Cardiff City res 2 - 1 Plymouth Argyle res

Last updated : 28 April 2004 By Michael Morris
Cardiff City
Arran Lee-Barret, Rhys Weston, Gary Croft, Chris Barker, Spencer Prior, Anthony Taylor, Nicky Fish, Gareth Whalley, Paul Parry, Gavin Gordon, Stuart Fleetwood.

Subs:Byron Anthony, Craig Attard, Joe Ledley, Danny Thomas & Cameron Jerome

Plymouth Argyle
Romain Larrieu, Darren Parish, Gary Sawyer, Wayne O’Sullivan, Matt Villis, John Routledge, Lee Coxon, Dean Evans, Stewart Yetton, Jon Hoyles, Ryan Dickson.

Subs: Kenny Scholfield, Marcus Martin, Luke Summerfield, Dan Bulley, Chris Zebroski.

Cardiff City have beaten Plymouth 2 - 1 at Ninian Park this afternoon thanks to two goals from Stuart Fleetwood. The Victory means City have won the Pontins Holiday Combination Wales and West Section with 36 points from 18 games.

Congratulations to Paul Wilkinson and his reserve team squad.

Cardiff will now play a two legged play off against Reading who won the Pontins Holiday Combination South and East section. The winners of that will be crowned overall Pontins Reserve League champions.

Match report from Paul Evans.

Certainly a hard fought win today against a Plymouth side that had nowhere near the number of first teamers that we did (goalkeeper Larrieu was the only player in the team with much first team experience), but never stopped fighting - although I think City were deserving winners, there certainly wasn't much in it.

Conditions were virtually identical to the game against Yeovil a few weeks ago with a cold wind blowing straight down the pitch towards the Grange End. On that day City were 1-0 up at the break, but fell apart in the second half as Yeovil, with the wind behind them, ended up 4-2 winners. Therefore when the teams turned around all square today at 1-1 with the City having to play into the wind after the break, it was hard to be too optimistic about the outcome, but,as it turned out, we were able to survive with relatively few problems.

The teams were evenly matched from the start, but we had already come close once when we took an early lead. Paul Parry went past three defenders and knocked over a low cross towards Gavin Gordon, Larrieu got to the cross first, but spilt it as he hit the ground and Stuart Fleetwood had the easy task of knocking the loose ball into the net from close range.

After that, City dominated territorially without creating much but then neither did Plymouth and, around the half hour mark I was begining to think we were looking comfortable before, within a minute, three members of what could easilly have been a first choice back four had made errors and Plymouth were back level!

Firstly, Chris Barker slopiliy gave the ball away deep in his own half and Aaran Lee Barrett had to make a sharp save to keep us in front. We got away with that one, but when Spencer Prior lost possession we weren't so lucky as Plymouth's impressive centre forward Yetton turned Rhys Weston inside out before being brought down by him in the box for what looked an obvious penalty. Yetton scored from the spot himself as Lee Barrett went the wrong way (that sounds familiar!) and it was 1-1.

The game opened out more in the second half without there being too many clear cut chances - there were several times when the dangerous Fleetwood almost got clear but was foiled by last ditch defending while Plymouth barely threatened our goal. The decisive goal arrived around the hour mark when a corner was flicked on by Weston for Fleetwood to force the ball home from about six yards out.

After the goal Prior left the field to be replaced by Byron Anthony and further changes were made when Joe Ledley replaced Parry and Gary Croft (who linked up well down the left with Parry) made way for Danny Thomas.

All three substitutes did well during a closing period where, unlike so many other reserve fixtures, the fact that there was something riding on the outcome became more and more apparent. Plymouth had done little in the second half until Hoyles struck a tremendous shot from the edge of the box which game back off the crossbar with Lee Barrett completely beaten.

This was the first sign of what turned out be mounting Plymouth pressure as they began to see the title slipping away from them - there was one City break out which should really have seen Fleetwood complete his hat trick after he had been set up by Gavin Gordon but he shot just wide, but apart from that, it was Plymoth pressure.

Their best chance came when Dickson snatched at a good chance after he had been worked clear on the left, but there were plenty of nervous moments in the City box with a free kick right on the edge of the area deep into stoppage time being blocked by the City wall. Finally, after what seemed about ten minutes added time but, apparently, was only two the ref blew the final whistle.

Stuart Fleetwood was the hero for City today with his two goals, his pace and trickery also caused Plymouth a lot of problems and his overall display confirmed the impression gained over the season that he has moved from being one to look out for to a genuine prospect who you can see having a chance of going a long way in the game.

Other youngsters have impressed this season as well - Parkins, Anthony, Ledley, Parslow and Cronin have all caught my eye at various times, but the player of the year for me at second team level this season has to be Nicky Fish who was captain today and gave another good performance which suggested there could, eventually, be a first team future for him at the club.

One last thing, the man of the moment Gareth Whalley played the whole ninety minutes and didn't do badly at all, he showed a good appetite for work and went about his game in his usual unfussy manner - there was nothing in his display that suggested the furore that has blown up around him recently had effected his performance.