Cardiff City 1 Burnley 0. Match Report

Last updated : 13 November 2006 By Michael Morris

Scimeca 23




Grey, a little chilly

THE ‘You're The Man' AWARD to:

Darren Purse and Loovens both stood at the back, sub Willo Flood's battling was perfect for this occasion, Chops' passion and Scimeca's calmness crowned by his goal.

THE “You're Not Very Good” BOOT goes to:

Lowlife on the Grange End unable to respect 1 minute silence for Remembrance Day that saw it cut short. It's no excuse that Burnley fans started it, those shouting back - some thinking it's big, clever and funny as their one brain celled mates laughed along too. Prats.

According to a melodramatic Burnley fan website writer, their boys created a wall of sound which Ninian Park would rarely have experienced. Yet no City fan can recall this noise, were they looking the wrong way? Along with post-match thoughts of manager Steve Cotterrill and other Burnley fans, there appears to be a mass outbreak of disillusionment oop north!

From City, it was a tense afternoon. Far from our loudest or most sustained, there were rousing 2nd half anthems to see the boys home.

Included a face mask of Paul Parry. Finally, they got one that bore some resemblance to who it was supposed to be. Well done. Some of the previous efforts were probably saved by kids for Halloween.

A new 32 page colour glossy (5 of them by Messageboard Warrior, The Other Bob Wilson) - Singing The Blues - hit the streets intended to be out monthly. Seems to be a decent read.

Was I the only one disappointed to see Burnley in all-yellow instead of the famous claret and blue kit? For City, a new sponsors' logo of an insurance comparison website - GoCompare - has been added to the side of the shorts. From such small beginnings, come outfits that end up looking like Tour de France racers! Wonderbra to sponsor the breast area? Clark's Pies to have a logo across the belly?

CARDIFF- All change but no change!

At the back, Kerrea Gilbert, certain to return after a 3 match ban, dislocated his shoulder in a "freak training ground accident" making him absent for a few more weeks. Our first "freak training ground accident" for a long while. James Chambers, who was making way, therefore continued as makeshift right-back for his final appearance as Watford would not extend the loan. Dave Jones seemed disappointed but City fans haven't been overly impressed by him but he put in his best performance today. In central defence, Glenn Loovens was thankfully available despite an eye socket injury sustained a fortnight ago and then limping out half-time last week with severe cramp ... or was it DVT with City flying the 1,650 miles for awaydays at Norwich, Sunderland and Colchester in a fortnight whilst fans went by road? His is City's man mountain at the back, the stats of how City fare defensively with and without him are overwhelming.

In midfield, FAW took until Thursday to sit for Steve McPhail's red card appeal leaving Dave Jones having to prepare for this game with and without the player. Then they caused a seismic shock by agreeing with City and overturned the harsh red card decision for the first time anyone can remember. After what seems like 250 unsuccessful appeals, maybe they let us have it as some sort of loyalty reward!

Up front, with Thommo out for a couple more weeks, Friday drama as Alex Ferguson agreed to let Alan Smith come on an audacious loan only for the player to turn us down, and also former club Leeds, leaving him in line for a showdown with Fergie. Good Luck son! Our for that special number 7 continues!

A normal week with City then. It meant that Dave Jones was left to start the same side that were bullied to defeat by Colchester's in-your-face directness last weekend with Alexander, Chambers-Loovens-Purse-McNaughton, Parry-Scimeca-McPhail-Ledley, Chopra-Campbell. The bench saw Luigi Glombard dropped again (how did he ever find his way back anyway?) making way for Chris Gunter (a 17 yr old who signed full pro terms in the week along with Darcy Blake) to join Howard, Johnson and Kamara. City had no striker on the bench for a home game which highlights our limitations and is damning for Glombard and Ferretti.

BURNLEY- Cardiff have stayed at the top using only 19 players, the fewest of any Championship side. Perhaps it's not coincidence that Burnley and Preston were behind us having used only 1 more player.

