Cardiff 0 - 1 Sheff Utd. Comment

Last updated : 15 November 2022 By Paul Evans

On 16 November 2019 Cardiff City appointed Neil Harris manager to replace Neil Warnock and after a 2-2 draw at Charlton to begin with, he faced successive home games against Stoke and Barnsley. Back in the fairly early days of this blog I mentioned how hopeless City are at winning both matches when they play games at Cardiff City Stadium within three or four days of each other. I’d say that we’ve now made the transition from hopeless to dreadful in that regard, but Harris managed to follow up a 1-0 triumph with a 3-2 beating of Barnsley.


Harris never managed to build the “fortress Cardiff City Stadium” mentality though despite that promising start, but he’s in good company – Mick McCarthy failed, Steve Morison failed and now Mark Hudson is failing.

Since beating Barnsley just under three years ago, there surely cannot be many, if any, teams in the EFL with a worse home record than City. If you include today’s 1-0 loss to Sheffield United, Cardiff have played seventy regular season home league matches since that Barnsley win and their record reads won twenty three, drawn nineteen and lost twenty eight – adding in Play Offs and cup matches doesn’t help matters either because we’ve lost more of those than we’ve won during the time in question.

That really is a record of underachievement made all the more remarkable by its longevity. Lots of teams have the occasional poor season at home, but, following a start which offered hope that they could make playing at home the advantage that it should be, City have now lost more than they’ve won at Cardiff City Stadium in 22/23 and are therefore on course to emulate their “achievement” of 20/21 and 21/22.

In 19/20 City won only four out of thirteen home games after those two initial home wins under Harris, but only two were lost as we secured a Play Off spot.

Since then, it’s been downhill all the way as eight wins and nine defeats in 20/21 was followed by seven wins and twelve defeats in 21/22 and now four wins and five defeats this time around – I find why this should be impossible to explain.

20/21 was the season where crowds were not allowed into games because of Covid and it was noticeable that there were a lot of teams which reacted badly to not having their fans in the ground to the extent that City’s poor home record that season was far from the worst around.

However, things have got worse since then despite having the fans back in the ground. More than half of our home league games were lost last season and we’re now into familiar territory again with today being our third home loss in four games.

Vincent Tan must surely have noticed the differences between what he saw on Tuesday at the Hull defeat and what it was like at the stadium the last time he saw a game there. That was the last home match in our Premier League season in 18/19 when Crystal Palace won here 3-2 to confirm our relegation.

For a start, there were, almost certainly, more than twice as many people in the ground than there was on Tuesday. Of course, such a drop in numbers would have an effect on the level of support the team received but it seems to me that watching what has been three years of failure by your team on its own patch is bound to have made supporters more negative and impatient than they were when we were being relegated with a fair amount of honour intact three and a half years ago.

I’ve heard the usual cliché from the opposition today about “Cardiff is a hard place to go to”, but it isn’t at all, it’s easy and has been for years!

For example, Sheffield United went to the top of the table with their win today, so it’s not as if we were beaten by a bunch of mugs, but this was a Blades team very heavily hit by injuries which lost another player, Jack Robinson, through injury inside the first ten minutes.

Despite this, the visitors were in complete control for nearly all of the second half this afternoon. It was embarrassing at times how much Sheffield were on top and I seriously doubt that a City player touched the ball in the opposition penalty in the thirty minutes after the restart.

What happened in the second forty five minutes was in complete contrast to what went on in the first forty five. City were never as dominant as their opponents became, but all of the worthwhile chances were theirs and I can’t help thinking that the huge majority of sides in this division would have found a way to take advantage of one of them.

Visiting goalkeeper Was Fotheringham could only wave at Ryan Wintle’s beautifully struck twenty five yarder which flew less than a yard wide and he’d also given up on Callum Robinson’s header a few minutes later which went a foot wide.

However, Robinson really should have scored and the same applied seconds before the half time whistle when Mark Harris was presented with a great chance by defender Steve Balham, but the striker’s touch wasn’t sure enough and when Robinson tried to follow up, his effort was blocked.

Too often, City were let down by anxious touches in promising positions and this led to rushed, off target goal attempts – it was all completely typical of a side with the worst goalscoring record in their division.

It was all change from the moment Cedric Kipre passed straight to Sheffield sub James McAtee in the opening minutes of the second half to present the visitors with their best chance so far. That opportunity was botched, but Sheffield drew strength from the incident and City were placed under intense pressure for the next ten minutes. The home side were lucky to come through a series of free kicks and corners where Sheffield players got their heads on the ball first unscathed.

While City we’re still definitely second best, there were signs that they were lifting the siege somewhat around the hour mark, only for them to then concede the winner to an unusual source when right wing back George Baldock burst past a weak challenge from Neils N’Kounkou to fire a fierce low shot past Ryan Allsop on his near post.

Ordinarily, questions would be asked about a goalkeeper being beaten in the way Allsop was, but, for me, the power of Baldock’s shot was the main factor in beating the keeper and I don’t think he could be blamed for it.

In fact, I’d say there were a couple of good saves by the City keeper which kept his side in the game after they went a goal down. At the time, it didn’t seem to be make too much difference such was Sheffield’s dominance, but in the closing stages there were a couple of presentable chances for sub Sheyi Ojo.

I wouldn’t blame Ojo much for failing to score with a header when completely unmarked some teelve yards out, but he should have done better than jab his first time shot wide when Mahlon Romeo’s pull back found him in a similar position deep into added time.

While the likes of Kipre can get away with a bad error these days, it seems that when N’Kounkou and Ojo make them they nearly always cost us and with us now just a point off the drop zone, I look forward to players like Rubin Colwill, Isaak Davies and Joel Bagan being fit enough to feature regularly after the World Cup, because we’re carrying one or two passengers at the moment.

After the Hull game, Vincent Tan wondered about a Welsh millionaire taking over the club and talked about how we could reach the Play Offs and could end up winning them with a bit of luck. Now, I’ve defended this squad and said they aren’t as bad as some make them out to be, but we’re no way a top six side – how can we be when we’re the lowest scoring side in the Championship and we lose more than we win at home?

Relegation is a far, far more likely outcome than promotion for this squad, but I’m still confident they’ll stay up. However, if it doesn’t happen this season, we’re going to get relegated soon if you keep on running the club as it has been in the last few years Mr Tan. If money is too tight to bring in better players, then at least get someone in who knows more about football than the current hierarchy at the club does and, although, you clearly do not want to, I can’t help feeling that you have got to stop appointing managers from within the club.