Cardiff unlucky to lose to West Ham

Last updated : 12 January 2014 By Michael Morris 

My initial reaction as I left the stadium was that it was a shambolic Cardiff performance. After taking time to think about it and to look at some of the key moments, Cardiff were actually unlucky in the second half and hard done by.

Prior to the game the Bluebirds were on a high after an FA Cup win at Newcastle in Solskjaer's first game in charge, while West Ham had suffered back to back cup defeats conceding eleven goals and on another day they could have conceded more at Cardiff.

Instead, the Hammers rode their luck, got the breaks and took their chances. It left the home crowd and new manager Solskjaer very frustrated and in the bottom three of the Premier League.

The first half was delayed for nearly ten minutes when West Ham defender Guy Demel was clattered by his teammate Roger Johnson. Demel left the field with facial injuries and a suspected broken elbow. 

After 45 minutes it was difficult to tell which side was the one lacking confidence. Cardiff's play was fragmented and lacking any real flow. West Ham were happy to break up any Cardiff pressure while not being too bothered in looking to push forward. Instead of Cardiff building on the feel-good factor from the week leading up to the game they contributed to a very frustrating half of football.

There were moments when Cardiff had the chance to establish themselves: Peter Odemwingie danced through several challenges and crossed for Craig Noone to shoot, but his effort was deflected wide; Kim Bo-Kyung saw his effort come off the bar and bounce on, rather than over, the line.

The referee played a part in West Ham's opening goal before half time. Cardiff cleared a rare West Ham attack and looked to counter-attack, only for the ball to hit the referee and hand the momentum back to West Ham. The visitors took full advantage, culminating in Carlton Cole scoring from six yards. Cole should never have found the space to score; he was poorly marked by Kevin Theophile-Catherine with the Frenchman making no effort to block the West Ham striker.

The deflection of the ball off the referee bothered me. We see it from time to time where the referee is hit by the ball and play continues. This time the deflection was so beneficial to West Ham that I think the referee should have stopped play. It was a break that West Ham capitalised on and it gave them a half time lead.

Solskjaer made a change at half time and brought on Craig Bellamy for Odemwingie. Bellamy has not played for a couple of months, fuelling rumours that he had fallen out with Malky Mackay rather than being injured. Bellamy sparkled and was Cardiff's man of the match as he added pace and enthusiasm after a stuttering first half.

Cardiff peppered the West Ham goal but every effort on target went straight at the keeper. The one time Adrian looked to have been beaten he saw Bellamy's free kick scrape the outside of the post. West Ham rode their luck as the shot count built up and they survived two big penalty shouts. One of them for handball, which would have been harsh if it had been given, but the second one was blatant; Craig Bellamy took a corner and as it came over George McCartney had both arms around Campbell for what should have been an obvious penalty kick and then as the ball sailed over the obstructed Campbell, Steven Caulker rose at the back post only for Roger Johnson to tug Caulker's shirt. It wasn't subtle, it was another blatant foul that the referee missed, or ignored. If the referee claims he did not see it then his assistant should have, he had a clear view.

Caulker was the victim of obvious shirt pulling when Cardiff were beaten at Liverpool. It probably happens in all games but Cardiff have been denied genuine penalty claims that have been proven by TV replays. It's decisions like this that could be the difference between the club staying up or getting relegated.

A Cardiff goal at that time would have seen the game swing and the outcome could have been very different. The one break Cardiff did get came on 78 minutes when James Tomkins was sent off for two correctly awarded yellow cards. Minutes earlier Tomkins was booked for dissent before a high boot caught Campbell in the face.

Solskjaer made the positive move of taking off centre-half Mark Hudson and bringing on striker Andreas Cornelius to look for a goal against the 10 men. It never came and for the third Premier League game in a row Cardiff conceded in injury time. Andy Carroll in his first game of the season set up West Ham's best player -- Mark Noble to score the goal that clinched the victory.

Cardiff face two difficult away trips to Manchester City and Manchester United in their next two Premier League games in January. The February program sees homes matches against Norwich, Aston Villa and Hull.

The Bluebirds are in a battle for Premier league survival. The addition of new players in January and the home games coming up against bottom half sides will give the club a chance to pick up points, but it's going to need some of the breaks like those West Ham enjoyed on Saturday and some firm refereeing. As well, of course, as the players managing to put the ball in the back of the net.