Immers proves his worth again as City stay seventh.

CoymayI wouldn’t envy anyone the task, but, if they were to study each of the football matches that I have been asked to predict in the last sixty years, I’m pretty certain that the scoreline of 1-1 would be the most common one.

I’m not sure why, but it’s always been the score which has seemed the most natural outcome of a game to me. Some of them just seem like obvious 1-1s to me and so I cannot really take too much credit for getting the outcome of Cardiff City’s visit to Reading correct beforehand – this was one of the obvious 1-1s as far as I was concerned.

With City having fallen behind in the first half, a draw does not seem to me to be that bad a result. However, there are those who appear to believe that our hopes of making it to the end of season play-offs are now hanging by a thread.

Actually, I’m over dramatising things a bit there, but it does seem that there are those who feel we have now reached the stage where we cannot be dropping too many more points between now and the end of the season.

My own view is that, when you consider the opposition our rivals for the two play-off places up for grabs were up against yesterday, then it was always likely that we were going to lose a little ground on some of them.

Charlton Athletic may have beaten Middlesbrough last weekend, but the truth is that they are almost as good as down already and Sheffield Wednesday were always likely to end up winners of the match between the two sides at Hillsborough – although Charlton held out for an hour, this duly happened as Wednesday ran away with the game to the tune of 3-0.

At St. Andrews, Birmingham welcomed a Fulham team that has been dropping like a stone in recent weeks. The Londoners are now right in the relegation mix and so a home win seemed the most likely result. In the event, Birmingham would have been fairly pleased to have got away with a draw after having fallen behind early on.

Another example of Lex Immers being in the right place at the right time as he nods in our equaliser for his fourth goal for the club.*

Another example of Lex Immers being in the right place at the right time as he nods in our equaliser for his fourth goal for the club.*

The Ipswich side beaten at City last weekend were looking to make it successive home wins when they entertained Rotherham after having beaten Blackburn in midweek. Even though Rotherham have picked up dramatically since Neil Warnock took over as manager, they were still in the bottom three and so Ipswich had to fancy their chances. As it was, the visitors got their noses in front and were never pegged back.

All of these games were played hours after the lunchtime local derby between Derby and Nottingham Forest. Unfortunately, Derby, rather luckily I thought, edged this encounter by a solitary goal inside the last quarter of an hour.

All of this meant that Derby and Sheffield Wednesday were now five and three points respectively clear of us. Ipswich are another point back, while Birmingham are now six points adrift of the last play-off place and are beginning to find themselves in a similar type of position to Preston, who drew 1-1 at home to QPR, in that they cannot afford too many more dropped points now.

With a week’s break now for international friendlies, Cardiff’s next game when the league fixtures resume in a fortnight is at home to Derby. This will be described as a must win match I’m sure, but whether it is or not is open to argument – I think it is certainly fair to say it’s a game city cannot afford to lose mind.

Since losing at Middlesbrough, City have played four times and the irony is that the match which has seen what was, by some distance, their best performance during this time was the only one they lost!

Yesterday was more the grafting and solid stuff that enabled us to beat Bristol City and Ipswich  than the good quality fare we saw in the 2-0 loss to Leeds, and so Russell Slade’s mantra in recent weeks about performances taking second-place to points at this stage of the season is, once again, proved to be correct.

However, as I mentioned last week, I believe that we need a bit more than we have seen in three of our last four games if we are to stand a chance of achieving the five or six victories  that we are probably going to need from our last eight games.

I can well understand why many will view a point from yesterday’s match as a disappointing outcome, however I would argue that when you take into account that there were patchy displays from some of our more consistent performers and that we were behind for a fairly long portion of the game, a draw is not too bad a result.

We are not quite at the stage yet where we need to go hell for leather for the win in away games we are drawing and, with Reading manager Brian McDermott, effectively, claiming his team were robbed of a win, the last quarter of the game for me always had the feel that a third, and match winning, goal was more likely for the home side than it was for us.

While “hanging on for a draw” would be putting things too strongly, I think it’s true to say that City began the game in better style than they finished it. City came closest to a goal in the opening half an hour when Craig Noone headed against the crossbar from a Joe Ralls cross – Noone probably should have scored, but it was hardly the absolute sitter that some in the media insisted it was.

