City v Scunthorpe August 1999 – remember the goals by Hughes and Ipoua?

The names of Guy Ipoua and Jamie Hughes are not ones that linger too long even with supporters of either of the two sides who will be meeting at Glanford Park tomorrow, but it was those two players that lit up an otherwise nondescript match between Cardiff and Scunthorpe on August Bank holiday Monday 1999 as their magnificent goals ensured that the points were shared.

After City’s promotion to what is now League One, Frank Burrows was given a decent sized budget, when compared to past years at least, by new Chairman Steve Borley in the summer of 1999. In came previous loanee Matt Brazier, centre back Russell Perrett, Dutch right back Winston Faerber, former Coventry midfield man Willie Boland and Welsh International midfield player John Cornforth who all were soon being seen in first team action.

The other newcomer was striker Jamie Hughes who signed from League of Wales team Connahs Quay Nomads. Hughes had drifted into non league football after being released under something of a cloud by Tranmere Rovers after several breaches of club discipline but his prolific goalscoring for his new club persuaded City to give him a second chance at Football League level.

Hughes had not featured in the squad for the first four league matches of the new campaign which had seen City not getting the rewards that their fine football had deserved. With Frank Burrows going with a three centreback system which, surprisingly, included midfield playmaker Jason Fowler featuring almost as a sweeper (that experiment was soon abandoned!), Winston Faerber, in particular, and Andy Legg prospered in the freedom they were given to get forward from the wing back positions.

The good football the team played in the opening day 1-1 draw with a strong Millwall team tended to be forgotten as the media concentrated on the clashes before, during and after the game between the two sets of supporters, but a 3-2 win at Oxford United that was a lot more comfortable than the scoreline suggested had many purring at the quality of the team’s pass and move football. A crowd of over 11.000 were present for the Friday night visit of a Wrexham side which somehow managed to escape with a 1-1 draw despite having taken a pummelling in the first half in particular and then, the following weekend saw a late goal consign us to a 1-0 defeat at high flying Luton.

Further encouragement had come in the First Round League Cup clash with First Division QPR. After losing the first leg 2-1 at Ninian Park, City shocked their supposed superiors by winning by the same score at Loftus Road before triumphing in the resultant penalty shoot out. The winning goal that night had come from Jamie Hughes who had come off the bench to make his first team debut and celebrated by netting with an overhead kick – City fans had their first chance of watching him in action at Ninian Park when he was named as a substitute for the game with Scunthorpe two days after the match at Luton.

Scunthorpe had come up via the Play Offs and, coincidentally, had been our opponents when we had clinched our promotion with a game to spare. They had begun the season with three consecutive defeats which indicated that the bookies had got it right in naming them amongst the favourites for relegation but a 3-1 win over Bournemouth in their previous match had given them hope that would be able to compete at the higher level.

One of Scunthorpe’s goals that day was scored by Cameroonian striker Guy Ipoua (Richie Humphreys, who spent some time on loan to City during this season got the other two) whose subsequent career, which saw him turn out for seven struggling sides over the next six years, suggests that he was just another lower league journeyman. Prior to joining up with the Iron though he had been on the books of Torino, Athletico Madrid and Sevilla amongst others – although he had made little impact at these clubs, it at least suggested that he had something and that afternoon against City he certainly looked capable of  realising that unfulfilled promise.

Ipoua had already caused problems for the City back three with his power and skill when he gave the visitors the lead after twenty five minutes with one of the best solo goals I saw at Ninian Park as he received the ball about fifty yards from goal and set off on a run which saw him go past at least four opponents before knocking the ball past keeper Jon Hallworth – I’m sure Frank Burrows was, rightly from his perspective, not happy with some of the City defending along the way, but, speaking purely as a football fan, it was a tremendous goal.

Scunthorpe were proving much tougher opposition than had been anticipated and the fluency that had marked City’s football so far that season was missing. With Ipoua needing looking after throughout, the visitors seemed capable of adding to their lead while City’s lack of punch in front of goal finally persuaded Frank Burrows to give Jamie Hughes his chance as he sent him on while keeping the more senior striker Dai “the Pie” Thomas on the bench. With the game going in stoppage time it looked like City’s cause was lost, but Hughes repaid his manager’s faith with a goal which may even have topped Ipoua’s earlier effort as he hooked the ball over his head from about fifteen yards out to net with a spectacular overhead kick.

With two excellent goals from his first two substitute appearances, it looked like City had a star in the making and Hughes was in from the start for the Welsh Premier Cup match with Newtown the following weekend, he was named as a substitute for the next four games and came off the bench in three of them (including the two League Cup ties with Premier League Wimbledon), but after that he virtually disappeared off the radar. There was a further start against Barry in another FAW Premier Cup match and he was an unused sub for the FA Cup Second Round tie at Bury in November before being loaned out to Cwmbran in January. Following the completion of his loan, Hughes was released by City at the end of the season and went on to have short spells at Conference team Northwich and a variety of League of  Wales teams.

As for the team, a third successive 1-1 draw at Ninian Park offered a pointer as to the weaknesses which saw them relegated that season. While their away record wasn’t great, it was on a par with a few of the sides that finished above them, but those who pine for a return to the “intimidating” Ninian Park may be surprised by a woeful total of just five wins from the twenty three league matches we played – only two of the three sides that finished below us won fewer home matches.

Another reason why we went down was that we only managed to score forty five goals from our forty six games and so you would have thought that more use could have been made of Jamie Hughes – however, reading between the lines, it appears that he did not have the self discipline needed to succeed in the professional game and so all we have to remember him by is a couple of overhead kick goals.

30 August 1999

Cardiff City 1 (Hughes) Scunthorpe United 1 (Ipoua)

City Hallworth; Eckhardt. Fowler, Ford; Faerber (Carpenter), Cornforth, Middleton. Legg (Boland), Brazier; Nugent, Bowen (Hughes 1) Subs (not used) Kelly, Thomas

Scunthorpe Evans; Fickling, Logan, Hope, Dawson; Harsley (Stanton), Walker, Hodges (Marshall), Calvo-Garcia; Ipoua (1)(Sheldon), Humphreys

HT 0-1

Att. 8,006

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