Cardiff and Burnley have parallels. Glory days far too long ago, too much time spent in the lower divisions in recent years, both struggling badly in the bottom division not so long ago with fears over their future and, today, both at the top of the Championship with comparatively small squads and the tightest of budgets.

For Dave Jones, read Steve Cotterill - a great managerial record and a knack of finding a few per cent extra out of his players to produce a better team effort. Burnley came into this clash flying, unbeaten in 7 with 5 wins, the last three games producing successive victories including last week's injury time winner over Ipswich. Whilst City were unbeaten at home, the Clarets were unbeaten away with 4 wins and 3 draws, a win today would have seen them overtake City at the top - it was a huge clash.

Their side today had one enforced change with Micah Hyde suspended for 1 game after 2 yellow cards and a sending off last weekend so they started with Jensen, Sinclair-Thomas-Duff-Harley, Elliott-O'Connor-McCann-Jones, Noel-Williams and Gray. Brian Jensen - either a brick outhouse of a Dane or the closest thing to Fatty Foulkes in goals - is imposing. The left and right back were ex-Chelsea boys the error-prone Frank Sinclair and Jon Harley. Wayne Thomas replaced Hyde, his partner Duff following Cotterill from Cheltenham. Midfield featured former City targets Wade Elliott and Steve Jones, the latter whom Dave Jones tried to land over summer from Crewe whilst in its core, striker Gifton Noel-Williams seems to be rejuvenated but has only scored 4 this season which includes a hat-trick whilst Andy Gray on 9 for the season was an obvious danger. Game on then!



CARDIFF CITY had to battle their way to their 11th win of the season in a top vs. third triumph over Dirty Burnley, Riccy Scimeca's splendid 23rd minute finish from one of the game's few flowing moves separated the sides and gave The Bluebirds a 3 point cushion at the top.

It was, arguably, City's most satisfying win of the season and shows we're equipped to fight as well as play outstanding football. It is wins like today, not big wins with total football over lesser teams, that make the difference after 46 games.

After 3 away games in the last 4 (and only 4 points collected), this fixture was the first of 2 home games in 6 days, both clashing with Wales' egg chasers playing a mile down the road but it presented City the chance to pick up points although Burnley provided the sternest of challenges and, in fairness, opened the better of the two sides.

Pre-match impressions were that Burnley would be spirited and playing a similar following, passing style. Instead, we was a slugfest as they came to play ugly and disrupt City with a physical, aggressive physical intimidating show that thankfully came up short but you can see how they've won so many points.

Their cause was assisted by a poor performance by late replacement ref Peter Walton who exercised poor control over the match and allowed Burnley's strongarm tactics. He later justified to some City fans that "it was a man's game today" so he officiated in that spirit but it killed any hopes of a football spectacle. Despite the numerous challenges and pushes he let go, there were still twice as many fouls were awarded against Burnley. They had 5 players booked to City's James Chambers, it certainly could have been more and included red too. At times, it reminded of Don Revie's Leeds. Manager Cotterill taunting and confronting Grandstand fans in the first half and final whistle showed it's very much a team playing in his style. Plaudits to City for standing up to them, never losing their composure and coming out on top.

The first half was as bad as the night I lost my virginity but fantastic because, like me, we scored! Burnley were at us from the off and dominated territory if not possession, a lot of the game being played in City's half. Throughout, Burnley played close a unit and seemed intent of pressing down the right side only which confined space and sucked City in. For large portions of that opening phase, you could have covered all 20 players with a tea-towel.

Highlights were rarities. So poor, my abiding memory was the haphazard Frank (Spencer) Sinclair foul throwing twice, once when the ball didn't appear to come into play and almost went into the Lower Grandstand which also saw him try to stare out City fans laughing at him. Burnley won a couple of corners but City stood firm but we were almost playing like the away side, trying to counter on the break. Until City opened the scoring on 23 minutes, all we saw was a Burnley effort comfortably into the Grange End and Paul Parry's attempted howitzer was blocked.