If City could claim that the game’s first-quarter belonged to them, then Reading could certainly do the same for the second one. Substitute Gareth McLeary, on for injury victim Hal Robson-Kanu, who must now be doubtful for the upcoming Wales matches, volleyed the home team in front on thirty seven minutes, but there could have been goals either side of that -, first when City crowd favourite Yann Kermogant broke free only to be foiled by Simon Moore and then when Ola John really should have done better than shoot wide after being put clean through on goal.

Captain Anthony Pilkington and Joe Ralls acknowledge the sizable away following after the final whistle. *

Captain Anthony Pilkington and Joe Ralls acknowledge the sizable away following after the final whistle. *

Reading generally continued to have the better of things in the early stages of the second period as well, or at least they did until Russell Slade decided to take off Noone and Stuart O’Keefe and introduce Sammy Ameobi and Aron Gunnarsson.

Within seconds City were level as Ameobi got in a shot from the edge of the penalty area that got a slight deflection onto the post and bounced out to Lex Immers who headed home in a manner quite similar O’Keefe’s goal at Bristol City.

I’m one of many who have been critical of our manager for his use of substitutes in the past and so it would be churlish of me now not to give him credit when one works as quickly as Ameobi’s did yesterday- one or two more such inspired changes wouldn’t go amiss in the next seven weeks!

The substitutes helped City to steady the way the game had been going for around half an hour, but, even so, Moore had to confirm his position as one of our best players on the day with a fine save from substitute Matej Vydra.

In the end though City got the result which means that we have not lost to Reading in the league since they scored ten against us in the two games we played against them while they were strolling towards the Championship title a decade ago.

That’s some achievement when you consider that Reading have tended to be a strong outfit at this level during that time and that it’s hardly as if the two teams have been avoiding each other since 2006.

So, although it has to be something of a long shot, City are going to enter the final few miles of the marathon that is the Championship still with hopes of playing Premier League football in 16/17. Having consistently argued that we were not quite up to finishing in the Play off positions for the first six months of the campaign, only to begin to have a few doubts about that in the light of how well we played against Wolves and Brighton, I’m not going to abandon my new found optimism quite yet – four points from our next two, very testing, games will keep us well in the hunt as we enter the last month of the season.

*pictures courtesy of

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13 Responses to Immers proves his worth again as City stay seventh.

  1. russell says:

    When attempting the predictions of us and our closest opponents last week this was a draw for me,considering Reading are a decent outfit. I thought Noone should have scored and made hard work of a simple header.
    Thought our defense got easily turned a few times.
    It seems Pilkington has lost his goalscoring mojo ,plenty of effort though.
    Moore proved he is a decent keeper.
    Will we smear in ?? Not if you match our run in with Wednesday’ s unfortunately. There strike force also suggest they have the firepower,however we have to play them remember that infamous 1-3 few years back.
    At least we have something to hang onto this year.

  2. Adrian Lloyd Pickrell says:

    Great report Paul. Many thanks.
    I remember mumbling something before the season started that there are teams who “hit the ground running” and make the pace until about Christmas (or later) and start to fade… and there are other teams who fumble about in mid table obscurity until they suddenly pop up from nowhere around March and start mixing it for a play-off place.
    It’s nice to be that team this year who are suddenly “mixing it”.
    I also said back in the summer that I would be happy if City could at least generate a little excitement this season instead of boring us all to oblivion like they did in 14/15.
    Well, I listened to the Leeds game over here on the Radio a few weeks ago and I realized that my pulse was pumping again as the game progressed. Now, my pulse and City have not joined forces like this for quite a while now and I was absolutely delighted at the fact that the excitement was back.
    I think this suddenly quite exciting change to our season is very enjoyable and I, for one, am really looking forward to the next few weeks.
    I believe we are starting to get something sorted out. There is always work to do and I still regard us as “outsiders” to actually make the play-offs.
    Your good self and the other stalwart posters on here obviously get to “see” more than I do over here in Germany, and you are all in a much better position to comment, but I for one am enjoying “hugging” the radio again on saturday afternoons and I am starting to “care” again … which pleases me no end!
    We may fail this year and finish seventh or worse, you never know. But I would rather take hard fought exciting battle for seventh place with the lads really trying and fighting anyday compared the cure for insomnia we had to live with this time last year.
    Regards to you all from Germany


  3. Adrian Lloyd Pickrell says:

    I meant “a hard fought battle for SIXTH place”. Sorry.

