Bristol City 3 - 2 Cardiff City. Comment

Last updated : 23 January 2022 By Paul Evans

Steve Morison singled out Cardiff City’s final third players after last week’s loss to Blackburn, saying that he told them that he would have to look to replace them if they did not start doing the business. Our manager stated he was happy with his teams play away from that area, but I did think “really?” when I heard that.


Blackburn may not have had chance after chance last week (in fact, I can’t think of any besides their goal at the moment), but our ever obliging defence made sure that the promotion chasers only needed the one as a midfield runner got the wrong side of our players in the middle of the park and took advantage a centreback who ran away from him to place a shot beyond a keeper who others have blamed, but I don’t see it myself.

So, despite conceding such a sloppy goal, our manager was happy with his defenders last week it seems, I wonder if he will be after this lunchtime’s 3-2 loss at Bristol City? I’m not usually a great one for using terms that have arisen in recent years because, invariably, there’s something that has been in use for decades, or even hundreds of years, which conveys the requisite message already. However, I’m really not sure if that applies to the term “elephant in the room”, so it’s going to have to do this time. I like the commentator who did the game on the club website today (think his name’s John Donovan), but when he was mentioning our naivety in other areas of the pitch (with justification some of the time), I did rather thank he was ignoring the elephant in the room somewhat – we’ve not been able to defend to even an average Championship standard all season and, too often, it has been well below that level.

Not every goal we concede can be put down to our bad defending, but most of them can. All season long, Sean Morrison, Aden Flint and Curtis Nelson, three central defenders who have proved themselves to be more than adequate at this level in the past, have been found wanting when it comes to fairly basic defending – the only other player to be used at centreback, Mark McGuinness has hardly been error free either, but he has time on his side and has been the best of a bad bunch.

Well, Morrison can’t be blamed for what went wrong today because he spent the whole game on the substitutes bench, but, I’m afraid that, to varying degrees, the other three have to carry the can – this was as bad as it’s been all season for City with the first two goals in particular being unbelievably poor from a defensive point of view.

One of the things you learn when you’re a kid is not to relax after you’ve just scored. Well, after getting the goal that our slight superiority in the first thirty minutes perhaps deserved, we did just that, which, when you think of how we defended this season, is criminal.

Flint cleared one off the line and there was a fine second half block by him which may well have prevented a goal, so he wasn’t a complete disaster for him today, but get a fairly quick forward with a chance to run at him and he’s all at sea. Within thirty seconds of the restart following our goal, Andreas Weimann got beyond Flint way too easily and was in on goal, Flint managed to stall the home players momentum somewhat by seemingly fouling him and as the ball almost came to rest on the edge of the penalty with Weimann now on the ground, it seemed that the immediate danger had passed, but, no, a panic stricken Nelson came sliding in from nowhere and delivered what was a beautifully weighted pass to Chris Martin. Fair play to him, the veteran striker took his goal well as he guided his shot beyond Alex Smithies, but I still can’t figure out what possessed Nelson to do what he did.

Just as they had done in the first half, City began on the front foot after the break, but, anyone who has watched us for any amount of time in recent years will know that periods of superiority for us don’t equate to many chances created in open play. No, it’s dead ball situations we get by on, but, this time, they came to nothing and, despite the direction of the game being mostly towards the home goal, it was Bristol who had the more threatening moments before they went ahead courtesy of more farcical defending.

This time our three centrebacks were completely undone by a simple one two. To be fair to Nelson, he did nothing wrong as the left sided centreback, but what Flint and especially McGuinness were doing as they came over to join him I cannot begin to guess. It would be an exaggeration to say you could throw a blanket over our back three as the exchange of passes which completely opened us up took place, but not much of one.

That three defenders could be so easily outmaneuvered and outthought by a couple of attackers would be embarrassing at minor league levels, but in the second tier of domestic league system it’s unforgivable – Martin thus routinely helped himself to his second, no doubt wishing he could play against us every week.

After going behind, City lost their way and did very little to suggest they could find a way back into things. Morison replaced loan signing from Man City Tommy Doyle (who, understandably given his lack of game time this season faded after suggesting in the first half that he could supply some much needed creativity) with Ryan Wintle, bizarrely dropped for a well below par Marlon Pack who, somehow, managed to stay on for the ninety minutes, Max Watters for James Collins and in a switch to a back four, Isaak Davies for McGuinness.

All this change in formation did really though was offer Antoine Semenyo in particular the space to cause us all sorts of problems and it was increasingly likely that the next goal would come from the red shirts rather than the blue. It duly arrived when Semenyo got the better of an isolated Cody Drameh, who had a tough second half, and fed Weimann, who had come back from an offside position and he shot past Smithies for his third goal of the season against us.

For a while after that, it seemed like we could be on for a beating to match the 5-1 at Blackburn in September, but, to my great surprise, the four minutes of added time turned out to be very nervy for the home team as a result of a header by Watters which, although well placed, should really have been saved by home keeper, Max O’Leary.

Watters’ first goal for City in his first game back following a pretty successful loan spell at MK Dons added to the earlier James Collins header from a quality Doyle cross after Bristol midfielder Hah-Noah Massengo carelessly conceded possession deep inside his own half. Apart from than that, City only threatened from set pieces – McGuinness hit the outside of a post after the home defence had failed to deal with a Pack long throw, there was another headed effort from the same player that O’Leary saved easily and the keeper had little difficulty with a disappointing Joe Ralls free kick from a promising position some twenty odd yards out in added time.

3-2 flattered City though as their very disappointing results and performances this season in derby games continued. I thought we looked like a relegation side today and I’m now more concerned than ever that we’ll go down despite the four sides below us having lost today – Steve Morison says we could sign one or possibly two players in the final week of the transfer window, I just hope at least one of them is a centreback.