City 1 - 1 County AET. County win on pens

Last updated : 20 February 2008 By Michael Morris

Few thrills but plenty of chills with three hours at a bitterly cold Ninian Park. Just to endure enduring a mind numbing game, low on quality, lower still on entertainment. £12 wasted to watch a competition City used to let season ticket holders watch for free, made to sit down by a steward in the Grandstand with nobody near me for the heinous crime of standing up and moving to avoid rigamortis setting in. What was the reward - watching Cardiff City get dumped of the that shite FAW Premier Trophy by Newport County!

A 0-0 bore draw after 90 minutes with City unable to make their general dominance count - not that too much of it excited - before very belated entertainment. County took a shock 117th minute lead when penalties looked inevitable (they looked inevitable after 60 minutes) through Jason Bowen only for Thommo to level within a minute to take the clash to penalties. City had an advantage when Damon Searle missed only for Thommo to rival Andy Campbell for the worst penalty seen at Parc Nin in recent years and then, in sudden death, Jack Carlile's was saved for County to triumph 5-4 sending their fans into delirium and City's grateful they could finally leave the ground at 5 to 10 after being there for a 7pm kick-off. Three hours of my life I won't get back.

What a difference 3 days makes. Glory last Saturday with The Bluebirds winning their biggest home game of the season to reach the F.A. Cup quarter-finals and dream of Wembley in club football's greatest Cup to the most trivial game for a meaningless Cup. The FAW Premier Trophy - there's nothing Premier about it and that Bowling Ball certainly ain't a trophy - doesn't even hold passing interest to the average City fan - and I must really now make it a vow that this is the last time ever I bother with it.

Opponents Newport County thought it very glamorous, it was their cup final and good luck to them. Around 1,000 travelled dewn tewn and rewnd the rewndyboots with a few pewnds to watch Cewnty. It seemed as if there were more police on duty for them than Wolves and watching a no 30 bus coming up Sloper Road flanked by 4 police horses with 30 County followers on it and 20 or so coppers was certainly a surreal sight.

They were half the crowd as only 1,960 bothered (but hey, that's 5 times the average of most FAW Premier matches!). A few City fans were on the Bob Bank terrace, even less in the Canton Stand and the majority, to look good for tv, were in the Grandstand opposite the cameras. Those who bothered to watch that is, many at the ground stayed in the warmer bars and watched it on tv.

Dave Jones decided to sit next to his chum, Peter Ridsdale, in the Directors Box and left Paul Wilkinson to look after the side which included many of his youth players and either fringe players or those returning from injury, the big surprise being a very welcome 45 minute appearance for Ricky Scimeca after almost a year's absence and having a terrible time of it.

City's side were David Forde, Aaron Morris-Darren Purse-Glen Loovens-Matt Smith, Trevor Sinclair-Darcy Blake-Riccy Scimeca-Tyrrell Webbe, Thommo-Jon Brown. Five youth players, 3 getting a run out, 2 returning from lengthy injury and Loovens playing as he's banned for the next 2 games.

Newport, meanwhile, included 6 ex-Cardiff players and, in Craig Hughes, a striker convicted for problems while supporting City. Their side were Thompson, Steve Jenkins-Nathan Davies-Lee Jarman-Damon Searle, Jason Bowen-Lee Fowler-Gurney-Evans, Hughes-Griffin.

The game started a few minutes late and was also preceded by a minute's applause for Brian Harris, former Cardiff and Newport player from the late 60's/70's, who died at the weekend. It was just about the only reason we had for applause over the next couple of hours.

The opening stages were more notablee for the singing and atmosphere - you can;'t have noise at an FAW Premier Cup game - with Newport singing "if you all hate Cardiff clap your hands" (a popular 'Port ditty, it seemed to be their only song!) with City fans responding with "you're just a small town in Cwmbran" and "you're just a bus stop in Cardiff".It never really got much better.

The game is barely worth describing. First half, Newport had a couple of distance efforts, none to cause concern, while City either lacked composure or struggled in the final third so their possession generally went to waste but Thommo and Brown made the Newport keeper save, Thommo (impressive in the opening half) was very unlucky with a shot on the turn, Loovens got up for set pieces and caused problems, Brown did well meeting a sharp Thommo cross and diverting narrowly over but there were few moments to get excited about as the chill really set in. Riccy Scimeca eased his way back very well, looking in control as he passed well and spread play but 45 minutes was enough and Jack Carlisle replaced him for the 2nd half.

