It looks like curtains for Fulham as City give themselves a chance.

CoymayCardiff City remain odds on for relegation with all leading bookmakers this morning and that has to be a fair reflection of their chances of avoiding the drop – City are still probably going to go down, but a Fulham side who were being tipped by many to be above us at 5 o clock yesterday afternoon look doomed.

The reason for that is that the Londoners were beaten 3-1 yesterday in the game that was billed as loser gets relegated by a media that were circling like vultures growing impatient for the first Premier League casualty of the season. City managed to avoid reading their obituaries this morning after a match which was everything you would expect from two sides deep in relegation trouble with the loser set to be cut adrift at the bottom.

That’s why I find the sort of comment that I heard in the media straight after the match and on messageboards from some City fans last night so puzzling. All of the radio reports I heard within an hour of the match finishing seemed to contain the words “no classic, but……..”, while there were plenty on the internet who weren’t happy with what they had seen.

I must confess that I’m at a loss to understand what those people were expecting from the game. At least, the presence of the word “but” in that quote I mentioned offered the clue that there was an understanding that in a part of the season where result is so much more important than performance, that applied more than ever to yesterday’s mother of all six pointers. However, there has been this strange season long insistence from some City fans that they be entertained while their side is battling to stay out of the bottom three – I find this baffling when you consider that this season was always going to be a struggle from first game to thirty eighth and we were hardly the great entertainers last year were we.

All I can think is that the people doing the complaining are too young to have seen City in a relegation scrap before or they have forgotten what tended to happen when we were in one. Actually, I can remember previous matches with Fulham quite late in the season when both sides were in danger of going down that were real blood and guts affairs with barely any quality on display – one of them finished 3-3 mind and must have been pretty entertaining for a neutral I suppose, but that was more down to the catalogue of mistakes being made than any brilliance by the players.

Having been present to see some true brilliance on Wednesday night, I accept that there wasn’t much of it about yesterday, but, despite what the doom mongers would tell you, there was some Premier League quality on show from Cardiff players. For example. after I was forgetting at times that Craig Noone was on the pitch during the first twenty minutes, the winger went on to become one of the game’s most influential performers – there were the usual infuriating moments from him, but, on the biggest day of the season so far, he largely delivered when the pressure was on and the cross which led to the third goal was a peach.

Fraizer Campbell's nifty piece of footwork enables him to get away a shot which forced Fulham keeper Stekelenburg into a diving save, but, in truth, it was the striker's defensive work which impressed most yesterday. *

Fraizer Campbell’s nifty piece of footwork enables him to get away a shot which forced Fulham keeper Stekelenburg into a diving save, but, in truth, it was the striker’s defensive work which impressed most yesterday. *

Steven Caulker got two goals, but also showed the sort of defensive qualities which marked his early Cardiff performances and, despite, one or two wayward passes, Gary Medel kept things ticking over in midfield while also performing his usual defensive duties better than many holding midfielders in this league – a word too for Declan John who just needed a bit more composure and confidence in the promising attacking positions he created for himself, but he was still the best full back on the pitch.

Other City players didn’t hit the same heights, but nearly all of them were not found wanting when it came to determination and a desire to work hard for the team – I didn’t think that was the case a fortnight ago when we capitulated to Hull. This time though, in a match where character and attitude was possibly more important than skill, there wasn’t much to complain about in those departments with two players for me eptimosing the City approach. Fabio still had his dodgy defensive moments, but he was sharper than previously, while if you had told me beforehand that Fraizer Campbell would be playing in a position where he had defensive responsibilities I would have been dreading the outcome, but he fulfilled the left sided covering role with typical unselfishness and in fact did surprisingly well – none more so than when he tracked back in the first half to break up one of the few Fulham threats we saw on he and John’s side of the pitch all afternoon.

Steven Caulker if congratulated by Craig Noone who provided the assist for the captain's first goal - the first City had scored in 445 minutes of Premier League football.*

Steven Caulker if congratulated by Craig Noone who provided the assist for the captain’s first goal – the first City had scored in 445 minutes of Premier League football.*

In fact, I would say apart from the enigmatic Kenwyne Jones, every City player was spot on as far as attitude went. I seem to be in a small minority who thought that some of Jones’ hold up play was pretty impressive – he’d be some player if he had Campbell’s mentality, but then I suppose he wouldn’t be playing for us if he did. Jones was probably too far out to beat Stekelenburg with first half header from a Jordon Mutch cross, but he put another easier opportunity from a pass by the same player too close to the keeper just before half time and missed a sitter when heading wide from another fine Noone cross just after the break.

