Cardiff 1 Scunthorpe 1
Championship, October 27th 2007
Why does it always rain on me?
Well, at least we didn't lose. Collecting crumbs of comfort from today's performance is difficult, and given the poverty of the opposition and their stultifyingly limited ambitions, one point feels like nothing, a failure to collect all three points results in a further fall down the table to 17th, which, let's face it, is where we deserve to be. A poor crowd of 11,850 braved the miserable dank drizzling weather and took their places quietly at Ninian Park, an atmosphere of quiet dread seemed to be percolating across the terraces like something out of John Carpenter's The Fog.
Whatever motivational tactics had been employed by the Guru in midweek, they seemed to have absolutely no impact. The first half hour passed by in a teeth-grindingly dull narcoleptic haze - devoid of any sense of urgency/energy/creativity - I had to pinch myself several times to check whether I was still awake/alive. Scunthorpe were beyond ordinary, we were not that much better - they packed the defence and midfield and made little effort to venture beyond the half way line.
City were incapable of stringing a coherent series of passes together and were toothless in the extreme. The first Cardiff shot aimed vaguely towards goal didn't arrive until about the 22nd minute. It was bad. Having experimented with various formations this term, the Bluebirds were evidently attempting to bore the opposition into submission.
As expected Jones had dumped Loovens to the bench and brought back Johnson to partner Purse (the effectiveness of which was impossible to judge as they had so little to do in central defence). Sinclair was re-instated at the expense of Parry, and despite their lacklustre performances against Wolves, HB and Fowler both started. Jones is nothing if not predictable. It soon became apparent that Parry's exclusion was having a negative impact on the balance of the team. There was no threat down the right flank, Sinclair was poor, and chose the wrong option time after time.
The Stygian gloom was briefly illuminated by a goal of some quality on 37 minutes, Hasselbaink crossing for McPhail who launched a kung fu style attack on the ball and rocketed it past the keeper. Praise the lord and pass the Bovril. The crowd awoke from their slumbers and there were signs that things would take off. City gained the upper hand and had a few decent attempts on goal, Hasselbaink trying hard with a few long range shots, whilst Joe Ledley went close too.
Half time passed slowly as the embarrassing attempts at "entertainment" droned on. Having secured a fragile lead, one would have expected a revamped, revitalised Bluebirds to sprint off the starting blocks in the second half and attempt to galvanise their advantage. Nope - no such luck. In time-honoured fashion we do nothing to extend our lead and concede yet another hopeless sloppy goal. New Boy Kasper Schmeichel had a solid start today, he looked composed and comfortable most of the time, but dropped one almighty clanger for the goal, allowing Goodwin to shoot lamely underneath his body. Same old same old.
Parry replaced McNaughton, with Sinclair moving to right back, and the static and ineffective Fowler was hauled off after yet another forgettable performance on 60 minutes. A newly defoliated Thompson took to the pitch to the kind of standing ovation which shows how desperate the supporters are for someone to step up and make a scoring name for themselves at this club. Stevie T has many of the attributes required, but not that one killer poaching instinct - the 6 goals he scored last season are etched into his forehead like worry lines.
He has an abundance of endeavour but no finesse - he hustled and bustled himself into plenty of useful positions but was unable to finish off what he started. Hasselbaink, on the other hand, was hamstrung by a lack of pace and a failure of touch on several occasions, shamelessly blaming colleagues for his own inadequacies at one stage.
If the winner was going to come it would have been from only two players - Joe Ledley, whose efforts and form today were in sharp contrast to 80% of his team-mates, (no surprise that he was one of the only players to have the brass neck to applaud the crowd at the end - a gesture which was warmly reciprocated), and Steve McPhail, who responded to waves of recent criticism with a decent performance - he was unafraid to shoot from distance and went close on a couple of occasions.
Hats off to the crowd, who after putting up with months of mediocrity, were still able to ratchet up the atmosphere at the end to try and will the players on to a barely deserved victory. And well done to the cretins on the Grange End for hanging on to the ball whilst we are desperately searching for a winner, and then taunting the dozens of Scunthorpe supporters on their first visit to Ninian for years with the *terrifying* "Outside it's a massacre" (the embarrassment of which was somewhat alleviated when the chant turned into "Outside there's a burger van").
So where do we go from here? Well, to Anfield obviously, where our current parlous form will be redeemed by a giant killing of Kop-tastic proportions. See you in the Tate Gallery, admiring the Mark Wallinger Man in a Bear Suit video installation. Either that or propping up the bar in The Arkles...
Paul Davies © 2007.
« Back to match reports index