| Cardiff City 0 QPR 1
Championship, November 17th 2006
...Cause nothin' lasts forever, even cold November rain...
Hello Sky Sports Curse! Goodbye Unbeaten Home Run!
A grim and grisly night at Fortress Ninian, where all the portents had pointed to a night of disappointment for the Bluebirds and their wet and shivering faithful.
Traffic meltdown in the city (again) means ever-more ingenious methods of travelling to downtown Canton are devised by fans. Mercifully the expected deluge failed to materialise and the wide open spaces on the Bob Bank terrace are bathed in a crisp and chilly autumnal floodlit glow.
No new loan signings to bolster a somewhat flagging side, so replacing Gilbert/Chambers at right back is rated 17 year old tyro Chris Gunter. Gunter had a fine game tonight, despite some tentative moments, showed a desire to get forward and some neat football whilst in possession.
In truth, his league debut may have been easier if Purse and Alexander had shown a little more faith and given him the ball more often.
Following hard on the heels of Southampton, Derby and Burnley, this was another tough home game for the Blues, QPR packing the defence, squeezing midfield and breaking quickly on the counter.
Apart from a few isolated patches of sharp inter-changing one-touch football, Cardiff were well off the pace today.
Key players (McPhail, Ledley, Parry, Scimeca, Chopra) were shadows of their usual brave-hearted selves, and the well-oiled CCFC machine puttered and sputtered falteringly all night. Gratifyingly, Steve Thompson was almost back to his best, winning umpteen headers and holding and laying the ball off in his usual fashion.
The first half was, however, a dire affair - scrappy dreary stuff with barely a shot on goal - the closest we came was a Parry rocket from the edge of the penalty area which flew just over the bar. The R's caused some commotion in our penalty area with some deftly guided corners, but the Cardiff defence were a solid unit, Purse and Loovens looking strong again at the back.
Half-time Bovril beckoned and a chance to get away from the terrace nutter. City were out of the traps swiftly after the break, attacking with more purpose and conviction. Most of the action came down the left flank courtesy of the definitely-back-to-his-best Kevin McNaughton.
The best move of the match saw McNaughton scythe through the man-mountain QPR defence, cut inside and see his chip cum shot ping cruelly off the crossbar. Parry's '"goal' on 53 minutes was clearly offside, and two questionable penalty appeals were waved away by the whistle-happy ref, much to the disdain of up-ended Chopra and Purse.
Calamity struck on 88 minutes, a dumb sucker-punch to the solar plexus as QPR sprinted up the pitch to take advantage of over-committed defenders, with England U19 international Ray Jones sliding the ball into the corner to send the West Londoners (and their paltry contingent of 100 away fans) into barely deserved ecstasy whilst condemning the Bluebirds to the deepest darkest doldrums.
The Bluebirds are going through the 'difficult second album syndrome' at present, and will need a handsome victory at Hillsborough next Saturday to get this show back on the road.
We are of course, still 3 points clear at the top (til 16.45 on Saturday afternoon) and there is no reason to suppose that the maestro DJ cannot get things back on track.
A pitiful crowd of 13,250 resisted the temptation of the egg and a warm Sky Sports boozer to trek down Sloper Road tonight, and whilst a poor attendance was expected, this was a shocking indictment of the soft-core fickle floaters who should be ramming Ninian to the rafters on nights like these.
Worryingly, Dave Jones was quoted this week as saying, 'If we can't fill it (Ninian) when we're top of the league, then I'm wasting my time here'.
What we need for Xmas - MORE fans and some players - the boys is knackered!
Paul Davies © 2006
"They came to do a job and they have taken away the points.
If you are not going to win then you have to make sure you do not lose.
I have no complaints, because we started poorly and finished poorly, and there were not enough attempts on goal.
They got the goal without any sustained pressure. It was bad defending on our part." Cardiff manager Dave Jones
Cardiff City: Alexander, Gunter, Purse, Loovens, McNaughton, Parry (Kamara 81), McPhail, Scimeca, Ledley, Thompson, Chopra.
Subs Not Used: Howard, Johnson, Cooper, Campbell.
QPR: Royce, Mancienne, Rehman, Stewart, Bignot, Ainsworth (Ward 15), Bailey, Smith, Cook, Nygaard, Blackstock (Ray Jones 65).
Subs Not Used: Paul Jones, Milanese, Baidoo.
Booked: Bignot, Nygaard, Bailey.
Goals: Ray Jones 88.
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