At the time I was convinced that last miss would come back to haunt us, but, as it turned out, we managed to score three. Now, before yesterday, I had doubts whether we would score three more goals this season let alone in one game – I thought the chances of that happening were zero. Of course, it helps when you are playing against a side that has conceded fifteen more goals than anyone else in the division and Fulham’s defensive problems were neatly summarised in that sequence of three corners which ended with our second goal – for the first, Mutch was allowed to roll the corner kick to an unmarked Kimbo some fifteen yards from goal only for Stekelenburg to block the shot, then it needed a desperate late lunge to stop Campbell side footing in from six yards at the near post before Mutch went to the far post where Caulker and Campbell were both unmarked and the keeper made a mess of the former’s header.

It really was desperate defending, but City have to take confidence from the fact that they have ended their scoring drought and with, by the standards of this season at least, some style. Cardiff did not kick on and gain any benefits from their fortunate win over Norwich five weeks ago and with games against the Merseyside clubs to come in the next couple of weekends, the odds are that any benefits from the Fulham game will not come in terms of points, but then these are games where no one expects to take any, so anything we do get will be seen as a bonus – what has to be taken for granted now though is that, after the improved attitude seen at White Hart Lane and yesterday, Everton and Liverpool will be facing a City side which gives it’s all.

* pictures courtesy of

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3 Responses to It looks like curtains for Fulham as City give themselves a chance.

  1. Geoff Lewis says:

    Hi Paul,
    A good well balanced report on yesterday’s match. In my forecast for the season I had put this one down as 3-1 win to the City. i am being positive and think we may scrape relegation if Fulham, West Brom and Crystal Palace have a bad run for their remaining games
    I too was surprised by some of the comments made on the messageboard about Kenynne Jones, he played well controlled the ball in the air and laid on some good passes. He was also good in defence as well as Campbell was.
    I suppose it is where you sit in the stadium as how one looks on a players performance, it is all different angles.
    Noone was brilliant overall. I still think that Kim is a very tricky player, but a bit lightweight.

  2. Matt N says:

    So, using my own supercomputer, I still think we’ll go down, possibly on goal difference. But at least hope exists, and I saw yesterday that the players are stepping up with some fight (inspired by bumper bonuses next season, no doubt).
    I thought Jones played better yesterday – a bit more commitment to his lopes up and down the pitch. Campbell, as ever was full throttle for the cause, as were our centre back pairing this week – coming from completely different motivations – one fighting for his place, the other for his plane ticket. Declan John showed again his wonderful potential as a marauding full back, just needs a cooler head or develop his eye for the final pass.
    My two worries I took from yesterday were firstly seeing us drop deeper and deeper when on a slender lead – I recall a ball cleared from our penalty box with no one more advanced than 30 yards up the pitch. This invited more pressure. Thankfully, ineptitude from 9-10 of the Fulham team meant we could get ourselves out of this siege mentality. OGS I think played his cards pretty well, bringing on Daehli as a sparky outlet to relieve pressure. The second was how lightweight Kimbo is looking right now. His confidence seems a little low – his passing percentage must be quite poor; and his play isn’t set up for the scrap – he’s easily knocked off the ball and aerially weak. I’d much rather see the more agricultural styling a of Gunnarson in there.
    Stern tests to come, but maybe the players on the pitch are ready for them, and OGS has struck upon a formula…maybe.

  3. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks for both of your comments.

    Geoff, I read something about Palace’s run in – they’ve got Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea in three of their last four home games and have to go to a few of the teams at the bottom yet (Fulham away on the last day of the season is probably a nice game for them to have though).

    I was surprised to see Kimbo in the starting line up on Saturday – he did okay, but I don’t think he did enough to retain his place at Everton (I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ole revert to the formation used at Spurs with Campbell up front, Gunnarsson or Eikrem in and Noone possibly given more of a roving role, but I always get Ole’s selections wrong, so I wouldn’t bank on it!).

    Matt, I know what you mean about sitting deep – I’d hope that Sunderland match would have put an end to that. I’d also like to have seen us show a bit more composure with the counter attacking chances we had towards the end, I doubt it if our goal difference will improve enough for it to become better than some of the teams around us, but there were chances to have won by three or four on Saturday.


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