Cardiff City res 2 - 2 Bristol City res

Last updated : 02 April 2007 By Michael Morris
When I arrived at a deserted Ninian Park at about five past two for today's reserve match with Bristol City (for some reason the game didn't kick off until just after half past two) and saw the team sheet I thought City we going for an all out attacking policy because the starting eleven featured Kevin Campbell, Curtis McDonald, Iwan Redan, Jamal Easter, Jason Byrne and Matt Green!

As it turned out, Campbell played centre back, McDonald left back, Redan central midfield, Easter left midfield with Byrne and Green as the front two, but with the Bristol City team also featuring a smattering of first team players, some of them being forwards, the presence of so many natural attacking players made for an entertaining match with the 2-2 final score being just about a fair reflection of how things went.

Although not as strong as on Saturday, a lively wind blowing down the pitch towards the Grange End gave City the benefit of the elements in the first half, but, it was the wurzels who settled quicker as a mix up in the middle of the City defence almost resulted in an own goal as Forde bravely dived on the ball as it made it's way towards the goal line. Shortly after that, City's use of mutli ball system with the balls kept along the touchlines about twenty yards apart almost misfired on them when Curtis McDonald headed the ball high onto the Bob Bank only for a wurzels player to grab another ball straight away and take a quick throw in from a position that seemed a long way in front of where the ball had originally crossed the line. This took most of the City team out of the game and a goal looked certain, but a great bit of covering by Kerrea Gilbert put off the visiting striker Smith who knocked the ball wide for a goal kick.

City finally got into their stride and Jason Byrne was worked into a shooting position for an effort which keeper Thomas turned around the post. From the resultant corner Campbell's header looked bound for the net until it hit a defender and was diverted wide for another corner which was taken short for Redan to show some neat skill to beat his man only for his cross to hit the outside of the post and bounce out for a goal kick.

This was the prelude for a ten minute spell around the half hour mark that brought three goals. The first arrived when Easter headed down to Green who showed his speed and anticipation to burst past a defender and touch the ball past the keeper for a goal which led to a celebration with Redan which may have looked good if it had come in front of Saturday's near full house, but looked really naff in front of the three men and a dog watching today!

Within seconds it could have been two as Byrne's cross fell to Willo Flood whose close range effort was blocked by the keeper, but City's lead didn't last long as their offside trap broke down (not for the first or the last time) and the impressive David Noble took the ball around Forde and rolled in an equaliser. City came back strongly though and a lovely run and cross by Curtis McDonald got the reward it deserved when Green chested down to and fired past Thomas from close in to give them a lead that they took into the half time break.

The interval gave an opportunity to have a pint of the £2.80 bitter being sold at the bar (thankfully it wasn't my round!) whilst watching the digger working on the site at Leckwith - rather like the City on Saturday, there was plenty of movement from the digger, but little in the way of an end product until I finally saw it picking up a small tree close to the Athletics Stadium!

The second half saw a contination of the open end to end stuff that had marked the closing stages of the first period and City had quite a few opportunities to get the two goal lead which would have made the game safe, but too often the final pass let them down. Up the other end the wurzels were using the conditions to ensure that they had most of the possession and territorial advantage with David Forde definitely being the busier of the two keepers.

However, just when it began to look as if we had seen an end to the scoring, City presented the wurzels with an equaliser which owed everything to the two attacking players in their back four taking liberties that out and out defenders wouldn't have. First of all, Kevin Campbell who, although taking a few risks, hadn't done too badly until then played a crossfield ball out to Curtis McDonald that immeadiately put him under pressure - instead of keeping things simple, McDonald tried to beat substitute Plummer who had closed him down, lost the ball and could do nothing to stop Plummer, who had made a difference to the wurzels attack since coming on, from going on to put the ball past Forde and into the net.

After that City could have won it when Easter fired just wide, but that would have been tough on a wurzels team who contributed to a good game to such an extent that some of their players actuall took my eye (that never usually happens at reserve games!) - apart from Noble who I have already mentioned, Keogh at centre back looked good and teenage striker/left winger Jennison Myrie-Williams was a handful.

As for individuals within the City team, with Ricky Scimeca's withdrawal at half time on Saturday, it was a concern to see Darcy Blake go off after about half an hour to be replaced by Jon Brown (Blake didn't seem badly injured but we could do without losing another central midfielder). Of the others, it was a shame that Curtis McDonald was caught out for Bristol's second goal, because, apart from that, I thought he did very well at left back as he gave the best performance I have seen from him in some time and while Matt Green did not contribute too much in general play, his two goals offered further proof that his speed and power is quite a weapon at this level anyway.

City man of the match for me though had to be David Forde - some supporters seem to have watched him the once against Preston and decided he's crap, perhaps they would think differently if they had seen his display today. I have seen Forde play twice befor for the reserves and, apart from one good save from the jacks Pavel Abbott, he was given very little to do, but today he was often in the action with four or five good saves and blocks. Forde's best save was undoubtedly the one he made when Noble fired over a low free kick from around the corner flag area which was met first time from about eight yards by a wurzels forward - the shot was very well struck and it looked a certain goal, but Forde show excellent reflexes for such a big man and got down brilliantly to not just stop the shot but to keep hold of it.

All in all a good afternoons entertainment then and as I left left the ground, I saw the reassuring sight of the lone digger still going strong over at Leckwith Stadium!