Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Crisis. What crisis? City 2-1 Leeds

Make no mistake. This was a massive game for Cardiff City. After some really poor performances and two good spankings in their last outings against Watford and Bristol City saw the Bluebirds drop to fifth, Leeds, unbeaten in 12 (since City walloped them at Elland Road back in October in fact) were the visitors to CCS. Victory would see the winners go to 2nd spot behind QPR.

There were some palpable groans (from me) when I saw that Bothroyd is was still not in the starting line up, and a slight surprise to see woeful left back Lee Naylor still in, and the slightly less woeful, and rarely seen Paul Quinn at right back, with the usually reliable, and very versatile Kevin McNaughton slotting in at centre back with Mark Hudson. Yet another surprise was a second game in a week for Craig Bellamy. Still, the manager knows best.

One point to note is that Lee Naylor has had some stick for what have been in all honesty some pretty awful performances. It was terrible though to see some of the City "fans" booing him when the team sheets were announced

City were out of the blocks in a hurry, and the chances (and corners) came thick and fast in an opening period that saw Leeds pegged back into their own half. It looked only a matter of time before City scored, and Craig Bellamy duly obliged in the 11th minute from close range. That only served to fire City up more, and peg Leeds back more, although the visitors did look dangerous when they got into the final third. In fact City had about 10 corners in the opening period and looked unlikely to score from any, whilst Leeds almost scored from their first. City though bossed the first half and went in one up.

It was not likely that Leeds would be quite so restrained in the second period, but again, City were in their faces from the off, showing a desire to chase and close down that has been lacking in recent games.

As I mentioned though, Naylor and Quinn both look particularly vulnerable, with poor passing, poor positioning and a seeming ingrained need to let the ball bounce before playing it, and that left a 1-0 advantage always on a knife edge. A sweeping pass from Leeds opened up a chance for Sam, one of Leeds' subs, who looked certain to score only for Heaton to pull off a brilliant save. But City failed to clear and the marvelously named Snodgrass curled a great shot in to level the match.

That blow took the wind out of City, and for 15 minutes they lost the plot. They reverted to route one, gave the ball way every time they got it and looked very likely to concede again. But they gradually settled again, and wih just over 10 minutes remaining, Whittingham fired a perfectly weighted long ball down the right channel for Chopra to chase. He outran the defender, but Leeds 'keeper Schmeichel seemed to be getting there first as he closed down the angle until Chopra finished superbly with an outstretched leg to send most of the 25,000 plus crowd into a frenzy.

Leeds pushed for a second equaliser, but City saw out the match which fires them back into 2nd spot, and takes a huge weight off everyone at the club and the fans.

This win doesn't paper over all the cracks though. Naylor (and Quinn) were both pretty awful again, and we depserately need some quality full backs (apart from Naughts, though he looks pretty decent at centre back too).

For the moment though, the heat is off. A very winnable FA Cup tie against Premiership Stoke on Saturday brings welcome respite from the tension of the league.

One final point, and one I think I've made before is that I can't get an internet signal on my phone at City matches. I can when Wales play, or the Blues are there, but when City are at home, the O2 data signal disappears. Apparently, I'm told by fellow Twitterer @Rhys1927 O2 switch off the data signal when City are at home. Why? Other carriers don't seem to. I pay good money to O2 every month to use their services, and they deem not to provide me with a service I'm paying for. That's why you don't get any match tweets/updates from me or @ministats during City matches. A Mr Angry email coming on I think.

It's never dull following City!


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