| Cardiff 2 Ipswich Town 2
Championship December 9th 2006
Yet another crap performance - third in a row at home now, and, not that you need reminding, but the blip that turned into a wibble then a wobble has now turned into a slump.
This was a miserable day's football, 3 points thrown away not once but twice, against an Ipswich team which made the epithet ordinary seem like the grossest hyperbole.
Six weeks ago, we would have destroyed them 4 or 5 nil in rampant fashion. Today, we struggled, and were looking fortunate to escape with one point at times.
Dave Jones' team selection seemed perverse at the off, starting with McNaughton in an advanced midfield position, Kamara (after a dreadful performance against Colchester) on the right, and the immobile (tries hard but is clearly past it)
Campbell upfront instead of Thompson - the oddest selection of all - a boot up the Thompson posterior or was he not fully match fit?
Occupying the full back positions were 17 year old Chris Gunter, and pocket dynamo 35 year old Alan Wright, whose energy levels do not compensate for his chronic reluctance to get forward. Loovens is still injured, so no worries with his deputy Roger Johnson stepping into the void.
After the tedious days of Tottenham ticket hype from curmudgeonly whingers, groaners and moaners, it was a blessed relief to get back to NP and see some football.
Unbelievably, even with the promise of a guaranteed FA Cup ticket, the crowd just about staggered over the 16,000 mark. Premiership club? Yes you are having a laugh.
Another must-win for the Bluebirds then, as rampant Birmingham City look to cement their position at the top at home to Preston, and a snarling pack of vulture wannabes seek to benefit from the collective footballing dts being experienced at Cardiff City.
A good start for the boys - after some early pressure, Darren Purse volleyed in McNaughton's cross from the left, and the jubilant crowd rose as one to celebrate our first goal for 7 hours.
Early signs from Ipswich indicated that these tractor boys would struggle to get their Massey Fergusons out of first gear and were positively gagging for a humongous beating.
Sadly, City's makeshift side, patched together with sellotape and bits of frayed string, were unable to capitalise on the weakness of the opposition, nervously ceding territory and possession to the increasingly ambitious visitors.
Cardiff were lucky to get to half time holding the advantage, as three clear-cut opportunities were wasted.
by the profligate visitors, for whom Danny Haynes, Gary Roberts and Jon Macken performed well. Shortly after the break the equaliser arrived - failing to clear their lines in a packed penalty area, Cardiff were rent asunder by a well struck shot from Roberts. Doom gloom and despondency spread like a rash across the ground.
Fortune then smiled on City, a wayward elbow was directed into the face of Thompson by former City target Jason de Vos and the ref had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
The Ipswich players' reaction was appalling - a full three minutes of dissent and delaying tactics which incredibly elicited not a single card in response.
Cool as a cucumber, fearless Dazza Purse strode away from the penalty area, bouncing the ball on his arm in a perfect riposte, winding the visitors up even more, before despatching the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the net. Dazza 2 Ipswich 1.
If only the rest of the team could have responded in Purse-like fashion. Instead they fell back to their 'after you Claude' defensive and midfield deference, allowing Ipswich back into the game again.
The oh-so-expected kick in the yarbles arrived on 73 minutes, Roberts felled by the outstretched leg of Chris Gunter. The ref had little option but to award a penalty, which was cleanly taken by Macken, sending Alexander the wrong way.
DJ's adventurous/reckless/desperate substitutions failed to make any significant impact on the course of the game.
Thompson replaced Campbell, Cooper replaced Wright, and Luigi Glombard came on for Kamara. Glombard made a couple of decent runs but the game was over as soon as the Ipswich players celebrated their second equaliser.
Leaving aside the gaping holes left in this side by the missing Paul Parry, Glen Loovens, Kerrea Gilbert and Stephen McPhail, this was a grim performance for which somebody should be carrying the can.
And it's not good enough for Dave Jones to spin around like a headless chicken, blaming waterlogged training facilities, dodgy officials, the Welsh FA, fickle fans and the inhuman stench emanating from the temporary toilets behind the Bob Bank (beyond endurance yesterday, worse than Glastonbury) for this unappetising football mess.
The balance of the side has been fatally undermined by the prolonged and overlapping absences of Gilbert and McNaughton at full back. There is no drive and dynamism to the play without those two belting forward down the wings.
The makeshift midfield were awful today - even the player of the season Shim Shiminee Scimeca having an anonymous off-day. Michael Chopra was once again away with the fairies, failing to capitalise upon the scraps falling his way, and ending up looking as frustrated as the hardcore and glory-hunters on the terraces.
Neil Alexander had a good game, but can someone please explain why he boots the ball aimlessly upfield whenever he gets possession, instead of feeding his full backs like what proper football teams do.
90% of these kicks go straight to the opposition, needlessly conceding possession time after time after time.
C'mon Neil, trust your full backs and give 'em the bleedin' ball!
After playing like champions for three months we are now playing like relegation patsies, and whilst the wheels are not quite off the wagon yet, we are in desperate need of some running repairs.
Three out of the next four games must be won if we are to build upon the superb start and continue this promotion challenge. Who wants the play-offs again?
As the perspicacious 6 year old terrace wag behind me noted sagely today 'C'mon City, it's a match, not Connect 4!'
Paul Davies © 2006
Cardiff: Alexander, McNaughton, Purse, Johnson, Gunter, Ledley, Scimeca, Wright (Cooper 62), Kamara (Glombard 75), Chopra, Campbell (Thompson 62). Subs Not Used: Loovens, Howard.
Goals: Purse 3, 66 pen.
Ipswich: Price, Bruce, Naylor, De Vos, Harding, Williams, Garvan, Legwinski, Roberts (Richards 90), Macken, Haynes (Clarke 77).
Subs Not Used: Miller, Pele, Sarmiento, Wright-Phillips.
Booked: Supple, Walton, Peters.
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