Throughout January it became the norm to say “awful week off the pitch, but a good week on it” – one week into February and, so far at least the reverse applies. Okay, I’m stretching a point to say that it was a good week off the pitch, but at least it was a less bad one with the only real news coming from the Council agreeing to the sale of the land adjoining Cardiff City Stadium as proposed by the club. With the club’s solicitors emphasising the dire consequences for City if the Council didn’t approve the deal immediately, then it had to be good news that there will not be any delays to the sale going ahead.
On the pitch though it was bad news all the way. The Under 18s were beaten 4-0 in a midweek friendly match at Reading, the first team were trounced 5-1 last night and this morning the youngsters were beaten again by a Spurs team that were far too good for us with the 5-1 final scoreline flattering us if anything.
For a quarter of the game City competed well and they had the best chance of the early stages when Nat Jarvis did very well to get to the byline and his low cross was turned goalwards by Ibby Farah only for the Spurs keeper to save with his feet. Shortly after that though, City were in front when good work down the left by Jarvis, Farah and Meades ended with the latter’s lovely cross being nodded home by our number 7 (don’t think it was Luke Cummings our usual right sided midfield player).
As it turned out though scoring was the worst thing City could have done because it served to galvanise Spurs – within a couple of minutes a cross had been deflected on to an upright and the visitors number 8, who was very good with the ball at his feet, had shot carelessy wide after City again got into trouble trying to build from the back via keeper Ottley’s throw out. Spurs didn’t have to wait long to equalise though as their number 11 swept in a cross from the right and a couple of minutes later they were in front when a free kick was converted from close in by their centre forward on the far post.
The visitors were now dictating things, but City got to half time just the one goal down only for any hope of a comeback to be virtually extinguished straight after the restart when Spurs laid siege to the goal and their number 10 scored with one of a series of shooting chances from the edge of the penalty area they had during this time. After that it just became a question of keeping the score down as far as City were concerned, but poor defending by both centre backs enabled the lone Spurs striker to score a fourth midway through the second period.
For a brief while after that City managed to pose an attacking threat for just about the first time since their goal when Zak Evans’ shot was turned over by the Spurs keeper who then lost the ball from the resultant corner and in the ensuing scramble, City were awarded a soft looking penalty when one of our players fell under an innocuous looking challenge. Unfortunately, Zak Evans’ penalty was just the right height to be saved as long as the keeper dived the right way and this he duly did to make a bad day even worse for the City team.
The bad news didn’t end there either – with Spurs creating and missing chances galore, the referee levelled things up in the penalty stakes by awarding the visitors one after an obvious foul by City’s number two (sorry, don’t know his name) which saw him given a straight red card and the spot kick nonchalantly converted to finish the scoring in just about the most one sided match I have seen since we gained Academy status.
I usually try to pick out a few players who do well at Academy matches for individual mention, but sadly, I can’t do that for any of the outfield players today – keeper Reece Ottley didn’t do badly though, he wasn’t at fault for any of the goals and kept the score down with a series of fine saves.