Cardiff 0 Charlton Athletic 2
Championship, December 4th 2007
Seven minutes to midnight, and I'm hungry and I'm cold,
Seven minutes to midnight, I feel old...
As an antidote to thinking too much about the impending court case, tonight was about as
welcome as a Cardiff Celts Bigger than Barcelona Christmas card. Charlton came to
Ninian Park to win, and win they did. They huffed and puffed and brushed the
soggy Cardiff City House of Cards down with insulting ease, crushing the mini-revival /
3 match unbeaten run, and making Ridsdale's recent comments about putting
the nonsense about sacking the manager behind us look extremely stupid.
Tonight's performance was dispiriting and downright disrespectful to the fools and
pathologically inclined masochists who stumped up their cash to stand/sit in the damp
and drizzle and watch that shapeless shower of workshy fops turn up, tune off and drop
out - as if the cluster bomb of ganja smoke from the Bob Bank (no sniffer dogs tonight!)
had percolated through the very pores of every player in a blue shirt.
Charlton were neat, tidy and showed poise and purpose in possession, but in terms of this
division they are no West Brom, on their day the yardstick by which all Championship
teams must be judged. With their lily well and truly gilded by the loathsome parachute
payments, Charlton have splashed the cash, and will splash even more in January, should
Pardew fail to cement their status at the business end of the table. At the moment they look
surefire play-off contenders, but not automatic material.
Their status as Premiership wannabes is highlighted by their striking options, spoilt for
choice by the combination of Iwelumo (outstanding for Colchester last year, pretty
average tonight), and up-and-coming hotshots Izzy McLeod and Luke Varney. Compare
those three with our less than dynamic duo Thompson and MacLean, and creaking Home
Guard veterans JFH and Robbie, and the penny well and truly sinks.
With some notable exceptions, our players are not worthy, and insult was added to injury
tonight, the fight visibly draining out of them as the game drifted away into abject
nothingness. Starting from the back, Kasper was OK but at fault for the first goal, and his
distribution, or lack of it, is enough to send you mental. Nine times out of ten his
brainless punts either land in row Z of the Bob Bank/Lower Grandstand or are hungrily
hoovered up by opposition defences.
Gunter was below par, but did appear to care,
driving forward at every opportunity. Capaldi was weak and substituted seemingly for his
own safety at half time, in another oh-so-predictable move from DJ, who sacrificed the
energy and invention of Ledley in pushing him to full back.
Loovens was average, made some playground errors in his collisions with Ledley, but
looked like the Colossus of Rhodes in comparison to Darren Blooper Purse, who had an
absolute nightmare. On his day he can be a rock, tonight he was a jittery jumpy liability,
slicing clearances, mis-hitting back passes, scything down forwards, and giving away a
dopey penalty as Darren Ambrose tied him in knots in the penalty area - firstly handling
the ball and then dragging the player to the floor in a move Jackie Pallo would have been
Our midfield were totally outgunned today by a classy old timer Matty Holland and a
huge lump of a feller Andy Reid, who resembled Diego Maradona playing Elvis in his
Las Vegas/Burger Years - his corpulence only being matched this year by the
ultimate wide man David Unsworth. Somehow he still managed to make the central
midfield look one-paced and flat-footed. McPhail and Rae were awful, transparently
ineffective and yet allowed to stay in their pivotal roles throughout the game by our
tactical mastermind. Go figure.
Joe "Cheerio" Ledley again played with heart, soul and style and made those around him
look even worse. We will be staggered if he is a Bluebird come February 1st. Heaven
help us if he goes. Up front it was a case of same old same old - Thompson trying hard
but failing to punch his way through the Addicks' back line, MacLean was apparently
also present, but I never spotted him.
Statisticians recorded one Cardiff shot on target during the entire game, and that just
about sums it up. The nearest we came to scoring was when Charlton attempted an
extravagant 30 yard back pass which the keeper nimbly headed away. As the
ineffectiveness of the team's performance began to eat away at the crowd's entrails, the
murmurings of discontent were funnelled into some unpleasant barracking of the boo-
boys' easy targets McPhail and Capaldi, and however bad the team are playing, the kind
of personal abuse heaped upon these two was unacceptable.
Charlton's dominance was rewarded with a goal on 34 minutes, wrapped up in sparkly
blue and white wrapping paper and presented to Matt Holland on a silver platter - an
uncleared corner, a decent but not unstoppable shot which seemed to dribble through a
sea of outstretched legs before flying past Schmeichel, who stood bolt upright, transfixed
to his goal line, as if saying "That wasn't supposed to happen".
Half time would have been a relief had it not been for the "entertainment" provided by
Timmy Mallett, whose gibbering panto-plugging inanities singularly failed to lift the spirits of a comatose crowd.
The arrival of Whittingham had a minimal effect on the balance of play in the second
half. He engineered an impressive shot which flew past the upright, but failed to make
any meaningful impact on the game. Parry too, was a shadow of his usual energetic self.
The whole sorry debacle was duly topped off with the ridiculously conceded penalty
from Coco the Clown. Converted nonchalantly by Andy Reid, the game was over and the
already thinly populated crowd shot towards the exits, kicking themselves for missing the
"I'm a Celebrity" special.
Those whose better instincts told them to stay and tough it out were split evenly between
the stoic depressives who had so little energy left they could barely muster a peep of
protest, and the rest of the crowd whose rage was rising in direct proportion to City's
deadening dismal downturn. Tonight we heard the most vocal calls for the head of Dave
Jones, and there was a deafening chorus of boos as Jon Moss from Culture Club blew his
whistle and brought this torture to an end.
Do they dare to dispense with the manager prior to the court case? As we paddle in the
quicksand of soul-sapping failure, a defeat at home to Colchester may finally do for Teflon
Dave. We are down amongst the dead men, a whisker away from the season's mid point
and already look doomed.
Paul Davies © 2007.
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