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Cardiff 1 Huddersfield Town 2
22nd Sept 2001
Would you Adam and flaming well Eve it? The portents were good - a beautiful sunny late September afternoon, crowds milling around Sloper Road at 2.00 PM and the return of a proper old skool football team with a bit of history, Huddersfield Town.
What better opportunity could there be of exorcising the demons of the ghastly Cambridge defeat and the perfunctorily slacker-ish performance against crappy old Northampton. A decent opposing team always elicits a decent City performance, or so the old City adage goes, and here was the ideal time to put things right.
A mildly disappointing crowd of 12,000 gave the Bluebirds a rousing welcome and early indications were good, the team were fired up and seemed intent on showing just exactly what they were capable of.
Within eight minutes the goal had arrived, early Cardiff pressure found Brayson on the right, and a perfectly judged cross allowed new striker Peter Thorne to open up his account at Fortress Ninian with a peach of a header, looping gracefully over the head of the Terriers' keeper, who deserved to be one-nil down if only for the shocking effrontery of his powder-blue goalkeeping outfit.
Euphoria was doled out amongst the one and nines, and all home supporters settled themselves in for a comfortable romp which would signal the start of the Bluebirds assault on the higher reaches of Div 2.
After all, we were in the midst of a record-equalling 27 match unbeaten run, and were surely not going to collapse after such a buoyant start ? Sadly, the players were unable to get with the programme and the game went decidedly pear-shaped within moments of that opening goal.
The creeping malaise of longball-itis, which has attached itself to this team like a soul-sucking canker, took hold once again and for the rest of the first half, Cardiff's forward forays rarely deviated from the long high ball aimed at Leo's head.
Fortune-West is a brave and tireless worker who has maximised his limited abilities, but he was sadly second best in his conflict with the hairy-arsed Huddersfield centre back. The referee's selective myopia also saw Leo bruised battered buffeted and manhandled on so many occasions without a whistle being blown that it almost became embarrassing.
Once again, the Cardiff gameplan, if they had one, appeared to fall apart in a shoddy and depressing catalogue of misplaced passes, clunkily elementary defensive errors and gormless creatively bankrupt lumpen football. The back four appeared to be in some kind of narcoleptic trance, so regularly were they skewered inside out by the Men In Black from Yorkshire.
Huddersfield's tactics were simple yet effective, flood the defence but break quickly with precision and ferocity. Thus it was that the Town came back into the match, getting their just desserts with a superbly well struck left foot drive from the edge of the box from Mattis.
Depressed faces at half time consoled themselves with the thought that there was still plenty of time to turn this game round. The second half did not, however, offer much relief. Apart from a well-worked Kavanagh free kick which zipped along the turf in some style, there was little of invention or venom about the CCFC attack.
Time and time again the ball was hefted into the grateful arms of taking-the-piss-now keeper Margetson, whether from open play, free kick or throw-in. The lack of imagination at the heart of this team was desperate.
Certain players will want to quickly move on to Tuesday's contest at QPR without pausing to collect their £200. Rhys Weston, in particular, played as if he'd been munching magic mushrooms for a fortnight, so leaden were his plodding football boots.
Huddersfield's inevitable winning goal came courtesy of a catastrophic schoolyard error from Neil Alexander who spilled and spooned the ball into the grateful lap of striker Schofield, who promptly buried the ball and Cardiff's hopes into the net.
As the club announcer gave the man of the match award to Graham Kavanagh, there were widespread hoots of derision around the ground, and it was certainly the case that 'Kav' did not turn in the kind of gritty creative performance for which he was purloined from Stoke.
Peter Thorne's opening goal shows that he has the predator's instinct which should serve the club well over this campaign, the need for a guaranteed 25 goal a season man being a pre-requiste for serious promotion contenders. Thorne's problem was that the quality of the service was unanimously piss-poor.
Too many players had woeful off-days which conspired to produce a thunderously ineffective team performance, which, after the last two games is starting to furrow a few brows in the stands and on the terraces.
Informed pre-match bar-room tittle tattle claimed that Corky's time is rapidly running out, and if a convincing run of form is not hit within a matter of weeks, then he will be on his way out.
The next two results will be crucial, for Corky, and for any realistic ambitions of a challenge for promotion. After many more games like this, the people will be cheering him on his way.
One final reason not to be cheerful was the obliteration of one of Cardiff City's heritage-status landmarks - the famous Captain Morgan Rum advert on the roof of the Bob Bank, a comfort blanket for City fans for decades, has been painted over by a garishly bright and breezy Hyper Value advert.
Jimmy Scoular will be spinning in his grave
© Paul Davies 2001