Picture goal from Jamie Bird as City’s Under 23s keep on winning.


There’s a certain type of match which has the “experts” saying at half time that “one goal will win this” and most of the time it probably turns out they are right. I can remember my mate turning to me after five minutes of the abysmal home match with Brighton in 14/15 and saying “this is going to end up 0-0″, I nodded my agreement – it just seemed so obvious that the two teams involved were incapable of scoring (as it was, they barely mustered an on target effort between them).

If such a game does produce a goal, then it tends to be a truly scruffy affair or something of a quality way, way above what precedes and follows it and after about fifty minutes of today’s Under 23 match with Colchester at the Vale, I was definitely watching such a match as two sides who had not lost a game between them this season were largely cancelling each other out – a goal seemed a long, long way away.

However, there is always the exception which proves the rule and this was it because, when a goal did finally arrive in the fifty third minute, it was followed by three more within ten minutes and then there was more late on for good measure – at the end of ninety minutes, City had maintained their 100% record with a fourth consecutive win.

4-1 sounds like a crushing victory and, by the end, City were certainly good value for their win, but the scoreline was harsh on a competitive Colchester outfit that I thought just about edged the first half.

During that first forty five minutes, City, using the same 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation as the first team, had their best spell early on as, having come through a first three or four minutes of the visitors dominating possession, they settled to produce three attacks which might have produced goals.

Firstly, strikers Eli Phipps and Jamie Bird linked nicely only for the latter to lose his bearings somewhat as he side footed what was a decent chance well wide. Bird was then played in by Lloyd Humphries only for him to fire over from a similar sort of position to his first effort.

I would have thought that a talented player like Bird would have been disappointed not to have hit the target with at least one of those attempts and things got worse for the number ten shortly after when he was yellow carded for a foul, but his afternoon would improve from that rather sorry start!

During this brief spell when City were on top, wing backs Marco Weymans and Dylan Rees caught the eye. The former did so by hitting the sort of crossfield diagonal pass that was much talked about as an essential part of the first team’s attacking play under the new system, but has barely been seen since the proper stuff started, while the latter showed a willingness to perform the attacking side of his brief with an enthusiasm not always seen from those who have played in the position so far for the senior team,

Captain Tom James also showed a liking for that long left to right pass when he fired a free kick into Rees’ path and lad from Tenby cut inside to get in a shot which the keeper had to turn for a corner at his near post.

Apart from a shot from twenty five yards from Phipps which looked for a second or two as if it might catch the keeper out, City had nothing else to offer really as an attacking force in the first half. Truth is, the same sort of problems with the three centreback system which have afflicted the first team for much of the time (e.g. isolated strikers, central midfield not able to impose themselves and wing backs unable to get into advanced areas on a consistent basis) all put in an appearance.

Without really causing City’s defence too many problems, Colchester were able to get slightly on top with their tendency to hunt in packs and win a majority of fifty/fifty tackles and it was becoming increasingly clear as to why they had come through matches with Sheffield United, Hull and Charlton unbeaten.

Just as in the first half, City offered signs that they might be able to break the deadlock early in the period, but this time it had more to do with the way they were able to counter attack at speed in a way that had eluded them up to now, rather than any tangible threat to the visitor’s goal.

As it was, when the whole character of what had been such a tight contest was changed by City scoring, it came following two counter attacks. First, Colchester broke dangerously down their left, but when City dealt with that threat, they took advantage of the visitors having committed so many men to attack by working the ball quickly up the same side of the pitch and Rees’ fine cross got the finish it deserved as Phipps nodded crisply into the corner of the net.

With Joe Ralls' and Anthony Pilkington's goals at Fulham, Sam Bowen's effort from the half way line for the Under 16s and the marvellous effort I saw from the same team in their demolition of Crystal Palace, there have been some great goals scored by Cardiff City teams already this season. Jamie Bird's first goal in today's 4-1 win over Colchester for the Development side deserves to be in that company - it was an outstanding effort which I hope the club will put put on a video which is available to all City fans, not just Cardiff City World subscribers.

With Joe Ralls’ and Anthony Pilkington’s goals at Fulham, Sam Bowen’s effort from the half way line for the Under 16s and the marvelous effort I saw from the same team in their demolition of Crystal Palace, there have been some great goals scored by Cardiff City teams already this season. Jamie Bird’s first goal in today’s 4-1 win over Colchester for the Development side deserves to be put in that company – it was an outstanding effort which I hope the club will put out on a video which is available to all City fans, not just Cardiff City World subscribers.

City were leading by an impressive goal, but the one which doubled their lead three minutes later was right out of the top drawer. Once again, it came from a counter attack, but whereas the first one had been a team effort, this was all the work of a one man as a Colchester corner was cleared to Bird standing just outside the edge of the penalty area and he promptly ran about sixty yards with the ball before steadying himself to guide a sublime effort from twenty five yards into the top corner of the net.

