Cardiff City 4 - 1 Derby County. Match Report

Last updated : 28 August 2003 By NigelBlues

..but the Bluebirds, defying the usual "After The Lord Mayor's Show" displays, only went and produced another supreme powerhouse and skill show ruthlessly despatching Derby County 4-1 at Ninian Park. City look scarily good, as if they have played at this level all their lives rather than the 18 year gap there has been, and I need the Oxford English Dictionary to come up with new superlatives and quickly as you'll get fed up reading how magnificent, brilliant and superb they were - individually and as a team.

It was a game packed with bizarre incidents, nearly all in favour of City undoubtedly enjoying some rare good fortune, as their goals were a total freak, two were highly contentious and the other was a penalty. In the middle of that, Derby had a man sent off for a straight red card offence. Ultimately though nobody should deny, or even try to, that The Bluebirds were worthy winners as they stamped their authority on the match, showed real quality, and literally blew Derby away.

Lennie Lawrence made an enforced change to the team who produced that outstanding 2-1 victory at Nottingham Forest and it was a major shock. Pre-match worries concerned John Robinson who came off early on Saturday with severe cramp but he had recovered.

Instead, Danny Gabbidon was missing, nobody even knew he was a doubt prompting wild rumours that someone must be buying him. The truth was that Gabbidon sustained a foot injury at Forest and replaced by James Collins who never lets City down and showed his potential again in a goalscoring man of the match display leaving Gabbi to quip that he doesn't know if City need him once he's fully fit anyway. With Collins starting, Spencer Prior was called to the bench but his only action was a fantastic goose steeping display warming up on the touchline that looked like ballet and had the Grandstand shouting "whoooo" as he flicked his legs high.

As City are on the up, Derby seem to be passing us in the opposite direction. Relegated from the Premiership a year ago, financial problems, previous manager John Gregory sacked with plenty of acrimony and legal threats, they finished just 3 places and 6 points from a further relegation to Division Tow in May. With George Burley in charge, it's not been a good start this season either with a single point from three league games and a Coca Cola Cup exit at Huddersfield giving them no form at all coming to face City.

The stars departed long ago leaving Burley a young but talented side. Their key experience was Captain Ian Taylor, a summer capture from Aston Villa, but his central midfield partner was Tom Huddlestone, his physique, stature and play belying that he was just 16 years old.

Their defence were missing Warren Barton but included Michael Johnson, ex- Birmingham. His central defence pairing with Pablo Mills, both players relatively short and with builds more suited to wrestling than football, looked vulnerable and so it proved.

Midfield also included Lee Morris and Costa, the latter "new Luis Figo" on a season's loan from F.C. Porto whilst attack was lead by Matthias Svensson, a summer loan target of Lennie's, complete with '70's Rod Stewart-style mullet, a summer loan target of Lennie's and a Brazilian, Junior. Their large 33 man squad also included Lee Bradbury, another summer target of City's, who wasn't involved today.

There was a huge buzz and roar of anticipation as the game kicked-off but the first 20 minutes or so were quiet with Derby settling the quicker. City's 'keep it down' passing game was going slightly awry, they were guilty of playing football too deep instead of doing the basics and poor distribution getting to halfway. When City got forward, the Derby 'WWF' tag team of Mugger Mills and Hitman Johnson identified Alan Lee as their target as they tugged, pushed and did all they could get away with too which was quite a lot, Lee getting little protection. Earnie meantime had to compete with a poor linesman who thought offside was where Earnie was when he took the ball rather than his position when it was played enraging the players and crowd. It was ironic that the same linesman later became our hero.

Derby looked neat and tidy and nearly opened the deadlock on the quarter hour as Huddlestone showed quality beating two touchline challenges and hitting a low ball across goal that just evaded everyone. On 20 minutes, Hitman Johnson was booked for another challenge on Lee, Kav's far post swung free-kick was met by Tony Vidmar who couldn't quite steer his downward header on target.

