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Cardiff City FC

Cardiff 2 Blackpool 0
Championship, October 28th 2008


Plunging temperatures and ankle-threatening gritters in the streets surrounding Ninian Park sorted the men from the boys as the crowds gathered for the first almost-Winter floodlit fixture. The absent fairweathers warming their toes by the fire were offset by the freezing- their-butts-off kids for a squid ('can we go home yet? Can I have another burger? Who's the team in the blue?') and a well respectable crowd of 17.5 K gave the Bluebirds a rousing reception as they took to the pitch, still rubbing their eyes in relative disbelief as the table is studied.

Cardiff 2 Blackpool 0 Championship, October 28th 2008, Ninian Park, Cardiff

Blackpool had a lively five minutes and a couple of promising efforts before Cardiff found an agreeable gear and begun to run them ragged for a solid 20 minute spell. Parry, who owed the crowd a decent performance after recent dispiriting shows, quickly realised he had the edge over the Blackpool left back, and left the poor guy spinning helplessly with vertigo, such was the number of times the right winger turned him inside out. Approach play was exemplary, but familiar faults were evident as good possession was squandered when in sight of the goals, hasty long range shots and attempts to pass their way into the net were equally repelled by the tangerine dreamers, who were unrecognisable from the team that turfed Brum over a few weeks back. Blackpool were a big pile of nothing, and seemed content to sit back, suck City in and block, parry and repel the Blue invaders.

They defended valiantly, but had little ambition but to keep their score down to zero. City gamely swallowed every frustrating setback and pushed forward constantly, winning corner after corner but not looking especially dangerous. Best chance of the half fell to Ross McCormack - Comminges played a neat pass to Bothroyd, whose calculated ball to McCormack found the striker with the opportunity to accelerate ominously towards goal, cutting inside the full back and firing a powerful shot goalwards - only to see keeper Paul Rachubka smother the ball. Rae burst through the centre of midfield and let a decent shot go, McCormack volleyed over, Bothroyd went close and Ledley had a couple of opportunities.

After that positive spell, City seemed to flag, losing the midfield momentum which drove them forward, and Blackpool dug in, won more possession and started picking up the second balls. Either side of half-time the match degenerated into a scrappy, scruffy disjointed encounter, which neither side appeared to have the wit or ambition to win. Blackpool never really bothered or tested the back four, who still managed to look a little uncomfortable. Purse had one of his worst performances since striding back into the team, booked for a cynical body slam on 5 minutes there was widespread disbelief on the terraces when he didn't see red for a wild challenge in the second half.

Cardiff 2 Blackpool 0 Championship, October 28th 2008, Ninian Park, Cardiff

His timing and decision-making were suspect and his distribution was dreadful at times. His indecision seemed to give Kevin McNaughton the wobbles as well, failing to offer Parry the support he can usually rely upon. Heaton is looking more and more comfortable between the sticks, but his poor kicking and reluctance to feed his full backs is an irritation that should be rectified.

Comminges was given a hard time by some City fans, but hardly put a foot wrong as far as I could see - apart from being a little cautious in possession. Midfield were misfiring - Parry failed to reproduce his combustible form of the first half, Joe Ledley was a spare part and Rae and McPhail were unable to make the breakthrough. Up front there were few complaints. McCormack was a threat, and his reputation as the hottest striker in the Championship (imagine saying that six weeks ago), meant that Blackpool were doubling and trebling up on his marking. This inevitably gave Bothroyd more time on the ball, and his touch and technique were again impressive, if not entirely in keeping with his allotted role as central striker. Jay ain't really found his groove yet, and may benefit from a formation change and a deeper-lying position behind McCormack - in a 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1.


The game looked to be heading towards a grinding no-score bore draw, which would have been especially frustrating given that Burnley had gone 1-0 up against Reading. The crowd stayed on-message and responded to renewed efforts from the team to blast through the deadlock with some rousing vocal support. Comminges was brought off on 55 minutes to allow for the introduction of Whittingham, Ledley dropping back to cover. There was an almost immediate improvement, Whittingham making repeated inroads into the heart of the Blackpool defence.

Cardiff 2 Blackpool 0 Championship, October 28th 2008, Ninian Park, Cardiff

City finally broke through on 83 minutes, a sweet move down the left hand side saw Bothroyd evade the defenders and flight a beautiful cross directly onto the noggin of substitute Whitts, who headed powerfully past the desperate challenge of the keeper. Once again Johnson was introduced to add to the strike-power, once again he did little of consequence. A case for the defence might argue that apart from the full 45 at Swansea, he has barely been given enough time to make a significant contribution to any team's performance - the odd 10 or 15 minutes here and there is currently helping nobody. Jones must decide whether he is an asset or liability - if the former then he needs more game time.


The great thing about the current City team is that any free kick on the edge of the area is looking like an alomost certain goal - McCormack is deadly from the 20 yard set piece and with the clinical left boot of Whittingham on standby we are currently supremely well served in that department. On 86 minutes McCormack was pulled down on the edge and you somehow just knew that he would convert - a superb dipping rocketing shot into the keeper's top right hand corner of the net ended the game, propelled us into third place and left the punters in frozen raptures as they jumped up and down to get the feeling back in their frost-bitten appendages.

Cardiff 2 Blackpool 0 Championship, October 28th 2008, Ninian Park, Cardiff

In contrast to the previous two seasons, progress this year has been slow, steady and consistent - large patches of dull as ditchwater footy have shared space with some of the fierce fancy dan stuff we have come to expect. For the moment, dull is good if it grinds out results like this - we'll save the entertainment for later. One of the best defences in the division, an ever-improving goal difference and the standout striker of the moment, how could you not be happy with the way things are going? Admittedly resources are stretched and we still urgently require genuine striking alternatives, midfield and defensive cover - you'd like to think that the appropriate reinforcements in January can be brought in without sacrificing the existing talent - but, as ever, no-one is holding their breath.

Cardiff 2 Blackpool 0 Championship, October 28th 2008, Ninian Park, Cardiff

Saturday's teatime TV clash with leaders Wolves is sure to be a sell-out and could be a belter of a game. Confidence is vaulting with each accrued point and step up the table - a victory over our Black Country nemeses is expected, and predicted.

Paul Davies © 2008.

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