Cardiff City res 2 - 2 Swansea res

Last updated : 21 April 2004 By Michael Morris
Report from Paul Evans

I don't think it's a coincidence that since James Collins has been in the first team, the reserve side seems to have hit a wall - in my view Collins wasn't getting anything out of playing for the reserves week in week out, but it would appear that he was inspiring those around him . Only one game has been won out of the last five in the league and I would say we are now outsiders for a title we looked certain to win in January and February.

Having said that, today's 2-2 draw with the Jacks reserves makes little difference as to who is going to win the title - as long as we avoided defeat today we were always going to have to beat Plymouth a week today to clinch the title, but I must say that, on the evidence of recent displays, I am not that hopeful.

I don't know how important winning the title is to those in charge at Ninian Park, but filling the side full of first teamers next week in a bid to win it may not be the answer - I watched City reserve teams full of first team players get trounced 3-0 by both Plymouth and Bristol City in the League Cup earlier in the season.

As to today's match, the Jacks somehow won 2-1 here in another League Cup match in the autumn which the City reserves totally dominated. Whilst today's game was nowhere near as one sided as that, I thought the City were the better team today and were unlucky not to win against a team who, their two goals apart, hardly threatened.

The first incident of note occured after about five minutes when Rewbury the Jacks centre half went off injured and was replaced by Luke Harrington who wasted no time in blasting a Gavin Gordon cross into his own net to give the City the lead. The rest of the first half was a quiet affair with Rhys Weston going close a couple of times and Gavin Gordon having a couple of chances which he maybe could have done better with. For all the world it looked like it was going to be 1-0 to us at half time, but, in the minute of stoppage time allowed at the end of the half, the jacks fashioned a neat equaliser through Bond - I think it was him anyway, to be honest, the jacks side on the team sheet was all to pot with Karl Connolly and Stuart Roberts apparently playing full back!

City made three changes at half time with Weston, Barker and Taylor, being replaced by Bullock, Parkins and Morgan. I thought the overall effect was to slightly weaken the City team, but it did lead to a more incident packed second half. Gavin Gordon missed a good early chance to put the City ahead again when Murphy blocked his shot after he had been put through by a nice pass from Parkins, but shortly afterwards he made ammends by heading in via the post from a right wing cross.

About a quarter of an hour later came the turning point of the game, Gordon got in a Powerful header which beat Murphy but Harrington was able to clear off the line and, luckily, the ball eneded up back in the keeper's hands. Within thirty seconds, the jacks were able to go up the pitch and equalise through Pritchard who put his chance away well, but he was helped by a City defence who had two or three opportunities to clear the ball before it found it's way to the Swansea striker.

After that there was an air of inevitability about the draw, Fleetwood (who was quiet today) forced Murphy into a decent save, Gordon headed narrowly over just before the end and the jacks forced Lee Barrett into a couple of saves from long range shots, but it stayed 2-2 which means that in three meetings this season our reserve team have failed to beat our friends from up the M4!

There weren't many eye catching performances today, Nicky Fish had a good first half, but was not as influential after the break and I thought the two centre backs Parslow and Cronin didn't do badly, but the youngsters aren't playing quite as well as they were earlier in the campaign - perhaps next weeks league decider will bring out the best in them, it would be nice to think there will be a decent sized crowd there to see them try and clinch the Championship.