As someone who scored a goal for the Under 18s against Palace last season when he received the ball from the kick off for second half and waltzed past four or five opponents before scoring, Bird has already shown a penchant for the spectacular. However, I’d rate today’s as the better goal – the descriptions I’ve read up to now say that he beat two Colchester players during his lung bursting run up the noticeable slope on the pitch at City’s training centre, but I thought it was three and the shot to top it all off was of such quality that it would have been heralded as a great finish even if it hadn’t had such an eye catching build up.

There had been little up to now to suggest that Colchester could retrieve anything out of the match from this position, but they were back at 2-1 just past the hour mark when Luke O’Reilly, whose performance contained moments which those messageboard critics that accuse City keepers of not commanding their penalty area would have loved combined with some erratic kicking, presented the visitors with the ball about thirty five yards out and a quick pass gave Akinwande the chance to score with ease.

City were soon given the chance to go two goals clear again though when a defender miscontrolled and his attempt to retrieve his error ended up with MaCauley Southam being brought down for a clear penalty which Phipps confidently lashed home.

It was amazing to think that just a few minutes earlier, space had been at premium for attackers of both sides, but now the game had really opened up and both sides had the chances to keep the scoring burst going, However, there was to be only one more goal to follow when, in the eighty second minute, Humphries’ shot was pushed out by the keeper into the path of Bird who added what could be described as bread and butter type striker’s goal to his spectacular earlier effort.

I suppose when you look at the leagues that the respective senior sides play in, Cardiff should be beating Colchester at this level, but this was an impressive win for City because their opponents fielded a team with a smattering of players with first team experience including Owen Garvan, who is making his way back from injury. On the other hand, with regulars Tommy O’Sullivan and Theo Wharton away with Wales Under 21s and Rhys Healey loaned to Newport, this was a City team made up mainly of first and second year pros with only Tom James I believe not falling into that category – having rarely, if ever, fielded a team with eleven players under 21 when that was the category for selection. I believe City may well have done it when it’s been changed to a competition for Under 23s.




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3 Responses to Picture goal from Jamie Bird as City’s Under 23s keep on winning.

  1. Russell says:

    Thanks Paul, one question that puzzles me if the under 18 and 23’s are playing with the same set up as the first team , and I presume its the overall clubs game plan at all levels to play the same way , why can’t the senior team match the success of those tactics , delivered by the younger teams , such as the cross field left to right and visa versa passing ,one would assume the seniors have such skills in their locker , or is it the case , our youngsters are more adapt to learning and delivering those skills.

  2. Clive Harry says:

    Hi Paul. As usual, I have a problem with your report in that I can’t find anything to disagree with – I’ll never make a CCMB poster!
    I enjoyed the game, particularly the second half – so much that I didn’t notice you or your contretemps with the steward. That’s a bit bizarre in itself because I was stood behind the ambulance much nearer to you than the staff who were allegedly distracted by where you were positioned! As for the game, I was impressed by our wingbacks and Tom James’s heading and last ditch tackling ability. I’ve heard that Tom has had three loans lined up which have been cancelled by ourselves at the last minute, I find that a bit strange as he hasn’t been featuring in our first team squad. On the subject of which, I didn’t see Paul Trollope around – if he wasn’t, why not? Hopefully the same disinterest in the DVP team as last season hasn’t been carried over. I was talking to a scout and a few others at the game and we all questioned the usefulness of these DVP games compared to years ago when full reserve teams turned out and youngsters would get experience playing against all ages with lots of teams containing experienced players returning from injury and needing game time. These days, they seem to be simply an older academy team with youngsters being sent out on loan to see if they can cope with playing at a higher level once they show some promise.
    Returning to the game, Bird’s first goal was superb and I was also impressed by the way Phipps tucked away his header and his unstoppable penalty. Both looked excellent prospects to me and look tailor made for a spell with Newport soon!!

