As Bazza previously expected, we approached this game already in the bottom three. His relatively pessimistic report from the previous week wasn’t too wide of the mark. Two wins and seven defeats in the first eleven games was the sort of start he was dreading. So much so that it put him off going to last night’s match altogether. Well, that’s a slight fib. With a nonagenarian aunt and a father-in-law in hospital, the match was just a bridge too far, so it has fallen to me to blog as ‘understudy’ to the great Bazza.
I met Christian, my lad, nowhere near Blackwater and we headed in the
train car to the gloriously secure zone that is ‘Wheels’ to test our ankles. Christian – fresh from a week’s rugby and football, and me – aged with a lifetime of wear and tear – managed to get to the ground without any hamstring tears (which is more than could have been said for any of Redknapp’s training sessions) and we were ready to sample some of the delights of the Smokehouse… the serving hatch’s Balti pies.
We remarked as to how poor we had been performing recently and felt the return of Jota and Che Adams had given us both cause for optimism.
I was so optimistic, I predicted Che Adams would score! In a 1-1 draw. Christian was going for a 1-0 win…with Vassell to score. Did it matter that Cardiff were top of the table? Did it heck-as-like! We had a new manager, and it was about time we revelled in the ‘new manager’s bounce’.
Blues were truly excellent in the first half and were deservedly ahead with just over a quarter of an hour gone when Che Adams took the ball on the halfway line, went on a mazy run, nipped past six Cardiff players and slammed the ball home past the ‘keeper into the net inside the far post. In truth Blues were completely in control by half time and I honestly believed they would go on and win very comfortably.
Jacques Maghoma has had some mixed performances of late, plenty of endeavour but no end product. This was one of his better ones, but make no bones about it, the ‘stars’ of the show were Morrison, Adams and Vassell, who must have been reading a different script to the one the Cardiff team had watched, post-Hull. They never stopped running, chasing and blocking. Ndoye was also a powerhouse in the middle of the pitch, and – coupled with positive (I hesitate to say equally as good) performances from Davis and Kieftenbeld (I’m pleased he didn’t get to Derby!) – it’ll be hard to find a slot for Gardner against the Vile if they match it against Millwall. Cardiff were denied what could well have been a penalty on a different day, but I’ve seen them given against us, and I’ve seen us denied them. Them’s the breaks!
The second half wasn’t as imperious as the first, Cardiff found a little more time on the ball, though without any end product whatsoever. Ndoye inadvertently played the part of Cardiff defence, blocking an almost-certain Adams second goal which fortunately didn’t cost us in the end. Kuszczak had very little to do, compared with their ‘keeper Etheridge, who found himself having to head up into our half in the closing seconds of seven minutes stoppage time as they hunted for an equaliser.
The Good: Adams’s goal, Morrison’s body-on-the-line blocks and the crowd’s singing. Cardiff managed one ‘Your support is F’n S*’ before the goal silenced them, and we outsang them for the rest of the evening. We’re back!??
The Bad: See the refereeing.
The Ugly: A couple of our ‘clever’ short corners that came to nothing and one silly goal kick that amounted to ‘pass to Morrison right alongside TK, who will then hoof it, so why couldn’t TK have just booted it?’. That said, nothing cost us, so can’t complain too much.
Birmingham City: Tomasz Kuszczak 7, Maxime Colin 7, Marc Roberts 7, Michael Morrison 9, Jonathan Grounds 7, David Davis 7 (Sam Gallagher 90+6, N/A), Cheikh Ndoye 8, Maikel Kieftenbeld 8, Jacques Maghoma 7 (Craig Garder 90+6, N/A), Isaac Vassell 9*, Che Adams 9 (Lukas Jutkiewicz 90+1, N/A).
Subs not used: Harlee Dean, Connall Trueman, Jota, Stephen Gleeson.
Goals: Adams 19.
Yellow cards: Davis, Kieftenbeld.
Cardiff: Neil Etheridge 5, Lee Peltier 6, Sean Morrison 5, Bruno Ecuele Manga 6, Joe Bennett 6, Sol Bamba 6, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing 6, Craig Bryson 5 (Aron Gunnarsson 67, 5), Joe Rails 5 (Danny Ward 81, N/A), Junior Hoilett 5 (Liam Feeney 81, N/A), Kenneth Zohore 6.
Subs not used: Lee Tomlin, Matthew Connolly, Loic Damour, Brian Murphy.
Yellow cards: Bryson.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham 4: an abysmal performance by this official. Cardiff’s boss focussed on him instead of the fact that his side didn’t get a single shot on target. This was more to do with Morrison and his defensive cohort than the official, but he did indeed do so much wrong, but he aided and abetted Cardiff in equal measure. Ndoye was getting sick of being manhandled, Adams was being pulled from pillar to post, Vassell was being dragged back, all going unnoticed. There was the afore-mentioned possibility of a Cardiff penalty and a Cardiff throw-in that a Cardiff first team coach picked up before the ball had even gone out! It was academic, in that it would have gone out anyway, but it was a definite infringement! There were a few clear Blues throws given Cardiff’s way too, so the linesmen weren’t clear of guilt either. Some decisions were just ludicrous, playing on with no clear sign of advantage and one ridiculous decision when Blues were in a two-on-one position advancing on the Cardiff goal, when the ref noticed a ‘head injury’. Of course, the Cardiff player was fine seconds later and we effectively ‘won’ a goal kick when Cardiff passed us the ball back. This rule really does need re-examining, to stop players feigning injury, perhaps an enforced five minute physio check up while play continues?
Russ KRO! Bring on the Lions, and then…the pussycats 😉