  4. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Good to hear from you again Adrian – well done on putting into words what I believe quite a few of those whose enthusiasm had dipped are currently thinking so well.

    I think you are right to regard as outsiders for the Play Offs, Russell (thanks for your contribution) sets out a few reasons why this is so and a response my piece got on a City messageboard echoed my opinion that there may be a few signs that our pretty small squad is beginning to run out of steam a bit – hopefully, a fortnight’s break will help on that score.

  5. Anthony O'Brien says:

    One of the great beauties of this site – in addition to Paul’s consistently excellent reportage — is that every contributor (immaterial of opinions regarding the manager, individual players, or whatever) actually cares about Cardiff City. And what has emerged in recent weeks seems to be a developing sense of optimism! Paul has it, Russell has it, and so does Adrian in spades (and it is clearly not merely a case of distance lending enchantment to the view, because we can see in his message a considered and balanced assessment of the team for which, as he says, he really cares). Fielen Dank fur Ihre Nachricht. (Sorry, I can’t type in an umlaut).
    I see that all season ticket holders can claim two free tickets for the game against Derby. This is obviously something worth supporting, and I hope that as many as possible take advantage of this initiative and swell the crowd for what is surely a “must win” game. Although I delight in sharing a renewed and still rather fragile sense of optimism, there is still a nagging fear that our team will be programmed not to lose rather than set out to win this important fixture. But a good result after the break, and we can all start to believe. How I long for that!

  6. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Apologies for missing the “t” – I was too busy trying (without success, inevitably) to type the umlaut

  7. Dai Woosnam says:

    Dear AMO,
    Go to symbols. Get your letter with its umlaut copied to clipboard.
    Go to Paul’s blog, and press Ctrl + V…
    and hey presto.
    Or am I missing something…?
    …not for the first time, methinks…!!

  8. Dai Woosnam says:

    Suddenly there is a buzzing of a bee in my bonnet…sorry, strike “bonnet” and insert “Dai cap”.
    Don’t I just love Adrian Lloyd Pickrell…!! So proud of his wonderful late dad that he puts his full name up for us all to see.
    And AMO and moi…we were proud of our dads too. It is time for you AA folks amongst us to say “to heck with anonymity! We are proud of our family backgrounds too!” and come out of the Anonymity Closet.
    You’d be amazed how free you will feel. You do not have to HIDE behind opinions any more.
    Right, point made and bee has buzzed away…only to be replaced by another familiar one.
    Just listening on the radio to the umpteenth person telling me that Martin Demichelis is as hopeless a defender as anyone who ever put on a Man City shirt.
    Eh? Tell me NEWS.
    One has known that for a good two years. He must be Pellegrini’s secret love child …there is no other explanation.
    As for Pellegrini, known by the fans as “this charming man” (hey, we could all be charming on £3m a year!), one wonders if the three expensive central defenders he has purchased add up to even HALF a John Terry…!! (I would love more details on who the AGENTS involved in the three deals were! But that is by-the-by.)
    But what is NOT “by-the-by” is the fact that the incident that injured Joe Hart on Sunday was not wholly the fault of the hapless Argentine.
    Yes. the back-pass was suicidal, and hopelessly executed. But why did Hart put him under such pressure with his silly kick out? A goal kick is called a KICK, for a reason.
    And who do you think sanctions this stupid “build up from the back” nonsense?
    Why …Pellegrini of course.
    Like I have always said, you can just about make a case for it with a back four of Vogts (or Lahm), Beckenbauer (or Bobby Moore), J.Charles and Roberto Carlos. But with mere mortals like those that mostly fill our EPL defences these days, it is kamikaze football. When put under any sort of pressure, the modern defender cannot control a football.
    The one good thing that results from his hospital back-pass, is that it has given Butland or Forster the current nod over an injured Hart…which I reckon is the correct order of things.
    Alas the man from the Specsavers ad “What did they put in the cheese?” will soon revert to type and stubbornly bring in the Shampoo Kid…and I predict another shambles.