City were waking up and several players were exciting the crowd, James Collins, Alan Lee, Kav and, in particular, John Robinson was literally was here, there and everywhere. His efforts and commitment are 110%, his energy levels make you wonder if he puts jump leads on his gonads before games start and his never say die spirit felt first hand by Derby as one player went head first into a rotating advertising hoarding somewhere between Brace's Bread and The Echo - I think he will have Echo imprinted on his forehead all week - and another went crashing down on the running track to earn a couple of cut knees. Burley was enraged but Robinson had done nothing more wrong than fight for every ball.

Having tried to out-muscle City from kick-off, Huddlestone also booked for going through the back of Lee, once Cardiff found their stride and tempo, Derby were really unable to match them. City were piecing together some quality passing moves and after Earnie shot
wide from one chance, City took the lead on the half-hour with a beautiful freak.

Three quick passes sent ALAN LEE spinning clear on the right, he looked up to see the WWF tag team and Earnie and hit a high, hopeful ball for Earnie at the far post from the touchline 12 yards out. The ball came down with icicles, deceived Costa and landed plum inside the top corner of his far post. Do that a million times and it wouldn't have happened again but Ninian went ballistic, Lee got a deserved first goal for City and the ground boomed to shouts of Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee.

City were in control but Derby tired to hit back, Junior making Alexander save with a first time snap shot across goal on a quick break, Boland blocking another but on 38 minutes, it was 2-0. City determination saw Weston, Earnie and Robinson win successive challenges to work the ball into the area where Robbo where caught by Johnson as he lined to shoot. Penalty.

Its taking was delayed for 90 seconds as Derby protested then Costa stood next to Kav shouting Portuguese obscenities like 'paella' and 'sangria', Robbo shoving him back. KAV never flinched and buried a low shot to the right

At 2-0, there looked no way back for The Rams who were getting shagged by the sheep but any last thought was extinguished on 43 minutes as Costa lost it. Another quality move had Richard Langley holding the ball by the corner flag. Costa knocked him down for a free-kick, frustration taking over, and then red mist too when the ref's whistle blew as he purposely smashed the ball into Langley from inches away. Costa was still fuming and arguing, only he knows why, and took a while to leave the pitch but realised he had to go with 15,000 City fans all stood up waving 'cheerio'.

Half-time: CITY 2 DERBY 0

After Willie Boland almost made it three in the opening moments on the 2nd half meeting a beautiful switch Kav through ball, beating a defender and driving into Costa's arms, they literally went to sleep and let Derby back into the game with a soft goal.

A quick break on the right caught Rhys Weston out of position, Ian Taylor needed no second invitation as he cut across, drove forward and passed across goal to SVENSSON who had lost Barker, his low pass across goal from 12 yards wrong footing Neil Alexander.

Cardiff knew that if they kept calm, passed, moved and switched the ball, they would still be fine and, to their credit, exploited it to the maximum. Some of their moves were of such quality that I honestly don't think it would have mattered if Derby still had their full complement of players, Cardiff were just too good for them.

Vidmar and Collins were totally dominant, Vidmar showing quality and James Collins catching the eye with his huge challenges and play that killed any ideas Derby had about an improved chance with no Gabbidon.

City's midfield are transformed from the laboured, non-creative look that critics highlighted thanks to John Robinson's spirit, Langley's creativity and flair and a switch making Willie Boland the link between defence and the centre and Kav running the show. His range of passing was fantastic but nobody hit a better ball than that man Collins finding Lee with a 70 yard pass. Lee looks the best line leader City have had since the likes of Phil Stant and Jimmy Gilligan whilst Earnie, who still needs to improve his first touch, is a handful for any defender in the land.

City needed more fortune to restore the two goal cushion when, on 55 minutes, Derby scrambled away an Alan Lee far post knock down. The ball came to halfway where Collins and Svensson challenged and it rebounded to Alan Lee outrageously offside but he squared to EARNIE who blasted high into an unguarded net, somersaulted and did his invisible skipping routine with Collins and Weston.

