Cardiff 1 - 1 W.B.A. Comment

Last updated : 17 March 2023 By Paul Evans

Very much a case of a point gained, rather than two lost, for Cardiff City tonight in their home game with West Bromwich Albion for a few reasons.


First, for a side that had only been able to come back and get anything from matches where they had conceded the first goal of the match once all season (curiously in a 1-1 draw against runaway leaders Burnley), there was naturally a feeling that the points were as good as West Brom’s when they went ahead on seventeen minutes. However, this time, there was an equaliser midway through the second half to make sure that, with all of the teams below them picking up at least a point in the last twenty four hours, no great damage was done to City’s survival hopes.

Secondly, the draw makes it seven points from a possible nine at home and, for a team that has as bad a home record as us over the past two and three quarter seasons, that is riches indeed. The confidence gained by the Reading and Bristol City wins may have played a part in tonight’s fight back as well because the game was shaping up to be one of those too familiar 1-0 home losses that we’ve seen more than enough of lately – however, having scored three times in the second half of those two wins, maybe there was a bit more confidence around even though things were not going well for the team.

That’s the third thing, this was a point gained from a game we did not play well in – I’ll go into more detail on that shortly, suffice to say our equaliser came as a shock to me because it was hardly as if we were laying the West Brom goal under siege – the goal when it came was from the first of only two first on target efforts all night.

City went into the game under a bit more pressure because of the extraordinary result from last night which saw Blackpool overwhelm Queens Park Rangers to the tune of 6-1 at Bloomfield Road. Mick McCarthy’s side were three up after a quarter of an hour, 4-1 ahead at half time and then they scored early in the second half, so i was hardly a case of them running away with the game late on. Blackpool closed to within three points of us as a result and also made large inroads into the goal difference advantage we had which was, in effect, like an extra point for us.

Wigan had also managed to come back to draw 1-1 at home to an in form Coventry team and, tonight, Huddersfield we’re finally able to score – actually, Norwich’s Grant Hanley did as his own goal ensured Neil Warnock’s team also came from a goal down to draw 1-1 at home.

Reading were able to get it back to 1-1 at Blackburn tonight as well, but the home team got a second to take the win and, with Paul Ince’s team very widely reported as being docked six points very soon, we’d be a point in front of them with a very slight goal difference advantage if there is a points deduction of the speculated size.

Saturday’s opponents Rotherham have only a single point lead over us now following their 2-1 home loss to Preston, while QPR must be so relieved that they, somehow, came up with a win over Watford on the weekend to keep themselves seven points above the drop zone, but it seems to me that they and Birmingham (3-0 losers at Watford), who are above them on goal difference, are not clear of trouble just yet.

 Faced with the absence of Cedric Kipre under the terms of his loan deal with West Brom and with Connor Wickham still injured, Sabri Lamouchi went for a change of formation as he picked a back four with Mark McGuinness and Perry Ng centrebacks, Mahlon Romeo recalled at right back and Callum O’Dowda at left back. Ryan Wintle and Romaine Sawyers were the central two and I presumed it would be Jaden Philogene on the left and Sheyi Ojo on the right with Kion Etete and the surprisingly recalled Isaak Davies being up top in a 4-4-2.

Instead, Davies was on the right with Ojo operating just behind Etete. The changes at either end of the pitch didn’t work though, we looked uneasy at the back throughout and while the half time stats showed we’d had a pretty impressive nine goal attempts, the truth was that we were in hit and hope mode as it looked like we were following the Vincent Tan inspired ploy of shooting from all sorts of wild and wacky places.

Baggies goalkeeper Josh Griffiths was a first half spectator as most of the nine goal attempts flew hhigh, wide and not very handsome with his only anxious moments coming when Davies stretched to screw a mishit O’Dowda shot cum cross wide and when Wintle’s shot from twenty yards had him diving to his left in anticipation of having to make a save only for visiting captain Dara O’Shea to get in a headed block at the cost of an unproductive corner (City, mainly in the persons of Ojo or Wintle, had another seriously below par ninety minutes when it came to set piece delivery).

Despite the fact that the Baggies were playing their third match in eight days, whereas we had only played once in the previous ten days, it was us who looked the more tired team throughout and it was all too easy for the visitors to hold on to the lead given them when Jed Wallace’s fine cross from the right was finished in composed fashion by Daryl Dike.

Certainly, the finish was of a quality you would not expect from City this season and the cross also contrasted totally with what City came up with all night from both open play and set piece – crucially though, there was one exception to that rule.

Jaden Philogene suggested he might be able to come up with something, but Ojo was careless all night, Davies was withdrawn at half time to sum up his frustrating season so far and Etete, after doing so well on Saturday, struggled to get into the game.

The introduction of Sory Kaba at the interval was not a surprise, but, if anything, City’s lack of a goal threat was even more apparent in the game’s third quarter. West Brom had seemed content with their one goal lead before the break and, apart from a Jed Wallace shot which drew a good save out of Ryan Allsop, that was even more the case in the second half.

Indeed, by substituting Adam Reach for Dike on fifty eight minutes, the visitors effectively were playing without a striker as they sat back and handed the initiative to City. In saying that, City were doing nothing with the territorial advantage they were enjoying until Wintle provided their one quality cross of the night and Kaba got free of his marker to head powerfully at goal from about ten yards. It seemed at first that Kaba’s effort was too close to Griffiths, but the goalkeeper could not stop the ball just squirming in by the post despite him getting what the pundits call a strong left arm these days on the header – you’d think it was a goal that the keeper would have thought he should have done better with..

Kaba didn’t do a great deal else, but the mere fact that this was his third goal in eight appearances for City makes him appear indispensable in a team with a scoring record like theirs..

With West Brom on a run of five consecutive away defeats in all competitions, the hope was that the game was there for City to win once they’d levelled, but a shot from Philogene, after he’d been set up by Etete’s best piece of work of the night, from twenty yards which drew a diving save from Griffiths apart, it was a case of City holding on for their point in the face of Albion pressure for the rear of the time.

I criticised Lamouchi’s substitutions on Saturday, but, here I agreed that he needed to bring on Andy Rinomhota for Ojo to strengthen a midfield that was in danger of being overrun and Mark Harris for Etete seemed a correct move as well.

Nevertheless, the visitors will feel they could and should have won – Reach had the ball in the net within seconds of our equaliser only to be flagged offside and Wallace missed a great chance as he jabbed past the advancing Allsop only to see his shot go wide of the far post.

With Albion manager Carlos Corboran frantically waving his men forward with the game in added time and substitute right back Darnell Furlong jumping over an advertising hoarding to retrieve the ball rather than wait for a none too urgent ball boy to get it, West Brom were definitely the team trying to win the game late on, but City were able to see the game out despite never really convincing with their defending – I think it’s one thing to ask Ng to play as a central defender in a back three and another completely to have him as one of two centrebacks.

So, a draw to be welcomed then and, to use a bit of a cliché, this felt like a game we would have lost under this season’s previous two managers.