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Cardiff 2 Cambridge 0
23rd February 2002
It didn't start too well, in fact the first forty five minutes approximated the extraction of marrow from the hip bone using a 9" syringe in terms of entertainment value, but the essential three points were fished in as planned.
Pickings had been so slim in the first half that the greatest moment of excitement came at half time when the verbose pain in the butt announcer cum deejay had a rush of blood to the head and spun Rudi Can't Fail by The Clash.
Up until then the only thing to warm the cockles of a Bluebird's heart was Kavanagh's corking ripsnorter of a volley on 36 minutes, which punctured the Cambridge net and blasted a hole in the bubble of inertia which had enveloped this game.
The more one watches the City this season, the realisation intensifies that this is a team which is built entirely around the tireless probing thrustathon which is Graham Kavanagh.
He dominates everything to a degree which makes the outcome of the next two matches look precarious. How they survive whilst the mighty Kav serves his two-match suspension will surely determine whether we are all largeing at the Stadio Millennio come May 11th.
It was monumentally ironic that the man of the match award was announced over the tannoy just as its recipient had picked himself up off the floor having earned his 12th booking of the season for a hugely dull two-footed tackle.
The dark side of Kav may perversely be the factor which sabotages the season - this flimsy team are just too reliant upon the midfield maestro.
His erstwhile sidekick at Stoke, Peter Thorne, is making a very slow public convalescence, it's hard to believe that City shelled out 1.7 million for this geezer. Of course, he needs games to bring him up to match fitness, but there were no excuses for his unbelievable miss from five yards in the second half.
The complacent failure to bring in a proven goalscorer on loan may yet come back to haunt us. Thorney needs to get his scoring boots shined up a bit sharp-ish.
Another disturbing observation was the size of the crowd, struggling to get over the 10,000 mark despite the proximity of the play-offs (cast your mind back a decade to the Eddie May era when a game of this importance in a lower division would have attracted a crowd of 15,000 - that must surely be a worry to the current administration).
One suspects that the fans are as unsure of the team's ability to get there as the players, whose tentative efforts to dispose of a chronically piss poor Cambridge side were often painful to behold.
Once Kav had buried the second half penalty (his 15th goal of the season), there was a palpable relaxation, and City began to play as well as we know they can, Josh Low almost returning to his best as he belted down the wing and tore into the flummoxed Cambridge left back.
Having sidestepped these two banana skins with maximum points, the Blues must knuckle down and get some results against their close competitors - Huddersfield on Tuesday and QPR a week later are now must-win 6 pointers - win those two and we can surely book our place in the play-offs.
Finally, with the jury still out on the nature and magnitude of the Welsh FA's punishment following the Leeds "crowd trouble", was it really a good idea to send some clown around the pitch dressed up as Sam Hammam?
This was infantile snook-cocking of the most brainless kind.
by Paul Davies