The goal, which decided the outcome, came from a superb piece of football. City advanced and pushed forward as a unit, their first attack was repelled but as the ball came to Darren Purse on halfway, Glen Loovens stayed forward and drifted to the left wing. Pursey spotted him, he comfortably won a ball in the air and sent it across the edge of the area, Kevin Campbell controlled and laid it back into the path of RICCY SCIMECA who executed it superbly, steering the ball low and hard into a bottom corner, the Great Dane unable to get down quickly enough.

No doubt Scimeca's son, City's 1st official pitch mascot now that Sam Hammam has lost his influence, would have enjoyed that. Scimeca himself must be loving it too. Just how do you explain someone who only scored 11 goals in 13 seasons and over 300 games being on 5 already this season with City???

The restart was delayed as Andy Gray was spoken with for some time by the ref before he got the first yellow card. Presumably for persistent moaning, on top of fouling. The Burnley side were packed with so many moaners, my ex-missus would have felt totally at home with them. Gray could count himself fortunate not to be red carded as he snapped into the back of McPhail's heel but got away with a talking. Shortly after that, Paul Parry was off and replaced by Flood. As he reached the tunnel, Parry was pointing to his groin, possibly the result of an earlier collision with Jon Harley on the touchline for which both men needed treatment.

The game became frustrating although two showboating pieces of fantastic skill by Steve McPhail and Chops separately delighted. Kevin Campbell in particular got no protection and being used as a climbing frame although his static approach and his ability to jump (should we get a Stannah chair lift on the pitch for him?) didn't help his cause. Flood got stuck in immediately and was rewarded for his endeavour by first being fouled by one Burnley man, carrying on and being rugby tackled around the waist by fellow Eire man James O'Connor as he was set to burst clear. While that was going on, with the whole ground booing Burnley's approach, Cotterill get into an altercation with Lower Grandstand fans behind his dugout.

When Campbell was finally awarded a free-kick not long before the interval, the ground broke into ironic spontaneous applause but McPhail fired over from 30 yards. A poor quality, low thrills first half but we were ahead with our only real shot, Burnley were yet to manage that and snubbed their only half-chance, that when Loovens missed a cross - being pushed from behind - but Gray wasn't alert enough to pounce.

Half-time: CITY 1 BURNLEY 0

Burnley's intentions were clear from kick-off for the 2nd half as they lined up 3-5-2 and continued to play solely down one side of the pitch, the right, which again saw the game compressed and in area and wide open space over three quarters of the pitch but City stepped up a gear and carved the early chances.

First was a brilliant piece of football running through Willo Flood when started near our corner-flag, sliced apart Burnley on the left with precision first time passing and flicks and had Joe Ledley showed better composure, it would not have ended with Jensen coming out to block him. Joe worked hard but was off-key, wasting another glorious chance when Chops and Willo closed down Burnley, won possession, combined and then found Joe but he hesitated and scuffed his effort so missed out again. In between, two penalty appeals were also turned, one hit a player but Sinclair definitely appeared to control a dangerous ball in the box with his arm. The ref was now getting more boos than your average panto villain.

Burnley brought on subs - one being ex-City loan man Alan Mahon - as did City when Kevin Campbell completely faded out of the game, completely knackered. With no striker, on came Roger Johnson to play up front and he also missed a great chance to finish off Burnley as Chops tore away, found him inside but he blasted wide ... almost as if he thought he was playing his regular role and sweeping the ball behind for a corner! Fair does to Johnson, he charged about, made a nuisance of himself and gave City more presence than Campbell has been doing after the break.

