I’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.
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.
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/