Half-time: CITY 0 NEWPORT 0

It would have been warmer to have spent three hours in my fridge and the chill was now bitter. You did feel City were increasingly the dominant side and with Darcy Blake charging through midfield, City posed more danger again but still failed to convert them into shooting opportunities. To be fair, I doubt these youth players and first teamers play much together in training so little wonder they didn't look cohesive in match conditions.

There must have been 10 or more occasions that City broke into the box but either nobody took responsibility for shooting or passes went awry when it mattered. With Newport packing their box, it was stalemate but, again, when chances did arrive, they went to waste.

Newport created only sparse moments of danger. Forde had his first save as Gurney smacked a 25 yarder at him but as Jason Bowen (still looking silky at times but still falling about and even wearing gloves - wuss) sent the most feeble of headers to trickle to Forde, it produced a massive roar from County fans at the other end thinking it was going in! Jon Brown, for City, cracked one angle effort off the outside of the post and crossbar angle. Trevor Sinclair really should have shown his class and experience after another lung bursting Blake run set him up inside the area but he opted to take a touch and was blocked when he finally got round to shooting.

In the final moments of normal time, some interesting football as County caused a major panic and scramble in our box then City responded Webbe's volley cannoned off Thompson the Newport goalie while Darcy headed over when Thommo was better placed behind him. Believe me, everyone inside Ninian Park was gutted we now had another 30 minutes of extra time so couldn't go home (although quite a few did). I think I lost count of those saying, let's go straight to penalties and be done with it. It was too cold and too awful.

Darren Purse sprinted off at full-time, Anthony Acheampong replaced him and on we went into extra-time where, I admit, retreated to the warmth of the bar to join others and watch it on tv. Only Eskimos could have appreciated how cold it now was and still the football offered little to warm anyone up.

There were only two incidents of note in the first period of extra-time as Thommo headed over (tv showed him do it with his eyes closed off the top of his head) from point blank range in front of goal while City used their third sub, Sam Wade replacing Jon Brown. Wade looked as if he came to City straight after a day's work with Snow White. Is he City;s smallest ever player? He barely looked 5 foot. It's an appropriate surname, he must have to Wade through a street puddle! He had pace and looked a battler, good on him.

Newport brought on ex-Jack Julian Alsop which, at last, produced some heat as a collective "you Jack b*stard" chant rang out swiftly followed by "you fat b*stard" realising he's carrying a few excess pounds.

Just as we readied for penalties, the game dramatically came to life. City old boys combined as Damon Searle looped a cross t the far post where JASON BOWEN, of all people, was able to direct a header bottom corner. With 3 minutes remaining, it looked over for City until Glen Loovens went through the Newport midfield, fed THOMMO and his shot on the turn was perfect. 1-1.

City went for it and nearly grabbed a winner in the 120th and final minute when Sam Wade came in from the left, his shot across goal looked goalbound but was deflected a fraction wide.

And so it was penalties. Freezing cold, we all wanted to get away and home and it took ages to organise. Why on earth so long?

Every penalty flew in and it was 4-4 with neither Forde or Newport;'s Thompson getting close to any effort. Sinclair, Blake, Loovens and Wade scored for City, I enjoyed Wade's celebration.

Up stepped Damon Searle and he smashed the bar. how we laughed. It left Thommo to win the game, take City to the final and guarantee at least £50,000 in prize money but he was too causal and complacement and completely cocked up. No preparation for his kick, no run up and he scuffed his effort wide. What the **** was he doing?

You felt the pendulum had swung and , sure enough, Lee Jarman - a City man who wasted his talents - scored with ease then Jack Carlisle's effort lacked power and placement so was easily saved. Newport were in the Final, they went nuts but I dashed for the exits.

Some of the City kids did well. Aaron Morris at right back certainly impressed, Brown and Webbe tried hard up front but were short on composure and Jack Carlisle had some good moments. Blake worked hard and his second half bursts were impressive. Of the seniors, Thommo let himself down when he should have been the hero. Sinclair was off the pace but got better as the game progressed, Purse did ok but still worries.

The biggest positive of the night however was that I won't have to watch another FAW Premier Trophy game this season, amen to that!