  9. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Dai Cap,
    If we could put your words into a tin, we could use it as paint stripper. And that is meant as the highest compliment in my vocabulary. And while I think of it, something totally irrelevant, but still to do with names. What must the Hispanic Americans or the Red Indians not far from them have thought to see the Lone Ranger’s sidekick called “Tonto”? (Spanish for “imbecile”). I think a film came out not so long ago reprising the Lone Ranger heroics, and if so, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a backlash in America, assuming that Tonto is still involved. What a lovely name the original Tonto had. I believe it was Jay Silverheels .
    While on the subject of names, who would want to be called Schweinsteiger? or Kohl, or Fuchs which English commentators coyly mispronounce. Many years ago a newspaper daringly ran the headline something along the lines of “Sir Vivian Fuchs off to Antarctica” What’s in a name, indeed!

  10. Dai Woosnam says:

    Loved that headline you closed with, AMO. And also that priceless bit of info regarding the meaning of Tonto…a fact that was totally new to me.
    I was aware that Schweinsteiger means PIG MOUNTER*
    On the subject of mispronunciation of names…
    …the last game I saw at the old Wembley was the Euro 96 semi final.
    And the scorer for Germany that night was Stefan Kuntz.

    Now, this was a potential minefield for the BBC Pronunciation Unit.
    So what did they decide?
    They insisted that all commentators pronounced the name with a Germanic flourish, to rhyme with the first syllable of Gunther.
    But guess what?
    They had forgotten that the whole of the North of England pronounce that taboo C word
    exactly that way!!

    Oh…and mentioning Gunther, brings me to the BBC’s Guy Mowbray.

    I got fed up with him mispronouncing the surname of the Reading and Wales’s full back.
    I wrote to him about a year ago.
    I told him why he was doing it…he had obtained a degree in German from York University (I think it was York…in truth I am too lazy to google it now). And he was confusing Gunter with Gunther.
    I told him it was a name quite common in the Valleys (I once made tea for Llanhilleth-born Ray Gunter, when he was Secretary of State, and me the lowest-of-the-low in the pecking order of the HQ of The Ministry of Labour at 8 St James’s Square, London SW1).
    And I reminded Guy emphatically that the name rhymed with Billy Bunter …not his beloved German first name of Gunther.
    I pointed out that as I was someone who had his own name mispronounced almost every day, so it was that I wanted to speak up for a fellow Taff.
    And to Guy’s great credit, he put matters right immediately.
    I have since heard him twice commentating on games featuring our ex-City star, and his pronunciation is now kosher South Wales.
    So folks, some famous people DO listen to reasoned argument !!

    * No…the suggestion is NOT that in humour, Germans do to pigs what we Welsh – well, the more extrovert amongst us – do to sheep! It comes from jumping on a pig to immobilise it prior to slaughter. Not that our Man Utd star will ever have the financial need ever to do that which his ancestors did !!

  11. Anthony O'Brien says:

    A brilliant bit of writing. As for Pig MOUNTER, I have a feeling that the mounter part i.e. Steiger does have a VERY obscene connotation in German slang, even more so than the Cardiff chant about sheep when we actually manage to score a goal, but I’m not totally sure on this.
    According to a man who works in a slaughter-house, pigs are the only animal that know what’s going to happen and react accordingly, hence the need to hold them by straddling — unlike sheep, for example, who trustingly follow the Judas sheep into the valley of death. Grim reading, I know. Apologies.

  12. Dai Woosnam says:

    Big thanks for the glowing compliment, AMO. I am not worthy though of such an epithet.
    Maybe I will settle for “a grafter who has his moments”.

    But forget me…we have more important people to assess.
    I note you dissed J. Iscariot esq.

    Not deliberately I know, but using his name colloquially, as an adjective.

    Some of us with a revisionist view of history, have been trying to rehabilitate him for many years. Starting with the great Leon Rosselson, who quite a number of years ago now, wrote this most thought-provoking song…

    The singer is the magnificent Roy Bailey…and his version even shades it from the great Dick Gaughan version, also on YouTube.
    Not that Leon Rosselson is any slouch when it comes to performing his own lyrics. Check him out on YouTube filmed live singing his Talking Democracy Blues. He was well over 75 when this was filmed, and it is a tour-de-force performance and a staggeringly brilliant song.
    It was written just after the arrival of the Cameron/Clegg coalition government.

  13. Colin Phillips says:

    Strong stuff, Mr. Woosnam, thanks for the links.

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