Derby complained long and loud, Burley was in despair but our hated linesman of the first half believed Svensson, not Collins, played the ball so it was technically a back-pass and not offside. A great sport when he was 50 yards across the pitch and 30 yards ahead of the incident too but, in an ironic way, it made up for the two or three first half occasions when Earnie broke clear and was unfairly adjudged offside by the same official.

The game was now killed and City tore into Derby showing a range of passing and moves that had the crowd purring "it's just like watching Brazil" but, at times, it was more like watching the Harlem Globetrotters, it was that good.

Weston shot wide, corners and crosses were blocked and Derby were grimly defending to save a sea of blue washing all over them when the inevitable 4th goal came but it had a little more controversy. Kav won a corner, Langley swung it over beautifully to the far post and JAMES COLLINS rose mightily high above the crowd to send a towering header over the helpless Grant which Ian Taylor acrobatically met but our hero linesman adjudged that the ball had crossed over the line.

It was the crowning moment in 20 year old Ginge's display that won him Sky's and sponsor's Man of the Match. Five league and F.A. Cup starts for City and 4 goals - not bad for a centre-half.

It was now only a matter of how many City would score, Grant made an outstanding save from Earnie almost hitting another straight from the restart, Kav had an effort blocked, Langley and Kav made Grant save after superb sweeping moves before the game petered out in the final few minutes, City happy with their win, Derby long accepting their fate.

With the final action, City broke, Thorney (on as sub and with a quick yellow card too) laid the ball back and Kav sent a brilliant curling shot off the underside of the bar which Earnie met on the drop and pushed home. That looked a good goal so it was no surprise that linesman disallowed it for offside!

Derby can complain about bad luck, bad decisions and more but in their quieter moments, they were surely acknowledge that they were well beaten by a vastly superior team on the day. City came off to a stirring reception from a crowd who have seen more entertainment in the first two home league games this season than all 23 last term, the quality and play so vastly improved.

So that's the East Midlands giving a good working over as City demolished Forest and Derby within 48 hours of each other to rise to 6th temporarily with 7 points from 4 games and although it may not always be this good, there is a real belief that this side should find few problems consolidating and could even make some sort of play-off challenge but that's still very much a dream, we'll see. Next up it's the West Midland's turn with Saturday's visit to Walsall and then it's Wales in Milan - I love football!!

Gotta to go, must get a new dictionary to learn some new superlatives, bye.

Report from FootyMad.
Cardiff City showed that they could be a force this season in Nationwide Division One after an easy victory over ten-man Derby County.

Alan Lee started the scoring on the half hour and ten minutes later, after Ian Taylor had brought down John Robinson in the penalty area, City skipper Graham Kavanagh rammed home the spot kick to put the Bluebirds well in charge.

Just three minutes before the interval Derby were reduced to ten men when Alves Candido Costa was sent off after kicking out at Richard Langley close to the corner flag.

Rams boss George Burley fired up his side during the interval and the ten men reduced the deficit within three minutes of the restart through Mathias Svensson but goals from Robert Earnshaw and James Collins completed a convincing victory for the Bluebirds.

"The decisions went our way today and we did got the rub of the green but it was a good display," said Cardiff manager Lennie Lawrence after the match.

"To be fair we finished very strongly and it was a quality performance.

"Once we got that first goal it really was never in doubt although when they pulled it back to 2-1 it needed a step up in pace and we did just that.

"It was a fantastic atmosphere and if we keep our playing standards up at that level then we can go from strength to strength."Derby boss George Burley was very disappointed with the performances of the officials.

"Every decision seemed to go against us today and their third goal should never have been allowed.

"As regards the sending off, I think my player was a little harshly treated as he definitely went for the ball.

"When you are down to ten men it is very difficult and we knew it would be a tough game today as Cardiff were outstanding against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

"However, you cannot legislate for referees making wrong decisions."

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