  3. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks both for your replies. Russell, a similar question to the one you ask cropped up in the messageboard discussion about my piece today and someone answered that, whereas the Under 23s have specialists in central midfield (e.g. Robbie Patten or Lloyd Humphries as a sitting midfielder and Tommy O’Sullivan, when he plays, or Jamie Bird as a number ten), the first team have “generalists” like Ralls, Gunnarsson and O’Keefe who can do a bit of everything. I’d always considered that as a strength, but he set me thinking and, for the system we are trying to play, I can see why it might just as likely be a weakness.
    As to those cross field diagonal passes which were much talked about a month ago, but barely get a mention these days, could it be that the first team wing backs seldom get far enough forward for them to be a worthwhile option?
    Clive, I was half expecting to see you yesterday, but figured that you had been put off by the weather. Let me repay the compliment you paid me by saying that I agree with everything you said!
    Interesting to read that about Tom James – Paul Trollope has talked about how the new rules regarding emergency loans might mean that clubs will keep hold of some younger players they would have allowed out on loan, but I wouldn’t have thought Tom was that close to breaking into the senior squad at the moment.
    As for whether Trollope was there or not, there is the option for him to watch the game from indoors, or under cover at least, at the Vale if he wanted to, but these Monday afternoon games will be shifted to Leckwith next month and there’ll be nowhere for him to hide there!
    Yes, I thought Phipps (who hasn’t always convinced me at this level) did very well yesterday and, based on that sort of performance, you could see him doing a job for a League Two side later in the season. As for Bird, he’s the sort of player whop can exasperate me at times, but then he comes up with a goal like that (and as I mentioned in my piece, it’s not as if he hasn’t done something similar before) and he has you thinking what a talent. In my old age, I’ve come to the conclusion that to try to rein in a player like Bird at this level is counter productive – if he does make it into the first team, he’ll have to be a bit more disciplined than he is now, but let him try, and often fail, to do the sort of things few others on that pitch yesterday could for now, because he has to gain so much from a goal like that.
    As you mentioned the outbreak of hooliganism that occurred yesterday, I may as well copy and paste what I put on the messageboard this morning on here for the benefit of any of the regulars who don’t read Michael’s board who may be reading this;-

    “Thanks, but I’m not sure about a free seat, I think a banning order may be more in line after my experiences in the last two matches at the Vale!

    Virtually all of the games I went to at Ninian Park, I watched from either behind the goals on the Grange End or on the half way line on the Bob Bank and, when I can, I always try to watch any game I attend from behind the goal or on the halfway line.

    I started by doing the latter for the match with Leeds Under 23s a fortnight ago, but, after about fifteen minutes, I was asked by a steward to move because I was too close to the dug outs. At the time, the thought did occur to me that I was further away from the coaching staff than those who sit by the dug outs at Cardiff City Stadium were, but I thought fair enough, I can understand that and moved on.

    Yesterday I spent the first half watching from the side of the pitch down towards the end that City were attacking, but at half time I decided to wander up to far end of the pitch and stand just to the right of the goal City were going to be playing towards – part of my reasoning for doing this was that generally if I’m going to be writing on a game afterwards, I like to watch it from a couple of different positions if I can to get a better idea of player movement and how teams are setting up tactically.

    I don’t know if you’ve been to the Vale to see a game, but the pitch has a pronounced slope to it and City would be playing up it in the second half. The slope partly explains why there is a fifteen yard or so gap behind the goals I was standing behind and so I was hardly standing besides the Colchester keeper, I was stood on a slight mound and behind a big, high, wire fence that protects the car park nearby from wayward shots – I was about twenty yards away from the pitch I suppose.

    I’d had a great view of Jamie Bird’s marvelous goal, but a few minutes later, the same steward who asked me to move at the earlier game came along to tell me I had to move on again. Now, I’m someone who generally obeys the rules, but when I’m told to do something that I feel is illogical and unnecessary, I tend to make my feelings clear on the subject before reluctantly agreeing to do what I’m told – this is a trait which has got worse (or better!) as I’ve got older.

    If there had been a sign displayed saying “please don’t watch games from this area”, I would never have done so, but, to repeat, I was stood some twenty yards from the pitch on a mound and behind a tall fence (it was like a throwback to the eighties on the Grange End!).

    I was totally baffled by this request and asked what I was supposed to be doing wrong – the answer I got caused me to lose it I’m afraid. Apparently, I was disturbing the coaching staff stood in their dug outs some seventy yards away from me! I asked why was I disturbing them, but I never got an answer to that one, only some vague talk about how I must know I was doing something wrong because there was no one else watching the match from the same area as I was!

    So, there you have it, what I was doing was wrong because it was different to what the others were doing. Even though I was annoyed, I could still see the absurdity of that argument and couldn’t help but laugh – it got even more ludicrous still when we got to the corner of the pitch and I was told that I could stand on one side of the corner flag, but not on the other .

    After a while I realised the steward had only been doing what he was told to do and so I sought him out afterwards to apologise for taking out my annoyance on him, but I also reiterated that I still didn’t understand what I was supposed to be doing wrong – judging by the way Eli Phipps and Bird had put their goals away, I couldn’t have been putting the City players off by standing where I was!

    Having had a night to sleep on it, I’m still none the wiser as to what was so wrong about where I was stood and the only thing I can think is that my “crime” must have been to stand in a position where the club’s coaching staff could see me – quite how they’ll cope if they ever have charge of a team which plays in a full stadium, Lord only knows!”

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