Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Crazy: City2-2 Reading

I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's never easy supporting Cardiff City. With the buzz of new players coming in, and importantly Jay Bothroyd not leaving in the transfer window, 21 thousand packed inside CCS to watch City take on a useful Reading team.

Useful maybe, but City were packed with quality. Bothroyd and Whittingham (our own), Bellamy (Man City loan), Jay Emanuel Thomas (Arsenal loan), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal loan). On the bench we had Jason Koumas, Jon Parking and Michael Chopra to name a few. The quality is mind boggling (to a Cardiff City fan). So hopes were high. The challenge though for Dave Jones is to get the quality playing as a team.

City looked bright early on, but it was a bit of sparring with both sides looking good going forward. Reading in particular had done their homework and singled out City's left back Lee Naylor as a weakness. Let's be frank here. He is. He's awful, and error after error had the crowd on his back early on. God knows what Dave Jones sees in him, but he continues with him, and every side who visit CCS pile everything down the left. But with the game looking evenly poised, City threw it away. Lee Nalyor (inevitably) failed to deal with a ball down the left, the resulting hacked clearance is hit back in by Liegertwood and deflected past Heaton. City stunned, and it should have been 2-0 a minute later as McAnuff weaved virtually unchallenged past static defenders into the penalty area and only a last ditch tackle by McNaughton saved the day. After this it was all Reading, and City were booed off by some of the crowd at half time. They had been poor - very poor.

Tactical change for City in the 2nd period, with Chopra on for Olofinjana, and immediately City looked brighter (no doubt with a flea in their ear too). And inside three minutes it was level, albeit from where I sat rather fortuitously. Reading's keeper Federici gathered the ball. Chopra, as he's want to do stood in front of him. As Federici made to punt, Chopra moved in front of him. In 99.9% of cases, the ref (of whom more later) would give a free kick to the 'keeper but he didn't. The kick was hacked only as far as Bothroyd, still wandering back. With no-one but Chopra and the keeper in from of him, he ran the ball back, round the keeper and slotted home for 1-1. Reading were furious, but to no avail, and frankly I couldn't care less.

City then picked up the pace and started to dominate. It wasn't great though. Emanuel Thomas who's a big lad was not having a good game. He won't (or can't) jump for headers, looks fast but plays very slowly (lazily?) and for a big lad isn't strong enough on the ball. The crowd were calling for Chris Burke, who duly replaced him and again City looked brighter almost straight away.

Reading still looked dangerous on the break though, and had a few chances, but it seemed only a matter of time until City scored. But it was Reading, breaking away in the 92nd minute who looked to have broken City hearts when they snatched a late, late goal though Manset. Half the crowd started leaving (and I was tempted), but with a few minutes of added time left, us die hards decided to stay, glum though we were. Then, in the dying embers, City got a free kick about 20 yards out when someone (not sure who) was hacked down. Reading were angry about the free kick, but it all kicked off as one of their players kicked the ball away and Chopra reacted. He and the Reading player were booked. Reading's wall looked about 7 yards back, with Whitts and Bellamy over the ball. It was Bellamy, and he hit it into the right hand side of the goal...2-2. Unbelievable scenes. That was the last kick of the match. If that hadn't gone in, City would surely have been booed off, despite a rousing second half. As it was it felt like a win, but sadly only one point, whilst those above us all won.

I think we should have started with Chopra (and Whitts on the bench), and with Kienan (and Naylor not even in the squad).

A word on the officials as promised. Mr GL Ward and his team. Frankly they were a disgrace. For one, one of the linesman needs a lesson from Sian Massey on the offside rule, because he made two or three appalling decisions. He also allowed play to go on when the ball was clearly over the touchline on one occasion when he was about three feet away. Not a bit over..a lot over.

Mr Ward himself was just, well, just crap. The bloke sitting next to me commented at one point (and he's not prone to comments like this usually) "it's beginning to look like a stitch up". On the other hand, he didn't award a free kick to the keeper on our first goal. But it does reinforce my belief that the majority of refs at this level really aren't that good.

So, where does that leave us? In practical terms, 5th, albeit with a game in hand over most around us, and only 3 points off 2nd. It's the bigger picture that's more worrying. Jones has a quality squad. But it doesn't look like he knows what his best starting XI is, or what to do when things aren't going right, or what formation to play. It's no good having the best "pound for pound squad in the league" (his words) if he can't get them playing the way other managers see to be able to get their players playing for each other.

And Naylor.....well, he's got to go.

My MOTM. Again, Kevin McNaughton. But I don't want our fill in centre back to be getting MOTM every week. I want our striker, or creative midfielder to be getting the plaudits.

Oh well. What's next up. Oh yes. Little local derby on Sunday. Away to the Jacks.....


1 comment:

stabber said...

Great report. Thanks