take your point about him lacking a change of pace though.
    Agree about O’Keefe who I thought played better than I’ve seen from him before in a City shirt and I thought Gunnarsson had one of his better matches in the last few weeks as well, but it was a shame that Ralls didn’t get the chance to show us what he can do in central midfield. Although Pilkington was not having a huge influence on matches in the autumn (and he was giving the ball away too much back then as well), I think he’ll show he was a good signing if he can play for most of next season.
    I agree there are individuals that give some cause for optimism, but my concern is that there has been no sign of a coherent and united team for nearly of all of the season – maybe a fit Dikgacoi will make a difference, but I think we’ll have to look outside the current squad for the two or three players who will “glue” things together and I’m afraid that, based on his January dealings, I don’t have much confidence in our manager finding them at the moment.

  7. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Apologies for taking up space again but I’ve just read that Cardiff had to reduce the wage bill in order to comply with the new “Fair Play” regulations. As I haven’t been following the unfolding saga, I just assumed that the cost-cutting exercise was simply at the behest of the revered “Moneybags” Vincent Tan. But now I learn that, the Cardiff chairman assures Russel Slade there will be money to buy players for next season. I think, Paul, you explained all this some time ago, but I should be grateful for an update in the simplest terms possible. Please bear in mind that I know as much about economics as Ed “Flip My Mortgage Three Times” Balls but that, unlike many MPs, I have the great disadvantage of being relatively moral or even honest. Incidentally, the point I was trying to make in my previous post was that Russel Slade’s signings so far are not as bad as some critics suggest, and I assume that other similar signings are in the pipeline, though it’s impossible to believe that players of proven high-calibre at Championship level will be falling over themselves to clamber aboard at Cardiff City. Let us live in hope, however.

    As May looms, I have one more visit to make to the City of Cardiff Stadium – for the South Wales Classic Car Show on Sunday 17th May – but as I can’t make the international, that’s it until August. Thank you, Paul, for your extremely informative and fair-minded reports and comments, and for a site in which all the contributors reflect the high standards you have set and maintained at all times.

  8. The other Bob Wilson says:

    It’s a bit out of date, Anthony, but this

    http://www.financialfairplay.co.uk/financial-fair-play-explained.php

    is a pretty good explanation of what FFP entails in the Championship.

    Thank you very much for your contributions over the course of the season.

Comments are closed.