Cardiff 0 - 1 Q.P.R. Comment

Last updated : 21 January 2021 By Paul Evans

And so now it’s six. Cardiff City made it half a dozen consecutive defeats by losing for the umpteenth time at home this season (I honestly don’t know how many it is now and I can’t be bothered totting them up so I’ll guess at eight) with a 1-0 loss to QPR team that were no great shakes themselves, but were good enough to be deserving of the three points.


It was a miserable game played in miserable conditions and from early on it had the feel of a match that would be decided by a single goal. In truth, it seemed to me that the visitors should have had a second goal, but referee Darren Bond deemed Charlie Austin’s boot to be too high when he touched the ball in from close range shortly before the visitors got the one that counted in the seventy first minute.

Neil Harris rang the changes from the Norwich game. Leandro Bacuna finally moved out of the right back position to allow new signing from Crewe, Perry Ng to come in for his debut, Sean Morrison came back from the injury he sustained at Wycombe which meant that Joe Bennett moved back to left back and, completely predictably, Joel Bagan stood down for no other reason I can think of except that he is young – certainly, he was more reliable and composed than many of his team mates in the two matches he played.

Bacuna moved into midfield to take over from the suspended Marlon Pack, Keiffer Moore, who ended up playing the full ninety minutes, replaced Robert Glatzel and, finally, Max Watters became a second debutante as Junior Hoilett made way.

It was hard to see how all of these changes could be fitted into our normal 4-2-3-1 and they weren’t – Harris began with a 4-4-2 diamond with Will Vaulks at its base, Bacuna and Joe Ralls on the right and left respectively and Harry Wilson in the number ten role.

New players and a new formation then, but the same old problems. I’m not going to waste much time going through the main incidents of the match and I don’t see the point in me talking too much about what was wrong with us on the night, because it was the same things at the root of our problems as it always is – slipshod passing, shoddy technique and poor first touches galore. I do accept though that it is difficult to demonstrate an impeccable touch when the ball is played to you behind you and at shoulder or chest height!

In the interests of fairness, I should say that the high winds and incessant rain was always going to pose questions when it came to the technical aspects of the game, but it was the same for both sides and, as is the case for what seems to be nine out of every ten matches we play, our opponents were better than us when it came to technique, passing etc.

Yet again, we were second best in the middle of the park, but, with a full back and striker signed, a bid accepted for a centre back (the Jack Simpson deal appears to have stalled amid reports, later denied, that the player had changed his mind about coming here) and some talk of another winger coming in, it seems that, incredibly, our manager is satisfied with the ill balanced midfield quartet which have been at the club since he arrived.

As always, City struggled to get Wilson into the game in the opening half an hour or so, while the mobile and quick Watters got an introduction to what playing up front for Cardiff is like as he ran here, there and everywhere and the ball never arrived. Watters went off around the hour mark and I wonder if he touched the ball ten times in the game – invariably when the ball was played in his direction, it skipped on off the wet pitch to safety and Ng came closer than him to scoring a debut goal when his well struck shot from twenty yards produced one of a few decent saves by keeper Seny Dieng, who then recovered to block Morrison’s follow up effort as well..

The goal that earned QPR the points was a joke from a defensive point of view. City have been finding plenty of ways to concede a goal lately, but I don’t think they’d managed one from a short throw in before tonight. The amount of time and room allowed the visitors as they moved the ball in our penalty area to Chris Willock for him to hit a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area had to be seen to believed – Jason Perry, summarising the match on the club website, said Alex Smithies had no chance of saving the shot, but I wonder if our keeper will feel he could have kept it out?

In my piece on the Norwich match, I said that, given that we’d just paid a potential seven figure fee for a striker, Neil Harris looked pretty secure in his job despite the awful run the team were on and, with another player having been bought for a six figure fee and a bid of £750,000 seemingly accepted for another one, that still seems a logical conclusion to draw to me.

However, when a side which reached the Play Offs six months earlier and were set the target of being in the top six in January by the club Chairman find themselves thirteen points adrift of sixth position and having lost six on the trot as January nears its end, you would expect the manager of that clubs days to be numbered wouldn’t you? It seems to me that City’s Board are boxing themselves into a corner here because things cannot continue like this and, on tonight’s evidence, it’s hard to see Neil Harris turning things around – I know votes of confidence are, justifiably, derided these days, but it needs some sort of action from the Board now outlining our manager’s future because there’s a sense of drift at the moment..

Moving on, City’s record against Swansea recently has been poor at senior level with three of our last four meetings, in which we’ve barely looked like scoring, finishing in feeble defeats.

Swansea’s recent decision to forego their Class One Academy status has meant a resumption of regular fixtures against the jacks at Under 23 and Under 18 levels and there were a couple of games at Swansea early in the season for both of City’s teams immediately below senior eleven level.

The theme of Swansea dominance was continued as what was an experienced Under 23 team with plenty of first team games behind them were thrashed 5-1 in their first match of the season and then a week or two later the Academy side lost 3-1 after taking an early lead.

Well, the first of the return fixtures was played yesterday at Leckwith and in the early stages it looked like we were in for more of the same. City, who have, sensibly in my opinion after a few seasons of signing players who never looked likely to break into the first team and an over use of trialists, reverted to using young home produced pros and Academy players, and have, predictably, suffered results wise as a consequence of this decision. So there were no great expectations on my part about the outcome yesterday, but it was still annoying to see us paying an equally young Swansea team so much respect early on.

For some reason, City sides start games on the back foot when they face the jacks these days and, for ten minutes, the visitors were able to do much as they pleased. The upshot was so predictable – dozy defending allowed Swansea’s Bradley Gibbings to punish City from a quickly taken corner and it seemed like normal service had resumed.

However, although there wasn’t much to measure it by in terms of an end product during the rest of a dull first half, it became clear that, with a bit more belief in themselves and accuracy in their play, City had the measure of opponents who, like themselves, were down near the bottom of the league and were coming off the back of a goalless draw that had ended a run of four successive losses.

Steve Morrison’s half time team talk did the trick for City though as they were much more on the front foot after the break and the third quarter saw Swansea clinging on to what was an increasingly precarious lead mainly thanks to their New Zealand born goalkeeper Jamie Searle. The keeper should have been beaten though when Isaak Davies was put clean through by Owen Pritchard only to, uncharacteristically, fire over the top.

Searle made a fine double save to deny the increasingly influential Rubin Colwill’s shot from the edge of the penalty area and then keep out Davies’ effort from the follow up and there were other good saves as City took a firm grip on proceedings.

It must have been getting close to the time when City started thinking they were never going to score when Kieron Evans swung in a free kick on sixty seven minutes which was half cleared as far as right back Taylor Jones who fired high into the net from around the penalty spot to equalise. The winner followed eight minutes later when captain Jack Bodenham got free of his marker to nod in another Evans free kick from the edge of the six yard box.

There appeared to be no way back for Swansea after that and their task was made all the harder with about five minutes left when their centre back Scott Butler fouled Davies and received a second yellow card.

City’s thoroughly deserved 2-1 win was only their third of the season, but this victory and another one, a 1-0 win over QPR before Christmas, in their previous home game offers evidence that things are improving after a start to the campaign where it looked certain that we would end the season at the bottom of the table.

Colwill scored the decisive goal late on against QPR, but he played as well as I’ve seen him do yesterday and, together with Pritchard and Sam Bowen, recently returned from his loan at Barry, ensured that we enjoyed the rare luxury of being dominant in the middle of the park.