Alexander the Great. Bournemouth Match Reaction.

Last updated : 27 October 2004 By Matthew Gabb
In a pulsating Carling Cup tie Cardiff City squeak through to the fourth round by the narrowest of margins. Sudden death penalties - Barker scored, Browning's shot was saved and the Bluebirds go through.

Well, where to start. A large City contingent made their way to the south coast for this tie. Around 600-700 away fans made the trip, many tempted no doubt by the "pay on the night" status of the match. Before the game wasn't particularly pleasant with problems in the designated away pub with what were (apparently) a group of West Ham "fans".

The kick off was delayed til 8pm as the near capacity crowd struggled to get into Dean Court. City's team was a mix of youth and experience. Nicky Fish made his debut in midfield and Joe Ledley continued on the left. Weston and Collins turned out at the back. City side:

Alexander; Weston, Collins, Vidmar, Barker; Fish, Kavanagh, Bullock, Ledley; Thorne, Lee

The late start seemed to suit the Cherries more as they took an early lead. James Hayter took advantage of Chris Barker's indecision and nipped in to fire home.

City looked susceptible at the back to balls played either side of the centre backs, as Bournemouth gave our back four a torrid time. The colossal Steve Fletcher seemed to be winning everything in the air and Hayter and Elliott looked like they would run at our defence at every opportunity.

We slowly got back into the game and equalised when a cross from the left was cleverly headed home by Alan Lee. It was one of those that seemed to take an age to go in, and it finally fell into the net at the far post.

Half time 1-1.

The second half saw us come into the ascendancy as the midfield was reshuffled. Fish looked out of his depth in the first half and was replaced on the right hand side by Paul Parry. Early on in the half and Joe Ledley's first time right foot shot had to be turned wide for a corner. A well flighted ball into the box was headed home across the goal by Lee Bullock to put us into the lead. Our set piece play since Terry Burton came to the club has improved immeasurably. Kavanagh and Ledley shared the set piece duties and both performed admirably all night.

City looked in control as the game fell into a bit of a lull. Jerome came on for Thorne, and Weston was taken off for Anthony after taking a knock. Predictably Bournemouth pushed on as the game progressed and got an equaliser in the last minute when Byron Anthony was overloaded on the right of our defence and a near post cross was cleverly headed in by the lively Hayter.

Full time 2-2 and extra time to come.

The extra period was better than many I've seen, Jerome looked bright and both sides attacked well. Bournemouth missed a couple of guilt edged chances in the first half of extra time, and it took until the second half before a goal was scored.

A fine ball to the left played Jerome into space and he finished clinically with a bending shot around the keeper into the corner for 3-2. Fantastic goal.

The game opened up dramatically with spaces appearing all over the pitch. We could (and should) have made the game safe when Alan Lee broke through one and one and inexplicably hit the ball straight at the goalie.

Tony Vidmar at the back didn't have a great night, and it got worse with just three minutes to go when he hauled a Bournemouth man down on the edge of the box. He'd already been stupidly booked for dissent and had to go. City down to 10 men. The resulting free kick went low round the wall and snuck in at the near post. Shocking goal to concede and the home fans were delighted. 3-3. Neither side threatened after that, and it was the lottery of the penalty shoot out.

Both sides had won penalty competitions in previous rounds; City away at Kidderminster and Bournemouth at Blackburn, but with such an inexperienced side on the pitch for City I thought the south coast side must be favourites.

As always the penalties were taken at the opposite end to where the Cardiff support was gathered.

Kavanagh was first up and blasted his penalty to the goalkeepers right and it was saved magnificently. Then Bournemouth's first penalty hit the post as Alexander went completely the wrong way. It rolled along the goal line but fortunately didn't go in.

The remaining penalties of the first five were all excellent. Collins, Bullock, Anthony and Lee all finishing theirs well, with Bournemouth never looking like missing either. 4-4 after 5 penalties each. Sudden death.

Chris Barker calmly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with his kick, and ex-Wales international Marcus Browning stepped up and didn't look confident. He took his time placing the ball on the spot, took an uncertain run up and hit a straight penalty which Neil Alexander managed to block. Great celebrations both on and off the pitch as the game finished at around 10.45pm!

A late finish, but a game well worth attending. City will be in the draw this evening for the 4th round which will take place in 2 weeks time w/c Mon 8 November.