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Cardiff City 2 Reading 2
26th December 2001
What a treat of a football cracker. Oh no it wasn't !
Surfing on cockle-warming thermals of post Christmas bonhomie and self-deluding optimism, 17,000 hardy souls struggle out of bed for the preposterous and completely unexplained early kick-off, dive into their new socks, scarves and scratchy jumpers and head for Ninian Park.
Nine points over Xmas were deemed to be an achievable goal by the club's movers and shakers and would consolidate the Bluebirds' slow-burning promotion campaign.
A resounding win against Reading would spark things off nicely and set everything up for the local derby against our Briztolian brethren.
Ninian Park roars as City ahead 2-1
But, of course, the curse of Christmases past was visited upon the hopeful supporters, as Yuletide-us Anti-climacticus sought to dispel all the Christmas cheer.
Once again, when the going got tough, the Blues keeled over, victims of complacency, over-confidence and raw sphincter-wobbling nerves.
A lousy first half performance, during which Reading shredded the crepe-paper Cardiff defence at will, was redeemed by a corker of a goal from young Earnshaw, without whose predatory instincts this club would surely be floundering in mid-table.
For the umpteenth time we went ahead, not once but twice, and were flakily unable to hold and build upon a lead. The desperate disappointment of a completely transparent and barren performance was manifested in the mausoleum-like atmosphere which hung like a dripping tarpaulin over the entire ground.
Cardiff go close late in the second half.
It was not only the crowd who looked pasty-faced and dyspeptic after a day of over-indulgence - perhaps Corky's decision to give our lads the day off to spend the time with their families was a touch naive, given the re-fuelling habits of the modern footballer.
A jaded team played jaded football, and barely deserved the point they skulked back to the dressing room with.
The injury to Gavin Gordon left the Bluebirds a lightweight proposition upfront, where the Earnshaw-Fortune-West combo has yet to unlock the clunkiest of Div 2 defences.
Just as worrying were the elementary lapses at the back. Premiership full back Dean Gordon was turned embarrassingly inside out on numerous occasions by the right winger, whilst Gabbidon needed a compass to propel his movement upfield, so ponderous was his creaking approach work.
At this rate Cardiff will struggle to make the play-offs. A performance from another level is required against Bristol if the intermittent sparks of promise are not to dive-bomb into mid-table mediocrity.
All this and then news comes in that Steps have split up as well. Thank you Santa.
by Paul Davies