Cardiff City 1 Blackpool 1. Match Report
Cardiff's first match of 2010 turned out to be similar to their last one of 2009 - a dmineering first half and a lead but a poor 2nd half and having to concede a full time draw. Unlike the collapse at Peterborough, Cardiff were able to point to injuries, illness and a game against play-off rivals at Blackpool left South Wales with a deserved point.
Only three Championship fixtures survived the continuing cold snap, City able to go ahead despite the ice and snow surroundings thanks to the undersoil heating and a team of workers, volunteers and JCB's to clear the stadium car park and walkways after 2 successive nights of -7 temperatures on top of compacted snow. The walk to the stadium from Canton was treacherous, supporters having to abandon pavements for roads so well done all for getting this on. Even so, I have to say I cannot remember the last time I was so cold at a football match and that despite my hip flask of Jack Daniel's! Indeed, many fans opted to stay under the stands.
The mood and occasion was sombre and restless as all the talk was about the club's continuing precarious position with a new winding up order issued the day before the games, Director Steve Borley and two others apparently giving a loan to help pay off the current tax demands causing it and three different groups supposedly in talks for investment and/or takeover. Any talk of a Premiership assault seems crazy against this background.
Just as we got excited about the match, the optimism went as neither Jay Bothroyd (not in the squad) or Michael Chopra (sub's bench) were on the pitch. Texts and gossip swept the stands that Jay was in talks with Aston Villa, Chops with Newcastle. Later it turned out that Jay was one of a number of players suffering a sickness virus that affected many in the squad and given as a reason why City faded second half but Chops was dropped to the extent that when a forward went off, Jones even chose Warren Feeney ahead of him. That seemed ridiculous so is there more to it than meets the eyes. It meant rookie Josh Magennis got his first Championship start alongside Ross McCormack.
CARDIFF CITY: Marshall; Quinn-Hudson- Gerrard-McNaught on; Burke-Rae-Ledley- Whittingham; Magennis-McCormack. Subs: Enckleman-Gyepes- Feeney-Taiwo- Wildig-Chopra- Matthews.
Blackpool are having an outstanding season under Ian Holloway and are just 3 points behind Cardiff with a game in hand. They're suffering the same inconsistency as the entire Championship but had convincingly won 2 of their previous 3 awaydays at Middlesbrough and Derby. Two of their defenders were red carded in a home F.A. Cup loss to Ipswich Town last weekend so they brought in a loanee to help cover the crisis.
BLACKPOOL: Rachubka; Eardley-Baptiste- Butler-Southern; Vaughan-Martin- Adam-Ormerod; Taylor+Fletcher; Burgess.
The crowd was 19,147 (Blackpool appearing to provide that 147) but the atmosphere was subdued and got worse throughout. The weather, the shock of seeing no Chops and Jay, the worry about the club and City's diminishing display all fully playing their part.
However Cardiff started brightly and dominated the opening period despite the herculean efforts of Charlie Adam - head and shoulders the best player on the park - to disrupt them and run the show.
They went ahead inside the first 10 minutes from a Peter Whittingham free-kick on the touchline which sailed over keeper Rachubka leaving Mark Hudson with the simple task of heading into an empty net at the far post. Just what City and the supporters needed.
The pitch was understandably bumpy in places but Cardiff were playing their football, Magennis and McCormack were causing plenty of problems and Blackpool looked all at sea with their makeshift defence. They should have been punished more by the interval but McCormack was unlucky to lob inches over and Magennis was even unluckier as his looped header came off the bar and was scrambled away.
Magennis was shining but went down in some paid from an innocuous looking challenge, was in tears on the touchline and had to be stretchered away with what turned out to be a broken leg (or fractured fibula) that means he is out of the picture for 2 months. That was rough justice.
Dave Jones didn't seem to know what to do in his absence and the crowd got restless as he paused before making a change. Strangely, Chopra didn't even move or warm up then he sent on the hapless Warren Feeney - a player, with respect, you would have felt was on the bench to make up the numbers. It wasn't a popular choice.
I'm afraid that was as good as it got for Cardiff as the second half was largely one of struggle. They lost their interval lead within 30 seconds of the restart, as CHARLIE ADAM cut through our midfield, played a one-two with Ormerod and fired in off the post. We were arguably fortunate to take that point by final whistle.
Cardiff were ragged and disjointed, Adam bossing our midfield with Ledley and Rae again looking poor but David Marshall is in top form and pulled off a couple of fantastic saves. Subs came and seemed strange - Adam Matthews replaced Chris Burke like for like (it turned out Matthews had damaged a rib) while Chopra replaced McCormack. That produced chants of you don't know what you're doing form a crowd who preferred the sub of Feeney to be subbed but it turned out Ross was suffering with the virus as were several others who had to stay out there.
City, however, almost stole victory in rare attacks as Matthews skinned his man as fired off the post from a tight angle while Feeney bundled home at a corner after the keeper lost the ball. TV later suggested it was a good goal and a keeper howler rather than any challenge on him.
City deservedly led at the break, but just like at Peterborough over the Christmas period, Cardiff fell away in the second period, succumbing to an equaliser just seconds after the restart, Charlie Adam strolling through the middle of the park before playing a neat one-two and then slotting home confidently past Marshall.
Ian Holloway's men were now in the ascendancy and looked more likely winners as Marshall was the busier of the two keepers, pulling off a couple of excellent saves to deny the visitors all three points. City's midfield were ragged and Dave Jones brought Adam Matthews into an unfamiliar midfield role as he changed the system, pushing McCormack out wide with the punchless Feeney in a loan striker role. It was Matthews who came closest for Cardiff in the second half, bursting in from the right before hitting a low shot from a narrow angle, which rebounded off the bottom of the post.
Many left, frustrated and freezing, long before final whistle while there were loud and long boos when it went from many who stayed. It's been imisinterpreted as abuse towards the team but it felt like fans expressing how they feel about the club at the moment ... a mood summed up by the most vocal chant of the afternoon being one of "where's the money gone?" in the second half.
The result leaves City 4th after 24 games with a 3 point gap over play-off chasers. Other than club and business survival, that looks like our cause with the club now 8 points off the automatic places and not looking in a position to kick on.
Report from FootyMad
ardiff City were unable to hold onto their early lead following a Mark Hudson header and, after Charlie Adam scored a second-half equaliser for Blackpool, they were lucky to come away with a point.
The Bluebirds suffered a blow when Jay Bothroyd was forced to pull out after suffering from a virus.
His place was taken by Josh Magennis while Paul Quinn came in for Adam Matthews in the only other change.
City made a great start when they took the lead in the ninth minute.
Chris Burke was fouled on the right by Joe Martin and when Peter Whittingham swung in the free-kick, Hudson rose high to head into the net.
Adam fired a free-kick midway through the half which David Marshall had to go full-length to save, but the Bluebirds stormed straight back and Magennis crashed an effort against the crossbar from a Ross McCormack centre.
Two minutes later, Magennis needed treatment for a leg injury but failed to return and Warren Feeney replaced him up front.
The visitors were on level terms in the first minute of the second half when neat build-up play cut the home defence to ribbons and left Adam with the simple task of slotting past Marshall.
Cardiff were now looking second best and Adam fired in a free-kick that Marshall was forced to tip over, before Ben Burgess went close with a header.
In an isolated attack on the hour, Matthews rapped the post but the Bluebirds looked a disjointed outfit finding it hard to keep hold of the ball.
Michael Chopra replaced McCormack in the 74th minute but the home side never looked like claiming a victory.