It was only to be expected that The Clarets would make a final charge in a final 15 minutes plus 4 minutes added on that seemed like 50 minutes but they only produced one heart-stopping moment and, then, it was caused by a wicked deflection off Willo Flood blocking a cross which ballooned and was dropping under Alexander's bar, Scotland's no 1 pushed it out, Gray's shot on the rebound thudded the bar but a whistle had already blown for pushing on Braveheart. Every City tackle and move was cheered, the back on form McNaughton earning the biggest cheers of the day when he won a tackle, burst out of defence and won two more tackles, then a throw. Burnley threw on a final sub Lafferty for the tired Gifton-Williams and he was carded within 30 seconds, almost as if told to clatter Purse an arrival. He wasn't the only one to do that late on.

In added time, Purse blasted clear, Chopra sowed a magical first touch to control the dropping ball and take him clear. He drew the keeper, did everything perfect and then blasted over. Unbelievable! Fortunately, City weren't punished, Burnley had one last chance but Sinclair found the roof of the Canton Stand and the boys were sung home. Burnley trudged off, some arguing with the ref, Cotterill goading the Grandstand. It was good to see them get what they deserved.

This was another side of City. They mixed it, stayed composed, played football when they could and battled tremendously throughout. We were never going to give away that lead and credit to them all, another professional job. Chambers finished strongly despite being targeted, McNaughton is back in the swing, Purse - although caught of position a few times - was tremendous and Loovens was fantastic. Midfield were workmanlike but I did enjoy Willo's work and Chopra selfish, non-stop battling, closing down and running is an example and inspiration to all.

With Preston failing to win at bottom placed Southend, Cardiff opened a 3 point gap but are 8 ahead of Derby in 5th and 10 ahead of Plymouth, the team immediately outside the play-offs ... ooh and only 14 points more needed to stay up! Those in the media talking up a "wheels have come off" argument are made to look foolish - they really should have known better with this manager and this team. QPR at home this Friday night presents a perfect chance to make it all look better again.

Report from FootyMad

A superb strike from Riccardo Scimeca in the 23rd minute gave the Bluebirds a deserved victory over promotion rivals Burnley.

Scimeca calmly slotted home in Cardiff's first real attack of the game after Burnley had opened in fine form to press the home side deep in defence for the opening 20 minutes.

The Bluebirds fielded the side beaten at Colchester with James Chambers playing his last game on loan before returning to Watford. Stephen McPhail won his appeal against his red card and took his usual place in midfield.

Burnley made just the one change with skipper Wayne Thomas returning after suspension in place of Micah Hyde who was sent off last week against Ipswich.

It was a sliced clearance by Chambers that led to Burnley's first corner in the ninth minute but a snapshot went high over Neil Alexander's bar.

Glenn Loovens had to make a timely intervention when a cross from Wade Elliott was whipped into the danger area as the Clarets kept up their early pressure.

It was not until midway through the opening period that City won their first corner following a run down the right by Paul Parry.

The ball wasn't cleared by the Burnley defence, Kevin Campbell laid it off neatly into the path of Scimeca who calmly slipped his shot into the corner of the net from the edge of the area.

City were forced into a change in the 34th minute when the injured Parry was replaced by Willo Flood. The first half ended with the Bluebirds on top and pushing the Clarets back deep in defence.

Cardiff had two penalty appeals turned down in the first five minutes of the second half, both of them for handball in the area but on each occasion referee Peter Walton waved play on.

Former Bluebirds favourite Alan Mahon made an appearance for the Clarets on the hour as Steve Cotterill's side went looking for an equaliser.

The change gave the visitors new momentum and Steve Jones sliced a good chance wide after City had been forced onto the back foot.

Andy Gray struck the home crossbar in the 82nd minute after a frantic period of play in the Cardiff area but the referee had whistled for an infringement.

Michael Chopra had the chance to make the game safe in the 89th minute but, with only Brian Jensen to beat in the visitors goal, he lifted his shot high over the bar.

It was end to end play right to the final whistle but City hung on to maintain their position at the top of the division.

External reports
Wales On Sunday
Sporting Life
The Observer
Sunday Telegraph
Sunday Times
The Guardian
Western Mail
Lancashire Evening Telegraph
Clarets Mad
The Echo