Having visitors call when you are watching City play online is not something designed to make those people popular, but when my viewing of yesterday’s match was interrupted around midway through the first half, I consoled myself with the thought that me missing the rest of the match might somehow kick the team into action. Those first twenty odd minutes are all I’ve seen of the match and I couldn’t even listen to post match radio reports, so this isn’t going to be a long piece because I’m worse placed than most others to comment on our 2-1 loss to a Middlesbrough team who were in desperate form going into the match.
I’m always wary before a City game and this time it stemmed from two things. Firstly, it is very rare for any side, even one in as poor a run as Middlesbrough were, to lose three home matches in a week and, secondly, when Mark Hudson was out suspended against Peterborough we looked as poor defensively as at any time this season with the exception of our 5-4 loss at Charlton. That loss to the Championship’s bottom team in December made us look more reliant on one person for our defensive solidity than any side at the top of the table should be and I’m afraid the little bit of action I saw yesterday did nothing to dispel that feeling.
Middlesbrough’s first goal came from a sloppy Fraizer Campbell pass when we were attacking, but there were two or three opportunities to put things right after that – I still think Kevin McNaughton has a part to play for us, but, when he starts to look suspect defensively, like he did when Miller brushed past him, then I do wonder if I might be wrong. Credit to Sam Ameobi for the way he stuck the second goal away, but I don’t understand why Andrew Taylor did the exact opposite of what defenders are supposed to do in positions like the one he found himself in, by increasing the areas of the goal the ball could go into rather than decreasing them – it didn’t look as if he had slipped over.
By the sound of it, City improved in the last three quarters of the match with the defending getting better after Ben Nugent came on at half time (Connolly at right back with Nugent in the middle looks likely at the back for Tuesday) and they were somewhat unlucky to lose in the end, but the last thing you should be doing against a team as suspect mentally as Middlesbrough must have been is allow them to score early goals. Boro showed at Cardiff City Stadium that they have some very useful players and every side in this division are capable of beating us if we give them two goals start.
At least someone other than Campbell scored for us, but the gap to second is back down to five points prompting messageboard posts about us being in a “slump” because we only taken seven points out of our last fifteen – all I’ll say is sides like Wolves, Huddersfield, Birmingham, Blackpool, Charlton, Millwall, Derby, Blackburn, Burnley and Leicester would love to be in a slump like ours over their past five games! If we were to lose to a Derby side with a very poor away record who are in a dodgy run of form currently on Tuesday, then there would grounds for some concern in my opinion, but for the moment, I’d say the only signs that Cardiff are bottling things are coming from a few of their supporters.